Mic Questions

I want a mic that is XLR that is loud enough (without going into a DAW) when I am 2 feet away. I seem to be struggling to find one.

Tried AT2020 and SM58. Both are too quiet.

And yes, my volumes on the DAI and Windows/Mac are turned a the way up. Sound is loud enough when close to the microphone, but not a couple feet away.

My cheap webcam is loud enough…

Thought? Recommendations?


Interesting. Why do you want to use the mic from two feet away? Most vocal mics are not designed for this.

Most I know of are designed for a cardioid shape a few inches in radius right around the front of the mic.


I want to be able to talk into it while using my computer, without having it in my face. I want it to be XLR so I can easily mix it with my bass audio stream for video calls. On the courses I’m doing I need to be able to talk and play bass at the same time on a video call.


Are you mic levels ok? By default Windows caps it, I believe.

I use a cheapo mic ± 2 feet away


The AT2020 isn’t the most sensitive mic in the land . . .
“With its moderate sensitivity (14.1 mV/Pa), this mic is likely better suited to loud sources than to distant miking or quiet acoustic instruments.”

I’m still surprised that the DAI can’t be turned up loud enough to capture your voice 2 feet away. That isn’t exactly a large distance. Is there a pad engaged on that input? Or a mic range sensitivity setting?


I have a Rode NT-1A & an SE VR1 and have no issues with this for voice (or sax :rofl:, that’s a wee louder).
For voice it’s not 2 feet away closer to 14/16 inches, into focusrite. No issues at all on either. Both super nice.


@gcancella Yep, that’s all set to 100…

There isn’t a Mic Boost setting like I’ve seen in some images/videos:

@DaveT Well it captures the voice, but it’s very quiet. Playback of my voice in say the Windows Voice Recorder is much much lower than playback of other sounds in Windows. Tested a voice call with someone and it was very quiet for them too. I don’t think my DAI has a Pad on it. It’s an Audient iD4 and Pad is not mentioned in the documentation. I also don’t see any settings for that in the software panel for it. It just has a gain, which I have turned up all the way in the software and on the physical device itself. I have phantom power off, because I’m told the SM58 doesn’t care about that. Here’s what the manual says about the mic pre-amp:

The microphone preamplifiers feature:
• 58 dB of clean gain
• 48v (±4V) phantom power rated at 10mA
• > 2.8kΩ input impedance which provides a punchy tone from any microphone type

I think it’s just how this mic is based on the video below. It gets very quiet when he pulls the mic away from his mouth at this timestamp.


I looked at the manual and I can’t find one either.

Also correct. Any “dynamic” microphone won’t need phantom power. Any “condenser” technology microphone will.

This is enough gain for almost any microphone including the ones you have.

The level change due to distance has to do with the sound coming out of the mouth and going through the air. Every mic will drop level exactly the same amount for the same distance change.

What he is demonstrating in this video is how his voice has more bass when its closer to the microphone. The low end bump is called “proximity” effect and every mic with a directional polar pattern (picks up sounds in front of it better than sounds to the sides) will have proximity effect. Only omnidirectional (picks up sound the same from any angle) mics are immune from this low end bump when close.

Your SM58 is what is called a cardioid pattern because it looks like a heart shaped graph. It just means that if you get off to the side of the mic, the level will drop more rapidly than if you stay on the centerline. So, if you have your mic away from you, just make sure the centerline of the mic is pointed at your mouth and not pointed in some other direction. It can be lower than your mouth, just pointed up and at your mouth.

But back to your real problem. Something is wrong here. Bad mic cable? A next test would be to plug headphones into the Audient and see how it sounds there. Make sure the “monitor mix” knob is turned all the way to “input”. This takes the computer out of the troubleshooting chain.


As a side topic, this is the polar pattern for an SM58. It means that at frequencies where the voice consonants are that the level will be at least 6 dB lower off to the side of the mic compared to it being pointed directly at its target.

You can see where the pickup pattern gets its name “Cardioid” for its heart shape.


If you stay on the centerline of the mic and move the mic away, the level will drop by 6 dB each time you double the distance from the mic. When everything is working properly, this is compensated for by turning up the preamp 6 dB to get a good level back. As the mic moves farther back it also begins to pick up more of the room sound compared to its target.

It’s important not to confuse the centerline of the mic with the centerline of the mouth. The centerline of the mic does need to be pointed at the mouth. The centerline of the mouth doesn’t have to be pointed at the mic. In fact it’s better if the centerline of the mouth isn’t pointed at the centerline of the mic because it stops air bursts from sounding bad.

Here’s an example of perfect mic positioning angle wise. It could be 2 feet away and still have the same angle configuration. Her air will go over the top of the mic.


So how far below your mouth can the mic be while you are still talking in a level direction? Pretty far. The polar patterns below show how much your voice drops off, not really at all.


Does your audio interface have a phantom power switch? Try flipping that on. Does it help?

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Are you 100% certain the mix is the right way round?

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There is no question that the level will be lower when two feet away as Dave explained.

That said 58dB is plenty of mic preamp gain.

Fethead or Cloudlifter. It’s quite cheap and it will make likes of SM58 or SM57 usable exactly as you want.


Aren’t those more for things like SM7’s?

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Dynamic or ribbon mics. Sm58, SM57, SM7 …

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Hah! Well, 58 vs 57, sure. But the 7 is notoriously quiet.


So I just measured my SM58. At a normal distance using a typical preamp gain (i.e. pretty cranked but not up into the noise) I was getting -8dB with a normal talking voice. This is pretty much perfect and you would not want additional gain before going to the PC.

At two feet I was getting about -18dB to -19dB, which is exactly what I would expect. This is definitely a little low but (a) I still had room on my preamp and (b) this was before any amplification in software. The signal was still good with low noise.

Throwing something like the cloudlifter inline would give additional boost. For recording I wouldn’t want it (I’d just use the DAW.) But if you are maxed out on your software input gain, or if you have a noisy mic preamp now, then it definitely seems like a solid option.


@DaveT I couldn’t have said it better.
My guess would also be that the fysical setup of the mic facing the source ( @jt ) is off.

And if that doesn’t work out, I would look at something like a lavallier system.


Thanks everyone. I’m confident this is not a settings or wrong placement issue.

I’ve ordered a Fethead and a high quality XLR cable to test. Will let you know what results I get when they arrive, but the Fethead looks promising for my use case.