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Recording Levels Very Low but Playback Very Loud

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Recording Levels Very Low but Playback Very Loud

Postby Neil Ninja » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:14 pm

Absolute beginner here. I'm trying to record drum patterns from my Alesis SR16 through a M Audio interface into Sonar/Cakewalk. Gains on interface are just touching '1' with Output on '5 or 6'. Sonar recording level set to '0'. When recording, the sound is barely audible - even through headphones - but on playback it's blasting!! The same thing happens when I try to record my Roland GO-Keys. I'm using Windows 7. Can anyone please advise (in simple terms). Thanks.
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Re: Recording Levels Very Low but Playback Very Loud

Postby Zukan » Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:29 pm

Sounds like your monitoring needs attention. It seems the signal is healthy but monitoring is exhibiting a low signal, is that correct?
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Re: Recording Levels Very Low but Playback Very Loud

Postby CJmastering » Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:48 pm

Sonar recording level set to '0'. When recording, the sound is barely audible
One thing you need to know is that playback and recording levels are controlled by 2 different things.

1.) The recording levels are controlled by everything before it hits your audio interfaces converters .This means SONAR has no control over the recording signal's level.

2.) The monitoring (playback) levels are controlled by SONAR and your Monitors and maybe your audio interfaces cue mix, if it has one.

This is why they are at different levels

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Re: Recording Levels Very Low but Playback Very Loud

Postby CS70 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:13 am

Neil Ninja wrote:Absolute beginner here. I'm trying to record drum patterns from my Alesis SR16 through a M Audio interface into Sonar/Cakewalk. Gains on interface are just touching '1' with Output on '5 or 6'. Sonar recording level set to '0'. When recording, the sound is barely audible - even through headphones - but on playback it's blasting!! The same thing happens when I try to record my Roland GO-Keys. I'm using Windows 7. Can anyone please advise (in simple terms). Thanks.

It depends on how you record. Dont know that drum machine - are u sending midi to Sonar, or the actual played drum line via line out? From what you say it sounds like the latter - in which case the M Audio gain should not be relevant at all - gain is usually for mic preamps, not line inputs (even if the latter appear on combi socket).. there are exceptions tough, so hard to say without knowing which interface.

So it could be a line level mismatch issue. But if the level is too high (but not too noisy) in Sonar, simply process the track with the gain tool until it sounds reasonable at your usual reference level.

If you're sending midi of course the playback you hear has no longer anything to do with the drum machine, but it's whatever synth you've set up to receive the data (and Sonar's Session Drummer is always set way too high by default)
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Re: Recording Levels Very Low but Playback Very Loud

Postby ef37a » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:34 am

Having ploughed through the 71 page manual of the SR16 I eventually found a tiny section regarding audio output. It is on a 3.5mm jack and no level is given (anywhere I can see!) but since it shows feed to a tape machine I am going to guess at -10dBV (316mV) and that should cause the line input of the interface (model?) no bother at all. So, assuming it IS audio you are trying to record?...

First step IMHO is to ensure the M-A interface has the correct ASIO drivers installed. If you use Windows drivers both record and playback settings can be all over the shop and, WTGR, as a newb, you won't know where to find the settings.

I am also certain the interface will have a level indicator system on the front. Almost always Green shows signal present Red shows gain advanced too far. You want Green flashing almost all the time but never Red. That last is however only a crude setting. You now need to look at the track meters in Sonar and set the gain of the AI such that the bar hovers around -18 on the scale (called "dB Full Scale"). Get that and then you KNOW you are putting signals down into Sonar at the correct level.

Now all you need to do is sort out the monitoring gain!

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