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What Does a Pad Button Do on an Audio Interface/Mixer?

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What does the Pad button on an audio interface or mixer do?

Here’s a quick answer:

A Pad button reduces the level of an incoming signal by a set amount, typically -20dB.

You can use this button to reduce the level of extremely loud signals or to match the levels of different signals when recording.

When Should You Use the Pad Button?

The purpose of using a Pad button is to lower the signal level entering your interface to avoid clipping or distortion in your recordings.

We recommend using this button if your incoming audio signal is clipping even with your gain set to zero (or really low).

Usually, you can turn the gain down until you have a clear signal. However, with your gain already at zero, enabling the Pad button is the easiest way to avoid clipping.

When this button is engaged, your input will reduce the level of the signal incoming audio signal by 20dB.

So, if you have your input gain set to zero and your signal is still clipping, engage the Pad button and see if that doesn’t solve your problem.

Should you Always use a Pad?

We suggest using the Pad button only if your signal clips before adding gain.

It isn’t intended to be a substitute for your gain control.

For instance, if your signal clips with your gain at 60%, we recommend lowering your gain instead of enabling a Pad.

Does Every Audio Interface Have a Pad Button?

No, only a select few audio interfaces have a Pad feature.

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC 202HD, the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4, and the Universal Audio Apollo Solo and Twin are some of the most notable.

You’ll also find Pad buttons on audio mixers like the Yamaha MG10XU, which reduces incoming signals by 26 dB.

Summary

The pad button is a feature on many audio interfaces and mixers that lowers the level of an incoming signal by 20 dB. This button is helpful if your signal clips even with zero gain.

Clipping occurs when a signal’s level exceeds a system’s maximum capacity and results in distorted sound.

You can reduce the signal level and avoid clipping by engaging the pad button.

When to Use a Pad?

  • Your audio signal is clipping before adding gain
  • To avoid clipping

When to Avoid Using a Pad?

  • When you’re input clips, but your gain isn’t set to zero

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