So I bought 2 albums off iTunes by the band Yes. On of them (90125) sounds fantastic. The other (Big Generator) is so quiet I have to turn things up a ridiculous amount to hear/enjoy it. I figure I could just use the amplify effect to turn up each track, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. Is that all I need to do? What about the 1 zillion little peaks? Will they get distorted when I turn it up?
Is there a smart way to do this?
Thanks for any help!
If you use the amplify effect more than the default settings then yes the 1 zillion little peaks will get distorted.
This article explains why many old albums sound rather quiet unless you turn up the volume: Loudness war - Wikipedia
Using the defaults, Audacity can only bump the volume by 0.2 db without clipping. Is it compression that I need to use? I would think a little would help and allow me to boost the overall volume more than just 0.2 - I just want to do it right. And no, I don’t want it to end up like the examples in the article (like Rush’s 2002 Vapor Trails album - that one was a product/victim/whatever of that volume war - they remixed it an re-released it last year).
Yes you can use compression. That will gently “squash down” the peaks, allowing the quieter audio to be made louder.
There are various types of “compression” (“dynamic range compression” to give it its full name).
“Downward” compression is the most common - that just “squashes down” the loudest parts, which allows you to then amplify the track more.
“Upward” compression increases the signal level, squashing the peaks against an upper limit.
“Limiters” are similar to “compressors” but work only (or mostly) on the highest peaks. Looking at the waveform in your picture, I expect this will probably work well.
There is a limiter here (Limiter(2)) which will give you 3dB increase using the default settings. Instructions for installing the plug-in: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Download_Nyquist_Plug-ins#Installing_Plug-ins
Ah, thank you very much! I’ll give it a go!