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I've been using an AT2020 USB directly into my 2015 macbook Pro retina and recording in Audacity. I recently wanted to upgrade to a nicer mic. Every mic I try, the volume is super low. Increasing the gain also increases the noise floor to an untenable level. There is one exception, the Rode NT-1 condenser mic seems to work fine, but I want to use another mic and I can't figure out what is happening. When I say quiet, I mean the waveform is small -- the signal strength is not strong.

Here's the setups I've tried:

RodeNT-1 > XLR > MobilePre USB preamp > MBPro > Audacity (seems ok, but still a little quiet)

Shure 87b XLR > MobilePre USB preamp > MBPro > Audacity (very quiet)

Shure SM7b XLR > MobilePre USB preamp > MBPro > Audacity (very quiet)

Shure 87b > XLR > phant. power supply > XLR > apogee duet > MBPro > Audacity (very quiet)

RodeNT-1 > XLR > phant. power supply > XLR > apogee duet > MBPro > Audacity (very quiet)

Shure 87b > XLR > phant. power supply > XLR > Sapphire preamp > MBPro > Audacity (very quiet)

RodeNT-1 > XLR > phant. power supply > XLR > Sapphire preamp > MBPro > Audacity (very quiet)

When I switch back to the AT2020USB, everything works fine.

The mics, XLRs, Sapphire, power supply and macbook pro were all brand new. I also tried these setups in different rooms, different locations and at different times. Audacity is the most recent version. I had the computer running on battery as well as plugged in, and it doesn't seem to make a difference.

Any help is appreciated. I can't find anyone else really having the same issues, but I've eliminated everything but Audacity as the issue. I really want to keep using it though.

  • You do have the mic gains set up correctly, right? – Of course the SM7b is a dynamic mic and hence weaker, but the others are all condensers and should definitely be able to drive your preamps into overdrive if you crank up the gain. If that doesn't happen, the problem has nothing to do with the computer; perhaps it's just that the cables are broken (sometimes even new leads are rubbish)! – leftaroundabout Aug 9 '15 at 19:08

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