Recording volumes

Wanted to ask the forum what a good recording looks like. I like to catch songs on the fly, but I am obviously not setting up the recordings well. Take a look at the attached that shows a recent recording… I have learned how to “amplify” with Audacity, but more curious how to set it up properly in the first place. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
audacity2.pdf (217 KB)

Your levels look low but they are probably useful. If you can’t go higher than that and it sounds OK after amplifying, don’t worry about it.

Digital recording levels are not that critical.* You can always amplify after recording. The most important thing is to avoid clipping (“trying” to go over 0dB / 100%).

The idea is to leave headroom for unexpected peaks. Nothing bad happens when you get close to 0dB and nothing bad happens with slightly-low levels. If you are digitizing analog recordings (where the levels are fairly predictable) you can shoot-for peaks about -3dB. If you are recording “live”, it’s a good idea to keep the peaks below -6dB. Again that’s just for headroom (safety margin).

Low levels can be an indication of a problem on the analog side. If you have a weak analog signal you can end-up with a poor signal-to-noise ratio. For example, if you are too far from the microphone you’ll pick-up more room noise, and the room noise and preamp noise will be more noticeable when you amplify later.


  • In the days of analog tape you needed a hot signal to overcome tape noise. But with digital recordings recording levels are much less important. With tape you could also occasionally go over 0dB where the tape would start to saturate/soft-clip. Analog-to-digital converters hard-clip at exactly 0dB.

dvddoug… thanks for the tips. just what i was looking for. i was recording sound off of spotfy, or youtube, so not having to worry with a mic or anything like that. is there any way in audacity to amplify a batch, or do you have to do them all one at a time?