Higher Volume/ Lower Distortion

Discussion in 'Recording' started by inhissteps33, May 31, 2013.

  1. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    So I have a Yamaha EMX5014C mixer. I have it plugged into my computer to record into MixCraft6. I can record, but when all my levels are up, (the recording level on MixCraft is up, the volume is up on MixCraft, the volume is up on my computer speakers, the gain and compression are both all the way up on the mixer), I still have a very low and distorted recording. I am recording by plugging a 3.5 male-to-male from the headphone jack on the mixer (1/4 inch adapter) to the computer in/out jack. I have dealt with the same thing when plugging into an iMac and using GarageBand. With GarageBand I could record without distortion but it was an extremely low volume level. I need to figure out how to get more volume from the mixer somehow and I'm stumped. Ask me if I've been at all unclear about something.

  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    It might be time to invest in a bona fide USB recording interface and skip the in/out jack on the computer.

    In the meantime, a few questions:

    Is it an iMac with just one in/out jack? - and you have it set to act as an input before you launch the recording software?

    Are the 3.5 cable and adapter 2-conductor Tip/Sleeve, or 3-conductor Tip/Ring/Sleeve? - they might be causing phase cancellation. You won't be able to see the number of contacts on the female end of the adapter. If you don't know exactly what you bought, you might be able to feel the 'clicks' as a plug is inserted, or use an ohm meter to be sure.

    What levels do the meters on the mixer and MixCraft show while you're recording?

    Any PFL or AFL buttons pushed anywhere on the mixer? - a pitfall of using your headphone jack (which ordinarily would put out too hot level to be really clean)

    Headphones level turned up on the mixer?

    Not questions:

    Turning the compressors all the way to 10, will only reduce the volume.

    Whenever you get this sorted out you should try the dedicated outputs on the mixer instead of the headphone jack.

    That mixer should be capable of doing the job, so I'd be inclined to believe it's either
    A) something overlooked on the mixer
    B) a cabling issue, or
    C) a bum setting in the iMac / System Preferences / Sound / Input Control Panel, or
    D) an Input / Output setting in MixCraft.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    if you do have the correct adapter/settings, the radio shack generic type are notoriously unreliable, they break all the time. you might wanna try another one.
  4. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member


    I have no generic Radio Shack adapters. I know that they are faulty and are normally useless as soon as you buy them. Thanks for the check, though.

  5. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member


    To answer your questions-

    1) The iMac had two jacks, it was slightly (2007?) older so they hadnt put the two jacks (in/out) together. No problem there. I would listen to my recording through headphones and keep the mixer plugged in that was very convenient.

    2) Both adapters are tip/ring/sleeve. Nice adapters and cable. I tried several male to male 3.5 cables.

    3) The levels were about 1/3 of the way up on all the meters. Now, when I turn up the volume on the mixer (red slider, main volume), the meter on the mixer spiked.

    4) The AFL/PFL I experimented with down and up. I just got less volume when they were all down (for the channel I was using). Which ones should be down?

    5) Headphone level was turned up.

    So as far I understand, the compression knob makes the mic pick up sound that is further away... am I wrong?

    Which dedicated outputs? on the actual channel? can I use the same adapter for that?

    Thanks for the info... Maybe I'm one step closer to good sound.

  6. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    So now I have a big problem and I don't know what the heck is going on. I stripped everything down and plugged in an RCA to 3.5 adapter from the REC out spot (which i found out from the 5014c manual is for plugging into a recorder... like an old school recorder.. don't really know if it sends the signal through the adapter) to the computer. So when I plugged that in, the mixer was working fine, but still, there is NO sign that the audio is going into the DAW (mixcraft). I switched over to the old system of the headphone jack (SAME SETTINGS!!!) and NO SIGNAL. So I'm thinking it must be mixcraft so i switched over to audacity with the settings all fine and still no signal either way. My mixer is working fine but i literally have no signal to my computer. Remember that i am working with a 5014c.

    I'm totally screwing this up.
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    #1. iMac had (past tense), so what computer are you using Garage Band with now?

    #2. Good, they should be TRS. The Tip at the Headphone jack should be the right channel, the Ring should be the left channel, and the sleeve the common ground to both channels. The input on the computer soundcard should theoretically be the same two unbalanced channels - but looking for a much colder signal. I'm hoping you haven't cooked it.

    #3. When you say reading "1/3 of the way up on all the meters", is that on the Yamaha or in MixCraft?

    #4. The AFL and PFL buttons, or 'Solo' buttons as some mixers would call them are for the purpose of soloing one (or more) channels, auxes, subgroups through the headphone jack ONLY. This lets you hear those specific things in your headphones without in any way altering your live mix, or in your case recording. If you're trying to record from the headphone jack none of the AFL or PFL buttons should be pressed. The channels typically have PFL buttons (Pre Fader Listen), this means you're eavesdropping on the signal even before it goes through the EQ, or the fader. When you're listening to something PFL, moving the sliders up and down, and changing the EQ would NOT be heard through the headphone jack. The Auxes on your board are AFL (After Fader Listen), so any changes you made in volume would be reflected in what comes out of the headphone jack. It looks like you have a choice of which way to Solo the Main - either PFL or AFL.

    ALSO: Pressing the AFL/PFL button right below your meters can be very useful in setting your gain correctly in just a few seconds.
    Step 1. Press that AFL / PFL button below the meters
    Step 2. Set your Red ST Master Fader to Unity (where the 0 {zero} mark is)
    Step 3. with the Gain on Channel 1 all the way down - plug a sound source into Channel 1
    Step 4. Set your Channel 1 Fader to Unity
    Step 5. Press the PFL button on Channel 1
    Step 6. Gradually turn up the Gain on Channel 1 until your meters indicate a good strong signal averaging between the -7 and the 0, without clipping into the red (much).
    Step 7. Release the PFL button on Channel 1
    Repeat Steps 3-7 for all other inputs.

