adjusting recording level

I’m confused

I mainly just record guitar tracks. I have my mic inputed to my audio buddy preamp whos output is plugged into my sound cards (Stock soundmax) input. What the problem is ,when I try to set the recording level with the sound cards recording mixer controls the recording level meter will not show a clip even if the level is set too high .In other words I dont know what too high is until I record something and hear the distortion. It has worked at times and shown me the correct level . I pluck or strum my guitar depending on what I am going to do while adjusting the line in slider and when it clips I bring it down.If I am unable to adjust the level up to clipping I never really know what the true level is. It will adjust down though.If anyone could enlighten me to what I am doing wrong I would be grateful.

well, I’m not positive what’s going on, but I would suggest you use the audio buddy’s clip indicators if it has some to identify a too hot signal. The slider in the mixing software is NOT affecting the input level, it’s merely adjusting the audible output level of that input. so distortion is created before the conversion (preamp), or during (digital clipping). You may be driving the input of your soundcard too hard with the preamp, but turning down the line input slider will not affect that-you have to lower the audio buddy’s output. N-track’s vu meters are helpful with an already digital source, but otherwise you have to rely on your hardware’s vu meters or perhaps a nice soundcard’s mixing console to view the actual levels. N-track’s VU meters show the input into N-track, but not always into the soundcard.

hope that clears some of it up.

Thanks for the input. The audio buddy does have clip indicators. I guess I have been hung up on adjusting with the sound card controls not the gain on the preamp. Is it possible that the sound card is failing and that is why it used to adjust fine?
The only reason I keep using the stock card is that I had a m-audio pre usb that somehow kept making my comp crash.No one could help me so I changed to the cheaper,simpler audiobuddy with my stock card and the problem went away.Can you recomend a decent sound card for under a hundred bucks. ( 2 kids,low funds) I was looking at the m-audio 5.1. Thanks again

Audigy 2z also comes with loads of stuff

I doubt the computer’s line card is the problem, but it’s possible. However, you do need to adjust the gain on the audio buddy as a regular matter.

First, I believe the AudioBuddy is capable of driving +4dBu line levels (so called “pro” level), whereas your SoundMax works at -12dBV line level (“consumer level”). The pro level is about 4 times the voltage of the consumer level. Also, the setting for the preamp gain REALLY depends on which mike you’ve plugged in and how loud a sound it’s recording. (Consider the difference between strumming an acoustic guitar softly, versus singing at full volume or miking an electric guitar amp – WAY different scenarios, that require different gain settings on the AudioBuddy.)

Try setting the gain on the AB at about 25%. Then adust the record level on the soundcard so that the peak levels (numbers above the meters) for the loudest parts of the piece you’re recording go between -6 and zero. (You should be able to adjust it so that it does clip, btw – but then back off.)

Experiment with different settings on the AB and make recordings where the peak levels are about the same, and compare the sound to find the best settings.

BTW, I hope you’re using the line input and not the mike input on the soundcard. The mic input on a built-in soundcard isn’t really suitable for recording music.

Also, let us know what kind of mike you’re using and whether you’re recording an acoustic guitar or miking a guitar amp. It could be that you’re blasting the mike itself, and that adjustments downstream from that won’t help at all.

Finally, consider an m-Audio Transit soundcard. However, if the M-Audio Pre USB had problems, the Transit probably would too – drivers might be the same. Some computers just can’t handle USB audio, especially older motherboards with non-Intel chipsets. Do you have a laptop, or can you try a PCI soundcard?

I have a dell dim 2400 with a pent 4 with 512mb ram running on XP. I only do acoustic stuff and I am using a audix i5 mic.I tried adjusting down to 25% on the audio buddy and using the sound card recording panel and was never able to get it over -9. If I set the SoundCard line in slider all the way up and play with the AudioBuddy gain knob It will adjust between -15 to -6 and this is playing or talking loudly in the mic. No matter what the setting is I can never make the recording Vu meter go past -5 so it will not clip on the vu meter. Recordings dont sound bad but I used to see a wider up and down wave pattern.( is that the right terminology ?) And the AB output is plugged into the line in (blue) on the sound card.

Hmm, sounds like you’re doing the right things and have the right ideas only it’s not working. (Like you’ve been trying to tell us, but thanks for being patient!)

I’m not familiar with the Audix mike. Perhaps someone else here knows more about it.

Is there any possibility of trying a different mike? That’s worth a try.

Another thing that’s worth a try is plug any line-level device (like a stereo system’s aux output, or the audio output from a video player) into your soundcard, skipping the mike preamp, and see how it works. If that works well, then perhaps something’s wrong with the AB.

I always have unexplainable things happen that usually end up being self inflicted.I will try some type of other input and let you know .Thanks