What is preventing me from adjusting the microphone volume?

The mic slider is at max and I cannot bring it down. I have to adjust the volume further up the line instead, before it reaches Audacity.

Yes; that is correct. Ideally, you want to set the volume/gain at the interface.

If you are using an external audio interface or mixer, check its settings to ensure there are no volume adjustments or gain controls set to a maximum that might be affecting the microphone volume. otherwise update OS to the latest version with the specific version you are using may be helpful.

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