Volume too low on USB mic - pre-amp help? Mic level vs line?

I’m using a Mac (OS X) with a new M-One USB microphone, with Audacity 2.0.5.

My Mac’s built-in mic records at the correct level but my new M-One USB microphone is barely audible. I’ve cranked all the possible levels to 100% with no luck. Someone suggested using Audacity’s ‘amplify’ feature afterwards but that’s no good - it also amplifies background noise and isn’t ideal. There must be a proper solution.

A sound engineer told me it sounds like Audacity is confusing the microphone with an instrument line (and therefore not giving it pre-amplification) but surely that can’t be the case - all the levels are for microphones, not instruments.

I’ve searched the forums but still haven’t found a proper solution.

Please help!

Right. So it’s an Art M-1.

USB microphones carry the preamplifier and digital converters right inside the microphone. Part of their charm is you don’t have to worry about anything other than plugging the mic in and turning it on. Just a note that you should plug in and turn the microphone on and only then start Audacity. Audacity looks for sound equipment when it starts.

You know it’s a side-address microphone, right? You talk into one side, not the end. It’s also cardioid, so you have to pick the correct side. Only one works.

While you’re recording, scratch the front of the microphone with your fingernail. It should sound very loud and explosive if everything is working.

USB microphones do tend to perform low. A quiet performance can be amplified and processed, but a show that’s too loud is unrecoverable trash. So most makers error on the low side. Some makers give you a software package that can adjust the volume, but I can’t find one for this microphone.

Another servicing trick is to see if you can make the volume lower. The choices are that all the volume controls are at their maximum, or they do nothing and it doesn’t matter where they are.


Thanks Koz. That seems to work, though it’s a little disappointing that I have to run everything through both amplification and noise reduction to make it useable. Is that par for the course with USB microphones or have I missed something?

Thanks for the help! I appreciate it.

Post a mono clip here on the forum. Pick very high quality MP3 (256) and do it BEFORE you mess with filters and effects. Say a few words at normal volume and then hold your breath for a bit.


Google your microphone and ‘Complaints.’


Ok, here’s a short clip with no adjustments made…

According to the spcification (http://artproaudio.com/art_products/microphones/usb_microphones/product/m-one_usb/) the microphone is able to handle a maximum sound pressure level (SPL) of 138 dB. That’s like shouting straight into someone’s ear, or standing close to a runway when a jet aircraft takes off, or a bit more than an opera singer at a distance of 30 cm. Scale that down to a quietly spoken voice and the signal level becomes very low.

The sound quality of the voice (ignoring the noise) sounds pretty good, so this microphone is probably well suited for loud singers. For recording quiet spoken words, something like a Rode NT-1 with as good (quiet) a pre-amp as you can afford would be a better choice.

I’m not a Mac user so I don’t know if there are any tricks to get the recording level louder, but the proper solution is to use a more sensitive microphone.

The Rode and pre-amp would be nice but it’s a little pricey considering how seldom I’ll be using it.

If this mic is going to be perpetually too quiet, what would you think of something like the Blue Yeti? I’ll only be using this for video voice-overs and promo intros etc rather than singing. Or any other suggestions?

If you are going to use a USB mic (probably the lowest cost option), get one that has a recording level (“gain”) control on the microphone. Having a headphone socket on the mic is also useful, and almost essential if you want to do “overdub” recording.

If you’re buying over the Internet, check the “returns policy” - you’ll know first time that you try the mic whether it is better suited for your needs or not.

The G-Track has a volume control.


One of the guitar people at work owns it and I borrowed it long enough to write the original Overdubbing piece.


I didn’t have enough time to do a serious evaluation, but I rather liked it. I know the owner/guitarist/singer loves it.