very low volume when recording

I have audacity 2.02 on windows xp running on a dell gx280 with sound speakers in a hp 1730 monitor plugged into the green speaker jack I have a new radio shack AVL516 unidirectional dynamic mic plugged into the onboard red mic jack. I also have a Yamaha DXG500 keyboard plugged into the blue line-in jack from the keyboard’s headphone jack.

I get good sound when playing music from the internet. No problem there.
Using Audacity, I get good sound from the keyboard when I turn up the keyboard’s sound very high, so high that it is quite loud when I remove the headphone jack and use the keyboard’s speakers.

I had to use XP’s 1 MIC boost on advanced controls for microphone tab under recording controls tab in order to get adequate volume from the mic. With it came background static. How do I get rid of the static and get good volumes from the keyboard and mic?


It’s almost certain that you have the wrong adapter to plug your dynamic (moving coil) microphone into your computer.

This is the proper adapter.

Note that the XLR has three holes (connections) but the 1/8" only has two connections, sleeve and tip. That illustration has the formula for how to make the adapter if you’re handy with tools.

If your 1/8" plug has more metal rings – like this (the one by my thumb)…

Then that’s where the noise is coming from. We found somebody actually making the right cable adapter. I need to look.


If this is one of the microphones that already has a 1/4" or 1/8" plug on the end, it could still have the wrong one. I can’t tell from the catalog. No pictures.

I found the instruction manual on Radio Shack’s site.
The mic seems to have a permanently attached cable with a ¼ Inch (6.35 mm) TS plug. There’s no mention of XLR or balanced connections.


That sounds normal for a “standard” built-in sound card.

The blue line in jack is designed to handle signals that are about 1 volt. That will be close to full volume for a keyboard - remember to turn the keyboard volume down before you disconnect the keyboard from the computer.

The pink microphone inputs are usually very poor quality. In order to keep the cost down, on-board sound cards rely on boosting the signal digitally rather than using a proper “high gain” microphone pre-amp. The result of this approach is low cost, but crap quality and loads of hiss. High gain microphone pre-amps cost money and the manufacturers have worked out that the $50 to $100 extra cost of including a good quality microphone pre-amp results in less sales.

For decent quality microphone recordings without loads of hiss, your options are to either use a USB microphone (can be less than $20 US), or use an external microphone pre-amp (or mixing desk) between the microphone and the line input of the sound card, or upgrade the sound card to one that has a reasonable quality mic input (typically a USB sound card).
The set-up that I use is a Behringer mixing desk connected to a Behringer UCA 202 USB sound card. The mixing desk can accept both microphones and instrument level signals. The sound quality is pretty good.

Hey kozikowski, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks for the extremely clear and helpful response. You could almost hear the tiny lightbulb going off over my head when I recognized the picture of the adapter that I have in my junk box that solved my microphone volume problem. Well done, thanks.