Audio Interfaces and clipping

I use a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2.
I’ve always been pretty careful to avoid clipping - If I see I’m hitting the red, I dial it back.

However, I’ve often been pretty disappointed in the quality of recordings.
Both just recording for myself and the community open mics - Everything just comes out too quiet.
Furthermore I recall at least a couple times during community open mic sound checks - that others individuals were also on the quiet side - but that they were as loud as they could go without getting into the red on their interfaces.

So lately I’ve been experimenting and doing some recordings where according to the interface I’m clipping. But to me - the recording quality is way better - and I hear no clipping at all in the recording.

Is it possible that the interfaces are faulty? Or do they perhaps err to conservatively?

Would like to hear if others have similar experiences

-dale

I record with an input around -12db, that’s where digital signal processing supposedly sounds the best (most plugins). At most -6db… and avoid clipping the input at all cost. But thats the input - when mixing you can always bring the master bus level back up where it sounds good. You probably need compression/limiting plugins for that. You dont want to clip the peaks of your uncompressed inputs… sounds really bad

IMO you should NOT be clipping at the input stage.

There are typically several places you can boost the signal later, none of which should be clipping either…

This will depend entirely on your software you are using

So, if doing something like a community open mic…I have just had my interface as the ‘audio input’ for Zoom. I love the simplicity of it, but it leaves no option for boosting the signal.
Do I instead place a DAW in the middle? I haven’t tried that but certainly could.

open mic/zoom isnt something i’ve done but yeah I think you will need something in the middle to control levels etc?

Just to close the loop for anyone else who stumbles along this topic.

There is another topic in the open mic forum that addresses just this, though it does mean a more complicated setup with a DAW in the middle.

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I’ve only done a few recordings. A few collabs.
The person I collabed with taught me a couple of things about clipping.

  1. If your to quite, and your at max right before clip on the interface. Try adj. the gain up (not volume) in your daw.
  2. If your playing with others and your not loud enough when played back. Instead of turning ‘me’ up, try turning everything (other players) else down.

Just a thought. Don’t even know if it’s applicable…

Dale

For OMs you don’t need to go down the DAW route, it gets pretty complicated. As easy win is to send the audio and video to OBS. You can do AVOYP recordings there or send the audio and video to Zoom for OMs. The audio input capture sources can be boosted by adding a gain preset but also a limiter to avoid clipping.

I also use a Loudness Meter (Youlean) so you can get to the optimum levels for YouTube. But Zoom seems to lose about 2db on any input (at least) so you can push it further from OBS.

Check out the OM Tech threads on set up. There is one that cover OBS use for OMs.

These may help

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Thanks Toby,
The last OM was the first time I tried OBS - and I thought I had looked into audio boosting - but probably didn’t spend too much time on it. I want to grab that loudness meter for other reasons as well - so I’ll start there.
Appreciate it!

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If you need advice on the OBS audio “tweaks” just shout. Or you can just boost the output on the OBS Audio Mixer. :smile:

I’d been meaning to post a similar question, but this seems an appropriate place for my twopenn’orth. I have a cheap chinese focusrite knockoff that cost me £25 (Brand new) off ebay, which I’ve started to think about replacing. I’ve been wondering if a real focusrite* would give me huge improvements, or if I might as well stay with what I’ve got.

First problem is noise, the AI itself introduces an absolute shedload of hiss into the signal on both channels. My workaround for the OM was to route the signal via OBS, with an instance of Reafir-standalone in subtract mode on each channel, which successfully gets rid of the unwanted noise.

Second problem is clipping. On the gain dial for the guitar channel, the 0 stop is at 6 o’clock. I can’t move the dial much past 8 o’clock without horrendous clipping! Workaround for that is to start at zero, edge the gain dial up to nearly 8 o’clock and then fettle the levels with a gain plugin and the Youlean loudness meter in OBS

So, focusrite* users, if I upgraded to a real focusrite*, would I be able to use it directly as the input to zoom without sounding like I’m playing in a nest of snakes? And would I have a usable gain control on the AI?

Thanks in advance

*(or other reputable make of AI)

Make sure this isnt your guitar. But I dont get unexpected noise on my 2i2.

This is one of the things a good AI is supposed to not do…

My gain knob on the 2i2 is set just past the mid position tho, I could prob push it more but no need, it doesnt amber clip on thrashing a guitar.

It’s not unless it’s a problem with all 6 guitars :sunglasses:

for the £25 it cost, I’m surprised it works at all!

These comments reinforce my hankering to get a genuine focusrite or similar. Thanks Rob

Tbh I know there are a number of similar AI’s around with different specs (some better…) but going with the popular option here for me was a smart choice it’s great

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Ian – I did a Focusrite 2.2 (1st Gen!!) direct to Zoom on the advice of our good friend @TheMadman_tobyjenner and it worked a charm on Saturday. It was much easier than what I had tried to do initially and it sounded ok using both channels. I never had to worry about the dreaded “red zone”. . .I am happy with my Focusrite and I believe that the old adage that ya get what you pay for is still largely true. . .my advice would be to look at lots of reviews of the focusrite you want and then decide if it’s suitable for your needs. Happy hunting!!
J.

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Hi Dale I think there is a key bit here missing from all the discussions held on this particular subject - what is very important IMHO is what level is your volume knob on AI, also what is the volume level on your laptop’s OS, and one you don’t have influence on - how others have dialed in.

I think best way to handle clipping is to make sure your both dials you have control on are set to about 50-60%. Then you play with the volume on your amp/guitar. And that is usually a key for me when I am not doing an overcomplicated setup myself.

Hey Adi,
My AI knobs are at about 50%. I’m still playing around - but I’m getting decent recording levels in both windows and OBS. So I think my issue is somewhere in Zoom land.

I had previously set up my Zoom input to be the audio interface, as for some reason I wasn’t (and am still not) - able to get the OBS audio into Zoom.

But currently experimenting

Have you checked your mic levels on zoom end in audio settings, if it’s not too high or too low? There is a bar in there as well.

As for OBS to Zoom it’s always a tricky challenge for me and only way I was able to get it working without sync issues was by using ReaRoute plugin. Any other method just wasn’t working for me for some reason…

Yeah, that one is set almost full. BUT - I think I have a lead.
If I change my zoom audio input while in a meeting - the level seems to drop.

I do this often in OM’s - because I want to use one headset for listening and cheering.
But then I switch over to the AI before performing, allowing me to use my in ear monitors and microphone.

As I said, still experimenting. I’ll likely try to get OBS audio to go through as it would be nice to have a bit more control anyway

If you switch audio input over in zoom are zoom levels changing and going to default every single time? Or maybe original music needs ti be enabled on each time you swap over your input and when you forget to do this it goes more quiet? Just a few thoughts :wink: