Clipping or Distortion on Vocal High Notes of Ripped Audio

Hi Brilliant Tech Guys and Fellow Musicians,

Can anyone tell me what one does when you rip audio successfully from a DVD, use Audacity to edit it beautifully except for the high notes that still have some clipping or distortion? According to Audacity, there was no clipping (red lines) during the editing of each track but when I play the master CD on my car stereo for example, there is definitely clipping on the high notes of these wonderful arias. It defeats my whole purpose of transferring them from video tape/DVD to CD. I took it to Best Buy and played it on many stereo units there and did not really notice the distortion…but then it’s a very loud store! LOL

There is no distortion when playing it on my Mac or other laptop but there is some on my Sony portable CD player. I’m wondering if I should start all over again and upload the songs to Audacity at a slightly lower volume, maybe 2 clicks below midpoint of input volume. Would that make a substantial difference, I wonder? Sixteen songs was a lot of work! I’d rather not do that. Any suggestions? This is going to be a CD of my work for sale, as well as a promo when necessary. I cannot put out a distorted CD…not one with classical music on it…and my voice. I’m hoping to get this out before Christmas.


Thank you!

You’ve not said how you ripped the DVD. Does the original DVD rip play without distortion?

Hi Steve,

The live concerts were originally video taped and I took those tapes to a local professional lab to have them converted into a DVD. There was no distortion on the DVD, that I can hear. I then ripped the audio using MPEG Streamclip and edited the individual songs in Audacity.

Some back story…after the concerts took place, I had 12 VCR tapes professionally created in the marketing department of the company I had been working for. A large and well-known car company that shall remain nameless. I then copied one or two audio cassettes from those. Before I ripped the audio from the, now DVD, I had edited the same songs from the audio cassettes that I had made from those VCR tapes… using Audacity. This worked too, and with no distortion on the high end at all. They just aren’t as clear and clean sounding as the the same songs ripped from the DVD…except for the distortion on the high end of the songs…you know…the “money” note that everyone waits for at the end.

So, perhaps the professional lab did something “different” to the DVD in converting it from video tapes to DVD? Or, just by virtue of the fact that the audio was converted from video tape to DVD…that this might cause a problem when trying to edit it later? I don’t know.

If I end up using the “taped” songs instead of the “DVD” songs, there are some that I simply can’t use because the quality has deteriorated too much and there are too many “pops” or “glitches”, etc… Some are okay.

I am using a Mac PowerBook G4.


So the DVD sounds good.

The edited DVD rip has distortion on the high notes.

What I’m interested in is the “…” between the two.
Do you still have the original unedited DVD rip (please say you kept a backup :slight_smile: )
What format is that in, and how does it sound?

it is possible
if you normalised to near 0
and your car d/a is not well designed
and you have the volume cranked up
that the problem could be caused in the stereo d/a

this is NOT an intersample peak problem
it is a poor hardware implementation

can you play the file somewhere else without a problem
then the problem is the car and the cd combination

i presume that it is easier to change the cd

record at -24dBFS
normalise to -12 max!
and try that on your car player
let us know what happened

The live concerts were originally video taped

Onto what exactly? HDCam? DVCam? HDV? Digital Format Something? Hopefully not Hi8 or something like that.

Those translate directly to 48000, 16-bit stereo when you process them on playback, and if they’re good to go then, that should be the whole story from that point on. That format overloads or clips just like any other “straight” sound format.

except for the high notes

High in pitch or high in volume?

I took it to Best Buy and played it on many stereo units there and did not really notice the distortion…but then it’s a very loud store! LOL

I’m interested in what happens if you listen to the original DVD on your Mac – with headphones – and what happens if you play the Music CD in the same player.

How do you get the Music CD into your car? My sister has a nice little radio transmitter that she plugs her iPod into and it “broadcasts” to her older Jeep radio. I have one of those. but I can’t use it because in LA, there are no dead radio channels.

MPEG Streamclip and edited the individual songs in Audacity.

Do you have one of those files around still? Open in QuickTime Player, and Command-I to get the INFO panel. What does that say? Now open one of the Audacity export files and INFO that.

Right then. So far we have a defective car radio. We may be able to test for that based on some of the other answers.


Hi Steve!

I had to delete the entire DVD audio because I didn’t have much room on my little Mac at the time, but I’ve just purchased an external hard drive, and can always rip it again with MPEG Streamclip. I do have the original .aup files saved to a flash drive though. The input volume was at the midpoint level when I ripped. The audio input from the tapes (not the DVD) which I originally edited in Audacity, was a little higher at (7), I believe. I badly needed the extra volume for those. (Remember, not to confuse the issue, but I had originally used the taped versions because I didn’t, at the time, know how to rip the audio (same songs) from the DVD.) I normalized the DVD versions at (0). The tapes, from 7-10.

The whole audio sounds great on my Mac using my headphones. I only notice the distortion when using my car stereo that is 10 years old in a 10 year old Honda Accord. But, I don’t have that problem listening to other professionally created CD’s. There is no distortion. It was the top of the line Accord in 2000, but I doubt if the radio/CD player was the absolute best in the industry. Shouldn’t matter though, cause my other CD’s sound good on it.

I listened to the CD at Best Buy on one of their brand new Sony laptops recently. With headphones it sounded great. As I mentioned before, I listened to it on some of their portable stereo systems (sans headphones) and didn’t hear distortion but as I said…and it was lame but the truth…it was very loud in there. Perhaps I should try it again on a quieter day if that’s possible around Christmas!

