What I want to do is essentially achieved by importing a set of tracks, selecting all, and Amplifying them to a given New Peak Amplitude. So what’s the problem? Well of course, when you import multiple tracks and then export them, the exported files’ metadata isn’t the same as the original files, unless you manually make it so. I have a lot of files to process and I need their metadata to stay intact. If you want to preserve the metadata, you have to use a chain, so I guess I’d better make a chain, right?
But wait! If you use Amplify in a chain, then you can only set the Amplification, not the New Peak Amplitude. So, the best thing I’ve come up with so far is to import all the files, select all, select Amplify and enter the New Peak Amplitude I want, look at the corresponding Amplification, edit the Amplify chain accordingly, and then finally apply the chain. In terms of the time I spend, it’s terribly inefficient compared to just navigating to some files and applying a chain to them. I want to process many separate sets of files, so it would cost me a lot of extra time in the long run.
Of course, Normalize doesn’t work for this purpose, because as the Audacity manual states,
Audacity’s Normalize effect breaks with the convention of many other audio applications. In those applications, “normalize” maximizes multiple tracks against the peak level common to all of them, so retaining their relative balance.
So… what are the “many other audio applications” of which the manual speaks? In particular, what are the free ones?
Or, if there’s a sensible workaround in Audacity, I’m open to that too.
Nope, I want to amplify them all by the same amount, so that the global peak among them is at a particular level, but the relative amplitude differences between the tracks are preserved. Which as I understand is what Amplify does when the New Peak Amplitude setting is used.
So to preserve metadata for individual files, the procedure is:
Import all files into Audacity and “open” the amplify effect (with all tracks selected). The default setting will show you the amount of amplification required to bring the peak up to 0 dB. (If you want to amplify to less than 0 dB, adjust this figure as necessary).
“Undo” the import, or close without saving and re-open Audacity.
Create a Chain using Amplify (and Export), and set the amount of amplification to the figure that you worked out in step 1.
Chains processes one file at a time and closes the project after each processing. This is why it preserves metadata. So no effect will do what you want in a Chain as we currently envisage the feature. The real “problem” is arguably that normal import only stores metadata for the last imported file, but it is not a simple fix in a multi-track editor.