Scarlett Solo + Shure 55SH II, Low volume but useable

Well the all new singing dancing Scarlett Solo has arrived and is in use, along with the new Numark headphones.
What a difference. But of course, I’m facing a minor problem in that the Shure55SH II is a Dynamic mic, thus somewhat low volume output in the sense that the SOLO at full gain doesn’t drive the signal up high enough to be able to sit back from the mic comfortably, and up close, the usual “mouth noises” become somewhat evident.
Otherwise, on my Mac Mini, OSX 10.11.2 it works brilliantly. Just “plug and play” I am now able to get a basic recording that has very low noise floor, minimum peaks, and a useable RMS if I stay up close to the mic. Seems to require only minimum twerking with effects then. Normalisation and Limiting does it. If I may quote from the Focusrite FAQ,

I have to set the gain high to get a good input level
The Saffire and Scarlett microphone preamps provide between +10dB and +55dB of gain to the input signal before the converters. The gain required to obtain an acceptable signal level will depend on several factors including the input source and the type of microphone.

For example, signals with a high SPL like those from acoustic drums and guitar amplifiers aren’t likely to require much amplification so it’s normal to set the gain on the lower range. This is particularly true if a sensitive condenser microphone is utilised. Quiet signals such as vocals will require more amplification, particularly if used with a dynamic microphone.

The gain change by the potentiometer isn’t linear and it’s not unusual to require setting the gain towards the high extreme to get a reasonable signal level.

So if it’s any help to others… The unit is brilliant. No hiss, no noise, nothing.

and if anyone has read this far, does Audacity have a setting that can be used to “increase input volume” before recording. Unfortunately, using the SOLO, the Input Volume control is greyed out. It tells me to use the System input control - which is not there.

There is a hardware solution for low level mics like some older dynamics and ribbon mics. It’s called the “cloudlifter”. It needs phantom power and gives you another 20 dB gain. It’s not cheap, though. There are two others that are a little friendlier to the purse. One is the FetHead and I can’t remember the third one’s name… :sunglasses:

Ah, found it. It’s the Mogaine and this one has 25 dB gain:

But you might as well use the amplify function in Audacity after recording. It’s easy, it’s fast and it’s free.

And you may not need anything else.

Post the traditional ten second raw test clip and let’s see how far off it is. As you noticed, this combination’s noise is much quieter than the other system. The noise level just has to be 60dB quieter than the show to pass, wherever the two are. I expect the clarity of the voice got much better.

You have the SOLO cranked all the way up, right? The other control (02) should be off and the 48v light should be off.

Try running the microphone closer, but off to one side. Like half-left as you announce. That should give you much better volume without the P Popping. The purists will object on tonal quality grounds, but we’re not miking Adelle, here.

It’s not unusual for manufacturers to ship stand-alone MicPre/digitizers with low volume. I have a Shure X2U which works that way. As I wrote them, I would kill to have just 10dB more volume. It’s safer low. Most people don’t pay any attention to the sound meters and overload/excessive volume is fatal. So everybody gets to record low volume safely and “fix it in post.”


I know I am a little late to the party, but just in case. Go to View, Tool Bars and make sure the “Recording Meter Tool bar” is selected. This is what it looks like on my set up, v. 2.1.2.

Macs don’t use the Audacity recording slider for digital input as a rule. Since Audacity doesn’t apply filters or effects in recording, you pretty much have to get it right before the computer.


Make as good and loud test recording as you can, stop, apply Effect > Normalize (as below) and then Analyze > ACX Check.

– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK

What happens?


I have always believed that Macs were better for recording audio, or at least, that is what I have always been told. I have no knowledge concerning the usage of Macs. As far as the input recording level goes, if you can not get to a -18 to -6, you will chase these ACX requirement numbers, till the cows come home, and still fail. This happens a lot with Podcasters. They will buy a pretty dynamic mic for $450.00, without knowing that it takes a min of 60dbs to power it. Now they must buy the items you mentioned above, to raise their gain.

Now, if you can get your noise floor to a -70 max and your input level between a -12 and -6, talk past your dynamic mic no further the 3 inches away, use the new RMS Normalizer set to -20dbs, you will pass the ACX requirements, every single time.

As far as setting your input levels before you record with Audacity, I must be misunderstanding your statement. I can click on my Mic input level meter in Audacity, and adjust my mic input dead on, before I start to record. That is how I place it between a -6 and -12dbs.

You can find the new RMS plug in here.

I can click on my Mic input level meter in Audacity, and adjust my mic input dead on, before I start to record.

… In Windows. The Mac system as a rule has no provision to scale or boost. In the System panels, the controls are gray. Audacity gets its work from the System, no matter which computer you use.


I still am not picking up what you are putting down. Are you saying that the Mac system can not do this but Window can? Are we both saying the same thing, using different verbiage? I only ask due to the fact that I have 16 channels running into my PC, via one USB connection and I can control the mic input level, using the controls in Audacity. That is what the OP asked. I am not talking about boosting added gain, simply regulating the input level from my mixer, into Audacity, before I click record. I simply do not understand what you are saying. Thanks.

Macs do not generally support changing the input level from USB devices.

On Windows and Linux, changing the input level from a USB device is generally accomplished by digitally scaling the input signal (like using “Amplify” in Audacity).

