Keeping bass while also maintaining volume?

I am running audacity 2.2 on Windows 10.

Hi, I made a post months ago about bass boosting. I found some other methods by myself, but for some reason it still doesn’t meet my needs. My issue is, that if I sacrifice the loudness of the song, by making there be more bass than treble, I get that nice bass that I can feel through my headphones. However, if I try to balance the two out, I succeed in doing so, but the bass can’t be felt anymore. Is it possible to get nice bass that can be felt while also maintaining the clarity/loudness of the song?

As you probably know, there’s a digital peak-limit of 0dB so if you boost the bass you may have to lower the overall digital volume.

Pros usually start by trying to get the best overall sound before working on “loudness”. Then if they want to maximize loudness they’ll try to get the most loudness with minimal damage to overall sound quality.

However, the analog volume into your ears is only limited by your amplifier and headphones/speakers. …Maybe you need a bigger headphone amplifier.

Certain amplifiers also have analog EQ or bass & treble controls.

If you find yourself boosting the bass with most music you may need better headphones (or headphones with more bass) or you may just have a preference for lots of bass, and in that case it would be best to boost the bass at playback-time rather than adjusting all of your files.

You might also want to try some compression/limiting. That can make “everything constantly loud”. That’s how modern [u]Loudness War[/u] music is produced (but it’s unlikely you can get the same results as a pro mastering engineer with experience and professional software). Compression and limiting reduces (compresses) the dynamics which can be boring, but I guess lots of people like it.

Be careful with loud headphones. You can damage your hearing. If you “feel deaf” after listening you are probably accumulating hearing loss. Although your hearing seems to come back after awhile there may be a tiny bit of permanent loss each time. Of course the same thing can happen with speakers, but it usually takes big speakers & big amplifiers. Almost any headphone can go very-loud.

Thanks for the reply. I’m not trying to make songs louder, I just want to boost bass while maintaining the song’s volume (as in not have bass that drowns out the rest of the song) and the ability to still feel bass, using audacity.

How do I lower digital volume? Just use normalize? If so, with what settings?

I’m not trying to make songs louder

Yes you are. Everything has to fit in one digital basket and bass notes take up a lot of room. The only way to get everything to fit is reduce the volume of everything.

I’m a little lost about the goal. It is possible to get a good balance of pounding bass and balanced music, you just can’t do it at the same overall volume as other songs without the bass.

Are you trying to match somebody else’s performance?

In clubs, the bass system is a completely different processor, amplifier and speakers to keep the thumping bass out of the regular music.

They don’t mix well.


So does this mean no matter what a bass boosted song will sound quieter than the original song? Does “reducing the volume of everything” refer to using normalize?

So does this mean no matter what a bass boosted song will sound quieter than the original song?

The way you want to do it, with the bass track stiff and firm in your headphones, yes.

Amplify and Normalize do the same thing. They are an overall volume change, once per song. Normalize got the cool name. You can boost the bass volume inside Audacity because Audacity doesn’t overload. Audacity uses a special sound format that allows you to get too loud without any damage. For example, if you apply an effect or filter that accidentally boosts the volume, you can just bring the volume back to normal later.

That stops working when you leave Audacity. Once you export the sound file, all the rules come back and high bass notes will either distort (buzzy bass) or on some systems cause music pumping or fuzzy melody line. It just doesn’t fit.

We didn’t get to the actual goal yet. If your real goal is to make songs match in a play list but only some of them have boosted bass, then all the songs have to be quieter to make up for the bass that may not get there for two or three songs.

Song matching is a master class in audio production. See David Guetta, Skrillex, Diplo, etc.

Or did I just hit the goal? You want Audacity to do all the work.


Yeah… Let’s back up a bit… What’s the real issue? To you have few songs with weak bass or do you just like a lot of bass?

If you listen to live music you can usually feel the bass in your chest. If you have a good stereo (including big woofers/subwoofers) and you crank it up to “live levels” you should also be able to feel the bass in your chest. …So with most music you shouldn’t have to boost the bass.

But, the average home stereo can’t put-out that kind of deep-powerful bass.

With headphones you don’t experience bass the same way, although you might feel the headphones vibrating. And of course, some headphones will have more bass than others.

