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I have a Steinberg UR22MKII and in the first input I have a condenser microphone, 48V phantom power is on. When I listen with headphones to the direct monitor, it sounds fine. When I listen with headphones to the DAW (Audacity) setting, it sounds fine. Pretty much all dials are at 12 o'clock.

But when I record in Audacity, the level visually just barely is above the flat line. I had to use the Audicity amplify plugin against the output or else it would sound too quiet when I play back through computer speakers and not the Steinberg to my headphones.

Is this normal? I would think I don't need to do the amplification. If I crank the gain on the Steinberg it causes breakup and static and sounds bad.

I'm using port 2 with other software to record guitar, seems fine.

Any help appreciated.

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If it's loud enough via direct monitoring, and loud enough when listening in Audacity, it sounds like there's just a output level difference between your Steinberg interface and your built in computer audio.

Some possible issues:

  • Microphone Gain turned down in Audacity
  • Waveform vertically zoomed out in Audacity
  • Master level of computer audio in the Windows Sound Mixer is turned down
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What is your volume output level set to (in other words, do you have your headphones turned up loud?)

When recording, "sounding fine" isn't necessarily good enough; you need to focus on properly using the gain stages in your system. In general this means making sure the input level is correct before setting the output level. In other words, make sure the meters are displaying proper signal (not too much either!) and then turn the volume knob on your headphones to a comfortable listening setting.

This is important for many reasons, but the one of the primary reasons is "signal to noise ratio", or how much noise/"hiss" ends up in your final mix.

Gain stages require much more study and this might be a good place to start, but the important part is to study the subject.

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