Getting volume right on burned CD's

I apologize for asking such elementary questions, but it seems I don’t know the right search terms for what I need to know. I am generating CD’s of bird songs as Xmas gifts. The first one I generated sounds great in my headphones but when I go to play it on a mac or win7 computer or cd player, it is way too faint. I have explored the “amplify” effect but don’t know how to set it so that the resulting output is in the ideal range.

Before you export the recording, check that there are no loud clicks or bumps in the recording, then use the Normalize effect and normalize to -1 dB. Then export in WAV format and burn to CD.

I have explored the “amplify” effect but don’t know how to set it so that the resulting output is in the ideal range.

0dBFS (Zero Decibels Full Scale) is the “digital maximum” and if your peaks go over 0dB, you can get get clipping (distorted flat-topped waves) when you save (or play) the file. Most commmercial CDs are normalized (for 0dB peaks), at least for the “loudest” song(s) on the CD.

Even after normalizing, bird sounds will likely be faint compared to a commercial music CD (which is dynamically compressed and much more “dense” with sound).

When we normalize we are maximizing the peaks, but loudness is more-related to the average level. And with linear volume adjustment, the difference (or ratio) between the average and the peak remains constant.

The general rule is to always avoid clipping, but if you go-over by +1 to +3dB the distortion may not be audible and the additional volume might be worth it. And, it’s likely that there is only one place in the recording that will be clipped. (Audacity itself won’t clip, so you’ll have to save as 16-bit WAV and listen to that to hear what the actual CD will sound like.)

You can also use the Envelope Tool to adjust different parts of the recording.

If you can’t get acceptable volume with normalizing, try the Compressor Effect. With dynamic compression, you can boost the average level without boosting/distorting the peaks. However, it will also boost the background noise and you may get other artifacts if you over-do it.

Just a quick note to thank this forum for help getting this project done. In the holiday lull, I will have the time to study the help files so, presumably, hopefully, I will have fewer questions in the future. Thanks for your patience.