Fixing inconsistent audio levels.

Hi all,

I’ve been working with Audacity for sometime now, but usually for quick low level editing. That said, I am comfortable navigating the software, but I am still very much an audio novice.

I recently received a set of 26 audio tracks (voice) from a client that has a number of issues; the biggest problem being that the audio tracks have inconsistent volume.

Is there a way to quickly modify each track to have the same volume? Perhaps an effect?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,

You could use the Normalize effect to make all of the tracks have the same “peak level”.
“Peak level” is the level of the highest (or lowest) peak in the waveform. This does not guarantee that they will all sound the same “loudness” but it may be close enough.
Try normalizing the tracks to -1 dB.

Thanks Steve,

I’ll play around with that.

Another question: It sounds like the client recorded in several different locations. For the most part the audio is clear and crisp, but there are a few tracks where the sound is rather bland and have an echo. Is there anyway to resolve this issue to match the quality of others?

Secondly, the client has suggested rerecording individual tracks, but I feel like that may have been the cause of the problem in the first place (recording in different locations, different variable noises/frequencies pulled out for noise removal, etc.). I suggested rerecording the entire track list at one time and in one location to ensure consistency. Is this an appropriate course of action? I’m just curious as to what the industry best practices are.

Echo is a show killer - you can’t get rid of it.
The problem is that it overlaps with the voice that you want to keep, and it sounds pretty much the same as the sound that you want to keep, so the computer cannot tell the difference between the direct voice and the echo.

It depends what the project is. For news reports you can go “on location”, but for an audio book story you probably need a lot of consistency.

Rerecording generally demands the same conditions. We can cure simple level variations, but we can do nothing with a new, different microphone or different rooms and environments.

This is why the big kids use studios. “Going back into the studio” is usually just an exercise in finding enough time, record the piece and go home. Rerecording without a studio means you have to exactly recreate the conditions you used the first time.

And yes, echoes are number one on the ways to kill your show.

– The Four Horsemen of Audio Recording (reliable, time-tested ways to kill your show)
– 1. Echoes and room reverberation (Don’t record the show in your mom’s kitchen.)
– 2. Overload and Clipping (Sound that’s too loud is permanently trashed.)
– 3. Compression Damage (Never do production in MP3.)
– 4. Background Sound (Don’t leave the TV on in the next room.)


Thanks Steve & Kozikowski!

I always appreciate a good knowledge transfer.

Your timeliness and helpfulness will definitely keep me coming back to these forums.