changing ouput level

Audacity 2.0.2/Windows 7

Downloading MP3 files from computer to a Samsung Galaxy 2 tablet using Audacity (have downloaded LAME) results in files on tablet that vary widely in output level when played on the tablet. Many are so weak that they are barely audible.

We were able to increase the output 10.9 db level but it was not nearly enough.

Is it possible to increase the output level more than what we have done? If so, how? Any help would be appreciated.

I tried to find an answer on the tutorials and in the archives. The answer may be there, but I didn’t find it.


What are the shows? Internet “radio” shows are notorious for volume and loudness variations. They don’t go through broadcast transmitter sound processing, so they’re just as they were recorded in the studio – sometimes badly, sometimes not. Even, for one example, the Rachel Maddow show has enormous loudness variations between the show and the commercials. Car Talk NPR radio show has problems, too. One of the two performers likes to laugh very loudly and the transmitter filters it out. The podcast can break glass.

If you have control of all the work, you can try Chris’s Compressor. It works very similarly to the broadcast compressor and brings up quiet parts and suppresses loud ones. It also improves the overall loudness of the show. I change the first number, compression, from 0.5 to 0.77.

If you have large enough loudness variations, that may not work so well, so you should try starting with Effect > Amplify to -1 (not to 0). That will get you in the ballpark quickly, but if you go between live performance and old recordings, that’s not going to get close enough.

Audio processing is an art form.


We have been having trouble with our server and have not been able to reply until now.
Basically, what I do is download from YouTube and take the audio only and change it to mp3 using Real Player converter. This is then put into Roxio Sound Editor (or now Audacity) and edited to make about a one hour audio file. In the past they have been burned onto a CD. Now, I am trying to put it on a Samsung Galaxy 2 tablet. Some few downloads to the tablet come out with a useable volume, most do not (some barely audible). With help from Windstream Audacity 2.0.2 was put on the computer. The tech took one of my audio files and placed it in Audacity, modified it and downloaded it the tablet. This file worked great. When I used Audacity to process another one of my audio files I found a setting on Audacity that allowed me to increase the output level by 10.9 db (attempt to increase more than that grayed out the “OK” button). Putting this file on the tablet made no perceptible change in the output, it was still much too low.
Most of the files are of hypnotic, meditative, binaural effects and are usually of nearly constant volume. These files are being used by my husband (age 90) to help him sleep. He understands electronics and audio amplification quite well but not computers. (He even told me the definition of what db is but I don’t remember it.)
We have not been able to contact the Windstream tech again to find out ‘exactly’ what steps he went through to do what he did.

How are you “downloading” from YouTube to the tablet? What stops you downloading the actual YouTube file (therefore “as is” with no volume changes) to the computer that runs Audacity? You can search Google for how to download YouTube videos.

It is not a good idea to convert to MP3 then edit or combine again as MP3, because you lose quality.


Downloading directly from YouTube into Windows XP. Then changing to mp3 with Real Player Converter. Then loading into Audacity and amplifying until the “OK” button grays out. Today I tried one and used the ‘clipping’. It is louder but I don’t know if it will be loud enough until I transfer it to the tablet and try to play it which I will do tomorrow. Thanks for the help. We will see what happens.

I can’t recommend Chris’s Compressor enough. It brings up the quiet parts, suppressed the loud parts, tames the peaks and brings up the overall volume all in one step.

I know you’re used to hearing the music that way, but every time you compress or translate between compressed music formats, the quality degrades. The original artist made an MP3 to upload to Youtube. Goodness knows what happened before them. YouTube translated it into Flash for storage and presentation, you downloaded it and converted it to MP3 and when you get a working show, Audacity is going to create yet another, fresh MP3. Haven’t you noticed the music or voices getting a little bubbly or honky? Maybe a lot honky after all that…


Compressor is a good idea when needed. If you reduce the difference between loud and soft you can make the whole louder without choosing clipping in Amplify. That is not a good idea.

How are you listening to the files on the tablet? If you are listening in the built-in speaker, have you tried some high quality headphones?


Still having problems with our ISP.

Most of what is listened to is for relaxation and aiding sleep. Included are meditative, hypnotic, relaxing passages. Most of these are rather uniform in output level, and neither compression nor clipping is required for acceptable results. The only type played that varies in output consists of binaural beats which has, in very nontechnical terms, a gentle pulsing output. I do not want to clip or compress the waveform of these files—the distortion of the waveform would negate the effectiveness.

Good frequency response above 5000 or 6000 Hz is not required. A 5” gun blast in WW II, many hours flying aircraft with big reciprocating engines (R2800), and old age have seen to that.

What I had been doing worked okay: downloading a video file from You Tube, ripping the audio file off, converting to a wav file, then burning a CD… No problem. Wanted to start using a tablet for playback. Took the audio file obtained from You Tube, converted it to an MP3 file, and exported it to a Samsung Galaxy 2 tablet. Resulting volume much too low (yes, the speaker in the tablet is an insult even to my ears—good earphones helped some but volume is still too low). Then took the MP3 file and imported it to Audacity, increased gain as much as possible (without using clipping)—resulting volume most of the time still too low.

Some of the files come out of the tablet at a barely useable output level. Most do not. I would think this implies that the audio levels in different videos on You Tube are different.

I probably asked the wrong question. The better question would be: What is the best way to download a video from You Tube, extract the audio file, convert to an MP3 format, export it to a Samsung Galaxy 2—and be able to control the output level of the export?

As previously explained, you do not want to clip the audio in Audacity because that makes it distort. If a peak of 0 dB (the maximum without clipping) is still too quiet on the tablet, then you only have two choices:

  • Compress the peaks on the audio to a lower level, so you can then amplify further without clipping
  • Fix the output level on the tablet.

Have you looked at the tablet’s Manual to see how to manipulate audio volume?


There are several issues affecting how loud it will sound.

Computers often have multiple places to change the volume - check the instructions for the tablet and ensure that the level is turned up in each place.

Digital audio has an absolute maximum peak level - 0 dB. That’s when the waveform touches the top or bottom of the track. Attempting to get a higher peak level than that will cause distortion (clipping).

Not all sound with the same peak level will be the same “loudness”. If you compare a dance music track that has a peak level of 0 dB with say an acoustic guitar solo that also has a peak level of 0 dB, the dance music will probably sound about four times louder than the guitar solo. This article explains why:

Another issue is that tiny laptop speakers have a very limited frequency range and I presume that tablet computers are the same. Low frequencies in particular are played extremely weakly. Bass below about 100 Hz will probably be virtually inaudible regardless of how big the actual signal level is. There’s nothing that you can do about that other than use a better speaker or headphones.

The first thing that I’d suggest is attaching a remote speaker to the tablet. Even cheap little things like this often have much better sound and a much better frequency response than tiny laptop speakers:

If that does not work, then I’d suggest that you apply a “peak limiter” to the audio. A good peak limiter will reduce the relative level of the highest peaks without distorting the sound, thereby allowing the overall volume level to be increased without clipping. Try the “brick wall limiter” here: Instructions for installing plug-ins are here: