Recording microphone in Audio channel - distortion

Hi everyone,
I am new to recording and experiencing problems when trying to record using a mic. This prevents me from singing and from recording guitar in front of a real cab.
I am using an SM57 into a Focusrite Saffire 6 USB. These are going into Elements 9.5. Focusrite audio USB ASIO Driver is configured in VST Audio system set up.
DI’d guitar and other instruments work correctly when using the ¼” jack inputs, but when I try to use a mic with either XLR or a ¼” jack inputs then the signal going into Cubase when the monitor button is pressed is noisy and extremely distorted. Unusable. It records as this distorted signal too.
I have tried lowering the volume in Cubase, I have tried replacing the mic with another, I have tried swapping the mic cable as well. All give the same result. I tried recording using just a plain audio track without presets and also using several of the audio presets for vocals. All give varying degrees of distortion. I have played around with the INST and PAD buttons on the Saffire as well as the gain control.
Can someone advise please?
Pete Salmon

Hi Pete

I use a Focusrite all the time onstage and have never had the problem you describe. Have you adjusted the levels ont the front of the Focusrite properly, ie checked that the gain is set so that it is not overloading. A little info about you full setup is necessary for us to assist further as well.

Best Regards, Dave

As Dave suggests, it is almost certainly the levels on the interface that you need to adjust (downwards).

Thanks Dave, Nic,

Yes I have tried reducing the mic input volumes on the Focusrite. It produces this noise even when nothing is plugged in, and irrespective of the input channel volumes on the focusrite. It is also intermittent, in that in previous projects i have created the problem has not appeared, so i am thinking that it is either a cubase software problem or maybe the way that i have setup the projects upon creation [even though i have step-by-step followed Youtube videos]. I can get around the problem by opening these older projects and “saving as” to create a new file. It is not ideal.
I am running 1/4" leads out of the back of my focusrite to two powered Prodipe monitors. Headphone socket not used.

Distortion we mostly think overdriven signal, square wave.
How does that distortion actually sound like ?
Audio driver up to date ? Buffer size at a reasonable setting ( big enough ) ?

Hmmm, strange sounds like something in the set-up of your default templates.

If you can get it to work OK by using save-as then I’d suggest using “Save as Template”, then you know you have a Template with settings ready that work when you next use the Template.

Some more information on this intermittent problem. Even though nothing is plugged into my focusrite there is a lot of hiss in Cubase when is press the monitor button, extremely loud which is there all the time. It is this hiss that is making the input signal distort. It is a very distorted high pitched hiss which overpowers and distorts the mic input, and only in a Cubase audio channel. I have not yet tried playing with the buffer size, but the audio driver is up to date. Thanks again for your responses.

Is it a laptop you are using?