Why is my microphone input so low?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
JayDeLux
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:20 am

Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by JayDeLux » Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:30 pm

Hello,

I don't have much technical knowledge although working on it!
I am playing around with Ableton and a microphone.
I understand the equipment is quite good quality but I don't understand why my microphone input signal is soooo low. After recording I can play the clip but the volume is very low, I have to add 'utility' with gain very high to reach the expected level (and it does not sound clean).

I use:
- Ableton
- Sound card: Steinberg UR22 (input 1, pot at 90% - going over adds background static dirty sound)
- Microphone: Sure SM58 'dynamic'

-> Maybe there is something missing in the chain or something to be configured in Ableton?

Thanks in advance.

sana48
Posts: 417
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:16 am

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by sana48 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:02 pm

Does the microphone require a preamp or phantom power?

And does your interface have one of those options?

Davo
Posts: 115
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Location: New Zealand

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by Davo » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:23 pm

Just to clarify sana's points, the shure sm58 does not need phantom power and your sound card has preamps, which are required. I can't see what the problem might be based on what you have said. When you are getting ready to record you need to check that the bars on the input mixer are going right up to 0dB. Perhaps your signal is too quiet, or too far away from the microphone?

doghouse
Posts: 1431
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:30 pm

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by doghouse » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:28 pm

Noise is inherent in the analog world. At some point turning up the level at the UR22 results in the noise (some from the mike, some from the UR22 preamp) becoming audible.

What are you using the mike for, your own voice, recording an acoustic instrument, etc.? Are you placing the mike as close as possible?

With those settings on the UR22 does the clip light come on when using the mike? If so, you are already getting the maximum level possible out of the interface.

If you are not clipping, one way to boost the signal before the UR22 without adding lots of noise is using a Cloud Lifter. Unfortunately these aren't cheap...about $150 new in USA.

JayDeLux
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:20 am

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by JayDeLux » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:46 pm

Thank you all.

I guess the conclusion is there is nothing wrong with the equipment, just me not knowing best practice of microphone 'science'.
Since I never recorded on a mike before I was under the impression that its output should be very loud, easy to clip by screaming in it.
If I sing out the clip light comes on up and down but not clipping even though the mic input gain on the sound card it turn to maximum.

I guess this is an OK mike to record singers. Then what would be a good mike to record noises around me / sounds of objects (not too expensive)? I Guess it would be a more sensitive mike?

If that makes sense with my limited technical vocabulary...
JayDeLux. https://soundcloud.com/jaydelux-1
Ableton, Push, APC40Mk2, LIVID-DS1, Roland JD-Xi, Arduino things

sana48
Posts: 417
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:16 am

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by sana48 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:04 pm


Da hand
Posts: 1680
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Location: Montreal, Canada

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by Da hand » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:42 pm

JayDeLux wrote:I guess this is an OK mike to record singers. Then what would be a good mike to record noises around me / sounds of objects (not too expensive)? I Guess it would be a more sensitive mike?
Well the Sure SM58 is really best used for stage work, but is not really meant for recording. I mean sure you can record things, but the overall sound and its insensitive nature - as you experienced - is not very good for voice or most instrument recordings compared to many condenser microphones. A condenser mic - even a relatively cheap one - will be a major step up for getting better recordings.

The next thing to consider is the pre-amp on the sound card or recording device you use. Better pre-amps stay relatively quiet when you boost the volume higher and usually colour the sound less.

As for field recordings or recording sounds around the house/studio, I would recommend something like a zoom recorder - H4N or newer. These recorders have stereo microphones which is really nice and the pre-amps are pretty quiet - even if you boost the gain quite a bit on them.

AustinThumper
Posts: 110
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:59 am

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by AustinThumper » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:54 pm

Check the setting in the Steinberg dspMixFx application - its the software mixing app for the interface. There are channel strips form the mic inputs - along with some pad and gain settings. That might help.


Edit - no pads for mics, but the faders might be set low...
Live 9.6 Suite / Max 7.2 / REAPER / Reaktor 6 / Win10 64bit / 4.2GHz i7 / 32GB DRAM / SSD / 828mk3 / 4 x HR824 / QX25 / HPD-15 / Sonor club kit / Mother-32 and a growing Eurorack.

jlgrimes
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Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:55 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by jlgrimes » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:05 am

JayDeLux wrote:Hello,

I don't have much technical knowledge although working on it!
I am playing around with Ableton and a microphone.
I understand the equipment is quite good quality but I don't understand why my microphone input signal is soooo low. After recording I can play the clip but the volume is very low, I have to add 'utility' with gain very high to reach the expected level (and it does not sound clean).

I use:
- Ableton
- Sound card: Steinberg UR22 (input 1, pot at 90% - going over adds background static dirty sound)
- Microphone: Sure SM58 'dynamic'

-> Maybe there is something missing in the chain or something to be configured in Ableton?

Thanks in advance.
Most audio interface preamps are designed for condenser mics which are capable of higher gain settings. You have a few options:

1. Live with the low level. Other than having to turn up the gain using utility, do you hear any background noise when raising the level (thats not in the recording). If you don't have this problem, this should be a sufficient solution especially if you are recording via 24 bit which usually has a low noise floor.