With special hardware and drivers, it’s not ‘impossible’ for a computer to control the hardware gain of a USB audio device, but there are very few devices that do this.
Ideally, on Windows and Linux, the digital gain should be ‘unity’ and the input gain set with the hardware controls. That is, a full scale digital signal from the USB device gives 0 dB in Audacity. On Mac, this always happens because there is no digital gain control. On Windows this can be achieved by using WASAPI exclusive mode. On Linux this can be achieved by selecting the ALSA “hw” option for the recording device.

@Steve. Thanks for the detailed explanation. I use a Alesis MultiMix 4 USB FX 4-Channel Mixer and USB Audio Interface and Audacity recognizes it as a USB CODAC. With all the test I have done in the last week, being able to set your input to a -12 to -6 with a noise floor of -70 or lower, using a dynamic mic, two inches from your mouth, gets you 100% passage for the ACX Analyzer, with less then a 0.5db adjustment, for the RMS or TP requirement. The noise floor is around -95dbs.

I have checked this setting with my dynamics with great success and yet when I switch to my condensers, I chase all three requirements, till the cows come home. 75% of the time, I can not make the numbers line up. I see this in the Podcasting world all the time. Someone want to start a show so they go buy a Shure SM7B dynamic and a iRig to run it into the smart phone. They have no idea the mic requires a 60db min, just to make it work.

The OP stated he was using a iRig mini in this thread. In his last thread he switched to a pre amp that produces a range of +10 to +45dbs. He states he has to max it out to peak at a -6dbs and and most times, it peaks at -11dbs. I am thinking maybe he needs another 5 to 10 dbs of output to put his mic in a comfort zone. Any thoughts?

I can only imagine the nightmare one must go through, recording in the dark, with no “real time” db input meters. I would not even attempt to sit in a control room, recording a singer in a iso booth, knowing I had to wait to the end of the secession, to see what the levels were, via the db output meters.

A good interface that gives 60 dB of clean gain doesn’t come cheap…

A solution is to by a FetHead, Cloudlifter or one of the other inline +20 dB gain things. These aren’t cheap either, but they’re flexible and will solve the level problem for dynamic and ribbon mics. See:

You said a mouth full about the money. That is the sad thing, most people that buy these high dollar mics for Podcasting with no experience, have already spent 80% of their budget. This answer was given on another forum, concerning the issue of sub par gain.

“Using my FMR RNP introduces hiss when no sounds enters the sm7b at full throttle, the RNP has 66db of gain and about 60db of clean gain, i no longer use the mic on that preamp unless i use a triton Fethead to boost the signal…”.

The RPN starts around $375.00, the SM7B is $349.00 and the Fethead is around $100.00. Total price = $824.00 + tax. That is a lot of money to get a mic to work, the way it should. As with all things in life, “Live & Learn”.

And here are some of the “others”, as they can be hard to find:

Crimson Audio Mogaine:

Rode D Power Plug active:
(Rode doesn’t even seem to have a product page…)

Sanken HAD 48, expensive, but goes up to 40 dB gain.
(Unknown to me, as it is not available in EU and China)

Some Shure mics are a hype. I can’t help that. People pay ludicrous amounts of money for them. The upside is that you can usually sell them 2ndhand for a good price too, because of the hype.

But you can get boatloads of good mics for very little money. These get overlooked all the time. That’s why you shouldn’t rely on Youtube “reviews” for buying anything, as the best stuff out there is hardly known.

And NOBODY can give you advice about speakers, headphones, or mics, as they don’t know your ears, head, or voice…

That’s me Dan. The history here.
First up, I started with the Shure55SH Series II, into an iRig Pre, into the Mac Mini mic/ear port ( they are combined )
It was … ok. But really, was still a bit of a jury rig.
I have replaced it now with the current setup,
Shure55SH Series II, Scarletti Solo Mini. I tried using a Condenser mic with it, but gave it away as primarily I don’t like the sound from it, and levels are too hard to control. I will try again though with it next book.
Good set of earphones.
Basically, minimum equipment. But what I do use, is good equipment.

Recording position, is between 3 to 6 inches from the mic. Mic suspended on short boom end so it’s about eye level while I’m sitting.
Sound floor around -70 to -75
SOLO Mini gain up full. So the Shure is running at it’s natural level.
Active recording level between -12 ± 4, to -6 ± 2, but effectively between -12 and -6 as registering on Audacity.
Peak levels always under -1, I really work on minimising peak voice “explosions”.

ACXCheck across 20 to 30 minute primary recording usually shows RMS out by a few dB.
… Lots of editing. Coughs, squeaks, mouth noise etc. Repeated sentences. Etc.

Usually just means a touch of Normalise, and perhaps a touch of Limiter. One or the other, or maybe both.

A test submission to ACX , a 25 minute extract of Chapter 2, returned this, which pleases me greatly.

Hi Robert,

I have reviewed your most recently submitted audio sample, and am glad to say that it is a great improvement! The file has a much cleaner sound – lower noise floor, less room ambiance, all around more clarity. Good work!

This file now meets all ACX audio submission requirements. The one area that I would suggest focusing on improving is the editing process. For the most part this file sounds fine, but there are some mouth noises between the narration that can be distracting. I would recommend removing any that stick out when you listen back.

Otherwise, you should be good to go! Keep up the good work, and feel free to reach out if you have any other questions or concerns.

Finally, I looked at inline gain rigs, to get a bit of “boost” but can’t justify the cost, and am none too sure it’s needed anyway for this work.

So I’m a pretty happy bunny…
Minimum equipment, minimum after-recording effect application, careful editing, good to go.