Weird Issue with Audio being capped at -6db when using MME

A few days ago, when going to record (audacity 2.4.2) I noticed that randomly my mic levels seemed quite low for some reason. Even at max gain it seems like the audio levels are being limited by something. I had recorded audio with the same exact setup just fine the day before, so it was odd that this happened without me updating/changing a single thing. My setup is a focusrite solo 2nd gen connected to an at2020 through XLR. So far I’ve tried…

  • Using a brand new at2020
  • Getting a brand new focusrite solo
  • new xlr cable
  • new and legacy focusrite drivers

    None of which seemed to fix the problem, the ONLY solution I have found so far to get full audio levels back is to use use WASAPI. If anyone has any helpful suggestions or have fixed this problem themselves I would really appreciate any advice. I will link pictures of me trying to peak the audio, MME vs WASAPI, with MAX GAIN, so you can see exactly what i’m talking about.

I can explain why it’s happening, but I can’t explain why it didn’t happen the day before… MAYBE it’s a Windows mono/stereo setting or some other Windows setting…

You have a 2-channel (stereo) interface - If you record in stereo with a microphone on the left and a guitar on the right, both channels can independently go to 0dB (100%) and everything is “normal”.

You can record in stereo with the mic only, and then after recording you can delete the silent channel and convert to mono.

If you record in mono both channels are cut in half so the mic and guitar can be near maximum and you won’t clip (distort) or go over 0dB when they are combined.

The red clipping indicators on the interface are telling you “the truth” in either case. If they are showing red you are clipping and if not, you’re not clipping. Normally you should leave some headroom… There’s no problem with low digital levels and you’re probably going to adjust the level after recording anyway…

There is software (most DAW applications) that will record each input/channel simultaneously as a separate mono track so you don’t have this issue. If you have a multi-channel interface, that’s how multi-track recording usually works.

The ONLY solution I have found so far to get full audio levels back is to use use WASAPI.

WASAPI is fine but you shouldn’t be using WASAPI-loopback in this situation. WASAPI is the newest protocol and MME is the oldest.

Wow how interesting, as you probably already knew you’re 100% correct! When setting the channel to stereo, the audio levels are PERFECT exactly the way they were before. I’m really curious to what caused windows to randomly make that adjustment. Based off your info I was actually able to completely FIX my issue!

Windows had the interface recording in 2 channels so by switching over to 1 channel the audio levels are back to normal!

Thanks again 1000x times for your help!! Hopefully this will save others a bunch of time and $$