What is microphone gain?

What is microphone gain

So you’ve decided to start your podcast? Your dreams of building a following to discuss controversial topics are finally coming to fruition. Now that you’ve finished your first show, you realize there is one big problem. Nobody will be able to hear a thing you said. You’re thinking “I thought I had my volume turned up, what is going on?”

You might want to check on your microphone gain or “mic gain”. What is microphone gain? Mic gain is essentially level control for your modulated audio. In layman terms, this is how loud your voice is to everybody else that is listening.

Mic gain also works vice versa if you find that your audio is too loud. Overly loud audio can easily be corrected by using mic gain. The most common setting for mic gain is 12′ o clock to full right.

So why would you need to know how to set your mic gain? Mainly because most microphone output signals range from -30 down to -70 decibels. This is extremely quiet and not suitable for a professional podcast.

How To Set Your Mic Gain

Audio Engineer at an Audio Mixer

Now that you know what mic gain is and what it does, you will need to learn how to set it. There are a few varying factors that will determine how to set your mic gain.

One factor would be the volume of the sound source. If you are recording quietly, maybe for an ASMR video or just a calm conversation, you will have to turn the mic gain up. If you are recording a band with guitars and other loud instruments, you may have to turn your mic gain down for a cleaner sound.

Another factor will be the distance from the microphone. The further you are from the microphone the more you will have to crank up your mic gain. The closer you are to the mic the lower the mic gain.

Lastly, you will have to consider the sound sensitivity of your microphone. Some mics just pick up sound better than others. If your mic is very sensitive, your mic gain should be lower to balance the sound. Whereas if your mic has a hard time picking up the sound, you will have to keep your mic gain at a higher level.

Free Mic Gain Control Software

Podcast Mic Gain Controls

There is numerous mic gain control software available for you to choose from. We will briefly review the top software that is being used. They are all compatible with Windows 10 for all of you Microsoft lovers. Without further ado, here is the best mic gain software that you can download for free.


Audacity is an open-source audio editing software that is available on all major operating systems. Audacity allows users to record external and internal mics. It has some pretty cool features, such as different analyzing tools. You can analyze everything from threshold percentages to RMS value differences. More importantly, you can control your mic gain rather easily.

Expstudio Audio Editor

This microphone boosting software is exclusively for Windows 10. Expstudio provides filters for filtering out unwanted frequencies. It comes with different audio effects, including pitch-shifting and flanger. The downside of this software is that you only get a limited number of export formats unless you purchase the paid version.

Equalizer APO

This is another open-source software that is also completely free. Equalizer APO is primarily used to modify the sound output. It comes with a preamplification tool that allows you to boost your sound. The equalizers come in 15 or 31 bands, which can be used to adjust the frequencies of your audio.


Voicemeeter can be used to both boost input and output audio. You can boost the sound of two physical mics and one virtual mic. The VBAN feature can be used to adjust the sample rate, bitrate, and quality of your audio. Voicemeeter is probably one of the simplest audio boosters you can download.

What’s The Difference Between Gain and Volume?

Silver Podcasting Mic and Mixer for Mic Gain

Gain and volume are so closely correlated that a person could mistake one for another. Maybe the difference isn’t as significant for a podcaster as it would be for a musician, but you should still understand the difference.

Volume is defined as the quantity and power of the sound being transferred out of your system. Gain is the volume of sound being transferred into your system. Your mic gain has the responsibility of processing incoming sounds to produce the desired volume. Gain and volume are commonly intertwined because of their close connection but the distinction is important.

How To Gauge Mic Gain?

Gauge Mic Gain for Podcasting

The easiest way to gauge mic gain is with your ears. If your mic’s sensitivity is typically low and you’re far from the mic, but it sounds like your shouting, the mic gain is too high. Gauging your mic gain is all about your ear and how you want your podcast to sound.

Microphone gain staging is also imperative if you want to produce a quality sound. Microphone gain staging is a process that makes sure all the devices are producing the best sound possible. The headroom and noise floor are two key factors in maintaining a clean sound. The headroom is the available upper space in the signal which determines how much louder you can go. The noise floor is the sound that is coming from your audio devices and AD/DA conversion.

You will want to keep your sound as high above the noise floor as you possibly can. Gain staging is important because keeping your signal to noise ratio low is what determines the quality of your sound. Otherwise, your output will be choppy and distorted.


Microphone for Mic Gain for Podcasting

Understanding mic gain is essential if you plan on recording audio. Failure to understand how mic gain works can cause you frustration in the future. Nothing is more annoying than putting in all of the hard work of creating a podcast, just for the sound quality to be poor. Hopefully now you understand the ins and outs of mic gain and when someone asks you “What is microphone gain?” you should be able to provide a detailed explanation.

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