low line-in signal

delighted i found this forum.

ive been using n-track for years on my old machine - no problems.

recently got a new machine and downloaded n-track for it. BUT the signal from my mic is way too low. i have the line-in settings up full in windows “volume control”. on my other machine i have to have line-in almost at the bottom to stop peaking.

someone please help, i have to have an album recorded before christmas day


Are you using a preamp? If so, what kind of preamp are you using and what are the settings? If not, how do you have this mic plugged in? Are you sure you were using a line level in before not a mic level in? If you were using a mic level in, and are now using a line level in, that would explain a db drop. But if your mic WAS peaking, I don’t know if it would be that. It shouldn’t have been peaking at a really low level. Of course, that depends on what you term “really low.” Let us know what you got going on.


thanks a lot, man.

with regards to a pre-amp: i never aquired one for my old machine (is it possible that it came with one?). can i download one?

the mic is plugged straight into the mic input (pink) at the back of the machine

before, i used both line and mic level (they both seemed to effect the input signal)

it didnt peak at a low level, it was ok. thats why i had it at a low level.

by “really low” i mean WAY DOWN THERE, just above the first notch.

any wiser?

thanks a lot for the reply.
really appreciate it

the pre amp is a hardware not a program so you can’t download it. mixers have pre amps.


ok. some terms for you. (more experienced techs feel free to correct my errors)

mic level and line level: These are two different standard decible (volume) levels for audio signals. Line level and mic level. mic level is what mics work at (most of the time). Thus “mic level”. Most signals comming out of something powered are considered “lines”, and work at a slightly higher db (decible) rating. This is because a very small electrical charge is sent along the line to carry the signal. (Do not confuse this with headphone level. headphone outputs have a higher voltage and volume rating, and can ruin your soundcard, plus they will sound like crap.) in order for the audio to be used by, say, ntrack for example, they must be at line level. now, most soundcards have a “mic level” input. This is because the soundcard has a built in “pre amp”. I will get to that in a minute, but let me say now, that this preamp (unless you have a high end soundcard built specifically for recording audio) sucks. Do not use it unless you have to. You need an audio signal at line level, at put into the line in, not the “mic in”.

Preamp: This is what converts mic level signals to line level. There are special preamps made just for mics. Also, a lot of old tape players have a mic input and a “line out” and can be used as preamps. there are a lot of ways of getting line level signal, actually.

Ok, now a question. What kind of mic are you using? how are you plugging it in? is it running through anything? splitters, adapters (like going from the 3 pin mic cable to a 1/4" “guitar” cable or a 1/8" “headphone” cable. etc.)? Anything with power, like a battery even? If your mic was running that hot, I am very curious why it was. It shouldn’t be that hot, even if it was at line level, unless maybe it was plugged into the mic level input. but why would it be too low now? Interesting… ??? ??? ???


the mic is a powered sony one:

sony mic

the spec is at the bottom of the page.
when i used it before it worked perfectly.

ive been plugging into the mic-in

i didnt buy a pre amp for my old machine, i dont get it.


that’s a stereo mic? your mic input will be mono. you may want to consider getting an inexpensive stereo mic preamp and splitting the mic signal into the two channel and then run that into your stereo line in. not sure if the stereo to mono thing is affected your volume though.

thanks for the suggestion but that doesnt seem to be a problem (i have used this mic before and it works fine).

looks like ill just have to put up with my problem.

thanks for all the help

Well, your mic didn’t “work” before if it was that hot. That would be actually “not working”. It sounds to me that your mic might be working now, except that you might need a preamp. What we need to know is what type of connector your mic has, because that can sometimes give a hint at what type of level your mic works at, although the specs make me think that it might work at both? I don’t know. Someone else more knowledgeable needs to look at those specs. There are people here who can help, if you wait until they look at this and answer. Also, we need to know what type of soundcard you have and had before. this will help us know more as well. We will help you out if you be patient. We like to solve problems if we can! :)


Have you changed the battery or checked the battery terminals? The old Sony mics I have that use batteries are notorious for needing the terminal cleaned. The ones I have take AA, which last a few months. Maybe it just needs a new one.

Yeah! good thinking. I have a electret condenser, and have had that problem before. why didn’t I think of that?

It’s Wednesday, of course. :)

wow, thanks for the enthusiasm!


just tried it on my old machine - works fine.

the spec sheet for my new machine says i have an “integratted 5.1 audio” sound card
does this not have a pre-amp

cant find out what i have on the old one

i am a actually a 3rd multimedia student, would you beleive???
what a dumbass! :laugh:

Soundblaster on the new machine? sounds like it. 5.1 audio has nothing to do with recording. that has to do with being able to play things recorded in surround sound and play them through surround speakers. Nothing at all related to what you are talking about. The card will have a preamp. All sound cards with a mic in will have a preamp. That’s why they have a mic in, because they can amp it up to line (useable) levels. However, this is not in the “high end recording” catagory I am talking about. If you bought one of them, you would have done it intentionally, and you would know what it is. It’s not like a soundblaster or anything like that. You can’t just go get them at best buy (well, I guess you might find a cheap m-Audio or something, but anyways). And I never said that the mic was messed up (unless the battery is low. you might want to replace them just for good measure.) But we need to know what level your mic is running at for sure so we can check for gain control issues (that is, how loud things are and why). From what you have said about the audio being close to peaking at the first notch, it wasn’t running right before. If you still had it like that, I’d be telling you to not use it like that until you found out why it was doing it, because you could seriously fry your card or at least get really crappy audio with it that way. Before we get any farther, when you turn your record level (in the recording audio controls. you know how to get to them, right? go to the windows volume control, then “options”, and then change the radio button to “recording controls” and click “ok”. just in case you didn’t know.) all the way up for line in/mic in, what level is the audio
(in n-track in the recording monitor strip) from the mic when talking into it? Or what part of the color is it in? If good, it should be in the green, almost yellow (well, peaking in yellow). Is there a whole lot of ground floor noise (like a lot of hiss or anything like that)?

the mic (on the old machine) doesnt peak at 1 (i just used to set it at one and turn my amp up loud to eliminate unwanted noise, well at least thats why i thought i was doing it, haha). it would peak when the slider was up high - seriously, i dont think its the mic (i have two of them and they BOTH work the same on the old machine).

so , my sound card is good enough to do the job? i dont want perfect sound, just audible

ill go check what you said now…

yeah, with levels up full, talking gets me in the yellow.

so that means its ok?
its just that i was recording some soft acoustic picking the other day and the result was too low. on the other machine i can get a nice volume.

sorry if i wasted everyones time

he he

Yeah. It sounds like your audio levels are right for mic in. Recording acoustic guitar is a bit of a problem anyways. mic placement is way more of an issue than micing your guitar amp. I don’t know why your sound was so hot before. I think your mic runs at line level and you are plugged into the line in, not the mic in. But someone smarter needs to look at those specs. But if it isn’t then who knows. If it turns out you are plugged into the mic input, then you should seriously consider investing in a cheap mic preamp. Your sound will improve drastically.


just when things seem to be making sense, my metronome refuses to play when im recording ???