Any good ones?
No, I haven’t tired them. Like I said, I LIKE dynamics and I don’t do original music production so I don’t have that much use for a compressor. Compression is mostly used during music production (mixing & mastering). And it’s used by radio stations for “constant loudness” and to be “louder than every other station”.* …Chris’s compressor is “different” from most and was designed for what you’re trying to do. Still you should decide for yourself.
I tried using the Limiter for the first time. I’m not sure if I was using it correctly, but it was not nearly as effective as the compressor.
I’m not sure what you mean by “effective”. You can get an MORE effect by setting a lower limit (and then use make-up gain or normalize to get the loudness back). But if you over-do it you probably won’t like the sound.
I’ve never tried the Envelope tool. Is it a steep learning curve compared to the compressor?
In some ways it’s easier but it’s manual so it’s time consuming and you have to listen and use trial-and-error. And if you make lots of volume adjustments it’s VERY time consuming and tedious. The “trick” is to leave the envelope end-points unchanged and fade-up or fade-down the volume so there are no sudden-unnatural changes.
Would Loudness Normalization be as effective as the compressor in making a song have a uniform volume?
They are different tools for different purposes. Loudness normalization makes ONE adjustment to the whole song so the quiet-parts remain relatively quiet and the loud-parts remain relatively loud. It does NOT compress the dynamics at all. But overall, quiet-songs will be louder and/or loud-songs will be quieter (if everything is normalized to the same loudness) so you’ll get less song-to-song variation.
Compression will even-out the variations in a song as well as even-out the variations between songs.
Compression can be followed by loudness normalization for better song-to-song matching. Radio stations use both, or they use a kind of compression that accomplishes both.
There seem to be multiple ReplayGain software tools. Is there one you recommend?
It depends… The “real” ReplayGain is a software-player feature. I use it in Winamp. ReplayGain doesn’t “touch” the actual audio. It adds a “tag” to the file that tells the player to turn the volume up or down by a certain amount for that particular song. If your player doesn’t support ReplayGain, the tag will be ignored and nothing will happen.
ReplayGain has an Album option that makes ONE adjustment to the whole album so quiet songs remain relatively quiet and loud songs remain relatively loud as was intended by the artist/producer.
Apple has a feature similar to ReplayGain called Sound Check. I use Sound Check on my iPod which is connected to my car stereo.
WaveGain and MP3Gain make “permanent” changes to the files so they work with any player. (If you have uncompressed files and you’re going to make MP3s, it’s best to use WaveGain before converting to MP3. MP3s can only be volume-adjusted in 1.5dB steps without decompressing so MP3Gain isn’t as precise.)
Note that since many quiet-sounding songs are already maximized/normalized and they can’t be boosted (or can’t be boosted enough) without clipping. For that reason, ReplayGain uses a default target loudness that tends to lower the volume of most files. Some people don’t like that but it’s not a problem if you have enough analog gain to make-up for the volume loss. The target volume is a compromise and a few files will still to too-quiet.
I recently bought about 150 songs on itunes and the volume on some of them was so low you could barely hear the song, while others were super loud.
I’d start by normalizing the quiet songs. It may not help but it’s the best place to start and it’s just a simple volume adjustment so it doesn’t affect the quality/character of the music. If there are “overly loud” songs you can simply adjust-down the volume (a negative value in the Amplify effect) or Loudness Normalize.
Agreed. I think classic rock (and almost every kind of rock and pop) doesn’t need compression as these songs usually have a consistent loudness.
It’s more complicated than “constant loudness”. You can have a song with constant loudness but also with “micro-dynamics” like drum-hits and accented notes that stand-out in the mix. A slower compressor (longer attack and release times) will leave those alone and act more like an “automatic volume control”. But slowing it down might cause pumping.
BTW - There is a Leveler effect (automatic volume control). It’s an option for the Distortion effect, but I wouldn’t consider it “distortion”. I haven’t actually tried it, but those kinds of effects tend to mess-up music (pumping-related problems) and are usually better for narration.
PS: I couldn’t get your link to work
Right… I’ve fixed it. It’s Album list - Dynamic Range DB (direct to the Journey page.) I don’t know what a “good number” is for you, but a higher number is (supposed to be) less compression.
If I understand your response, you’re saying that running a single high compression is better than running two lower compressions?
I’m saying do whatever sounds best to you! But you probably don’t need double-compression on every song.
I’ve noticed that when I increase the bass and then compress, the bass gets unpleasantly amplified. But I wanted to know the community’s opinion on this.
Whatever works for you! Some people complain about compression making “harsh-sounding” highs…
- The popular streaming services use loudness normalization but no dynamic compression.