My recording is really bad due to microphone being too hot.

I have Windows 7 Home Premium 2009 Service Pack 1. I am using Audacity 2.0.3.

Using a sound board and a lapel microphone, I used Audacity to record a teaching; unfortunately, I do not have any of the particulars about either because I am sending this concern from my home and the equipment that I used is at the venue where I did the recording.

I have been told that my recording is grossly distorted because my microphone was too hot. Also, I have been told that my problem is not noise and that removing noise will not fix the problem. I have been told that I will need to use some type of clip tool to fix this problem.

I have attached a sample of the recording for your assessment. If there is anything you can do to coach me on how to fix this recording, I would be very grateful!

The short story is I am not very inexperienced at using Audacity. I know just enough to record and export the recording.

Thank you for your time.

You have no show. The distortion fixing tools are for someone who has one very brief distortion every three or four minutes, not a show that’s 100% destroyed. We can’t do that CSI trick where they take ratty surveillance footage and make it perfect.

So the best we can do is make it does not happen again.

If you record the show in Audacity, look at the blue waves and watch the bouncing red sound meter. They should look like this:

If the red meters are too small to see, you can make them bigger by clicking on the right-hand edge and pull to the right. It’s usually a good idea to pay attention to those.

It’s extraordinarily important that the blue waves not completely fill the space and the sound meters not go all the way up as yours do. That creates permanent damage and distortion (see playback picture attached).

We need to go to very serious effort to see that the problem doesn’t happen again. If you create distortion like that again, you might just as well have stayed home.

If there’s nobody there to help, then you get to describe everything you’re using and how the recording is being made. Pretend we need to buy the same stuff you have.


Koz, Thank you very much for your help. I hope I am understanding your instructions for future recordings which are: 1) Make sure that the blue waves do not completely fill the space and 2) the sound meters do not go all the way up (hopefully that means that the horizontal bar should not fill the entire area).

The only question I have about the sound meters is do I control those with the slider for the microphone? Also, I record the audio teaching in mono, so there is only one sound meter showing during the recording. I hope it is safe to conclude that the same rule applies to one sound meter. Yes?

Thank you again.

The blue waves and the meter bars show the same general principle. If the peak of the waves exceeds +/-1 for more than three consecutive samples, then the red clipping lights on the meter will come on.

Yes on the right in Mixer Toolbar:

In your image you have that microphone slider at half way. Try sliding it a lot further left.




Thank you very much for your assistance.

Gratefully and appreciatively, (to you and Koz)

This is still ringing my alarm bells. It’s extremely unusual for a simple microphone and computer arrangement to create massive overload like in the sample. The usual complaint is not getting enough loudness in the show, not too much. Some soundcards have special provision to boost sound up because it’s too quiet.

However, there is a very common problem with Windows laptops that can create a problem like this and if you do this by accident, it’s very difficult to record a clear show – even if you do set the volume sliders correctly.

Write back if you have troubles or you get the right volume but your voice still sounds funny.


Hi Koz,

Attempted several times to use Audacity today, with the adjustments you suggested, but I could not get Audacity to record. I am not sure what was going on. I was not overly concerned as I have had the problem in the past. I would simply cold boot my laptop, open Audacity, and all was well. Not so this morning. I was not in a position to do major troubleshooting as the teaching had already begun and I would have been a major distraction had I kept trying to make it work.

I am not a quitter. I will try it again next week. In fact, it just occurred to me that I did a test recording this morning using your adjustments and all went well. I was quite excited knowing that I would finally get it right. But, my excitement quickly turned into disappointment when I could not get the recording to start after I set up for the teaching.

Again, next week will be a good week. I WILL get it to record and to record correctly!!! I will inform you of my success.

Many thanks for your assistance,

Turn off as many other programs and services as possible before recording.

Make sure Transport > Sound Activated Recording (on/off) is off (unchecked).

And be prepared to reboot before an important recording.


I’ve had good results on slightly too hot recordings by reducing the overall amplitude and using the “Clip Fix” plugin described here in the Audacity manual:

Using a sound board and a lapel microphone

I’m reading over this again. How did you connect your sound board to the computer? Most computers will not allow you to connect a soundboard to Mic-In.

It’s a sister to this problem.

A powerful headphone signal from the tape player will not work connected to Mic-In (the microphone symbol in this illustration). Is that what you have?