First, let me say: this is not the first time I'm setting up an in home recording studio, but it is the first time I'm doing it correctly. So, I have: a pc with a CPU strong enough to handle processing music (I'll soon be switching to a Macbook Pro). 2 mics: 1-MXL770 & 1-Audiotechnica AT2020 Alesis IO2 Express All the cables needed to connect all my stuff Now, the problems I'm having are varied, and I’m suspecting some of the problems I'm having aren’t really problems at all, but things I'm not used to dealing with, because I'm doing it correctly for the first time, lol; hence, all the writing I'm doing here. So, I started off using the Audiotechnica, & found it too sensitive for my recording environment. I set the gain on the interface, and viewed the monitor levels in the DAW, and found that EVERYTHING was picked up; the meters always moved. So, I switched to he MXL770, and used the Hi-pass filter, and the -10db setting, and found out a few things that I suppose are actual problems: Now, when monitoring from the headphone jack of the interface, it doesn’t allow me to hear everything in the mix anymore. That is, before (while recording) if you spoke into the mic, you could hear it the phones. Switched mics; now you cant. And that’ even when you have the interface set to only pick that up (as opposed to it set to only pick up whats coming from the pc; or any combo of the two). Gain doesn’t do much anymore, as it applies to the mixer. There is a db meter on the interface, and it doesnt react to the MXL770, but it did on the other mic. No combination of settings on the MXL770 allows the meter to react. In the DAW software, you can see that the gain's adjustments do something minute to the meter. Welp, I figured that some audio interfaces don’t have a meter at all, so I decided that the meter no longer moving wasn’t an issue since it still converts the signal, and the DAW's meter wasn’t clipping. So, I loaded up Adobe Audition, and dropped an instrument in track one, told the program to use my interface, armed the second track, hit record, and started rapping. I looked at the wave form, and was shocked that at how small it was. The instrumental I was rapping against completely dwarfed what I recorded. I think it's worth noting that the instrument didn’t clip at all. It peaks at around -6db. My vocals peak at around -36db. Why? When I amplified the vocals, it was a solid recording. There wasn't any noise, which was a blessing to my ear, but I quickly realized that the amplification caused clipping in two areas. I, then, remembered that I hadn't used a compressor at all, so I undid the normalization, I added a bus, applied a compressor, and fed the vocal track thru it. It got louder (duhh) but the wave form didnt change—I expected it to change. The tube compressor wouldnt give me more than 18db on the make-up gain, so it didnt get anywhere near as loud as the normalization did, but it also didnt clip. Then, I decided to move forward. I turned the instrumental track down, then I set the next track to the same compressor bus, and recorded my double track. It came out the same way (small wave form), and sounded the same. I then recorded a stack track, but I decided to add the compressor to the track itself (as opposed to routing thru the bus), and learned that the compression is done post record no matter how/where you set the compressor. Then I thought: what should my volume be set to, initially? What do I have wrong? I’m in a new world. I’m on the other side of the mic, this time. I'm trying to recreate what I’m used to: I can monitor myself thru my headphones as I’m recording. I hear myself loud and clear. Also, playback thru my headphones sounds just as loud and crisp to as when I was recording/monitoring myself thru the headphones. Seemingly, no adjustments made (for playback). just record, stop, playback, record, playback, then send to mix. Instead, what I get is, no active monitoring...and low vocals. So, to even playback just to see what you have, you have to go thru every setting under the sun, to no avail. I see that, thru all the reading I've done, there is still something major I’m ignorant to, and it is information between the "purchase/set up" phase & the "hitting the record button" phase. Any help would be greatly appreciated.