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proper way to control a condenser microphone volume

Sound Design Asked by Isaac Seo on December 3, 2020

I’m setting up a home studio microphone with an Audio Technica 3035 (discontinued). My current setup is:

AT3035 -> external phantom power -> Cloudlifter -> Focusrite 18i8 -> logic pro x

The problem I’m having is that it’s really hard to control the volume. On 30% volume on the 18i8 and with a normal, soft voice sounds fine and clear, but when I start to belt, the sound signal immediately starts to break. I then have to walk a foot or two away from the mic to reduce the sound break, and I’m not sure if my setup is correct. In professional studios, I see the singer usually doesn’t move away from the mic and belts, and it sounds fine. Of course, there is post-mixing and processing included, but the initial signal must be clear to do the mix. What’s the secret of getting a clear sound when I’m on both soft and belting mode?

I normally sing a foot or two apart from the mic btw.

Thanks!

2 Answers

In a recording studio there's a recording engineer sorting out the gain levels so the singer doesn't have to step back.

I agree with ghellquist's answer so do that first.

Is your mic XLR cable plugged into one of the four combo sockets on the front of your 18i8 and is phantom power enabled for that socket? For the channel you are using, are the INST and PAD lights off? (They are controlled by the Focusrite Control app that should be installed on your Mac.) You should now be able to use the channel gain control so that the channel isn't clipping when you sing at your loudest.

For the best signal to noise ratio you want your loudest singing to approach (but not reach) clipping on the 18i8. The gain controls on the 18i8 have multi-color LED rings to indicate level. You want the selected channel to occasionally flash amber but never red on your loudest passages. Then use the gain controls in Logic Pro X to set the desired level of your voice in your mix.

Answered by Graham Nye on December 3, 2020

Remove the cloudlifter and the external phantom power. Use XLR cable directly from mic to Focusrite.

Answered by ghellquist on December 3, 2020

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