New mic, new to Audacity, not new to music.

Hello, I’m recording some singing and acoustic guitar for a little medley I want to make.

I have no recording equipment, and I’m on a tight budget, so I bought this condenser mic from Amazon. It’s a great bargain considering what it comes with and the inherent, base level quality of it:

I downloaded Audacity and set everything up.
Recorded three tracks: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, and “Bass” (although using the acoustic guitar).
I added some bass to the “Bass” track and it made it sound better.

Besides that, I’m at a loss about what I should do next concerning the vocal and acoustic guitar track, normalizing, editing, etc.
Any tips with a little more detail than normal would be appreciated. I’m pretty computer savvy, so straightforward commands for accessing/manipulating levels will do it.

That appears to be a perfectly lovely microphone, but it’s analog. How did you digitize it? That’s just curiosity.

I’m at a loss about what I should do next concerning the vocal and acoustic guitar track, normalizing, editing, etc.

So are we. If you ask us something specific like how to get rid of rumble or low frequency damage we’d have solutions for you just like that.

You’re dangerously close to the popular request “Make me sound more professional.”

We can offer opinions, but that’s technically not an Audacity problem. We start running out of steam when the poster creates a good quality sound track (or several) with little or no damage and the work sounds like their voice or instruments. It’s so hard to get to that point that we’re usually all exhausted by then.

You’re just getting cranked up.

We’ll see that the other elves have to say. There is a “Makin’ Music” forum:

Just to keep it in the hardware world for a second, how are you listening to the work? One very serious problem that people with tiny purses have is an inability to hear the show. Are you on “computer speakers?” Can you hold them both in one hand? The risk is mixing a song so it only sounds good on tiny computer speakers and has all sorts of problems on larger sound systems. You can’t hear everything they can hear.

There is a companion posting from someone on a budget looking for good editing headphones. That is one way out of buying expensive speakers, but there is no single headphone that makes everybody happy.

That’s where he’s stuck.

So you stumped the band. Some of the forum elves have hidden talents, so we’ll see what they say.


I’m using two satellite speakers with a sub-woofer for playback. Nothing fancy, but fine enough for my purposes.

I guess to be more specific, I’m inquiring about the standard equalization settings that would usually be applied to a raw vocal track. Same thing for an acoustic guitar. The recording I’m making is only going to consist of three tracks, vocals, acoustic guitar, and “bass”.

Besides that, I’m at a loss about what I should do next concerning the vocal and acoustic guitar track, normalizing, editing, etc.

Normalizing is simply a volume adjustment that sets the peaks at (or near) the “digital maximum” of 0dB. That’s almost always a good final step. In Audacity, you can use the Normalize effect, or you can normalize with the Amplify effect. If you’re making an album, normalize the whole album at once to keep the relative volume between the songs (assuming you’ve already adjusted the relative volumes as you want).

My basic philosophy is that a good recording doesn’t need any effects or processing. However, that’s an unrealistic ideal and most recordings are processed. Since you are the producer, you get to decide what effects you want, and the type/character/amount of each effect.

There are 3 very common effects -

1. Equalization. (Adjusting the frequency balance, such as you did with the bass).

2. Dynamic Compression. Compression is normally used to bring-up the overall loudness without boosting/clipping the peaks. Modern recordings have a LOT of compression to make them “constantly loud”. It’s difficult to get your home recordings as loud as modern commercial recordings because it takes good compressors and the skill to get the most from them. And, you might not want to remove ALL of the dynamic contrast from your music anyway.

3. Reverb. Simulation of the sound reflections you get in a good-sounding space.

In a home studio environment, some noise reduction may also be helpful. (But, you have to be careful because noise reduction can sometimes damage the quality of the sound.)

and “Bass” (although using the acoustic guitar).

You might want to try the Change Pitch effect to kick it down an octave. …That’s just something to try to see if you like the way it sounds.

Note that mixing is done by summation. Mixed levels will be higher than each track alone so you may have to reduce the levels to prevent clipping (distortion). Audacity itself can go over 0dB without clipping but you can end-up with a clipped track when you render (export). EQ (such as boosting the bass) or other effects can also boost the levels into clipping.

Since it’s hard to predict the final mixed level, one solution is to export as 32-bit floating point (which can go over 0dB), then re-import your mix and Normalize to bring the volume up or down as needed before re-exporting to your final format.

It’s a great bargain considering what it comes with and the inherent, base level quality of it:

How are you connecting that to your computer? If you’re getting good results, I guess it’s OK but the mic input on a laptop or regular soundcard is not correct for a stage or studio mic with a low-impedance, balanced, connection. The mic input on a laptop/soundcard is only for a “cheap” high-impedance, unbalanced, computer mic

Typically you’d use a [u]podcast mic[/u] with a built-in USB interface, or an audio interface with the proper low-impedance XLR mic connection ([u]example[/u]) Or, you can use a preamp or mixer and plug it’s line-out to the line-input on a desktop/tower computer.

Most audio interfaces (and preamps/mixers) with XLR mic inputs have phantom power for condenser mics, so you wouldn’t need the phantom power box. You can also get a small mixer with a USB output.

Real-time adjustment of equalization is possible in Audacity 2.1.X if you install this free plugin …

A recent poster produced a song with him singing over a prepared track. He got remarkably close. It took me a second to figure out it wasn’t a real studio performance. Then he made a couple of silly newbie mistakes and it all fell apart…but for a while there…

As I recall, all he did was compress slightly to get rid of phrase-to-phrase variations and then echo/reverb. Done. Out the door. He’s buying a microphone stand and pop and blast filter. When he gets it together there’s be no stopping him.


I understand what you mean about the input into my laptop. Yes, I was just plugging the 3.5mm into the mic jack on my laptop. It sounded alright, but I didn’t buy a condenser mic for nothing, do you have any budget suggestions for preamps/mixers? Thanks a lot!

Might something like this help?

It sounded alright

Then I’d leave it just the way it is. It’s possible you’re going to blow some bux and the voice isn’t going to sound substantially better than it does now, and USB sound devices, particularly the cheap, inexpensive ones that don’t cost a lot can have horrendous data whine and hiss noise problems.

Mic-In on a laptop doesn’t have to be terrible (although many are). If you didn’t recoil in horror at the noise level or distortion, it’s possible you don’t have any.

Push forward until you hit something you can’t fix with the existing system. Then write a check.

This is me writing that down.