Newbie question - how to reduce mic input level further?


I use the internal mic on my laptop with Audacity 2.2.2 on Windows 10.

Even after I reduce mic input level to 0.01 (minimum available level), the input is still too strong (when I play sax, it still hit the red area and cut top side of wave). Please see screenshot below. How can I reduce mic input further so it can be controlled within green area?
Thanks & regards,

How bad does it sound? …Ideally, you’d like to avoid the clipping but the sax has lots of harmonics so a little harmonic distortion may not be noticeable.

Make sure [u]Microphone Boost[/u] is off.

Otherwise, you may have to put more distance between you and the microphone, or try putting a pillow over the computer or something like that.

Or, there are alternatives if you want to buy some different equipment.

there are alternatives if you want to buy some different equipment.

Maybe a few more tricks first.

Make sure Windows voice processing isn’t running. Windows naturally assumes you want to conference to the corporate home office, so a lot of its settings are biased that way. I know you don’t have this specific problem, but that processing tends to hate music.

Did you look in the Windows sound settings and find the Microphone Boost? That will just kill you if you want to record a loud musical instrument. It’s suspicious that your recording volume control doesn’t seem to do anything.

Do you run Skype or any of the other conferencing or communications programs? Do you leave them running in the background? Bad idea. Clean shutdown the machine with Shift-Shutdown. When it gets all the way down, Start and don’t let anything else start.

How far away from the microphone are you? Do you know where it is? Mine is just left of the left-hand shift key. Do a sound test where you play about 6 feet (2M) away from the laptop. If it still overloads, then there is a setting we just haven’t found yet.

Audacity doesn’t apply effects, filters or corrections during recording.


Thanks for the information you provided, both of you. This issue has been resolved based on what you suggested.

You are right. The Microphone Boost was not 0. It was 10dB. After I changed it from 10dB to 0dB, it solved this issue. Actually, when Microphone Boot is 0dB, I have to increase mic input level from 0.01 to 0.1. Otherwise it was too low. Please see screenshot below.
Thanks & regards,

Windows has a list of things that happen to affect your recording.

I know it seems you should be recording to perfect volume, get to the end of a performance, Export the sound files and walk away, but that’s actually a bit dangerous. If any one of those upward or downward blue spikes hits 100%, you will produce a damaged, possibly permanently, note or notes. Much better to set the tips to a safe, lower volume and then correct the volume under controlled conditions in post production. Say, blue waves 70% instead of 90%. When you perform, the bouncing sound meter should just start turning yellow as it moves.

You can get to the end of a performance and View > Show Clipping. Audacity will show you all the little damaged parts of the timeline in red. Occasional clips may be ignored, but if you hit a bunch of them close together, that will sound harsh, crunchy and crispy—forever.


Thanks for the information and suggestions. The View → Show Clipping is useful.

One of my records (screenshot below) doesn’t show any clipping on top or bottom. But View → Show Clipping shows me those “hidden” clippings located in the area marked by the vertical red line.

It’s good idea to turn mic level lower when record, and then use the volume of that recorded track (green circle in screenshot below) to adjust sound level before export it to a file. Do I understand right?
Thanks & regards,

There is a program called Clip Fix that tries to repair a single momentary overload (red) point, but it’s really just guessing at it. It puts in the clean musical note it thinks might have been there based on notes before and after.

Overload (clipping) is a point where the digital system stopped following the music. There is no accurate note to rescue or repair. The overload point is called “clipping” because it looks like someone came by and clipped off the top or bottom of the blue wave.

Audacity > Effect > Clip Fix

Much better to record at a slightly lower volume and not have overload at all.

Don’t record too low, either. It’s possible to record volume so low that the natural noise in the system starts competing with your performance. Sometimes audiobook readers get that by accident.



Turns into this if you just reduce the post production volume. These three areas are permanently damaged.


Thanks for the information. It helps a lot!


I think that English came out wrong. You avoid the damage if you reduce the volume of the performance. After you create the damage, it’s permanent.

There’s an oddity with Show Clipping. You can’t actually have a tool which measures that. Because there is no sound over 100%, you can’t measure the sound that went over 100%. The best we can do is run in the subjunctive, if you remember your English lessons. The sound would have gone over 100% if it could.

There was a serious discussion how to design that tool. It’s not as easy as you think.