Tiny Waveforms - Smaller Expertise

I am just beginning to record audiobooks for ACX. I got myself an AT2035 and a Steinberg UR12 interface. I set myself up in a quiet closet and I just got an audition accepted.

My problem is when I record the raw audio, my waveforms are tiny, as if I was speaking far away from the mic or very softly. I’m 6-8 inches from the mic and I’m speaking at full volume.

I looked for soundcard settings on my laptop (Lenovo Y700) and I couldn’t find anything that looked helpful.

So I guess I have two questions: Is this even a problem? And if so, how do I fix it?

I mean, I’m able to do some mastering things to get my volume and levels all within ACX guidelines, but am I sacrificing any quality in doing so? I followed the steps outlined on this forum: equalization > rms normalize > limiter > noise reduction


You may not find any volume controls for a USB interface.

Can you make the Steinberg “PEAK” light come on for your microphone under any conditions?

Turn the Steinberg volume control up and talk louder and louder until the light comes on. We are intentionally creating distorted sound to see how the light works.

Normal speaking volume should be just a bit quieter than that. When you announce, look at the Audacity bouncing sound meter. It should bounce up to about -10dB to -6dB occasionally. It should never go all the way up into the red.

Nobody would be shocked if the Steinberg adjustments were all the way up to achieve that. Home Recording Devices such as the Steinberg are designed for “restrained volume,” because you can usually recover from too quiet. Overload is immediately and permanently fatal.

Can you get there?


#1: You may be accidentally recording from the computer’s built-in mic, rather than the AT2035.
If while recording you gently tap the computer, then tap the AT2035 you’ll see which one you are recording from.

#2: AT2035 requires phantom-power to give normal-strength signal, (otherwise it will be very quiet).
Your audio interface (the USB device) should have a button/light which says “48V”, that’s the phantom-power.

#3: There’s also a “pad” switch on the AT2035 which attenuates the signal by ~10dB.
If that switch is on -10dB the output will be low, (it should be on “0dB”).