Improving MP3 Quality


I have searched the forum for an answer to this and haven’t quite found what I am looking for. I have some MP3’s from older albums. When ripped they come across low volume and low dynamic range. If I download the same artist newer album, the volume is much higher and the dynamic range is much better. I want to take the old MP3’s and try to improve the volume and dynamic range. I have experimented a little with EQ and Amplification, but not exactly getting the results I want. I have learned where the singer’s voice range is and where to limit highs and lows. I’ve posted a couple of pics. The first is the old MP3 I want to improve and the second is an extreme example of the same artists’ newer work untouched.

Given that each song is different, is there a method or workflow that is fairly general I can use to boost the quality of the old MP3?

Thanks for the help.


I think you have the symptom backwards. Older recordings were produced preserving the artist expression, voice management and dynamic range at the expense of overall loudness. Old CDs were produced with the zero VU point of -17dB which was the old standard.

It’s still the standard, but nobody pays any attention to it. The game now is to completely crush any expression out of the voice and smash the sound as loud as possible. Reduce the dynamic range — difference between loud and soft points — to zero.

You can use Effect > Compressor tool for this, or you could try Chris’s Compressor and move the first value, compression ratio, really high like above 0.8.

One thing you won’t be able to do is make a new MP3. MP3 sound damage adds up and once you make the first one, you’re more or less stuck. That’s why we tell people never do production or archive in MP3.

Make a WAV instead. It will be very large, but the honk and bubble won’t get worse.


Depends what you mean by “improve”. Your “Newer.mp3” (louder) example has less dynamic range.

Like Koz says , applying dynamic-range-compression, aka compression, will convert “Old.mp3” into “Newer.mp3”.