Recording bass - how can I increase volume without adding gain

I am using my Yamaha THR10X as my interface into Reaper and having trouble getting a loud enough clean sound.

The amp certainly has its limitations with bass. The bass channel is very quiet unless you turn the gain up. That quickly looses my clean sound though.

I’m still very much learning bass and his to record. The only thing I’ve tried so far is increasing the volume of the track in Reaper. It works to an extent but it’s not great.

I was going buy a dedicated audio interface, but only if I have to as it works pretty good for recording guitar. Not even sure if that will help. I can see that the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and solo have a gain control, but don’t know if that’s going to end up with the same result.

Any tips please?


What are the levels coming in to Reaper?

Ideally you want to be recording at -8 to -12dB. This is the range where audio interfaces tend to have the least noise.

Once in Reaper, you can increase the track levels via the mixer. You can also select and Normalize the track (under “Item Processing” in the menu, or Shift-N/Ctrl-Shift-N). Normalizing increases the item amplitude to where its highest peak is at -4dB:

If your sound going in to Reaper is below -12dB or so, then you need to consider other options in your audio chain, but -8 to -12dB on input is normal.


Just to make sure….
Volume control on full for whatever pickup(s) you are using.
ON the THR10X, start with gain about 30% or so.
In Reaper, start with the fader on 0.

Where are you for input in Reaper with these settings?
Slowly increase gain on your amp to get to the range @howard stated.
(Remember, volume on your amp does not effect the signal to Reaper, only what you hear).
If you are having a lot of trouble getting to the range, you might want to check your pickup height.

I have never had an issue with the focusrite with getting level on any of my basses, you may want a bit more control over the signal vs. what the Yamaha USB gives you.


Thank you both. Using the bass channel on the THR10X with gain on 3 (30%) and master on 10 (100%), the level is around -24.

If I increase gain to 5, the level gets to around -12. With gain at 7 it gets to -6.

I’m really not sure what was happening yesterday as with any of the above, if I normalize as suggested, it lifted the levels nicely and the sound was still clearn. At 30% gain, it lifts them 20db, at 50% 10.6db and at 70% 4.85db. Maybe the THR software was playing up and I was getting some of the dirt that I love for guitar. I know the THR editor window sometimes corrupts and you can’t see half the controls.

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You may also want to use pre-fader metering, this will show you the actual in coming signal in reaper before any other add ons you may be using in the DAW. I would just tweak how high you can go with your input levels from what @howard said, you can go up to -6 dB, just watch the meter for any clipping or noise. You can stick with what he says if you really want to ensure you have enough headroom though.

One last trick in the mixing stage, you can also add in a limiter, this will make it louder, but you can set a hard ceiling (usually -1 dB) on the master track, but you can put it on your bass track too.


Yeah you could easily go up to -6dB or -4dB or so without problems. I used to record at -4dB until I learned about the S/N ratio peaks for most audio interfaces being in the -12 to -8dB range.

Yeah this is really crucial when mixing multiple instruments. You want a track limiter on each track to help balance each track’s loudness once their peak levels are correct; also a limiter on the master that’s more of a brick wall for the output. You have to be careful using the master limiter for loudness as it is too easy to squish your dynamics too much; it’s better to do it with the track limiters.

Probably not a big deal when working with backing tracks but a huge help when multiple instruments are involved.


You shouldn’t need a limiter on all of them if you are using compression & EQ, the make up gain on the compressor helps, plus you should be gain staging throughout as well. Agree, do have to know your interface specs though…

Putting some light compression as “glue” compressor on the master of a two track mix (your bass & backing track) would also help clean up the mix and bring it together, then put a limiter on after the compressor and should be good :slight_smile: You could do some gentle EQ’ing there too.


Compressors with makeup gain work fine and in fact I always do use them as well, usually multiband in fact. But a track limiter per track - it’s just so easy :slight_smile:


Thanks for the extra tips, certainly lots to learn. Mostly just recording bass with backing track to see how I’m going, but the plan is to play bass + rhythm and lead guitar. EZdrummer will be my drummer.

I haven’t explored compression yet. I can see how different my alternating plucks are when I listen back to me playing the ska riff from B2B. Thinking I should try to even them out a bit naturally before adding compression?

The THR software can add compression (stomp or rack options), but it’s probably worth adding in Reaper so I can see the difference.



EZDrummer will be great. I use Steven Slate Drums in the same way, takes relatively little time to lay down basic drums for a whole song. You can get really good, natural sounding drums in Reaper with good drum VSTi’s like this once you learn the MIDI editor well enough. It’s a really decent sequencer.


I tried THR software in the past and found it completely trash. Really outdated. If you like to record/play with your computer you should really consider investing in a decent DAI. DAW software is much better to work with too.

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Crank the gain up and add a limiter in the recording software. Recording software sucks, and I can’t believe no one has bothered to find a better solution

LOL not sure what you’re using, but most DAWs out there are flat out amazing.

They just have learning curves.

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Ableton lite. The UI is a nightmare

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Mileage varies I guess. You’re not trying to use it in the session view, are you? The arrangement view is much better for recording.

Ableton does suffer a bit from its heritage here, it’s got kind of a bimodal UI. It’s not my DAW of choice but a lot of people love it specifically for its UI workflow.

Maybe try something else? Lots of DAWs out there. Logic Pro on a Mac would be a good choice to try, excellent user interface.

I use Reaper the most but no one is going to say it has an easy UI :rofl:


I use Abelton and find it very easy to use, once you know how to use it.
Very powerful tool, but, flexibility does not simplicity make.
It does loads of things I probably will never use, but its what I picked to learn and now that I know it I doubt I would change.


The thing that constantly amazes me is how much easier things are now than they used to be. And how much cheaper.

The software is just so damn good at this point.


No problem with Ableton either. I prefer it over Logic Pro.

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I just finished a really good Abelton course at Udemy. Way more detail than I’ll ever use esp with midi etc but it answered exactly all of my “how do I do thises” and gave me insight into all the other things just in case I want to retire and have more time to dabble (not happening).

I agree @howard. It reminds me of Home Depot. Between that and Bob Villa / HGTV it opened a world to regular folks that really wasn’t available before. Same with all the DAW software.

All the tools are there and easily used. Your inputs, of course, with both examples, will determine the output quality.