volume issues

Hi, when recording, everything is showing I am at the correct level or even higher with the volume input yet when I go to play back on another device the volume is extremely low. I searched the forum but could not find any suggestion and I am sorry if this is an easy fix I am just missing. What am I doing wrong? Thanks very much.

Run the Amplify effect and note the default dB amplification level.

Audacity has already scanned your file and Amplify (or attenuate) by whatever is needed for normalized (“maximized”) 0dB peaks. After running Amplify (with the defaults) your file is as “loud” as it can go with linear amplification.

If it’s not loud enough, you’ll need to use compression,* limiting, etc., to bring-up the “loudness”. Most home recordings are not as “loud” as commercial recordings because commercial recordings are compressed, often highly-compressed.


The default amplification tells you how much headroom you have. For example, if Amplify defaults to +6dB, your current peaks are -6dB (and you have 6dB of headroom). You probably don’t need to know this, but it could be useful information…

If you run Amplify again, it will default to no-change.

0dB is the “digital maximum”. Regular WAV files, analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), and digital-to-analog converters (DACs) are hard-limited to 0dB and if you try to go over you’ll get clipping (distortion).

Audacity itself can go over 0dB, and some formats (including MP3**) can go over 0dB, but it’s “bad practice” to make a file over 0dB because the listener can clip their DAC. If you open a file that goes over 0dB and run Amplify or Normalize (with the defaults), it will be attenuated (Amplify will default to a negative dB value).


  • I’m talking about dynamic compression which is totally unrelated to file compression (such as MP3). Dynamic compression makes the loud parts quieter and/or the quiet parts louder. In practice, it’s normally used to make “everything loud”.

** MP3 is lossy compression. It changes the wave shape and frequently the MP3 will go slightly over 0dB even though the original did not, so you’ll frequently run-across MP3s that exceed 0dB. That means you can get clipping when you play back. As far as I know that slight clipping is not audible, but some people will normalize to around -1dB, leaving some extra headroom so the MP3 remains at-or-below 0dB.