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Mbox 2 problem

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ericlawrence, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. ericlawrence

    ericlawrence Guest

    i have an mbox 2 and i am trying to record vocals using a shure sm57 mic but in order to get good enough levels i have to crank the input as close as i can to max on the mbox and even then i have to be super careful cause if i go any higher i get poor quality audio.

    i am wondering why i have to have the levels so high. when i record anything not from a microphone i don't have to turn up the levels nearly as high. so is there something wrong with my mic or my xlr cord? or is it something i need to do within pro tools? any suggestions would be great thanks!
  2. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    I assume you're talking about the levels shown in the meter on the track in Pro Tools...

    Is the pad engaged on the Mbox?

    Or, not knowing much about the rest of your situation, could be this:

    Low level input (20% of Full Scale at most) in Pro Tools with an Mbox 2 and Power PC Apple laptop.
  3. music293

    music293 Active Member

    Yes, without more knowledge of your current situation, I would be inclined to agree that either you're suffering from the Apple issue, or you have the Pad engaged on the MBOX. Make sure that it is not. This is the little white button on the backside of the input that says "Pad". Depress this to disengage.

    Let us know! :)
  4. ericlawrence

    ericlawrence Guest

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. Unfortunately i'm not sure we've found the correct answer yet because i'm using a PC so unless theres a way to do a similar task on a PC i dont think the Apple option will work and no i do not have the pad engaged, but again thank you for the suggestions.

    so, i'm kind of referring to the input level in pro tools but mostly and related to that i was referring to the actual volume or input control knob on the mbox. if turning the control knob all the way to the left is 0% input and to the right is 100% input i basically have to have it at 98% to get a somewhat descent quality level when recording the vocals. and when its so high i risk having my levels too high and cutting out or distorting the high end. hopefully this all makes sense, i'm clearly not an audio whiz and my vocabulary is pretty basic so if i'm not being clear please let me know. thanks!

    any addition suggestions would be appreciated!!
  5. music293

    music293 Active Member


    So we have addressed that you are using a PC. You have not however made clear whether or not you've got the pad engaged?

    However, if I am reading your last post correctly, it would seem irrelevant if you've got the pad engaged. Here's why:

    You say that you've got to crank the input knob on Mbox high just to get a decent level. To clarify, the level is the meter displaying on your audio channel. Your problem, as I understand it, is not that you can't increase the input any further in order to achieve a higher level as it is too low, but that at this point the level becomes too high, or hot, and causes the attenuation or clipping of the signal. Do I have that right?

    So, in short, you turn the input up all the way, and the level is too high. Might the remedy be to turn down the level?

    If this doesn't help, then you'll have to be more specific in some way.

  6. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    This may sound like a series of stupid questions, but I haven't recorded on anything but PT 6.4 in a while, and I do not believe that there is any scale represented on the meters when you record...

    Where are you setting the level in PT on the meter?

    For instance, all the way up to the top, just before it peaks?

    Middle of the meter?

    3/4 of the way up?

    -Are the Red Faders up or down (not sure this matters but hey...)?

    -Are you recording one input to one mono track, or one to a stereo track?
  7. ericlawrence

    ericlawrence Guest

    Thanks for such a quick reply.

    First, just to confirm, no the pad is not engaged.

    In response to your suggestion to turn down the level, hopefully this will help to be more specific, i can't turn down the level because if i do so, the audio level becomes so low its almost inaudible. so i have it cranked almost all the way up, but at that point it becomes so sensitive that clipping occurs, however at that point i'm able to get somewhat descent levels, but the singer has to stand as close to the mic as possible. there appears to be no comfortable middle ground.

    this is what led to my initial post. i'm still uncertain whether the problem lies within pro tools, or the mbox or maybe the microphone or its cord. but as i mentioned previously, the mbox and protools perform perfectly when recording anything other than a microphone (i.e. digital pianos, guitars, etc.)

    anyway, i hope this adds some clarity. thanks again for everyones suggestions, more are always appreciated!
  8. ericlawrence

    ericlawrence Guest


    when setting the levels i am trying to get them as close as i can to the top without peaking. as i've done this i've gotten the best quality audio so far, but thats with occasional clipping and keeping the singer as close to the mic as possible (if the singer takes a step back the levels drop considerable, so he has to stand almost with his lips to the mic to get good enough levels) and as i may have mentioned before, if i set the levels any lower than where i have been the audio is so low its almost inaudible. hopefully this helps to add more clarity to the situation. thanks!

    oh and i am recording on one input into a mono track
  9. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    I've always treated a track in PT as we used to in the old days of DAT, etc.

    I try to keep everything around what I perceive to be -12dB to -6, which in PT land I've always thought of as being about 3/4 of the way up on the meters - plenty of level there...

    When you say that the singer has to stand with lips to the mic to get good levels, do you mean good enough levels to the track, or to headphones, or ?
  10. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    If you have a track recorded at 3/4 up before peak on the meters and you cannot hear it on playback (almost inaudible) then I'm gonna blame your monitoring system...
  11. music293

    music293 Active Member


    Bent could be right about the monitoring system. I am having such a difficult time with this because I know we're missing a piece to the puzzle somewhere, as the task of getting a decent level should be pretty easy.

    Sometimes you've gotta trouble shoot, so here's what you're going to do, if you can:

    Swap out the XLR cable
    Swap out the Mic
    Set Input Knob to 0
    Set track channel level to 0.0db (this should be the default for a new track)
    Make sure the pad on input is disengaged
    Make sure phantom power is engaged if using a condenser mic
    Record enable your track

    Now, slowly bring up the input knob on the Mbox and do a vocal (or anything the mic will pick up) check. Do this until one of three things happen.

    1) You can see a good level when audio is picked up in the mic, but no sound is heard.

    2)No level, no sound heard

    3)Everything works!

    Also, I don't know which Mbox you're using, but make sure the headphone/monitor knob is turned up, and also the mix knob is set to playback from the computer and not to "thru" for the unit it'self. If you don't know what I mean about these two knobs, then consult the manual.

    Hopefully this will help?

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