Capture a part of a file, enhance its playback volume

Hi all,
I am running Windows 10 to digitize some vintage audiotapes from the 60s and 70s. Using Audacity 3.2.3, a great help, and I want to be sure I’m not about to make mistakes. My source tapes are over 50 years old and probably too fragile for multiple trips through the reel to reel.

I have a saved project and I want to “copy and paste” a 9-minute segment to a new file that I can export and save to mp3.
I want to make sure I don’t do anything to damage the original saved aup3 file. Hope for some expert guidance from you folks.

I use a U-Phono UFO-202 to digitize the analog tape and feed it to Audacity. It plays back quite well through computer speakers during this process, even louder than expected, but when I save the project and play it back from the computer file through the same speakers, the volume is much lower. Can anything be done to boost the playback volume?
All help and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.

It’s a good idea to export to WAV immediately after recording. And make a backup if you are paranoid. You may not need an AUP3 project file.

MP3 is lossy compression. It’s not necessarily “terrible” and it can often sound identical to the uncompressed original but if you open it again for editing it gets decompressed and then if you re-export as MP3 again you are going through another generation of lossy compression and some “damage” accumulates.

You may want to consider keeping WAV or FLAC archives even if you want MP3s for everyday listening. FLAC is lossless compression so the files are almost half the size of WAVs and it’s better for metadata tagging.

Can anything be done to boost the playback volume?

Run the Amplify or Normalize effect after recording. Audacity has already scanned your file and Amplify will default to whatever change is needed or 0dB “maximized” peaks. It’s a linear adjustment so it depends on the highest peak in the file (or selection). Amplifying doesn’t damage the audio quality (unless you push it over 0dB into clipping).

The Normalize effect works similarly but it has a couple of additional options and by-default it adjusts for peaks of -1dB.

Your recording probably won’t be as loud as modern [u]Loudness War[/u] releases.

Thanks for the advice. I ran Amplify and got some good increase in volume and, I think, detail upon playback. (May be a placebo effect, but it sounds good to me.) I saved my work and exported the selection as a FLAC file which I intend to send to a friend; is this as “good” (and stable) storage-wise as exporting it as a WAV file, or should I do both? Thanks again for your help.

To be really safe I imagine you could save a FLAC version in one location and a WAV version in another. :smiley:

Restoration experts often recommend a gentle baking of the tape - see this article for example:

And see this short YouTube video:

This Wikipedia article is useful too - and urges caution:

You will probably want to run the reel from end to end and back again to re-tension the tape if it has been stored for several years unused. Archivists used to do this at least once per year.


You may find this set of tutorials in the Audacity Manual useful:

Especially this recommended workflow:


I’ve just added those baking tips to the tape workflow tutorial in the alpha manual for the upcoming 3.3.0 release: