Sound out of the mixer is too LOUD

Hi there,

The output of my mixer (both main and headphones) is :boom: LOUD :boom:
I mean, really loud. The sound is ok when the channel fader is at -20, the master channel fader is at -40, my speakers (Yamaha Hs7) volume is at a quarter and my sub (Yamaha Hs8s) volume is at minimum. The sound is not distorted at all.
It used to do that with my A&E Zed14 and now with my new Zoom Livetrak12.

So the issue is : since all the signals coming out of the Zoom are so “low”, I get all the noise from the computer/instruments as well.

So I’ve put a small Yamaha mixer between the Zoom and the monitors/headphones, lowering everything for something like -40dB I imagine, I’ve set the channel volume and master channel volume to 0dB/-5dB on the Zoom and it’s just great. But I won’t be able to keep that little Yamaha mixer to reduce the volume.

Is there other people here facing this issue? Do you have a solution for lowering the volume right out of the mixer?
I’ve found Electro Harmonix are doing one-knob volume pedal for attenuation, but I wanted to ask before.

OR, there’s something I’m missing and doing wrong in my setup :upside_down_face:


can you run us through your setup and what is connected to what? As well as description about your interconnections (rca, XLR, TS, TRS 1/4")?

1 Like

I have this problem too. It’s mostly solved by turning the speakers almost all the way down. I have HS8s, and with the knob on the back set to the 2nd line above zero (3rd line including zero), I can have my Mackie’s mixer channels at unity, and the main and control room mix knobs at 12 o’clock.

If I use headphones, though, the mixer is still waaaay to loud. And turning it down a lot messes with the L/R balance of the headphones. I either plug the headphones into my audio interface, or turn down elsewhere – which isn’t ideal as it messes with recording levels.

I’d be interested in people’s answers on this. Why are some mixers so loud?

EDIT: My Mackie 1202’s main XLR outs have a pad on them, but I have my speakers connected to the control room outs, so that’s useless in my case. But do check to see if you have options like this.

How is the gainstaging set up going in to the mixer? Could it be that you are pushing each track a bit hard?

@thomaso No it’s not that hard.
For example, the Digitakt plays a sample :
Sample volume at 110,
Track volume at 110,
Master volume knob at noon,
Going to the Zoom with 2 TRS cables,
Signal-in LED blikin’ green on the Zoom (means it receives sound at less than -3db).
With the channel fader at zero : the channel leds hit -12, right before the first orange led.

-> With this example, if I set the headphones volume at first quarter, it will make my ears bleed (Sennheiser HD-25). I have a very little room between no sound and too much sound on the headphones volume knob.

More info @tsutek
I have several instruments with this setup (Digitone, Microbrute, TD-3), same effect.
I know I can use the PAD button on the channel, which reduce 10dB but it’s not enough and I don’t have that PAD button on every channel :frowning:

There’s no PAD button on the USB/stereo channel. So the sound coming from the computer thru USB is very loud as well (still, the channel is not hitting red LEDs).

Sound sent to the Hs8s sub with XLR, then to the Hs7 monitors with XLR as well.

Thanks for you quick answers :slight_smile:

Thats weird, I never have a problem of things being too loud, more the opposite really. So both your speakers and your headphones sound too loud? But nothing sounds like its saturating the inputs? Just trying to make sure that you are not running mic level into an input expecting to see line level…

Pad switches on XLR paths usually exist so that you can go from mic level into line level XLR. -20dB attenuation is quite common for a pad switch.

But going by your meters, everything seems fine if channel meters arent redlining… Do you have pad switches on your mixer’s XLR outputs?

Also, do you have other headphones you could try with your setup? IIRC HD25 is quite a low impedance headphone, so if your headphone output is particularly beefy, it might result in excessive levels…

The Zoom is a digital mixer. The meters doesnt correspond to similar values as on an analog mixer. So 0 on this mixer would be similar to +18 on my analog mixer. - 20 seems like a decent level when you have several tracks.

I have never had a digital mixer, but i would think it behaves pretty similar to the inputs on an audio interface. And it is an advantage to record lower levels than “just below clipping”. People often say to aim for about -20 dbfs in the digital domain. (This is a pretty big topic, and people can disagree on details, but it is a good rule of thumb)

That’s not really true. Recording analog signals is all about recording with the best signal-to-noise ratio. You get the best signal-to-noise ratio by recording the signal as loud as possible WITHOUT any additional gain (which would only amplify the noise, too). Later on, when using the recording, you can always reduce the levels without losing quality, but the other way around isn’t possible.

Don’t mismatch this with gain staging when already in the digital domain.

And - of course - that “as loud as possible” needs to be done directly at the signal source. Any additional piece in the chain (preamps, cables, FX, mixer etc.pp.) only make things worse.

1 Like

That’s a mixing topic. Aiming for -20dbfs to -10dbfs on individual tracks in your daw is just a sensible approach regarding to gain staging.

Usually, like @tnussb said, you’d try to record as hot as possible.


No, the sound is perfectly clear.
There’s no LINE/MIC switch or whatever on the USB channel anyway… :confused:

I don’t.

Quite the same issue with the HD569 (23 Ohms) as well.

I had pretty much the same issue with the A&E Zed 14. But yeah, maybe it’s worse now with the Zoom…

That depends on what range the preamps work best. The preamps might distort even if you are not clipping. And it depends on the unit sending sound. It is not certain that maxing the volume knob on your synth gives out the loudest and cleanest signal. That depends on the output stage of the synth.

How is his problem not relevant to gainstaging? If you run a hot signal into all 12 channels. None of them clipping, but pretty much at 0 dbfs. If the digital mixer runs a high internal bitrate for headroom, the added signals would be super hot. To get a correct level out you would have to push all faders down low for the mix out not to be too loud. Just as people are saying about gainstaging when recording directly to a daw.

Gain staging is about mixing (adding up multiple signals) and not about the A/D conversion of the single signals themselves. To mix multiple signals you reduce their levels after the A/D conversion and not before.

When digitizing a single analog signal you try to utilize the full bit depth of the A/D converters by running the signal through as hot as possible. By reducing the levels afterwards you get rid of the content of the lowest bits which mostly contain the noise floor. End result: the cleanest signal possible.

Of course this doesn’t mean to ignore the sweet spots of the involved equipment (that’s simply common sense).

Recording into the AD converters as hot as possible was something people did back in the 90´s when 16 bit was all you had. From what ive read about this topic, these days “everyone” reccomends backing off as with 24 bit you still have a really good SNR ratio, and the analog part of every converter often sounds worse when pushed hard.

I read the specs of the Zoom mixer, and the loudest signal it can produce on the main outs is 14.5 dBu witch is around what modern audio interfaces can put out. But i would guess that the monitors is expecting +4 dBu signal, it will get loud. Or if the monitors can be switched between -10dBV and +4 dBu, and it is set to -10dBV it will get very loud.