Recording live band - turn up mic/turn up recording level

Hi Team

Sorry if this is a noob question and I did try to find the answer myself before posting

I record our band (electric guitars x 2, electric bass, acoustic drum kit and vocals) rehearsals using Audacity via USB mic (Blue Yeti) → Windows 10

These recordings are just for us to refer back to but I want them to sound as good as they can

My question is – should I try and have the mic (Gain on the Blue Yeti) turned up high and the Recording Level on Windows 10/PC turned down or the mic down low and up on PC?

Obviously the band is very loud so just wondering what is the better way to go?

Hope this makes sense


In My Opinion:

Since the gain on the computer is rarely actual gain, I would turn that all the way up (Audacity microphone slider) and adjust the Yeti for maximum peaks in the yellow (-6) region according to the Audacity 2.1.0 or 2.1.1 sound meters.

Some Windows computers can have actual gain boost sometimes labeled “20dB boost” or something like that. You don’t want that one. That setting can increase hiss and other noises.

Also it’s a given you turn off all the other Windows sound managers like “Cathedral Setting” and Windows Enhanced Services.


Generally when you have several gain settings available, setting the optimally
involves a tradeoff between getting the lowest noise (usually accomplished by
getting as much gain at an early stage as possible) and avoiding clipping (which
too much gain at an early stage can cause).

In the particular case of the Blue Yeti we know that the A/D chip used does have a
programmable gain stage in front of the A/D converters. So it seems likely (but not
guaranteed) that the microphone gain slider in Audacity would be adjusting that
programmable gain stage. The chip also boosts a reasonably powerful Digital Signal
Processor, so who knows what magic they may be doing in that.

So I would suggest some experimentation. You’ll need a source of constant volume
(your electric keyboard maybe). And make two recordings, one with the digital
slider all the way up and the knob on the yeti adjusted to a good level, and one
the knob on the yeti all the way up and adjust the slider to the same level. In both
cases once you set the level record several seconds of silence (Did I mention you need
a quiet studio?) and compare the noise in the resulting recordings.

You will also want to watch out for clipping, with the gain knob on the Yeti all
the way up it might be possible to clip the analog input on the IC ahead of the
programmable attenuator. The attenuator will bring the overall level down so
you don’t get red on the Audacity meters, but the signal is still damaged.