"Recording volume unavailable (please use system mixer) HELP

I am trying to digitize my vinyl, and since iMac removed the aux input I can’t figure out how to do it.

I use a Pro-Ject turntable (non USB), RCA cables to the inputs on a Behringer U-Phono UFO202 connected to the USB port on my iMac. The recording levels are maxed out and my recording volume slider is greyed out. I don’t know what a “system mixer” is. Can anyone help?


I’m a Windows user, but I believe that’s normal.

The analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is inside the Behringer and Audacity can only “capture” the digital data. Sometimes the operating system can monkey with the digital audio stream, but it’s easy-enough (and generally safer) to adjust/boost the levels after recording.

If the levels are too high and you are clipping (distorting) the ADC, that’s a problem (with no good solution) but it’s normal to leave some headroom and if the digital levels are a little low, that’s not an issue.

It’s normal for the levels/gain to be a little low because there is no analog recording level control and you want to avoid clipping with a loud record and/or a “hot” phono cartridge.

Thanks for the reply. When I selected the “phono” input the recording levels were maxed out; when i selected “line” input they were at a more normal level, just ticking into -6. I ran some tests ripping two singles, one recorded in 1964 and the other in 2008. The earlier record sounds great, the later one pretty awful, with distortion, FWIW.

Still strange to me that I can’t adjust the recording levels as I’m ripping the vinyl. How do I adjust levels after recording?

Thanks again

The earlier record sounds great, the later one pretty awful

If it’s not way-louder and “trying” to go over 0dB and clipping maybe it’s just the record.

If the analog line-level signal is too hot, that’s easier to attenuate than the direct phono-cartridge output.

Since your turntable (apparently) has line outputs, do you have a stereo you can try it with? If you don’t have a stereo with line inputs, you can plug line-inputs directly into regular “powered” computer speakers, or you can plug it into your TV.

I’d expect newer records to generally sound better than older records but I haven’t bought a record since I got my 1st CD player. :wink:

When I selected the “phono” input the recording levels were maxed out; when i selected “line” input they were at a more normal level, just ticking into -6.

In that case your turntable must have a built-in preamp (line outputs). That’s rare in a “traditional analog” turntable. It probably also has a switch.

If the turntable does have a switch, you can try bypassing the turntable’s built-in preamp, and switch-in the Behringer’s preamp. The odds are, they won’t have identical gain so one may work better than the other (and/or one may have more noise than the other).

Virtually all USB turntables have line-outputs and some have a switch to bypass the preamp, and some modern DJ turntables have a built-in preamps. In the analog-days stereo receivers had a built-in preamp (phono inputs) but that’s very-rare now.

The UFO202 has a built-in phono preamp (which you don’t need), thus the switch. (The similar UCA202 does not have a phono input.)

Phono preamps have two functions. They amplify the signal (voltage) by a factor of about 1000 (+40dB) at mid-frequencies. And, they apply [u]RIAA Playback Equalization[/u] which reverses the recording equalization by greatly-boosting the low frequencies an greatly-reducing the high frequencies.

So for example, if you plug a turntable into a microphone preamp you’ll get all highs and no bass. If you skip the preamp altogether you get all-highs and a very weak signal. If you run the signal through two phono preamps, you’ll get the opposite problem (plus clipping distortion from too much gain).

Yep, my turntable has a switch.

I have to accept the fact that this is the way it is, now. I had my old iMac with the aux input for so long that this (USB only) came as quite a shock to me, even though I knew what to expect. I guess I’ll just use the levels I get, and boost/adjust afterward.


I have to accept the fact that this is the way it is, now.

With the hardware you have, yes. But there are LOTS of [u]USB audio interfaces[/u] with adjustable line inputs. Switchable mic/line inputs are super-common. [u]ART[/u] makes an interface with a phono/line switch and a recording level control.

But like I said, low levels are not really an issue with digital recordings.* You are more likely to get into trouble if you try to get the levels “just right”. Since you’ll be leaving some headroom, you’ll usually want to boost the levels later anyway. Pros typically record around -12 to -18dB (at 24-bits), leaving plenty of headroom. (You don’t need headroom if you don’t end-up using it, and of course pros are mostly recording “live” where levels are less predictable.)


  • In the old days of analog tape you needed a hot signal to overcome tape noise. But with digital, no tape noise! There is something called quantization noise but it’s more than 90dB down at 16-bits (way better than anything analog) and totally inaudible under any normal conditions (at 16-bita or better). Tape is more forgiving on the “loud end” because starts soft-clipping as you go over 0dB whereas digital hard-clips at exactly 0dB. But overall, digital has way more dynamic range.

Super helpful, DVDdoug. Thanks!