I have been using Audacity 1.2 on and off for several years for ringtones, etc., but have just now begun using it to record my old LPs as MP3 files on my computer. My problem is, if I follow the recording guidelines on the tutorials, my recordings sound a LOT lower on my Windows Media Player than my CD recordings. If I “Amplify” them anywhere near enough to get the same volume as the CDs, they get a lot of distortion with the process. Any suggestions, please? I would rather not download 2.0 until it is a little more proven, or would it make a big difference?
First off, don’t amplify past what the Amplify dialog will allow without checking “Allow Clipping”. If you allow clipping you will get distortion. This may be what you are hearing.
Second, most CD remasters have been heavily compressed to make them sound louder. This is not “compression” as in “data compression” in an MP3, but dynamic range compression, where the soft parts of the music are made louder and the loud parts made quieter. In this way the dynamic range of the recording is “compressed” (as in “made smaller”) and the song will sound louder.
Your LPs have probably have less dynamic range compression applied than the CDs you are comparing them too. If you like that loud, compressed sound the tool you want is the Compressor effect. In that case I would recommend using Audacity 2.0 - the compressor effect is much improved. This will still take some experimentation to find the right settings - apply the compressor, listen, Undo if you don’t like it and try again.
Thank you very much for the reply, Bill. I am more interested than clarity than volume, but would like everything in my files to be at the same approximate volume level so that when I load it onto my flash drive, I can listen to my music on my truck stereo without having to constantly adjust the volume. Is there a better way to accomplish this?
It does not appear that my mobile stereos (which are all JVC KD-R7xx and 8xx series) support the ReplayGain technology. I have downloaded Audacity 2.0, and now have plenty of work ahead to try out your other suggestions.
I really appreciate your help and patience. I am not knowledgeable or have good enough equipment, probably, to hear many of the differences in quality that y’all might, but am really looking forward to being able to produce some high-quality digital recordings of my old LPs that I can listen to in my extensive driving time. I almost never listen to the radio anymore, as I prefer older country music (I can hear folks groaning already) that just never makes it to the airwaves anymore…
In which case keep an eye out on WFMU (NJ radio station and broadcast on t’interweb) as occasionally they get country singer Laura Cantrell back for a guest slot of her “Radio Thrift Shop” - there was one a couple of weeks ago. And IIRC WFMU are still hosting on their website the earlier programs that laura put out for them.
Also take a listen to the record that Laura had out last year called “Kitty Wells’ Dresses” if you get the chance. It has a nice old timey feel - well it would do being based on Kitty Wells covers.
Well, since everyone has been so helpful here, I have to tell a story on myself.
Even with all the upgrades and additions, I still couldn’t get the final MP3 to sound good at all. I read up a lot on this forum and in the tutorials, figured out that I should do all the editing before exporting the final version of the MP3, tried compression, normalizing, etc., but it seemed no matter what I did, every time I manipulated the recording it only sounded worse! I exported a WAV file, and compared it to different manipulations that produced an MP3, and the MP3s were MARKEDLY inferior, so I knew it wasn’t just my recording equipment. (And I have learned that an MP3 is still not as “accurate” as a WAV file, thanks to this site and the tutorials).
Something I read about setting the bit rate to correspond to the project rate finally rang a bell. AHA! No wonder! My MP3s were being exported only in 32-bit format. I changed it to 224 (just slightly less than my CDs burn at 256), and of course had an INSTANT improvement in sound quality. In addition, the volume from the LPs was “close enough” to the CDs to suit me with no additional manipulations.
I am not a typical audiophile nor computer person- I grew up working with my hands, and now make my living with fire hoses, diesel engines, and EMS equipment. Computer technology has always been foreign to me, but I am a fast learner if I get headed in the right direction and can ask a few questions as I go along. That’s where this site (as well as the Audacity program and support documentation) comes in- if not for y’all, I never would have figured this out. Do not underestimate the value of a patient, well-thought-out reply; it often means more to a novice than you would realize. (I did learn that from my own profession, though!)
Thanks, folks, I appreciate your help! WC, yes, I LIKE Laura Cantrell- thanks for that tip, too! Y’all take care,