What is Gain on a Microphone?

The Beginners Guide to Gain

Key Takeaways:

  • Gain is basically volume
  • Proper Gain staging gives the best audio quality
  • Improper Gain leads to bad sounds

What is gain on a microphone?

Gain on a microphone is the measure of the volume or sound level going into the recording. Gain determines how much an incoming signal will be amplified which affects the sound quality of recordings.

Why is gain important?

Gain is important because it determines the level of volume applied to a signal. By adjusting gain levels, you can ensure that your recordings are not too loud or too quiet, resulting in better sounding audio. Properly setting gain on a microphone also helps cut unwanted noise (such as hissing or popping from caused by clipping).

“Getting Levels into the goldilocks zone (not too hot, not too cold) gives the best results!”

Too Much Gain

Having too much gain can result in a distorted sound that is horrible to listen to. When the Gain level is set too high, it causes the signal to clip or peak, resulting in distortion. This type of distortion often sounds like crackling or hissing. We can hear this even when we’re not recording. And what’s worse is this sound can’t be fixed with effects or plug-ins. Trust me, having too much gain is no bueno



Not Enough Gain

Without enough gain, you won’t be able to capture all the details of what you are recording. The signal will be too quiet. This can lead to thin sounding audio with little dynamics or presence. Additionally, background noise like hiss or hum will become more noticeable without enough gain. And with modern heavy handed compression, there’s a good chance that noise will be heard in the final song! Once again no bueno!

How Does Gain Work?

Gain works by amplifying an incoming signal before it is recorded. We can adjust it to ensure that recordings are not too loud or too quiet. Recording in the goldilocks zone (not too hot and not too cold) results in better recordings over all. Properly setting gain on a microphone is essential for getting the best sound.


What are the different types of Gain Settings?

Gain settings are divided into two main categories: preamp and post-amp. Preamp gain is the gain we apply to an audio signal before it is sent to a recording device. Post-amp gain is the gain applied afterwards on the recorded audio.

Preamp gain adjusts the input level of the microphone. This allows for optimal sound quality without introducing any distortion. Post-amp gain is typically used to adjust the volume of the recorded audio after it has been recorded.


What is Clip Gain?

Clip gain is the amount of gain applied to a signal AFTER it’s recorded. This falls into the category of post-amp gain. Though it’s impossible to change the input volume of a clip after its been recorded, clip gain can change the output volume of the audio file. Think of this as adding volume to clip! The benefit of clip gain is that it will affect how your plug-ins effect your audio!


When should you use clip gain?

You should use clip gain to bring your audio to the best level for your plug-ins. This is different than turning it up with a fader! Turning up a fader only turns the volume up after the plug-in chain!

In order to give more input to the plug-ins, adjust the clip gain of the audio file! Look at how the wave forms of the file actually get bigger in the picture after clip gaining has been applied!



This will give the plug-ins more signal to work with which will result in better results!

Clip gaining is important in sound production because it affects the sound quality of the mic. Just like when with recording, too much clip gain can cause a distorted sound that is horrible to listen to. And not enough clip gain can lead to thin audio with little dynamics and presence.


How to Increase Gain on a Microphone

Increasing gain on a microphone can be done in a few different ways.

  1. Adjust pre-amp gain on audio interface
  2. Use a hardware pre-amp to boost signal
  3. Turn up the recording after it’s been recorded with clip gain

First, you can adjust the preamp gain on your audio interface or recorder. This will allow you to increase the amount of amplification that is being applied to your signal before it is recorded. Next, you can use a hardware preamp such as an outboard preamp or a pre-amp pedal to boost the gain of your signal before it is recorded. Finally, you can use clip gain after the recording has been made to adjust the overall volume of the audio file in post production.


The best thing to do is to fix the gain problem before recording the audio signal. If the signal is too quiet or too loud before it’s recorded, there is sometimes little that can be done to fix it.


How to increase gain on a Shure-SM7B

The best way to increase gain on a quiet dynamic microphone like the Shure-SM7B is to use an outboard pre-amp called a cloud lifter. This will boost the gain on your input signal so that you’ll get clean audio!


Alternatively, higher end models of audio interfaces can provide enough gain to make the Shure-SM7B is recorded at the right volume level!


How to Lower Gain on a Microphone

Lowering gain on a microphone is just as important as increasing it. Lowering gain can help to reduce background noise and prevent digital distortion caused by clipping.


3 Ways to Lower Gain

  1. Lower the gain on the audio interface
  2. Use a hardware attenuator
  3. Decrease the volume after the recording with clip gain

One of the most common ways to lower gain on a microphone is through your audio interface or recorder’s preamp. On most devices, the preamp will have a knob that can be adjusted to lower or increase the amount of gain being applied to the signal.

Another way to reduce gain is through a hardware attenuator. An attenuator is an external device that can be used to reduce signal level and prevent distortion from occurring in your recordings. Finally, you can also use clip gain in post production to reduce the overall volume of a signal.


As stated before though, it’s best to get the signal recorded properly in the first place! Decreasing a clipped signal after it’s been recorded won’t change it’s distortion!


How to Optimize Gain settings on a Microphone

Here is a list of quick tips to help optimize gain settings on a microphone

  • 1. Find the right balance between input gain and output gain
  • 2. Use a hardware preamp to boost signal levels
  • 3. Use an attenuator to reduce signal levels if necessary
  • 4. Adjust the preamp gain on your audio interface or recorder
  • 5. Set clip gains after recording for optimal sound quality
  • 6. Monitor both peak and average levels while adjusting gain settings
  • 7. Make sure you are not clipping at any point in the process
  • 8. Experiment with different types of mics and see how they respond to different settings
  • 9. Keep notes of what works best for each microphone type for future reference
  • 10. Avoid raising the volume with a fader, as this will not affect plug-in performance

How to fix gain issues with Microphones

Gain issues with microphones can be a major problem when it comes to audio recording. Poor gain staging can lead to distortion and poor sound quality. Fortunately, there are several ways to fix gain issues with microphones.


From adjusting preamp gain on the audio interface or recorder, to using hardware attenuators or clip gains in post production, there are many methods that can help you achieve optimal sound quality.


As with most things in life, prevention is the best cure. Try to avoid gain issues by setting correct levels from the beginning. You’ll always get better results if you get it right from the start. While you record, monitor peak and average levels to ensure a healthy signal. With a bit of practice and experience, you’ll be well on your way to producing professional sounding recordings!



Gain is an essential part of the recording process. It plays a major role in determining audio quality. It’s important to understand what gain is, why it matters, and how you can use it to your advantage when setting up microphones for recordings.


With the right knowledge and tools, you can achieve optimal sound quality. Remember to adjust your preamp gains on your audio interface or recorder, use hardware attenuators (if necessary), and make sure that signals are not clipping at any point in time. By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way towards creating professional sounding audio recordings!

Thanks for reading! If you still need help, check out my Free Vocal Presets for Logic Pro X that will get your vocals sounding amazing in no time!!

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