    It's looks like a lot of steps, but it seriously only takes a few seconds per channel. Once you've done this you'll have the cleanest possible signal and you can mix with the faders and not have to re-adjust your Gains unless there is a drastic change in level. The occasional red light is no reason to panic, but if they are peaking frequently and/or intensely, it's time to trim the Gain back on the offending source. If you've done this and you're still not getting sufficient level to your record, it's definitely a problem downstream and pushing these levels beyond this point will do nothing back make matters worse.

    This whole headphone jack for AFL / PFL listening is possibly part of your problem. One wrong button pressed, and you're not getting what you want at the headphone jack. Your average headphone amp puts out WAY too much power to drive an input cleanly which can easily overload (and possibly damage) your computer input. And garden-variety headphone amps are not known for their fidelity. Strike 3.

    # Dedicated outputs: I would be much more in favor of using the RCA Record Outputs on the mixer which are intended for this purpose. They are going to present a level that is much more compatible with your input. Don't let the fact that they're designed for old-school recorders discourage their use, the -10dB level they put out is still industry standard for unbalanced inputs, as opposed to the several milliwatts you're getting from the headphone amp. (on your Yamaha, these outs are not affected by changes to the Red Master ST fader or EQ unlike the ST Out L/R and ST Sub Out L/R which will change with the Master ST - but again at +4dB are likely too hot for computer inputs to take cleanly)

    #Compressor: You are very much misunderstanding what the compressor does. This has already gotten lengthy, so in a nutshell, compressors (especially one-knob compressors), take very loud signals and subdue them in proportion to their loudness - the opposite of what you need here.

    If you've got speakers hooked up to the mixer and everything sounds good, you should have the exact same mix happening at the Record Outs at a reasonable level for the computer input. If you're not getting good clean signal in the DAW, you need to go over the input settings on the computer itself and then MixCraft's Input/Output settings. And there's always a possibility you've blasted the input on the computer soundcard with too much wattage for too long and done some damage.

    Good luck, I hope that makes some sense. Carry on, and report back with your findings.
  8. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    Wow. Ok a lot of good information thank you. I didn't know as much about sound as I thought. And here I have run sound before too... geez.

    I have yet to try all this out. I will most likely test out everything later on today and report back but thanks a million.
  9. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    So right now I've got a problem with the settings on my DELL Inspiron. (this is the computer i'm running MixCraft on and trying to record. I have barely used this for recording before. The jack should be fine.) I went through all the steps for the mixer and it sounds good. I mean, I have used the mixer before with speakers plugged in and I can get a good mix, no problem. But I have tried now both the [not very smart] headphone jack method, and more than that, the RCA method. I have Jack Mic selected for recording device but i get no signal in the computer at all. I looked through the settings in the computer, it says the jack mic is working fine, I have it set to jack mic in both the Wave and WaveRT settings in MixCraft, and I have the track "armed" to record (that's mixcraft jargon) with Jack Mic "Stereo". But I get no signal. So I think there is a problem with my computer. Do you know what drivers i may be missing or what I may have overlooked. (BTW you are super awesome to be helping me out.)
  10. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    My computer mic works fine and I can record in Mixcraft with that. But the jack mic isn't working.
  11. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    Alright. Back to square one. NOW I have something i can work with. The jack mic IS working with the RCA outputs. Which is good. I have VERY LITTLE volume in the mixcraft recording. So its kind of my original problem but now im using RCA. And the levels on the jack mic are all boosted within the settings. I have the ST fader all the way up, the Gain all the way up. If I turned the gain down that would take of distortion but the level is SO FRIGGIN low.
  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    With your current (original) problem of low volume - what to the meters in MixCraft indicate when you're tracking something?

    Sorry computer drivers and MixCraft are not my specialty. There are tons of folks here much more qualified to answer computer hardware and software questions.

    You've probably already found this, or something like it, but this is the best I can do.
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    I read nowhere in the thread what OS the Dell has.
    First, headphone outputs and mic inputs are not ment to record line level signal. Headphone is an amplified signal for the thinny headphone speakers so it's bound to distort or have alot of noises. The Mic in is an input sent to a preamp, so again, bad choice. Line in is the common name use with customer grade sound card that you should be looking for. If you use XP, you have a hidden menu in the windows mixer which let's you ajust recording levels and activate the inputs (line or mic) never both at the same time.
    In windows 7, your go in the controle pannel, in audio or sound (mine is in french sorry), go in the recording tab and right click in the middle and choose show hidden devices. then activate and ajust the input volume from there. Rare mic input can be used as line level input, they have ajustment in the driver to deactivate de preamp.

    Before doing a spaguetti with your cables.. check the OS Drivers and Audio adjustments. when recording to a computer 80% of the problems come from there.
  14. inhissteps33

    inhissteps33 Active Member

    Thanks so much, guys. I had a guy look at it as well as reading here and it's pretty clear I can't get the input levels right with the headphone jack on my computer. I'm going to purchase a USB interface (M-Audio M-Track Plus probably) and use that with a Macbook that someone offered to give me, along with Garage Band. Just take the mixer out of the picture for the most part.

    Thanks again!
  15. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    I suggest you get a proper audio interface, hanging adapters on a laptop audio I/O can stress or damage your laptops motherboard.

    If you are sure the connector isn't working, take it to the shop.

    (never mind you type faster than i do)

    GarageBand is a good place to start, I use it for quick sketches, then I open the sessions in Logic for mixing and a higher level of editing.

    The instruments and effects in GarageBand are simplified versions of the ones found in Logic Pro.
    Logic can open Garageband files all instruments and effects are available in Logic.

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