Okay, I am novice. Please pre - forgive me. I have read many posts and most of you guys are genius level and I don’t even understand half of what you are talking about… but maybe you can help. Love Audacity!
I have a library, playlist actually with like 2000 songs in it. Problem is when I listen to them the volumes are all over the place. I am constantly increasing or decreasing volume. I used another media monkey to ‘normalize’ the whole playlist, but really didn’t seem to do anything, at least not when I play it back through Windows Media Player.
I have used the Amplify feature in Audacity with good results. I don’t even know how to select the amplification level or new peak amplitude. Is it just trial and error?
Bigger question, so is there any way to run my 2000+ playlist through something here on Audacity to adjust levels automatically for the whole playlist? I won’t have the patience to do them all individually. Any advice is GREATLY appreciate and thanks in advance.
Regular Amplification or Normalization don’t work (directly) for perceived loudness or loudness matching.
For volume matching, some player software (including MediaMonkey) supports [u]ReplayGain[/u] and Apple has something similar called Sound Check. ReplayGain doesn’t change the audio data. It “tags” the file with a volume adjustment for the player to use at playback time.
If your player software doesn’t support ReplayGain [u]MP3Gain[/u] and [u]WaveGain[/u] “permanently” change the volume so they work on any audio player.
Audacity also has [u]Loudness Normalization[/u] but you have to be careful about clipping (distortion). The ReplayGain variations all have an option to override the target loudness when it would result in clipping.
Note that any volume matching method will reduce the volume of many/most tracks because there are many quiet sounding songs that are already normalized (maximized). Since those normalized quiet-sounding tracks can’t be made louder without clipping, you have to make the loud tracks quieter.
I felt slightly nostalgic reading this post, since when I first visited this message board I was basically asking the same question as the OP. I never got around to normalising my entire library, and with the benefit of hindsight I am very pleased I didn’t!
Scanning your library for then applying replaygain is a much better option, that is widely supported by media players. And if your media player doesn’t support it, find another one!
One thing to be aware of is if your library includes wav files ripped from CDs you may have trouble storing replaygain information in tags that can be shared by different media players. If that is the case you should consider losslessly converting .wav files to the flac format where tagging support is significantly better developed, and as a bonus the files are also smaller.
Really appreciate the suggestions. Will read through a couple more times and check out. Replay Gain though is just a function you select in media player, not something you do to your songs - right? Allow me to continue to show my ignorance… so i am listening through my playlist as it is now, don’t touch the volume, but from one song to another there is significant volume differences. If I open up Audacity and hit the record button while the song is playing the lower volume songs have a very narrow band not even extending to the .5/-.5 ranges. If I were to look at a given song this way in Audacity, shouldn’t there be a a larger range? I know you don’t want to clip the 1/-1 range, but shouldn’t the visual be pushing up against those limits?
I should note as well that I did run the entire playlist through the volume leveling feature on media monkey. Earlier I posted that it did not appear to do anything… but it did warn me before running that it would make permanent changes to the tracks. Then I switch the playlist over to Windows Media Player and there is where I see no perceived difference. After re-reading the instructions in MediaMonkey it does say that it levels the volume when played in MediaMonkey, so I missed that little tidbit. Apparently it doesn’t do it in other players.
Replay Gain though is just a function you select in media player, not something you do to your songs - right?
Right. It is a volume adjustment applied by the media player. It’s a two-step process. The files are scanned (once) to find their “loudness” and tagged with an up or down ReplayGain adjustment. So, there is small change to the file (an added tag) but actual audio isn’t changed. The player automatically adjusts the volume before the track starts.
It’s NOT “automatic volume control” and it’s not dynamic compression… ONE volume adjustment is made to the whole file so the original dynamics of the song are not changed. Loud parts of the song remain (relatively) loud and quiet parts remain (relatively) quiet.
Windows Media Player doesn’t support ReplayGain so it ignores the tag and nothing happens. Audacity will also ignore ReplayGain so you’ll get the original volume if you open the file in Audacity.
Again, MP3Gain and WaveGain change the actual audio data so they work with any player and the changes will show-up in Audacity. (But back-up/archive your files unless you are sure you don’t need to go back to the original volume.)
If I open up Audacity and hit the record button while the song is playing the lower volume songs have a very narrow band not even extending to the .5/-.5 ranges.
It’s better (and more accurate) to open the file than to re-record it.
shouldn’t there be a a larger range? I know you don’t want to clip the 1/-1 range, but shouldn’t the visual be pushing up against those limits?
Most commercial music will peak at or near 1.0 (=100% = 0dB). "That includes many “quiet sounding” songs. Some commercial MP3s will go a little over 0dB.*
With ReplayGain or other volume matching, many songs will peak at -6dB (50%) or lower. Some will still peak at 0dB. And some that peak at 0dB will still sound too quiet. The target-volume is a compromise. Like I said, many of the quiet tracks can’t be boosted (or can’t be boosted enough) so you have to make your loud songs quieter. If you have enough analog gain you can simply turn-up the playback volume to make up the difference.
MP3 can go over 0dB without clipping. And, because MP3 is lossy and it changes the waveform, converting a WAV that peaks at 0dB to MP3 will often give you an MP3 that goes over 0dB. Your digital-to-analog converter will clip if you play it at “full digital volume”. Some people reduce the volume before making an MP3, but I don’t worry about it as long as the original isn’t clipped.
Wow! Really helpful Doug. Thanks for being patient with me. Think I got it now. I wasn’t really re-recording, I just wanted to see the wave pattern in relationship to what was coming out of my speakers, and again, to me it seems too tight, like when I recorded it I didn’t record properly or something. Thanks again.