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I have a Sennheiser K6/ME66 microphone attached with an XLR cable to a Marantz PMD661 MKIII recorder.

I set my presets to: 16-bit/44.1khz sampling rate. Low cut off/high cut off/mic attenuation to 0db/manual recording, etc. I also have an internal battery in the sennheiser mic and phantom power is turned to off.

When I do this, I get a decent signal in my recording, but there appears to some amplitude cutoff. Almost like a limit/ceiling for the signal. Indeed, when I examine the file you can see a clear cutoff, where the audio above a certain threshhold is clipped completely. I attached a photo to show what I mean.

It’s like someone took scissors and cut the rest of my signal. I want my signal to be as “natural as possible”, so even if it goes over 0db in recording I want that to be reflected in the waveform. Very weirdly the problem gets sort of fixed when I turn low-cut on. I have no idea why this is, and it’s not a great solution since I don’t want to manipulate my signal prior to analysis.

Does anyone have any insight as to how to set up the marantz recorder so that it won’t limit my signal? If it helps, when I change the recording level, the “limit” just shifts a little but the same thing occurs.

Audacity: the cutoff is around 0.5,-0.5 the only way it can go up to 1 is if I max out the recording level

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The problem is most likely to do with the input attenuation. The waveform in the OP looks like the digital converter is clipping. I recommend you attenuate the microphone input to fix this. Start at the highest level of attenuation (-18dB) and then decrease until clipping starts, then reduce back one level.

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  • Hello thank you kindly for your answer. Unfortunately this did not seem to solve the problem. You can tell in the field as well - when I tap and yell at the mic/tap with an Input/recording level of around 6, the amplitude never seems “allowed” to go over 0db which seems rather bizarre to me. Is there another setting it could be? – cebola Nov 9 '19 at 13:20
  • So you have reduced the input by 18dB and you are still getting clipping? Has the clipping reduced at all? – Mark Nov 9 '19 at 14:57
  • What is the sound source you are recording and how close are you to the mic? – Mark Nov 9 '19 at 14:59
  • "the amplitude never seems “allowed” to go over 0db" this is completely normal. 0 dB = the maximum level you can record at. – Hobbes Nov 9 '19 at 18:36
  • I understand that - sorry I phrased poorly. I meant that it never is allowed to reach 0dB. I.e. it should allow me to hit the 0db mark if I yell into the mic at close range. Instead, it clips the audio well before that. – cebola Nov 9 '19 at 20:46
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i have the 661mk3. same scrissor-like limited signal effects and distortion as described(661 internal gain at -18db: brickwalling occurs at -7db with a 12mV/Pa (‑38 dBV) sensitivity condenser mic)..problem seems to be the preamps overloading(analog stage) with hot signals, with a -20db pad on the mic output signal, shouting in the mic > the marantz 661mk3 doesn't distorts and clips at 0db (digital scale)...me not like it either but donno how the other recorders(in this price range) performs -- pros: no need for expensive, high sensitivity mics :)

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In digital 16bit or 24 bit recording 0dB is the maximum. There simply is no way to encode any stronger signal.

I recommend doing what I have done the last 20 years. Turn down input gain to have a healthy headroom. I aim for -6dB. I check every part of the signal chain from mic to the analog parts of the recorder to the digital parts. The ”lack of gain” is Rhen compensated in my Daw where I have tools to remove unnecessary frequencys and can decrease the dynamic range with a compressor.

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