Info taken from the DVD itself: Title: Volume Identifier, DVD Format: Standard Definition, Video Format: NTSC, Aspect Ratio: 4:3, Size 720x480, Settings File: c2ob2d7791bd8d7b.plist (img.plist)


Hi Whomper!

Thanks for your response. I had already normalized the DVD audio at (0). The volume I listen to my CD’s at in my car is usually in the midpoint, sometimes higher, but the distortion plays at midpoint as well as higher.

I did try it on some laptops and stereo systems at Best Buy. It always sounds good on my Mac with headphones and on a Sony laptop at Best Buy with headphones. Sounded pretty good too on the stereo’s there but hard to tell with certainty due to people traffic and other noise. I do have a Sony Liv portable Cd/tape player and the distortion is on that too. It’s crazy making! LOL

Volume input was at midpoint when I ripped the audio originally. Is that 24dbFS? Maybe I’m backwards here…would normalizing it at a higher level than (0) take care of the problem, I wonder? You suggested 12 max. I just thought that (0) was good for a track that was already pretty clean and clear.


Hi Koz!

Thanks for getting back to me. You’re funny! LOL Yes, I do have a 10 year old CD/radio/tape player in my 10 year old Honda Accord. But! There is no distortion when I play my CD collection on it. So, why am I having such problems with my CD is the question still to be answered.

  1. The videos were taken by friends as I was performing, so I don’t know exactly what video equipment they were using.
  2. I have the original tapes but I’ll have to find them. I know that they were not much larger than audio cassettes.
  3. The audio TAPES that I had made from VCR tapes of the performances (made from the video tapes) and edited in Audacity do not have the same distortion. In fact, there is no distortion on the high end at all. They are just not as clear and clean sounding throughout, as the same audio ripped from the DVD itself.
  4. High in volume mostly. Me singing high C’s, D’s and E’s. I’m a Lyric Soprano. Also, louder piano passages.
  5. Both the DVD and my CD sound good using headphones on my Mac and on a new Sony laptop at Best Buy that I tried.

I’ll try your suggestions of opening a file in Quicktime Player and getting the info and then opening a file in Audacity and getting that info and let you know.

Info on the DVD itself: Title: Volume Identifier, DVD Format: Standard Definition, Video Format: NTSC, Aspect Ratio: 4:3, Size: 720x480, Settings File: c2ob2d7791bd8d7b.plist (img.plist)

Thanks for your help!

Would it be possible for you to post a couple of seconds of your Edited recording to the forum?
I think attached files need to be no more than 1 MB, so that will allow up to 6 seconds in WAV format (3 or 4 seconds from a section that sounds distorted in your car will be enough for us to tell if the recording really is distorted).


Sure, I could do that if you tell me how to accomplish this! I’ve never uploaded audio to a social networking site or to even my own, work-in-progress, website as yet. It’s almost finished, with an Audio & Video Clip page but I haven’t as yet, uploaded any audio to it due to my current predicament.

Thanks for your quick reply and suggestion.

To upload a file, look below the box where you type your forum message and there is a tab for “Upload Attachments”.


What will be “showing” if I post this clip to the Forum? I mean, when I uploaded the clip my name was in the “Browse” box along with the name of the song, etc. I don’t really want that and don’t know how to change it. You know “Users/Name Name/Porgi Amor/etc.” I want help, but want to keep my privacy as well! How can we get around that? I’m really a PC person who’s getting used to using a Mac! LOL

It’s all set. I have a 6 second clip for you if we can solve this little problem.


All that will show in the forum is the name of the file. The “full path” to the file will not show.
For example

– Bill

There is no distortion when I play my CD collection on it.

That’s an interesting observation. If you’re a lyric soprano, my guess is you’re not glued to your collection of pulse-thumping, Euro Electro-Trance albums. You probably have carefully made and possibly years old classical concert and orchestral productions. I’ll also bet that they were recorded in the original sound standard for Music CDs which is a lot quieter than what’s being issued now.

So our job is to generate a musical selection that, when burned to a Music CD, causes your, and only your car to fail. Let’s see. Valkyrie are good. Let’s see if I can find any Valkyrie.

And yes, I do think there’s something wrong with your car player.


No Valkyrie, but I did find a nice Kathleen Battle.

Burn that to a Music CD. Don’t do anything to it, don’t process it, don’t adjust it. Just dump it into your Music CD burner, burn it and play it in the car. I bet it distorts on the soprano peaks, although all of them are perfectly legal and clear (although just barely).


And no, Deutsche Grammophon did not produce it like that.


MLK, I note that you mention in the thread that you have normalized your recording to 0db - Now while this is “legal”, as Koz alludes to, it is the case that some software players and CD players will cause clipping at that level. Accordinglingly I only ever “normalize” my recordings to -2.0 dB (plenty loud enough).

I use Audacity’s Amplify effect for the “normalizationon” rather than the Normalize effect as the Normalize in Audacity works on each stereo channel independentltly and can thus change/damage the stereo image - Amplify on the other hand applies the same correction to both channels.

Note however that Normalize can be useful if you have inherently unbalanced equipment that you are recording from.



Thanks for the info. I’m learning, that’s for sure. LOL I did send the 6 second clip to another email account of mine and it did “appear” just as you said it would. Should have thought about that before asking you guys.

I do hope that my car CD player is the problem because then, I won’t have to edit these songs all over again. I’ve enjoyed learning how to use Audacity… but enough is enough. I’ve been trying to produce this CD for awhile now.

Thanks for your input and suggestions.

I’ve attached the file.


Sounds fine to me. See what happens when you pull down and burn that Battle segment. I bet it sounds dreadful in the car.