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Windows 7: What are your sound settings for recording music?

21 Feb 2010   #1
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 
What are your sound settings for recording music?

I use my onboard sound chip - Realtek ALC1200 - and Nero 9 Wave Editor for recording music to mp3 on my PC.
What I am experimenting with is how to use the various volume settings to achieve the best results. I'd like to know what others that record music this way do.

There are 5 volume controls to play with:
1. The "Stereo Mix" device has a "Levels" tab with a volume slider. Mine is set at 100%.
2. The "Speakers" device has a "Levels" tab with a volume slider. This control is also adjusted by using the Windows "Mixer" slider and the "Realtek HD Audio Manager" slider. It doesn't matter which of the 3 you use, they all change simultaneously. Mine is set at 50%.
3. In Nero Wave Editor there is an "Input Level (db)" meter and a slider. This slider has little effect on the volume level readings on the "Input Level (db)" meter. My slider is set at 100%.
4. On the website where I am listening to the music there is a volume slider. On most sites this slider is set at either 50% or 100%.
5. My Logitech speakers have a physical volume control. This obviously does not control the recording volume level, but it does control what I hear.

When I record I am using a combination of the "Speakers" volume control (2) and the websites volume control (4) to adjust the recording level in the Wave Editor. I try and keep the meter levels in the yellow and out of the red. To get a good reading the volume of my speakers is very low; I have to crank up my Volume Control (5) to hear well. After recording, the "Peak File" graph shows the wave form falling approx. between -35 and +35 (low volume). But there is no clipping. I use "MP3 Gain" to correct this low volume and equalize all my MP3's to a relative 93db. After adding the MP3 Gain the wave form falls approx. between -75 and +75 in Nero Wave Editor.

The sound of my MP3's is good but this seems like a lot of extra steps to get a good recording. So that's why I'm asking the question. How are other people doing this stuff? Is a real sound card the answer? Or am I going about this all wrong?
Thanks for any advice you can give.
(Please let me know if this belongs in a different forum)


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 Feb 2010   #2
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Bump.
No one records music on their pc's here?
(except for Fireberd - Jeez - is that a computer or a recording studio?)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Feb 2010   #3
Aphelion

Windows 7 Home Premium
 
 

What you're after is the best possible "gain staging".

The "Stereo Mix" volume slider.. think of that as "Record Level"
If you have that set at 100% you're probably recording more background noise than you want or need.

The other two levels will be playback levels, a Master Volume and an Application Volume.

1st Rule, the application volume should never be higher than the master volume.
(the application volume on web based audio could be the volume control on the website)

2nd rule, the record level should never be higher than the master volume.

One reason, if the App volume is on 100% and the master on 30, intense program material may overdrive the main output stage.

Try this to start with... Master mixer volume 80, web based volume 50%, Stereo Mix 40-50%
What you're trying to do is get the hottest, cleanest recorded signal possible. The less you have modify the recorded wav, the better.

Ap
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23 Feb 2010   #4
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Hey Thanks Ap. That's exactly the info I needed. I get the concept! I'll try those new settings tonight.

While I got you- what do you think of on-board sound chips versus pci sound cards? At what point does the one become ridiculous and the other become a necessity?

Thanks Again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Feb 2010   #5
Aphelion

Windows 7 Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Hey Thanks Ap. That's exactly the info I needed. I get the concept! I'll try those new settings tonight.

While I got you- what do you think of on-board sound chips versus pci sound cards? At what point does the one become ridiculous and the other become a necessity?

Thanks Again.

The problem with using mainboard sound is that it's inherently noisy, and let's face it.... those chips probably cost less than $2, maybe not even that.

However, the method you're using to record doesn't use the card's A/D converters so it's not going to make nearly as much of a difference.

A dedicated sound card whether PCI or Firewire would be a vast improment if you're recording external sources but will also sound better for playback no matter the method of recording.

There are pitfalls, some pro audio cards only ship with ASIO low latency drivers... I have an RME PCI card as well has a Presounus Firestudio. The RME doesn't ship with Windows system drivers... only professional audio recording software can use the card.

See what you can get out of your setup first.
p.s. One way to reduce noise is to bring the volume down and mute all inputs (line, mic, CD...etc) not being used.


Ap
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Feb 2010   #6
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Hi Ap
Those setting work very well. The meter is almost within range "out of the box" and the sound quality is very good (I do mute everything else and unplug webcam and mics).
Now a new curiosity: Every time I open a new recording console in Nero Wave Editor the Stereo Mix resets itself to 100%. I have to reset it to 45% for every recording. Do you think that is a Windows or Nero issue?

Thanks for your opinion on sound cards. It's helpful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Feb 2010   #7
Aphelion

Windows 7 Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
Hi Ap
Those setting work very well. The meter is almost within range "out of the box" and the sound quality is very good (I do mute everything else and unplug webcam and mics).
Now a new curiosity: Every time I open a new recording console in Nero Wave Editor the Stereo Mix resets itself to 100%. I have to reset it to 45% for every recording. Do you think that is a Windows or Nero issue?

Thanks for your opinion on sound cards. It's helpful.
Probably a Nero issue and may not be something you can adjust.
It would fall under "record level".

If you're interested in audio editors, especially free ones, take a look at Audacity.
(maybe you have?)

Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder

If you download it, get the 1.3.11 beta (it's solid) as it's the one listed for Win-7

Glad to hear it's working, getting the gain staging right takes a little practice but once you get it set, the recordings will have both less noise (hiss) and distortion.

Ap
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Feb 2010   #8
TVeblen

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

I've got a buddy that uses Audacity and he swears by it. I've always wanted to give it a try but never pulled the trigger. I've used Nero since v4 and can get around in my sleep. We shall see!
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 What are your sound settings for recording music?




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