RECORDING PROBLEMS - LOW LEVEL - NOISE et al (SOLVED)

Previous computer crashed. Newer (not new) computer runs Windows 7 Home Premium. Sound card is c-Media PCI 3D audio, microphone is Audio Technica P48 cardiod condencer via audio mixer board. I am running Audacity 2.0.3 and I don’t remember if I downloaded the .exe or .zip file.

Problem 1: When I record, I have a constant -36db indication on the Vu meter. I can disconnect the output and input from the sound card, make numerous changes in the sound card configuration including placing everything in “mute” but the Vu indication never is reduced nor does it go away. When I play it back, I have a slight hissss. Maybe I need a new sound card so what would be recommended?

Problem 2: I can’t seem to get sufficient drive to Adacity. If I “boost” the mic gain (software), I get some distortion. If I just increase the gain from the sound board, I get some distortion but in no case (other than speaking somewhat loud 2 inches from the microphone) can I get anything greater then -12db on the Vu meter. Also the graphic display only shows about 1/4 inch deflection max. Playback sound is just “OK” if I really turn up the audio mixer board but I can still hear the hisss in the background. Maybe again, this is an indication that I need a new sound board. Recommendations please.

Regards,
Dan in SC.

How’s the analog sound out of the mixing board? Do you see good levels on the mixer’s meters? I’m not familiar with that mic… Does that mic require phantom power and does your mixer provide phantom power? (I don’t think it’s a phantom power issue, because you probably wouldn’t hear anything…)

Problem 1: When I record, I have a constant -36db indication on the Vu meter.

That’s most-likely an issue with your soundcard. The solution is a different soundcard or an external USB interface. I wouldnt be surprised to see a -36dB noise floor from the mic input on a consumer soundcard, but for line-in that’s a bit unusual. I assume you have selected the soundcard’s line-input as your recording source (not “Stereo Mix” or “What-U-Hear” which can be noisy).

If you are only using the mixer as a mic preamp, one solution is to use an interface with a built-in low-impedance XLR mic input ([u]example[/u]). Or, usually an interface like that will have switchable mic/line inputs so you can use it with a mixer and bypass your regular soundcard.

Problem 2: I can’t seem to get sufficient drive to Adacity. If I “boost” the mic gain (software), I get some distortion. If I just increase the gain from the sound board, I get some distortion but in no case (other than speaking somewhat loud 2 inches from the microphone) can I get anything greater then -12db

Try connecting a CD player, or the line-level audio outputs form a DVD player. That will tell you if the the low-level is caused by the soundcard, or if you have low output from your mixer.

P.S.
Have you used that mic before? I assume it’s a directional mic… If it’s a side-address directional mic, make sure you are speaking/singing into the front side, not the back or the end. (That won’t help with the noise, but it will help with the signal level and the overall sound quality.)

Thanks to all for their comments. I have tried all and more but still have the problem. I am going to change the sound card. Are their any suggestions as to which PCI sound card I should install?
Dan

I’ve not been able to find a “P48” microphone in the Audio Technica product range. Could you post a link to where we can find information about this microphone.

Thanks to “DVDdoug” and the link, I am convinced that the PC express sound card has problems. Today I ordered the ALESIS iO2 and I think that will solve it etc.

As to the mic, I guess I just did not give enough info. Here is what is on the microphone,“Audio Technica AT 2020 Cardioid Condencer Model P48.”
Look here

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT2020USB/?utm_source=MSN&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=recording&utm_term=Audio-Technica_At2020_Usb

Dan

That’s a USB microphone. That one doesn’t go through a mixer.
Koz

I thought I would post the results (and solution) to my problem. I did order the ALESIS iO2 as suggested. Upon receiving, I removed the sound card from the tower and removed the driver software. I installed the ALESIS iO2 (just plug into a USB port). I then ran the output of my mixer to the ALESIS. After adjusting all the knobs - nothing with excessive gain but moderate gain, the Audacity recording was clear and there was no background noise.
I think the problem was simply a “low end” sound card with insufficient gain. In the “old” system, the microphone has very low output and by the time I cranked up the mixer board, sound card and then Audacity, it was just too much. I raised the noise floor way too much. Now with the “new” system, the mixer board is set for moderate gain as well as the ALESIS and Audacity and I just don’t have the noise floor problem.

Many thanks to DVDdoug as his advise was sound (no pun intended). Case closed.
Dan