I have a performance coming up in a couple days and I’m putting all the songs together to make one 10 minute track. The problem is, the volume is different on every song. How do I fix it so the volume plays the same volume from 0:01 to the 10 minute mark? Would a limiter work, or a compressor, or something else? Thanks in advance.
A compressor could help, but it would probably be better to do it manually.
If you want to try a compressor, try Chris’s compressor (available here: http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/chriss-dynamic-compressor-plugin-for-audacity/)
Use the default settings apart from the “Ratio” control - turn that up to about 0.8.
If that is not satisfactory, write back and I’ll talk you through the manual adjustment.
I agree… It’s usually best to do it manually (Effect → Amplify), because nothing is as good as the human ear for judging the human perception of loudness.
There are a couple of tricks that will make it easier…
- First, use the Amplify to set the “New Peak Amplitude” to 0dB for all of the individual songs (or parts of songs that you are going to use). That’s as loud as you can go without clipping (distortion).
That might be enough, but since loudness perception has more to do with average levels than with peaks, you may need to make some more adjustments. Since you’ve just made all of your tracks as loud as possible, you cannot boost any quiet sounding tracks. In order to match loudness, you will need to reduce the louder tracks.
Listen to the tracks and choose the quietest sounding track as your reference.
Adjust the other tracks down (by ear) as-needed to match your reference, and you’re done!
If you have hundreds of tracks or you just want to do it automatically, you can try [u]WavGain[/u], which is an implimentation of [u]ReplayGain[/u] for WAV files. (I assume your source files are uncompressed WAV.) ReplayGain and it’s variations use an advanced algorithm to determine loudness. It takes into account the average level as well as the frequency content, since the ear’s sensitivity varies with frequency. (ReplayGain will make most songs quieter, because there are many quiet-sounding songs that have a few 0dB peaks and are as loud as you can go without clipping, and they cannot be adjusted-up.)
Dynamic compression can help to (if you want to do it automatically). Compression works moment-to-monent, rather than adjusting each song as a whole. Sometimes this is desirable, but it mucks-up the dynamic contrast of the music by making quiet parts of a song louder. One advantage of compression (perhaps an advantage) is that it can make quiet songs louder without hard-clipping.