At more “reasonable” levels you won’t feel the bass, and the bass will seem to be reduced even more. There’s a characteristic of human hearing that when you turn-down the volume it seems like the bass was turned-down ([u]Equal Loudness Curves[/u]). I the “old days” most stereo receivers had a loudness compensation switch (usually labeled “Loudness”) that would boost the bass as the volume was turned-down. But, that’s gone out of style.

And there are a couple of other things going against you… Not you personally… Anybody that wants good bass…

  • The equal-loudness curves also show that the ear is most-sensitive a mid frequencies (around 2kHz which are perceived as rather "high pitched) so it takes more energy for low frequencies to sound equally loud. 1 Watt at 1kHz sounds louder than 1W at 100Hz.

  • Also, it’s “harder” to reproduce bass. It takes a big woofer to make strong-deep bass.


Does “reducing the volume of everything” refer to using normalize?

Yes, it’s related…

I believe the default is for Audacity to [u]Show Clipping[/u]. If you go over 0dB Audacity will “show red” for potential [u]clipping[/u] (distortion).

Audacity uses floating-point internally so there is virtually no upper (or lower) limit and Audacity itself won’t clip. However, if you play the file at full-digital volume you’ll clip your digital-to-analog converter or if you export to (regular) WAV or make an audio CD, it will be clipped.

Most commercial music is normalized/maximized to 0dB (or near 0dB). If you boost the bass (or if you boost anything) you’ll usually “see red”. At this point,you’ve actually made it louder, but at the cost of distortion. But, at this point it’s only potential clipping and you can Normalize (or Amplify with a negative dB value) to bring the volume down to a “safe” level. (Normalize and Amplify can both bring the volume up OR down.)

MP3s can also go over 0 dB without clipping, and many do go slightly-over and they will “show red” when opened in Audacity. In fact, MP3 compression will boost some peaks and reduce other peaks so it’s not unusual to get potential clipping when the original (uncompressed) file was normalized to 0dB. (And, some commercial MP3s & CDs are actually clipped.)

Of course, it’s also possible to clip your amplifier (or headphone amplifier) if you boost the volume and/or bass too much… For example if you have a 100W amp and you try to get 110W out of it, you’ll get distortion.

Unless, of course, your amplifier goes up to 11.
Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 12.08.02.png

Thanks for your replies.

I just like a lot of bass in songs.

My goal is to get nice bass that vibrates my headphones and maintains sound clarity, as in the rest of the song doesn’t get drowned out.

I have regular bluetooth headphones (Sony) and then I use my Logitech headset for testing the music. I do my boosting where it clips but I use compressor with “apply make up gain” so it no longer clips and gives that headphone vibrating bass. The cost of doing that, though is that it drowns out everything else. I tried doing an eq where there’s more treble than bass, and then use compressor, but the drowning out is still noticeable. What should I do?

In compressor, I have the noise floor at -60db, which when I first started boosting months ago, really seemed to make good bass. Should I reduce that?

Logitech headset

Headset? So it’s a USB headset with stereo ear muffs and a microphone?

bluetooth headphones (Sony)

I think you have headphone distortion. Bluetooth or USB headphones are happy to get reasonable quality sound at normal volume. Nobody is expecting them to blow-dry your hair.

Do you have any place you can borrow standard, wired, sealed-cup headphones. Sennheiser? You may be the perfect candidate for Beats by Dre headphones.


Try this out, take an iPhone 6, open Spotify, turn off audio normalisation, go to equaliser, and turn up the first two columns(bass and low) up to the highest point. You won’t hear any compression, just the increased bass and pre amps. But I strongly do notrecommend it. I had done this on my skullcandy wireless sesh, and for some reason after one day (or maybye some songs later because the distortion comes in on the songs that already have high frequency)it started distorting HORRIBLY. Just a big crackle instead of bass like the speaker itself was wet, short circuited, damaged with iron particles and whatnot. just enough to damage my earbuds because they have been crackling more ever since. Just stick the pre amps and the bass a little bit lower than highest, listen in a bit lower volume(60-70%) and I think it’ll be fine. If this works or you need any more info, just email me at Hope it’s not too late or something and it helps. Cheers!