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Which gain/volume control should I use mixer or soundcard?



Hi all,
I am trying to get my levels sorted so that when I record an instrument the volume bars in my recording application (in my case cubase sx 3) are just below the yellow and not clipping (not to loud, not too quiet).

So I put all of the volume/gain control to neutral but found the level was too low.

Question is - in order to raise it which one do I turn up, I have the following:

1. Mic db boost on the mixer (a per channel input for mics, I assume this is the pre-amp?)
2. Channel volume on the mixer
3. Main mix output on the mixer
4. Line input level of the soundcard
5. Master input of the soundcard
6. Input EQ level in the Cubase application
7. Or should I just record at any volume level and adjust the gain after recording track by track?

As you can see im rather confused - so many volume controls and no idea which is the correct one to use to keep the sound clean!

Thanks in advance!


Even the simplest gain structure can be complicated.

When recording from the main out of my mixer, I run my mixer at unity gain on the channel and main fader, and adjust the channel gain or trim until my peak level is around 0dB, then adjust the recording level on my sound card so I am coming in at about -10dB to give me some head room. The last value will change depending on how big the transients and dynamics of the part being recorded.

I you want to get fancy, to optimize things you could use a spectrum analyzer plug in, and check your signal to noise ratio with different settings.

What are you using for a sound card?