Playback levels hotter than recording levels =(


New member
Im using a Beheringer 6 channel mixer to mix my drums and send it to a Yamaha 4 track tape recorder. Levels are fine at record time but when i play it back levels are way to high and distorted. What gives?
Also what kind of cable should i be using to send the signal from the mixer to the tape deck?
Are you monitoring the record deck, or the mixer when you record? If you record a zero VU signal (Sine wave or sustained organ note)what is the play back level?

How about some old tapes, do they play back normal?

Clean and demagnetize your tape heads, then try some calibrated tests. Record a sustained note at -20 it back.

try -10 db playback....what are your results?

give us some more details and mabye the problem will become evident.

I have never seen this exact problem, but I am eager to find out about it!

Dom Franco
Thanks for the tips Dom. =)

I will look into it further, but at the moment I do not have access to my mixer or the 4 track, which belongs to a guitar player friend of my who is getting ready to move. Im bran new at recording and its probly somthing I didnt to right to begin with but i will try to explain further in the only way I know how.

I had six mics on my drums, 4 sm57's and two other crappy mics, all running into the mixer, 4 xlr, and 2 1/4 inch mic cables. Now the 4 xlr strips have that trim nob on the top and I was told to set all the trims between the only two visible (a negative number, and a positive number) markings. Then adjust the volume or level for each track so the stereo meters on the mixer were at unity. I also read the beringher manual but right now i cant recall a word of it. The other two channels, not having a trim nob, i had to turn up the levels a bit and turn up the low end eq nobs a bit. So the stereo meters on the mixer were where they should have been which was no hotter than unity, or that 0, about midway.

So playing the kit shows the mixer levels at unity (after checking one at time) and I send the left and right to tracks one and and three of the 4 track. Hrmm more trim nobs and another three band eq to go through. What gives? Now the trim nobs on the 4trak do not have the plus and minus numbers on it like the mixer does, they each have a 0 on it, which to me means unity or where it should be set. so i set it there. Wrong! The recording levels of the 4trak on tracks one and three are through the roof (The master level, track one and three levels and the trim levels all set at 0). So i turned down the main mixer level a bit. and turned everything else down on the 4track until the 4track recording levels showed unity. (probly using that word in the wrong way)

I release the pause on the 4 track, record, and play it back to see that the recording levels on the 4 track have jumped way up again. wtf? Further attempts have showed better results but I had to pretty much turn everything down a lot more. So why bother putting 0's on everything if I cant set it there?

Well, thats my feeble first attempt at doing it all by myself. The mixer is bran new and the 4track is a few months old and has had a great deal of use. Soon I will put my brain back in my head and record the correct way, right after im done reading every post in the bbs.

Thanks in advance for not ripping off one of my limbs and beating me over my head with it.


From your explanation it sounds like you might be sending the signal through too many stages of amplification. The inputs of your recorder are able to take a microphone signal and amplify it. You are feeding a much hotter signal and may be overdriving the pre-amps. Try using a line level or aux input to the recorder.

Dom Franco
How are you monitoring the audio ? Are you listening to speakers while someone else is playing ? or headphones ? Try setting your levels at about inbetween half and threequarters, and adjust your trim so that your VU meters are hitting zero on like your bass hits, and maybe snare if it's really in there, but let them bounce on maybe 2or3. But I think the main question is how are you monitoring. I hope I'm helping
I have this problem too with my Fostex A-8.

And it's the VU meters on the fostex itself that are showing much higher playback then recording levels.

I guess that in my case it's just weird calibration of the fostex. Maybe they had it calibrated for some weird tape?

Anybody know how to check this?