setting recording level to avoid over-driving

When recording streaming media on my laptop (with built-in internal sound card/chip), I initially just took all defaults, but noticed the recorded waveform showing signs of being overdriven.

So I’m guessing I have to pre-record, and set the levels to something acceptable. “Recording volume” with microphone symbol seems to have no affect. “Playback volume” with speaker symbol does. Seems backwards to me.

When recording live on my Zoom H2, I usually set recording levels low to avoid over-driving, and know that I can recover the best level by using the Normalize function in Audacity after the fact. I’m thinking that would be a good idea here too.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Windows 7 SP1, and Audacity 2.1.0.


When recording streaming media on my laptop

How? Special software package? That’s not a natural thing for Windows 7 machines to do.The legacy machines recorded Stereo-Mix and I believe that would respond to volume controls, but since you’re recording the computer playback, it’s the playback control that would control the show volume. Try it. A common problem when doing that is the inability to hit speaker volume and recording volume at the same time.

It’s also possible you’re going to take steps to fix the recording volume and discover the original work is distorted and the high live recording is perfectly accurate. So you may get low volume distortion.


I don’t know… I just start Audacity recording, then start the streaming audio, and it works.

I found that with my Playback Volume set to about 75%, I didn’t get any over-driving. Then used Normalize to get the recording a little nicer, and the result is better than I had before.

True that the original source can sometimes be clipping.


I suggest you might find out. If you never changed the recording device in Audacity’s Device Toolbar it will probably use whatever the default Windows recording device is. The default Windows recording device is typically the internal microphone, not what you want to use for recording streaming audio.

The best choice to record streaming on Windows Vista and later is usually Windows WASAPI (loopback). See Tutorial - Recording Computer Playback on Windows - Audacity Manual.