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Recording with Zoom
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Recording with Zoom

Zoom keeps changing my audio recording levels. During the quiet parts, it turns up, and then during the loud parts it turns down. How do I stop if from doing that? How do I set good record levels?


  1. Click the Apple menu in the upper right corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Choose Sound.
  4. The Sound window has three tabs: Sound Effects, Output, and Input.
  1. Sound Effects are the little bloopy noises the computer makes when you do stuff. You can turn these off entirely if you want to.
  2. Output is how loud or quiet your speakers or headphones are.
  3. Input is how loud or quiet your mic is. You’re probably using your computer’s Internal Microphone, which is fine. Try setting it to ¾ of the way to the right.
  1. Stand so you can read the score and play fortissimo.
  2. If Input Level jumped all the way to the right when you played, turn down some more.
  1. Leave this window open as you move on to the next step.

macOS step 4: adjusting your computer’s Input Volume.

Windows 10

  1. Navigate to the Windows Menu (normally in the lower left corner).
  2. Click Settings, then System, and finally Sound.

    Windows Step 2: This screen shows your input and output devices.
  3. Under Input section, select your microphone and click Device Properties.

    Windows Step 3: where to adjust mic volume.
  4. Try setting mic level to about 75.

Zoom on macOS and Windows

  1. Open the Zoom app. (Don’t have it? PEPS can help.)
  2. Press the Home button.

  1. Choose New Meeting.


  1. Look in the lower left corner for the Microphone icon labelled Mute. Immediately to the right of that there’s a caret pointing up. Click the up caret.


Audio Control Panel

  1. There’s a lot here. You can:
  1. Select a Microphone
  2. Select Speakers (“Same as System” in these first two options means Zoom will use what you chose in System Preferences above)
  3. Test Speaker & Microphone
  4. Audio Settings
  1. Speaker-click the Test Speaker button and set a comfortable level
  2. Microphone
  1. make sure the box next to Automatically adjust microphone volume is not checked.
  2. Click the Test Mic button and play fortissimo again.
  3. If Input Level went all the way to the right or you hear crackling in the playback, turn Input Volume down some and repeat the test.

Depending on the dynamics your score/performance calls for, you might need to get a little closer to the mic for passages marked pianissimo. If you have a USB gaming headset, you can try using that in place of Internal Microphone, just to give you a wider range of places to position a microphone.

When you’ve set good record levels, follow the steps in this video to record a Zoom meeting and find the recording to share with others. (You don’t have to be in the meeting with anyone else.)

Here’s a stunning example of a “home office” recording, the prelude to Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, recorded by the Norwegian Arctic Symphony Orchestra.

Cellist Håvard Bilsbak related by e-mail how he organized the recording:

“We started off with one first violinist recording his part on his phone and also the 2nd violin part, he made sure these two would fit rythmicaly with each other by playing along with his first recording, then I added the cello part, while playing along with the prerecorded violin-parts. I made a preliminary video with these parts you can see here which the rest of the musicians used to play along with while recording their respective parts.

“I then used Final Cut Pro to assemble and manually synchronize the different parts (this takes some experience to do well). I made different grid overlays in Photoshop and imported into Final Cut to visually align the videos in different configurations. I applied a reverb plug-in to blend the sound, and applied som ecolor-effects to make more variation to the visuals. I know there exist some apps for iOS that are more specialized for making multi-frame video, like Acapella, which is probably easier if you are not experienced in editing performances, but I don’t have any experience in using those.“

Acapella requires a $9.99/month subscription to record more than 30 seconds of video.

The Acapella interface on iPhone

Further Resources

-Carleton ITS’ guide, Getting Started in Zoom

-This Zoom video shows how to choose audio sources and where to test audio levels:

-Follow these steps to get a Pro Zoom license (live help available during many hours):