What's the Best Audio Level to Record In

I’m trying to record voiceover but the audio is always too low. I’m using an XLR condesor mic hooked up to the Presonus AudioBox96 interface. What are good levels to set the knobs at? When I listen to the playback I can barely hear it.

Using Windows 10 and Audacity 3.2.1

It also sounds like the… sound… only comes from the right speaker but Audacity is recording in stereo.

Normally, channel 1 is left and channel 2 is right. Stereo requires 2 mics (or a guitar and mic, etc.).

If you can barely hear it, something is wrong…

As long as you’re getting good quality somewhat-low digital recording levels aren’t a problem, especially at 24-bits. Pros often record at -12 to -18dB but you probably don’t need that much headroom. You can amplify digitally after recording with no quality loss.

Low analog levels are often an indication of a problem and if there is acoustic room noise or hiss from the preamp that noise gets amplified when you amplify later.

Make sure 48V phantom power is turned-on and if you have a directional side-address mic, make sure you are speaking into the front side of the mic (not the end or back-side).

With loud sounds and the gain turned-up you should see the clip light come-on, which means you’ve hit the digital maximum of 0dB and are distorting.

But when you record in mono the input signals are cut in half (-6dB) so that with both channels just-below clipping the combined signal doesn’t go over 0dB. i.e. You can still trust the clipping indicators on the interface.

Mono will play through both speakers so you can either record in stereo to one channel and then convert to mono, or record in mono and boost the level later. Usually you’ll be leaving some headroom, so you’ll probably be adjusting the volume anyway.

If you record in mono, turn the knob down on the unused channel to prevent any noise from that channel.