Cannot get a decent vocal level without being overdriven.

I have tried recording a vocal mic (both an EV N/D767a and a Behringer B1) direct into a UR22mkII and through a Bose T1 ToneMatch into the UR22mkII. I cannot get a recorded level even within -6 dB without an overdriven or distorted sound. My only choice seems to be to record with a lower input level and then increase the playback gain/volume using FX.
Any ideas?

You’re bringing the gain up on your UR22 using the physical controls, right?
Also, you’re selecting a mono input (1 or 2) for the audio channel?
And using XLR connection?

Leave the levels in Cubase if you’re software/input monitoring and get them set on the UR22’s pre-amps gain first.

Thanks, I removed all FX from the vocal track. I had to set the input gain on the UR to 10 for the EV mic (no phantom), and set it to 8 for the Behringer mic (with phantom).
The EV has a more consistently clean signal than does the Behringer.

That sounds way too hot, so you have the input volume on the UR22, (the physical knob) turned all the way up to 10 for the EV? Flat out, that’s not right, they should be around 5 or 6 so it seems you have some settings wrong. Your going through Mic -> mixer -> UR22, is that right? Somewhere there, your losing a lot of gain. Try plugging straight into the UR22 and see what level you need to set the input (the physical input) to before you get the red light clipping.

Thanks for your response. I plugged direct into the left channel (and the right channel in separate tests) with XLR. Both mics need to have the gain set to 10 to get near 0 dB. 10 is a strong signal but has some clipping. 9 peaks at -12 dB.???
I tried connecting the UR22 through a powered USB hub and USB direct, and there is no difference.
Unless there is some other configuration I need to change in Cubase, I believe the UR22mkII is failing.

If you’re aiming for 0db then of course you will have some clipping. That’s much too hot!

Yes, but with UR22 input set to 10, the Cubase track is getting 0 dB with some clipping, but the UR22 set to 9, the Cubase track is getting -12 dB. There should not be a difference of 12 dB between input gains of 9 and 10. With the UR22 gain set to 5, the Cubase signal is nearly non-existent.
The mics themselves are plenty hot and clean, tested through my Bose system and other devices, including plugging right into the Mac with an adapter.

Have you tried a firmware update for your UR22?

Yes it’s the latest version. I wonder if I could roll it back? Now that I think about it, the UR22 was doing fine before the firmware update.

-12db is a good recording level, that’s usually what I aim for.
Where are you reading the input levels ?
Or are you reading the levels after recording, in that case are the faders set to 0dB.
What are you recording, loud vocals or speech ?

Was about to post the same thing.

To the OP, if you’re getting peaks around -12db on the way into the PC, that’s a very good place to be. You don’t want to aim for 0db. You’ll just clip things on the way in, and be running way too hot once inside the DAW.

Now…if you record your vocal track or whatever at -12db and you can barely hear it: that probably means everything else in your mix is also too hot. The old adage is: monitor loud, mix quiet. That means turn up your speakers to a healthy volume, and turn down your tracks. If you’re using synths and VSTi’s, don’t have the output of them so the volume is at or near clipping. Give yourself plenty of headroom on all your tracks. Peaks around -12db (except maybe on drums where -6db would be better) is going to get you much closer to analog operating levels when using peak mixers.

Wow, these are great tips - thanks!
I am recording vocals to music, and I thought everything should have average peaks of -3 dB or so. It sounds like monitor loud mix quiet is a good rule to follow.
Can someone recommend a good tutorial for setting levels on guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals?

This may be of interest:-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hxMidhTLa8

Thank you! Great video! I did not know there was such a difference between digital and analog.

Yeah, there is.
But the most important point to take from that is how plugins react to the audio coming in - you need to ensure that audio is at an optimum level to sound the best, this is particularly true of guitar amp/cab sims - and you need to control it BEFORE the audio hits the plugins (i.e. not rely on the fader which is post).

Many commercial albums peak now anyway, look at Taylor Swift’s latest:-
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/166505

Mixing/Mastering like that is considered shameful by a lot of people, but it’s what the people want to hear so how do you judge it? Technically, or by it’s album sales?!
Makes the job harder for everyone competing though, including pros and hobbyists. There was a time where Dynamic Range seemed to be widening, but now i think many people like that over-compressed glitched out sound, it’s why Rock ain’t really a prime genre anymore.