Find Maximum and other suggestions

Suggestion 1
The Mac version should have a keyboard shortcut, Command-Plus, common to a lot of Mac software, that zooms in to the waveform window.

Suggestion 2
There should be a small space at the start of the waveform window so the user can click there and know that they have selected the start, similar to what Sound Studio offers.

Suggestion 3
A Find Maximum would be very useful. Here’s why, and below is a suggestion how it could operate. Often I want to manually decrease the dynamic range by reducing some of the peaks, so that the overall volume increases after I normalise. I’d rather not use automatic functions because I assume they would affect the entire sound file and I’d like to keep the sound as close to original as possible. In one situation, a friend asked me to improve a sound recording made in Cairo during WW2. Street vendors offered passing soldiers the opportunity to step into a sound booth, record 30 seconds of greetings to family, and then they were given a flexible record which could be mailed home. The one I was given was full of crackles, so I worked my way through several hundred pops, manually reducing the peak between the zero-crossing. Seemed to work pretty well, though very time consuming.

A more recent example was a recording of someone with Alzheimers who got distracted by the microphone in front of him and would start stroking and tapping it, introducing very loud, clipped noises. I have manually reduced the levels of some of the clipped peaks so that the dynamic range is reduced, thus allowing an overall higher volume (after normalising). But again, it was very time consuming.

This is how I suggest a Find Maximum would work:

  1. The user selects Find Maximum. Dialog Box 1 appears, asking for how many peaks to find, the amount of volume reduction required (dB), and whether the process is to be manual or automatic. For example, after the user enters the details, the dialog box might look like this:

Number of peaks: 20
Volume reduction (dB): 6
Manual/Auto: M

  1. Audacity then scans the sound file for the highest 20 peaks, stores them in an array for quick access, takes the user (if “manual” was chosen) to the highest peak at the highest zoom, and highlights the waveform that will be reduced.

  2. Dialog Box 2 appears, asking the user for confirmation to reduce the waveform.

  3. After reducing the waveform, the user is automatically taken to the next highest peak.

An additional feature that may come in useful, particularly is there are a lot of peaks close to each other, is the ability of the user to set the “width” of the waveform to be reduced. The width of the reduction is measured in zero-crossings. If the user only wants one half-cycle waveform reduced (imagine a positive-going peak), they choose 2 as the width. Audacity looks for the closest zero-crossings on both sides of the peak and the sound between those crossings will be reduced. If the user selects 4 zero-crossings, they are asking for the positive peak to be reduced as well as the two negative half-cycles on either side. This feature could be added to Dialog Box 2, so that after the user is taken to a peak to be reduced, if they see that there are several that need reduction, they can enter the width in zero-crossings, the extra waveform is highlighted, and the user can give the go ahead.

P.S. If someone is able to write such a function, I am more than willing to help with testing, further suggestions, and documentation. Check out my documentation writing abilities here (download the Introduction to QGIS file, for example):

  1. The current zoom in shortcut on mac is Cmd-1. You can change it to Cmd-+ in the Preferences → Keyboard → View → Zoom In

  2. You can always select the audio from right to left, but yes I agree that could be handy and I find myself wishing for that too sometimes

  3. For removing pops check out Steve’s popmute plugin:
    You might also be looking for dynamic compression. There’s a built-in compressor in Audacity (Effects menu → Compressor). Chris’ compressor is also quite popular and you can download it as a plug-in for Audacity:

  1. On other computers you can (also) use Ctrl+Mouse Wheel to rapidly zoom in/out. I presume the same will be available on Macs with Command+Mouse Wheel.
    Similarly Cmd+1, Cmd+2, Cmd+3 will probably give you “zoom in/normal/out” respectively.

  2. On other computers you can use the “Home” button to take you to the beginning of the track. As Macs don’t have a “Home” button I’d guess that there is an alternative key or combination - perhaps Fn+left arrow?

All keyboard shortcuts can be found in “Edit menu > Preferences > Keyboard”. Most of the shortcuts can be customised.

As bgrato suggested, the “PopMute” plug-in is probably the closest effect to what you are doing manually.
An alternative would be to use a “limiter” or “soft clipping” to bring down the peaks to a user defined threshold level. You will probably find a limiter in the LADSPA plug-in pack, or there is a “soft clipping” plug-in near the end of this topic:

Thanks for the responses. Yes, I’ve just tried them and Command 1 & 2 work as zooms (though Command + would be more consistent), and there is a Home key on my iMac which takes the cursor back to the start. So two slight inconveniences are fixed.

I’ll try the plug-ins suggested, but I still think a manual Find Max would be useful, even if it doesn’t do all the other bits I suggested.

You can re-assign keyboard shortcuts to commands through the Keyboard Preferences pane

One of the first things I do when installing a new version of Audacity is change zoom in/out to command +/-.

– Bill

It shouldn’t bee too hard to make a Nyquist plug-in to do something like that. Perhaps you’d like to propose it on the Nyquist board (start a new topic here: )