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voice over recording level issue

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Mark Smith
voice over recording level issue
on Nov 10, 2019 at 10:33:55 pm

I've needed to record some VO tracks for a project. I use my mix pre 6 & usb interface to my edit system - no problems there- X recognizes the mixer input and I have audio coming through to X.

The issue is that no matter what I do which the levels at the mixer what comes into X always is on the low side and no matter what I do to boost levels at the mixer, it seems like X has some sort of limiter for input levels and record levels are always on the low side. Invariably,I always need to boost levels once I get the VO into a project and frequently need to post 12db or more.

Is there some control I am over looking that will allow me to record levels where I want them as opposed to what I am doing now?


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 4:46:06 pm

Are you using the "Record Voiceover" tool? It has a slider for adjusting the input level if it's coming in too low from the interface.

Also, just a check: are you sure it's recording the input from your audio interface? By default, it will record the Mac's built-in mic; you have to select the interface as the input.



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Mark Smith
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 5:18:33 pm

I see my mixer in the X interface so that’s not the issue, I know I am recording from my mixer/mic. The gain slider in the interface is grayed out so no options to increase gain.


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 5:36:14 pm

You're right about the input gain option being grayed out; I see the same thing when I tried just now to record through my interface. However I got a very good line level in and the levels on my recording are fine.

The best test would be to record something else from that same interface into another application (e.g., Audacity) on your computer to see if it's an issue with the signal out from your interface. The fact that I'm getting good levels suggests that this isn't a FCPX issue.


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 5:49:33 pm

The input gain slider is probably only available when you use the built-in mic; since the interface is sending a line-level signal there's no need to adjust it.

I have a MixPre 6 as well but have never used it as a USB interface; my interface is also from Sound Devices but it's the USBPre 2.


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Mark Smith
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 5:52:56 pm

I used to have a SD usb pre 2 and had similar problems getting decent level through the USB interface to X .


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 6:11:44 pm

That's strange! See screen shot below for waveforms of some test voiceover I recorded just now in FCPX using the Record Voiceover window and my USBPre 2. Recording is loud and clear.

Have you tried recording into any other program on your computer? It would be worth testing.



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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 6:13:54 pm

Sorry, wrong screen shot attached by mistake. here's the right one.



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Mark Smith
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Nov 11, 2019 at 6:19:52 pm

I just tried the same audio rig on my 2nd edit machine , a 2012 iMac and I don't feel like levels are being throttled anywhere. Once my other machine 2014 iMac 5k frees up I'll give it another shot.


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Maksym Kvitka
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 8:49:44 pm

I do have the same problem. I just bought a luxury microphone and it's recording up to -6db even if I'm screaming. I think it's FCPx problem as I changed from steinberg to focusrite as I was thinking that there might be a problem due to software.


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:11:30 pm

"I do have the same problem. I just bought a luxury microphone and it's recording up to -6db even if I'm screaming. I think it's FCPx problem as I changed from steinberg to focusrite as I was thinking that there might be a problem due to software."

The levels coming in to Final Cut from an external mic are set by your audio interface, not by Final Cut. So if you're getting a weak signal, try increasing the gain on your interface. Also make sure there isn't some sort of pad engaged on your interface (which would attenuate the signal; it's used for loud sounds).


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Mark Smith
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:25:08 pm

There is something else going on with VO recording. I use my Mix pre 6 as an interface, limiters are off. I can be right on top of my schoeps mic and yell and barely get 0 db on the X meters meanwhile the mix pre is all in the red. I think there is some built in limiter in X for which there is no on- off switch.


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Maksym Kvitka
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:32:20 pm

I'm not sure anymore what to do and most probably to return the mic as I don't see any solution on the internet. I have a cheap usb mic and that one records really loud - going over 3db when screaming.
This one is AKG 314 and I've tried to use it with Steinberg ur22C and Forcerite4i4 3rd generation and no luck no matter what levels I put on the control application.

If I record as a stereo - then the signal on one side is good, but then when I change to use as dual mono - it drops to -6 maximum.

I do consider to buy a splitter for XLR cable and use 2 inputs of the audio interface into 2 channels and record a stereo in fcpx.
Someone tried this already?


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:47:19 pm

"There is something else going on with VO recording. I use my Mix pre 6 as an interface, limiters are off. I can be right on top of my schoeps mic and yell and barely get 0 db on the X meters meanwhile the mix pre is all in the red. I think there is some built in limiter in X for which there is no on- off switch."

Ah, I see what you mean, I just tried the same thing (yelling into my mic at close range) and while my interface was showing everything in the red, Final Cut never got above -6db. Not a big deal as I usually aim for average levels between -18 and -12 dbfs when recording anyway but it does look like there's a built-in limiter to prevent peaking.


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Maksym Kvitka
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:51:54 pm

Exactly. I just used to my USB mic which was recording well. Now I feel like the whole video need to be quieter as otherwise I cannot hear the mic. I will also email Focusrite for some information.

Logic Pro X on the other hand seams to record fine.
Have you tried splitter and record 2 inputs as stereo?


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Maksym Kvitka
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:53:13 pm

Like this one


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:55:37 pm

"Logic Pro X on the other hand seams to record fine.
Have you tried splitter and record 2 inputs as stereo?"

Voiceover should be recorded in mono.

I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping the levels below -6dbfs; it's common practice to record at -18 to -12 dbfs. You can lower the levels of everything else and bring it all up to whatever your target level is in post. Remember that audio signals sum when mixed, so the sum of music, SFX, and voiceover could bring your master levels too high.


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 21, 2020 at 10:31:23 pm

"Now I feel like the whole video need to be quieter as otherwise I cannot hear the mic."

There is an option in the voiceover recording window to mute the project while you record your voiceover.

Overall, though, I get the feeling that you're aiming for levels that are too high. In the analog world we aimed for 0 on the meter but that's way, way too high in the digital world and will guarantee clipping. You should aim for average levels of -12 to -18 dbfs on the meter, with peaks going no higher than -5 or -6 dbfs. In fact that's probably why Apple put that limiter in there, to prevent you from going too high.


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Maksym Kvitka
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 22, 2020 at 7:31:08 am

Thank Brad for this.

I will actually research this subject a bit more.
I wrote an email to Scarlett and will see if they had something in the past. For not I will continue using my old USB and maybe will try splitter.


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Brad Hurley
Re: voice over recording level issue
on Apr 22, 2020 at 10:07:55 am

"I will actually research this subject a bit more.
I wrote an email to Scarlett and will see if they had something in the past. For not I will continue using my old USB and maybe will try splitter."


Okay, good luck! Just to add a bit to what I wrote yesterday: when recording voiceover or dialogue you should aim for average levels of -12 to -18 dBFS on the meters, and your other clips in the timeline should generally be at that level as well (purchased music is usually much higher and you need to drag down the volume). This will give you plenty of headroom and helps ensure that you don't cause clipping in the main mix as your music, dialogue, SFX, voiceover, etc. are mixed and added together.

In the final mixdown, that's where you set the levels for your output, which depends on the loudness standards of whatever you're delivering to (youtube/vimeo vs. broadcast vs. cinema; they all have different standards, and standards vary between the US and Europe for example). For that you need a loudness meter. The multimeter available in FCPX can sort of do the job; I much prefer the Youlean loudness meter but haven't used it myself in FCPX as I do my audio work in Resolve.


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