Need help normalizing left and right channels of radio show tapes

Windows 10
Audacity 3.0.0

Hi everyone. I have tapes from an old radio show that I’ve digitized recently. There is a variance in characteristics between the left channel and the right channel. To add to the issue, the variance changes throughout the recording. Sometimes the variance is more pronounced than other times. Sometimes the left side is “stronger”, sometimes the right side is “stronger”. It was dependent on the source being used, for whatever reason. Can anyone help provide steps to clean this up? I test software professionally but I’m a beginner with Audacity, if that helps in phrasing the response that I would need. Below is a sample of what I’m looking at.

Could simply adjust the track pan-slider

whilst the track is playing until they sound equally loud in headphones, then mix and render to new track.

Then you’ll either have to use envelope tool or dynamic range compression individually on each track,
( you’ll have to temporarily split them to give them individual treatment)

The Normalize effect allows you to normalize the left & right channel independently.

But regular normalization works on the peaks so that may not make the channels sound equally loud. If not, you can try Loudness Normalization independently. But then Loudness Normalization might push the peaks into clipping so it’s a good idea to run regular normalization (not independently) after Loudness Normalization, but before exporting.

Sometimes the left side is “stronger”, sometimes the right side is “stronger”

That could be normal. With stereo recordings of course the left & right are not identical but overall it should be balanced toward the center and the main vocals should come from the center, etc.

BTW - The left channel (top) looks like it’s [u]clipped[/u] (distorted) so you might want to re-digitize at a lower level.

Thanks guys!

Forgive me for being a hack. I’m going for what I can make sense of as well as what seems easy to me. So, I tried loudness normalization (default settings) then normalization (default settings). Below are the original followed by subsequent steps. It looks to me like loudness normalization gets them pretty similar. Running normalization afterwards seems like it does more harm than good. Do you agree? Once I get a “final” version, is there anything else recommended to do, like noise reduction or something?

As far as clipping goes, I think I would know how to do that. But, that means getting ahold of a tape deck again and having to digitize 16 tapes. I’m going to get one show done first, listen to it, and see if I’m happy with how it sounds before I consider that time investment.

Scratch part of that. I actually followed instructions this time. Below are the original and both steps. It does look like that final is what we’re after, right?

The ruler-straight edges of the envelope of left track does look like clipping has occurred.

Audacity does have a clip fix tool*, but re-digitizing without clipping will give a better result than that repair.

(* only try ClipFix on the upper track ).

left looks clipped.png

BTW, if you feel a need to do so, you can separate the left and right tracks and process them independently. To separate the tracks, click on the drop-down menu in the Track Control Panel and select “Split Stereo Track”. To re-join them, click on the drop-down menu on the upper track and select “Make Stereo Track”.

I hope this helps. :smiley: