Unintentional bass boost from analogue source

I’m not sure if this is an Audacity issue or one due to my sound card and need some help from those more knowledgeable then I.

I recently installed a SB ZxR sound card that appears to be functioning normally. I’ve used Audacity to record from the web, DVDs and other digital sources with no problems. This past weekend, I finally dragged my turntable and pre-amp out and attempted to rip some LPs to HDD. The playback was normal (and I should add that the detail with the ZxR is much better than it was with on-board sound) and the recording to the HDD seems to also be OK (normal waveform). On playback however, the bass was hugely boosted to the point where the drivers were doubling and all the other detail was drowned out. This was the case whether I used the pre-amp or the line outputs.

Any thoughts on what the issue is? The system is a Gigabyte 990FXa-UD3, CPU is AMD-FX61000, 8 GB RAM and Win 7 64 bit OS.Audacity is set to “Sound Blaster ZxR” for both “speakers” and “what you hear.” Input is set to “stereo.”

Please describe both your recording set-up and your playback set-up in detail. Model numbers are good, or other details that we can look up on Google.

What input of SoundBlaster did you connect to? Make sure you connected to a line-level input, not the mic input.

Set Audacity to record from that SB line-in, not what U hear.

Turn off Windows Enhancements and Sound Blaster sound effects: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/faq_recording_troubleshooting.html#enhancements.

Post an audio sample of what it sounds like if you need help.


On the wildest of guesses, I’d say you were compensating for the vinyl RIAA distortion twice. Bass sounds do not fit in a vinyl groove, so they’re suppressed in pressing. The RIAA Phono Preamp compensates for this and the sound thereafter should be perfect. If you then go through a digital capture system that also thinks it should compensate for the RIAA system, the result would be loud with nuclear bass sound.


Thanks to all for the replies.

To answer the questions about the recording set up, I’m using a Revox B790 turntable with a Grado cartridge (don’t recall the model) connected to an HK Citation 11 pre-amp connected via RCA cables/connectors to inputs on the SB card (specifically, the daughter board of the main card). There are no mic inputs on the DB - they are on the main card, so no chance of hat incorrect connection (the microphone connections are either 1/4" or 3.5mm plugs, not RCA-type connectors in any event). I’ve tried using the Citation’s recording line out, aux line out and the pre-amp out (variable output - what you would connect to a main amp) - the result is the same for all. Playback is only through the computer to the speaker/sub connected to it - not through my audio system.

I don’t think I have any of the enhancements from either Windows or SB on. Will double-check but if they were on, wouldn’t I hear it in all playback modes? Right now, when I play an LP through the computer and the computer speakers, playback is completely normal. The bass issue is only when I play the digital file transcribed/recorded through Audacity back.

I’m not sure what is meant by the suggestion to “Set Audacity to record from that SB line-in, not what U hear.” Both the “Speakers” and “What U Hear” boxes are set to “Sound Blaster ZxR” is there a menu buried somewhere that I’m missing that this refers to?

I will go through the troubleshooting section of the manual per the link as suggested by Gale A and will post a sound snippet when I get a chance. Again thanks to all!

That means in Audacity’s Device Toolbar. You don’t want to be recording from What U Hear. That may very likely have sound effects applied to it. In the Input device or Recording Device box in Device Toolbar, choose the physical input that you are recording from.

You have not given your Audacity version. Please use the latest 2.1.0 from http://web.audacityteam.org/download.


Thanks Gale. Sorry for not including the version of Audacity that I’m using. It was 2.0.2 but I’ve now installed 2.1.0.

With respect to the Recording Device, after reading the Device Toolbar directions, it appears that I should be selecting Stereo Mix rather than What U Hear. This is what that looks like though: Stereo Mix (Realtek High Definition). I tried experimenting with other settings that have the Sound Blaster card associated with them - Aux and Digital Audio (Mic also is associated with the SB but obviously not an option in this case). I did a quick test and it looks like the Aux selection as the Recording Device works.

I’m right now trying to rip one of my favorite LP’s - Freddie King’s “Burglar” to my HDD and will let you know how it goes but the problem seems licked. My thanks to all.

Realtek stereo mix is the onboard sound card, yes. And it is only for recording sounds that are playing on the onboard sound card. It’s no use to you for recording a pre-amp connected to SoundBlaster.

You want something like SoundBlaster Aux (if that is what you are connecting the pre-amp to)
or SoundBlaster line-in.

What U Hear is like Realtek stereo mix - it records the audio that is playing on SoundBlaster. You can record that way if you set the SoundBlaster input to play through the SoundBlaster output, but it is not the best way.

I suggest you go into Windows Sound and make sure you have shown and enabled all the SoundBlaster input devices. This link shows you how to do that http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Mixer_Toolbar_Issues#vistacp. Hopefully you will reveal a SoundBlaster line-in that way. When you have enabled all SoundBlaster inputs, restart Audacity.

If you are still stuck after that, open Help > Show Log… top right of Audacity. In the window that opens, right-click and Select All. Then right-click and Copy. Then paste the information here.


Looks like simply changing the Recording Device to Aux (from What U Hear) was the answer. Big thanks, particularly to Gale, for the help. It certainly looks like using What U Hear applies EQ similar to the RIAA phono EQ, which is interesting.

Now that things are back on track, I’ve got my work cut out for me: I have close to 1,000 LPs that I’d like to rip to digital for ease of use. That’s thousands of real-time hours but it it will be worth it. On a side note, the difference in sound quality between digital (CD) and most analogue (LP) recording is really striking. Most run-of-the-mill LPs, like Columbia or Elecktra pressings are good but some of the boutique pressings such as Pacific Mobile Sound Labs or Analogue Recording are incredible in their dynamic range and detail. The small amount of hiss and other extraneous noise is a small price to pay to get much more natural and nuanced sound. Long live the LP!

Again, many thanks.


There is one common mistake that people make when they do jobs like this and that is to do everything in MP3. DO NOT save the work in MP3. MP3 is a compressed format and causes sound damage. Always. Export your work as WAV (Microsoft) and that can be the archive. You can make anything you wish from that including MP3s for your portable Music Player. Every time you make an MP3 from another MP3, the quality goes down, even if you intentionally use the same quality compression values.

You will find yourself rapidly exceeding your comfort zone because uncompressed, perfect quality WAV files are very big and use up disk space in a hurry. That’s the decision.


Most run-of-the-mill LPs, like Columbia or Elecktra pressings are good but some of the boutique pressings such as Pacific Mobile Sound Labs or Analogue Recording are incredible in their dynamic range and detail. The small amount of hiss and other extraneous noise is a small price to pay to get much more natural and nuanced sound. Long live the LP!

If you prefer the sound of analog records that’s a personal choice and there’s nothing wrong with that… But IMO, the quality of the average LP was mediocre at best, at least in the rock/popular genres. Once in awhile you’d come across a gem. Add 30 or 40 years of wear and damage and good sounding records are very-very rare.

The “snap”, “crackle”, and “pop” of records always drove me freekin’ nuts! It was annoying, especially when it was my record and I knew exactly when that nasty “pop” was coming, and I’d be sitting there waiting for it instead of enjoying the music. When I got my 1st CD player, I was blow-away by the dead-silent background and sound clarity, and I never bought another record. I replaced most of my LPs with CDs, and digitized and then gave-away most of the records that weren’t available digitally. I still have a turntable, but I never listen to records, I only use the turntable for occasional digitizing.

Of course, CD’s are technically superior in every way (noise, dynamic range, distortion, and frequency response). But, you may still prefer the sound of the record, and the mastering may be different. A good quality MP3 is often superior to an LP too (in scientific blind listening tests the MP3 is often indistinguishable from the uncompressed original). And to me, even it the MP3 compression isn’t perfect an occasional MP3 compression artifact is preferable to vinyl noise… Personally, I’d always choose the MP3 over vinyl.

You can’t remove tracking distortion or groove damage distortion, but you can remove some of the noise, and of course you can fix-up the frequency response with EQ. If you want to go beyond what Audacity can do, [u]this page[/u] lists some software for cleaning-up digitized LPs. I’ve been using Wave Repair which does an audibly perfect job of removing most clicks & pops, and in the manual mode it only “touches” the sound where you identify a defect. But, it usually takes me a full weekend to clean-up a digitized LP, so I’m going to try something more automated next time. And with 1000 LPs to digitize, you’ll also need something more automated.