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Low volume mic recording issue

Member for

3 years 9 months
Good evening all!

I am very new at sound recording, had my first recording session just today. I have some experience with music mixing and stuff, but from electronic music. Midis, vst, etc. Not live instruments, mics, .. But it is something what attracts me for a long time, not just to record my drums, but make beautiful recording of piano (girlfriend is classical pianist, so for demos, own recordings, cds, etc.). Yep, that was my aim for very first day of my recording "career", to make a beautiful piano record.
I did my research, put some budget together, read lot of threads here, elsewhere, watched tons of videos. Most of recommended was out my budget or the examples doesn't sound good to me, so I ended up with pair of Sennheiser E914 (still very good mic I think, or better said I hope). With it I bought Focusrite 18i20 (will be adding more mic and more instruments later). As DAW, Ableton Live and mac. Grabbed latest drivers for focusrite, some (according to seller and price) high quality xlr cables and was ready for testing.

What I noticed, is was very quiet. Sound was nice, but quite. I barely get above the -18dB. If I put more gain (over 3/4 of knob positioning), it started to get noise. Not in DAW, but already on Focusrite. Instrument is mid size grand piano, with open wing. Regarding mic positions, I tried as many as I saw on internet. My girlfriend said she wish I know that many positions somewhere else. I found that it might be problem of silent sound source. I don't think its the case of that piano. Also phantom power was turned on, I tried different input slots, groups, settings, etc. But anyway, she practiced several hours her parts for upcoming concert so I had time to play with setup and the best (trust there were tons of samples) I put together today was this (17.8 MB wav):!ApfLXoR7pNPTl_IjoHdlmkwiNA3Ygw

So I would like to ask, if this is normal to have it recorded this low, or do I need preamps, or ... Or I dont know. Maybe is everything ok and Im just stressing out. But I read a lot of thread those writes to not clip it. Well, I don't get even to half of the meter unless im speak loud directly on mic from a few inches from mouth.

But anyway, this recording stuff is really amazing field. Spend several hours today with and the options are limitless. Looking for to improving myself :)

Thank you very much in advance for any advice, or hint regarding that volume issue.

(and sorry for long post, I talk to much when Im excited)


Member for

19 years 2 months

Kurt Foster Sat, 01/20/2018 - 12:18

click on TECH SPECS and scroll down to Gain Range. i really don't have a suggestion as to what kind of mic pre would be best. i record(ed) rock and roll, R&B and Americana Roots stuff so i like pre amps with attitude. what you want is probably something more neutral like a Grace M101.

Member for

15 years 4 months

Boswell Sat, 01/20/2018 - 15:21
The Scarlett 18i20 spec misses out two important figures: tbe mininum gain and the 0dBFS level. If the min gain were (say) 10dB, then the max gain would be 60dB, since the variable range is 50dB.

In a similar vein, if the 0dBFS level were +12dBu, with 60dB gain it would have the same max sensitivity at the XLR inputs as a pre-amp with 70dB gain and an 0dBFS level of +22dBu.

You need a complete set of figures before you can say it's short.