advice re:audio levels


New member
Greetings, I'm making some progress but still experimenting. Having trouble with "low audio" levels- left: ovation into a fender superchorus amp, an SM57 6" away into track 1(pan all the way left) right: my D-28 acoustic into SM57 into PA, antother SM57 into tascam414 track 2(pan right). Using a bright acoustic and a flat chorusey ovation sounds incredible thru the headphones; but when I mix-down into my sony dual-cassette and play it, the audio level is way down.
If I turn up the input level on acoustic track 2 it distorts. A decent condenser mic would probably help acoustic(suggestions?)but I think its my tracking or mixdown levels. When we record the band (both SM57s across room into track 1/2) the levels are fine. Oh I'm about ready to try an mp3 (or wav?) but I want the analog levels right first. rsvp
I don't have any "monitors", I run the tascam line out into the sony dual cassette. I tried directly to the tape line input of the preamp, and the level is better. Of course I set the input level of the sony dual (i.e. mixdown) deck. All of the levels are set so that at the loudest does not "peg" the meters; this is touchy with the martin acoustic (fingerpick etc), the ovation electric is not so bad. Remember the levels during band practice are ok, it's only the acoustic stuff.
OK let me rephrase that. How do you listen to the output of the SONY mixdown deck? By "monitor system" I merely meant some receiver or amp/pre-amp combo and a pair of speakers, not necessarily a pair of powered studio monitors. All I've got is a low-rent SONY receiver and a pair of pretty nice passive near-field monitors. I've been told a 400W Hafler would add immensely to my sound; my neighbors disagree..... :)
Also: cassettes can take a bit hotter signal than you can feed to a soundcard. Have you found the input level adjustment that clips the signal on the tape?
Thanks. By playing with the input level to the mixdown deck I am able to get better audio level; I was afraid to do this because the tascam levels are so touchy. Also now that I've paid off my share of the PA I'll go but a $100 condenser mic for the next session. (If I can borrow the ovation again anyway). Okay, whats the best way to get this from the tascam onto mp3?
On a regular cassette deck, chrome (type II) tapes can take frequent peaks of +3 dbu. Set those cassette levels hotter. Very short spikes of more than +3 dbu can be ok too.

Get that cassette mixdown as hot as you can without saturation.
Type IV tapes are even more robust.
As surprised as I am considering... I've been able to get +5dbu throughout a good portion of a song with the +10dbu LED lighting up 3 or 4 times during the highest peaks on my Denon DN-770R while using Maxell High Bias (Type II) bulk cassette tape from Musician's Friend.
That is hot, but are you monitoring the SOURCE levels (incoming signal, or the TAPE levels (what is actually recorded). There is usually a drop off of about 3 to 6 dbu between the Source and the Tape levels.
Amazingly enough, what I put in is what gets to tape because it reads the exact same thing on playback; this is only with those bulk Maxell high bias (Type II) cassettes from Musician's Friend. Even a TDK SA-X won't do that on my deck at least. It usually gets one LED segment less to tape.