Steinberg MI4


I recently got a Steinberg MI4 recording input device from a friend who insists it works just fine - she was upgrading to a bigger model.
It’s a USB connection - can’t do another output to computer because the USB is also what powers the thing.
When I record - whether on my desktop or laptop, whether with RCA, 1/4" input or microphone jack, whether with Audacity or a different program - I get crackling. Not cutting in and out, but fuzz and crackle over the recording itself.
I figured it was a problem with the USB port on either machine, but it’s happening with both my computers, yet worked fine for my friend. The USB cable itself is brand new… any thoughts?

It could just be that you’re overloading the input.
Could you record a couple of seconds, export it as a WAV file and upload it somewhere, then post a link so that we can examine it.
If you’ve not got your own web space, there are plenty of free file sharing sites such as

Hey, thanks for your quick reply.
I doubt I’m overloading it since I have just tried plugging in one input - say the first mic, with low gain, low input volume. Even if it’s quiet, it still crackles…
I’ll record a sample and upload it in a few minutes.

Here’s a sample …

I kept the gain and input levels down - this was registered by Audacity with barely any waveform, then amplified.

You’re getting “drop-outs”.

Zoom in close on the waveform where it is crackling and you will see lots of little gaps in the waveform. This happens because data is being dropped and is one of the most common problems with USB audio devices.

There can be many causes of this problem, but basically your system is not keeping up with the amount of data.
The usual things to try are:

Ensure that you are recording onto an internal hard drive. (not an external or network drive).
Defragment your hard drive.
Shut down all other applications - particularly anything that uses the sound system or USB.
Make sure that you have the most up-to-date drivers for your sound card.
Check in the Windows task manager (you are on Windows?) to see what is running and shut down all non-essential programs and services.
Set Audacity to record in 44100 Hz 16 bit - also try 48000Hz 16 bit.
Run a full system virus check and malware check.
Temporarily disconnect from the Internet and disable your anti-virus program.
Read this:

When you have a clean efficient system you will probably find that it works. Let us know how you get on.

Hmm, I can’t seem to improve anything. I am using Mac OS 10.4.11 on a rather old G4 with 512 MB RAM, no firewall or virus ware. I’m recording 44100 Hz 16 bit (it still happens even with much lower rates), with Audacity the only application running, no internet or anything, tried disabling play-through, etc. - still getting the dropouts. Perhaps I just don’t have enough RAM? Number 11 on that list mentions increasing the “system swap” value - any idea how to do this on a Mac?

No idea. I’ll try moving this to the Mac part of the forum and see if anyone there can help.
Oh… not yet I won’t … you need to say which version of Audacity you’re using so I can move this to the appropriate place.

Oh, it’s Aud 1.2.6 - thanks!

I don’t know what’s an Intel and what’s a PPC, but you know that 1.2.6 does not work properly on Mac OSX Intel.

Well before we shift this topic across, just give Audacity 1.3.9 a go.
Don’t worry about the “beta” status - most users find it to be a lot more stable than the old version.

Yes - I have an old PPC, so I hadn’t yet tried switching to 1.3.9 for compatability purposes, but I’ll go ahead and give it a shot anyway.

<<<There can be many causes of this problem, but basically your system is not keeping up with the amount of data. >>>

Or, this could be a USB power problem.

We routinely cure “crackling” by putting a wall-powered USB hub between the computer and the USB sound device. The hub does no other jobs than that one; to provide clean, wall socket power to the one sound device.

“Self-Powered” hubs do not work and can make the problem worse.

The last one I installed to cure crackling problems with a Duet sound conferencing unit was a Kensington PocketHUB SE 2.0. USD 24.99 at the local electronics store.

Our other offices report success with other similar hubs. Remember Do Not plug anything else into the hub.


It certainly could, but it amounts to much the same thing. USB has trouble maintaining a consistent data flow at the best of times (at least in part because it is CPU dependent), but if anything interrupts the USB data (including a hub trying to share the connection with another device, a poor quality power supply to the device, or anything else) then you get drop-outs.