2. Get a condenser mic, this would most likely work better with your interface.

3. Buy a cloud lifter cl-2. This adds 20 db of gain to your mic which would get the Shure up to a healthy level similar to a condenser mic. They are about $150. These things are powered by the phantom power of your audio interface.

4. Buy an external preamp. If you plan on using dynamic mics and ribbon mics, an external preamp with high gain settings could help. I think the gain range should be 60 db or higher. Shure might have an recommendation.

5. Find an audio interface with high preamp gain settings. They are out there but you will need to experiment.

dented42ford
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:54 pm

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by dented42ford » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:28 pm

Da hand wrote: Well the Sure SM58 is really best used for stage work, but is not really meant for recording. I mean sure you can record things, but the overall sound and its insensitive nature - as you experienced - is not very good for voice or most instrument recordings compared to many condenser microphones. A condenser mic - even a relatively cheap one - will be a major step up for getting better recordings.
Utter hogwash. SM58's and 57's have been used in plenty of studio work for decades. OP, don't listen to this guy - what you have is more than sufficient. Condensers are just another "flavor" of mic, just like a Tele and a Les Paul are different "flavors" of guitar - I have used my $25 "Pawn Shop Special" Omni Dynamic EV635A on plenty of [published] recordings for instance, probably as many as I've used Neumanns...

JayDeLux, I suspect user error here in one of two places - namely, either in the configuration of your UR22 or in your use of the mic. SM58's have A LOT of output - you should not be having trouble getting it loud without noise with that interface and its built-in pres! My first thought is that you have the input set to "Line" rather than "Mic" - I haven't messed with the Steinberg software in a while, but I recall there being a setting within it to set the range of the inputs. Make sure that is set to "Mic", not "Line", "+4", or "-10", or anything else. If you are screaming into the SM58 and it isn't[/] clipping, there is something wrong! Not to be a bit flippant, but it might be time to pull out the manual, as well...

Also, the 58 isn't a particularly sensitive mic - it isn't quiet, by any means, especially on close sources, but it doesn't handle distance mic'ing particularly well, either. Make sure the thing you are recording is within ~3'/1m of the mic, and you should be fine - beyond that, and it will probably sound pretty thin (the 57/58 - same mic, by the way, with different heads - were designed to abuse the "proximity effect").

Basically, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to get a usable sound out of that setup - I had a buddy who recorded an entire album (label published, FWIW) with just a pair of SM58's and an old Steinberg interface, with nary a problem!

PS: If the problem isn't JUST level, but sounding "thin", one word comes to mind: COMPRESSOR. That is all.

JedFishGould
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:32 am
Location: Pasadena, Ca.

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by JedFishGould » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:24 am

It's called hitting record on your Universal Audio Console input. It was bewitching me for months.
::Jedley

ark
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Location: New Jersey, USA
Contact:

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by ark » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:20 pm

What kind of connectors are on the cable you are using to connect the mid to your audio interface?

jlgrimes
Posts: 1499
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:55 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by jlgrimes » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:34 pm

JayDeLux wrote:Hello,

I don't have much technical knowledge although working on it!
I am playing around with Ableton and a microphone.
I understand the equipment is quite good quality but I don't understand why my microphone input signal is soooo low. After recording I can play the clip but the volume is very low, I have to add 'utility' with gain very high to reach the expected level (and it does not sound clean).

I use:
- Ableton
- Sound card: Steinberg UR22 (input 1, pot at 90% - going over adds background static dirty sound)
- Microphone: Sure SM58 'dynamic'

-> Maybe there is something missing in the chain or something to be configured in Ableton?

Thanks in advance.

Couple of things to note:

1. Shure SM58 is a dynamic mic which doesn't need phantom power but in general dynamic mics have a lower output then condenser mics so it is good to use a high gain mic preamp with a dynamic mic. Most audio interface mic preamps aren't high gain preamps. You can buy a Cloudlifter CL1 which will give you 25 db of extra gain which is usually enough to get your low output mics to work well with your audio interface.

2. A low output isn't necessarily bad thing if you are recording at 24 bit. We record at 24 bit because of the extra headroom and not having to worry about clipping. You can always turn up audio digitally as well. The more dynamic range your interface has the better but you might fare better recording lower and turning up digitally than working your preamp near it max setting which can bring out noise of its own on some preamps.

JayDeLux
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:20 am

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by JayDeLux » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:40 pm

Thank you all and especially jlgrimes for his very clear :idea: and detailed answer. This question is closed!
JayDeLux. https://soundcloud.com/jaydelux-1
Ableton, Push, APC40Mk2, LIVID-DS1, Roland JD-Xi, Arduino things

jpeek345
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:36 am

Re: Why is my microphone input so low?

Post by jpeek345 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:32 pm

Open up a basic new Live set, arm your chosen track and bark into your mic.

Do you still experience the same problem now?

I did this and I got -16bd to 0db signal response levels vs. -40db max when I had a Live set with only three audio tracks.
I am running an i7 processor with 8GB RAM.

I meet the minimum specs for Ableton and more- but I still experienced the same problem as everyone else in the "low mic volume while recording in Ableton" rag on the 1st page of Google results.

If you want to monitor and record a vocal track, its best to mix down your essential tracks and try to record it then + without the mysterious latency issue thing still with us in 2017.

Good luck.

I mean it.

:|

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