Waveform too small

I’m running Audacity 2.3.1 on Windows 7 using a Scarlett Solo interface with a Rode NT-1A microphone.
Downloaded a few days ago, everything is working great…sound, recording, playback…all great. The only issue is the waveform is too small. Generally does not go above -0.3. Makes it very difficult in editing.
Again, everything else is fine, including volume levels.

Been trying to research and figure this out for days. Would really appreciate any info anyone could give me…

I have already tried redownloading. My system is fine and worked well with a previous software (pro tools/first).


The Amplify effect should bring up the levels (and the visual waveform amplitude).

If you’re recording in mono and not using the instrument input, the signal is probably being cut in half to leave room for the (unused) instrument input. If you record in stereo you should get a higher digital signal, but then you’ll still have to take care of the silent (right?) channel.

Pro tools probably handles this differently… It may not allow you to combine the mic & instrument inputs while recording.

Effect > Normalize: [X] remove DC and Peak -3dB.

That should boost the blue wave tips up to 70%. I wouldn’t go much above that depending on what you’re doing.

What are you doing?


Where is the solo volume control? The goal is to announce so the volume control turns green and maybe occasionally yellow. Glance at the Audacity recording bouncing sound meter and announce so it occasionally bounces up to between -10dB to -6dB.

It’s not unusual for these home devices to run with the volume control very high. They are designed to run quiet so keep you out of overload, 0dB and 100%. That can produce immediate, permanent distortion.

The only thing you should not do is run the volume control all the way up. If you need it boosted to maximum, go all the way up and back down very slightly. Some interfaces produce odd problems if you do try to run all the way up.


If you record mono (depending on your job), I don’t think the instrument half does anything, but turn it all the way down anyway.


Can you not increase the gain on the Scarlett Solo interface?
To set the gain, turn it up until the LED just starts to go red when you speak loudly, then back it off a fraction.

turn it up until the LED just starts to go red when you speak loudly

That’s the other trick. The knob turns red at a known, predictable volume. If you can’t force it to turn red as a test, then you are recording at too low a volume. You may be too far away from the microphone or are just too soft-spoken to get to your goal.

I had a voice job where a woman had very good theatrical presentation, but you almost couldn’t hear her talk even if you were standing next to her. I was using a full sound mixer and studio soundproofing and even then, I almost couldn’t deliver a track to the editors. So it does happen.


As has been mentioned, when you record in Mono, the gain of the input is halved (-3db).
I would like to see this as a selectable preference.
Regardless, the trick is to record in Stereo.
Then, in the track control panel left of the audio wave, RMB (right mouse button) and click: Split Stereo to Mono
You should now have 2 individual tracks. Delete the empty track: Click X in the upper left corner of the track controls.

Next, educate yourself about post processing. I do voice overs. The simplest processing chain is NECLN:
Noise reduction, Equalization, Compression, Limiter, Normalization.
There are endless results in a google search and many differing opinions on what the right way is.
Experiment for yourself but get used to doing post processing on a track.
Start with the default settings then explore. It’s all about what your hear and what OTHERS say sounds right.

Lastly, the gain on your Scarlett should not be used to overcome any perceived shortcomings of Audacity.
The gain on the Scarlett should be set to the highest level that keeps the LED flashing green and rarely (read never) hits red (clipping).
The gain setting will vary greatly depending on what you’re recording.
When I do a quiet narration, the gain knob is at the 2:30 position.
When I do a loud video game, the gain is pulled back to the 12 o’clock position.
A guitar amp might be pulled back further.