Recording levels too low

I record in a small insulated booth using an Audio-technica AT2035 Mic connected to the EVO4 audio interface with XLR Cables.

I have to set the Audacity and the EVO4 recording levels to their highest settings. If I speak at a normal voice level and run the ACX check, my sample fails because the “Peak level” is too low (6.44.dB) and the RMS level is too quiet (27.89 dB). The “Noise Floor” passes (76.23). However, if I yell into the mic I can pass the ACX test. Also, I have the “Show Clipping” button checked and the recording never shows clipping even when snapping my fingers next to the mic.

Could I possibly have something set wrong?

Maybe you’re not doing anything wrong. Nobody can announce straight into ACX. The goal is to announce “safe” levels and use standard corrections to produce the finished chapter.

These are approximately normal announcing levels.

Obsessive engineer wants you to Export a WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit sound file of your raw reading against accidents. Edit a copy of that.
After you do editing, corrections, and other adjustments, you can apply Audiobook Mastering. These are detailed instructions:

This is the short form.

Mastering guarantees RMS (Loudness) and Peaks. If you recorded in a nice, quiet, echo-free room, you may be done. Noise should be quieter than -65dB. Not -60dB. Export a WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit as an Edit Master before you make the MP3 for ACX.

You still need to pass ACX Human Quality Control and not scare the horses when you talk, and you still have to satisfy all the other ACX requirements.

Can I buy your book right now on Amazon? That’s a new one.


Thank for your help.

My sample recording recently passed all of the automated ACX checks including their new Audiolab submission tool. Still lots of editing to do.

My book is still a LONG way off. Most of it is written but still a lot of formatting and recording left. Thanks for asking


I only ask because Amazon publication in paper or e-book is required before they will start an audiobook.

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And just FYI - Your levels before mastering are just-about perfect! The main thing is to avoid is “trying” to go over 0dB and clipping (distorting). Digital recording levels are not that critical as long as you avoid clipping. Acoustic & analog levels are important because a stronger signal gives you a better signal-to-noise level. (Your noise is OK.)

But I’m surprised you have to crank-up the gain all the way with a condenser mic. (It wouldn’t be surprising with a dynamic or ribbon mic.) Make sure the -10dB pad on the mic is off. And I don’t think this is the problem, but make sure you are speaking into the front side of the side-address directional mic, not the end or back side.

Thank you DVDdoug,

I’ve discovered the source of my recording levels being too low.

I originally ordered a Rode Ai-1audio interface from Sweetwater music supply. Unfortunately, they, along with all other suppliers were out of the Ai-1. I purchased the EVO4 per Sweetwater’s recommendation. However, the EVO4 did not live up to my expectations. (Reviewers give the EVO4 high marks for music recording, but it sure didn’t work well for recording narration.) I returned the EVO4 and purchased the behringer UM2 to get me by until I could find the Ai-1 somewhere. The UM2 worked, but I needed something better. Finally, I found the Ai-1 on Ebay and ordered it. I’ve been using it the last few days and it works great. Simple to set up and use with lots of recording wiggle room.

Thanks again.

B.t.w. Sweetwater has great customer service.


I’m glad you found a solution to your problem. :smiley:

I happened to be perusing the specs on the internet and found that the EVO4 has a gain of up to 58dB, while the Rode AI-1’s gain is only 45dB. Go figure! :confused:

I did read a recent post on the EVO4 that it doesn’t work properly unless the most recent updates have been downloaded and installed. And they have this Smartgain “feature” which can be tricky to use. So there are apparently two ways on the hardware to adjust the gain, plus at least one way in the software. :ugeek:

Again, I’m happy that you found a solution with the headroom that you need. :smiley: And thanks for reporting back. :smiley: