Mic adjustment inoperative when using USB input

via Behringer U202 from a stereo.

I record some college basketball games from the radio on occasion & Audacity seems to work very well for that for me.

I could be mistaken, but I thought I could control the recording volume with the slider by the mic. If not, this station has been within an acceptable volume range. But the last time or two I have used it the slider is all the way to the left and cannot be used. This evening the recording volume appears to be a little too high. The peaks are briefly touching the boundaries, which I assume means it is clipping.

As I understand it I should be shooting for -3 to -6 on the meter & .5 on the vertical scale on the individual tracks, but I don’t see any way to adjust it.

I’m not sure if that is just the nature of the beast when using a USB input, or if maybe I need to tweak the settings somewhere.

Any help or info would be most appreciated.

btw, I’m using Audacity 2.0.2 & did the .exe install.

Is that UCA 202?

The way it should work is that if the slider is all the way to the right and greyed out, it cannot be used.

If the red hold lights to right of the meter bars come on, there is clipping:

Aim for -6 dB on the meter, which is +/- 0.5 on the vertical scale.

If you have the UCA 202 and have not installed optional drivers for it, then you can’t adjust its input level. You have to adjust the output level you are sending from the stereo boom box/music centre. One way of doing that would be to connect to its headphones output and use its volume control.

If you install optional Behringer drivers these will include ASIO support, but Audacity as shipped does not support ASIO, so you may find Audacity won’t then see the UCA. You would have to experiment.

2.0.2 is outdated now, which might cause the input slider to behave unpredicatably. I suggest you update to the current 2.0.6 version of Audacity from Audacity ® | Download for Windows.


I believe it is. I’ve had it for at least a couple of years though, so I’m not sure.

Yeah, I think it was all the way to the left and greyed out, and it could not be used. It is working now, though (see below)

Thanks. I didn’t realize that, though I suppose I should have guessed it. I knew it was in the danger zone when it was close to the right.

P.S. What do those acronyms stand for: CR CP RP MP ?

Thanks. I used to try and max it while keeping it from hitting the boundaries… 1.0. That’s pushing my luck though, I’m sure. -6 dB will be my new target.

I may have installed drivers when I first got it, but got a new laptop a year or two ago. I’m pretty sure I just plugged it in & it worked. I forgot about the volume control. I should have tried that last night.

What is ASIO support? I don’t believe I installed those optional Behringer drivers, but Audacity does seem to see it just fine. I have found that if I open Audacity first, and then plug in the Behringer that the USB Microphone option, which is needed to record from the radio that way, doesn’t show up on the drop down list. I found if I close Audacity & reopen in it will show up again.

When I opened a new Audacity project the USB microphone option was still there since another copy from Audacity was already open & had that option, despite the fact the USB Behringer was not plugged into the laptop. I plugged it in & it worked fine recording into the new Audacity project, but the sound volume was a little bit too high. I didn’t remember for sure if that mic slider was always greyed out but just happened to be at the right level in the past, or if it was greyed out this time for some reason. I didn’t connect the dots & figure out that it wasn’t normally greyed out & that I needed to close all Audacity projects, plug in the USB Behringer input & then reopen Audacity.

Sorry for troubling you with this. It was my mistake. On the good side, I did learn a few things from the posting anyway. Thanks for that.

That’s good advice. I will update my Audacity version now.

Thanks again for all you guys do.

The -6 target is assuming a live musical or voice capture. That leaves enough headroom so you can be a little expressive without smashing the meter all the way to the right. Overload in a digital system is very serious.

However, if you really are recording radio programs off the air, those have been through broadcast signal processing and are as a rule very well behaved and controlled. You won’t need the -6 safety zone, and probably do what you have been doing.

See the top and bottom waves. The top one is the raw show and the bottom one is typical of the broadcast version. Yes, it’s slightly louder, but note the peaks and valleys have been smooshed closer to each other. The loudness variations have been evened out. This is a federal requirement. They didn’t just make that up.

Because none of this is ever easy, if you’re recording the podcast version of the show, that typically has not been through broadcast processing and you need the -6 safety zone again.

