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I am new to audio recording. I am trying to record a podcast and I read that the "gain" should be set in such a way that the sound level is around -12 dB. However, when the meter on my audio interface (Behringer Studio L) shows -12 dB, the meter on my DAW (I tried Audacity and GarageBand) shows a level around -40 dB. For a minute, I got it to align, but then it got whacky again and I have no idea what changed.

I am using a Behringer Studio L with two XLR microphones and USB output to my laptop.

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    Maybe you are using two different dB scales while comparing levels
    – pierpy
    Sep 13, 2023 at 16:12

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There are different dB scales that gives different readings.

Looks the meter on your audio interface is analog so the signal strength will then be given in dBU. You can tell because the scale goes above 0dB. This is before the signal is converted to digital and read in the meter in your DAW. The meter in your DAW is probably set to use dBFS which does not go above 0dB.

To get -14dBFS just adjust the audio interface gain knob so that your DAW meter reads this. As long as the analog level does not clip on the way in you should be fine. If you record in 24bit you have lots of room and recording quieter than that is also unproblematic.

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  • Thanks, this is what I was looking for. I was aware that there were different scales, I just didn't understand which was which and, more importantly, which was the one I should pay attention to. Thank you!
    – Neele22
    Oct 25, 2023 at 14:30
  • @Neele22 Great! Happy podcasting.
    – htor
    Oct 25, 2023 at 17:46

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