When I was still recording off-air, I had a Radio Tuner that I jacked directly into the Stereo Line-In of my computer soundcard. I listened to what I was doing by telling Audacity to Play Through the sound to the speakers. This had the additional advantage that I could control the office speaker volume without messing up the recording.

You can generally go with the assumption that the UCA202 as good as it is, has no volume controls except the headphones (which is another good way to monitor what you’re doing).


Have a look in the Manual: Audacity Manual.

It’s basically another “Audio Host” for Audacity, like MME and Windows DirectSound. ASIO has very low latency when you send audio through the computer so people recording tracks while they play other tracks love it. But it has a non-disclosure licence that prevents us shipping support for it in Audacity releases.

That is correct, because Audacity checks for devices when you start it up and then does not check again of its own accord.

If you connect a new device after launching Audacity, you can make Audacity check again without restart at Transport > Rescan Audio Devices.

Audacity doesn’t currently let you run two copies of itself at the same time. It’s just a new window in the same instance of Audacity.

Audacity should really throw an error if you try to record from a device in the list that is already removed.

I would try 2.0.6.


Because of the speakers? I’ve heard clipping isn’t good for them as the signal is trying to pull the cone out or in over a longer period of time than the speaker was designed for. It sounds though, that there is something more damaging with a digital system than just sound distortion or stress on speakers.

Thanks. That makes sense and is good to know. I did notice that they seemed to be very consistent & well behaved. It does seem, though, that I also read somewhere that there can be some distortion closer to the maximum limits even if there is no clipping involved. Does that sound right?

Thanks. Also good to know.

I get that same control using the stereo mix option when recording online, and using the stereo volume controls when using the UCA202. I can turn the stereo volume all the way down to zero & it won’t affect the Audacity recording. The stereo volume apparently doesn’t affect the RCA outputs streaming into the computer USB port in via the UCA202. My computer speakers have a volume control so I can turn them down if I take a phone call or whatever & it won’t affect the Audacity stereo mix recording coming in via internet streaming.

Thanks again for your input & info.

Because of the speakers? I’ve heard clipping isn’t good for them as the signal is trying to pull the cone out or in over a longer period of time than the speaker was designed for. It sounds though, that there is something more damaging with a digital system than just sound distortion or stress on speakers.

Any distortion that sounds harsh, peaky, sharp and gritty is likely to add high pitch tones to the show. You may not be able to hear some of them, but the tweeter in your speaker system does. You can tell the tweeter is stressing out by smelling it burning.

A good way to launch your woofer is listen to a good quality recording made in the wind with no protection. Alternately, a recording where someone blew into the microphone. Again, you may not be able to hear it, but you can pull the grill cloth from your speakers and sweep up what’s left of the cone. My bass cabinet has a woofer you need both hands to lift and is likely to survive something like that, but many systems will not.

No, in general, a show that was made too loud will not digitize. Each piece of a digital recording assigns a number to the sound. If the show is too loud, the system runs out of numbers. It turns the recorded show into instant garbage at the overload points and you can’t recover in post production.

The joke is that a consistent overload light in your field mixer is the indication you’re going to need a reshoot.

there can be some distortion closer to the maximum limits even if there is no clipping involved. Does that sound right?

It’s all distortion. It’s just slightly worse if someone leans into a microphone. If you’re familiar with “Car Talk” NPR radio show, Tom has a laugh that will set off seismic detectors in three states. Somehow, they manage to shoehorn that and normal conversational speech into a broadcast show. However, if you listen to the unfiltered podcast, the laughs DO NOT sound the same.


Thanks for the audio lessons. Much appreciated.

To add fine detail to that, 32-bit float recording hardware can in theory faithfully capture audio above the 0 dB digital limit. Almost no such 32-bit float hardware exists, but with such recorders yes you can properly record cannon shots and save them as 32-bit float WAV that would show as + 20 dB or whatever when you imported that file (if the editor could display a waveform that loud).

Audacity can’t display a waveform louder than +/- 2 linear (about +6 dB).