normalizing across multiple tracks


I’ll try to explain my situation as best I can.

I wish to combine two symphonies from different CDs onto one CD. Each symphony consists of 4 tracks.

The problem is that one of the symphonies was, as a whole, recorded at a much lower volume than the other one. Now I do not wish to normalize each of the tracks separately since, many times in classical music, there are huge volume differences between movements (especially slow movements) and it should stay that way.

So how would you suggest I use “normalize” on the four tracks of the lower-recorded symphony so there is more of a even volume between the two symphonies but the volume balance between the movements of this symphony remains the same.

Thank you.


Why not see what you can achieve using the Gain slider in the Track Details panel at the left hand side of each track? Normalize will preserve the existing relative dynamics, as will using the Gain control. The difference is that you can try the Gain control in real time.


I want to preserve the overall volume between the four tracks of the lower-recorded symphony, not change the volume of each track separately. Also by using"normalization", I would be assured to avoid clipping. With the gain slider, I could erroneously push the level into clipping (like I once did accidentally).

So I will try to rephrase my question: Should I combine the four tracks into one before importing into Audacity in order to normalize the entire symphony?


There is no automatic function to make both symphonies sound equally loud. The “normalize” function only takes into account the electrical limitations imposed by the soundcard (a.k.a “clipping”), what has not much to do with how “loud” the music sounds.

Making both symphonies sound equally loud can only be done by listening with your ears to both symphonies and then use either “Effect > Amplify” or the audio track’s Gain sliders to make the “louder” symphony sound lower.

The easiest way is probably to combine both symphonies into two audio tracks (one track per sympony), then use the gain sliders together with the “Mute” and “Solo” buttons to activate or deactivate the respective audio tracks, so you can compare the loudness of both tracks. If both symphonies sound equally loud, select the track with the changed Gain slider and use “Tracks > Mix and Render” to change the volume of the track to the setting of the Gain slider.

  • edgar

I’ve had to deal with a slightly similar problem involving four movements of a long piano sonata. I suggest you do the following (i’ve assumed that each movement is in a separate file):
–use Amplify (under Effects) to see how loud is the loudest movement of the louder symphony. If, for example, it is -1dB, then that can be your target loudness for the loudest movement in the quieter symphony.
–the next step (without changing anything yet) is to use Amplify to see the maximum loudness in each movement of the quieter symphony. Write down these amplitude figures.
–calculate the dB differences between the different movements. If, for example, the peak volume in the quietest movement is -4db quieter than in the loudest movement, then you will want to keep this 4db difference when you increase the loudness of each movement.
–write down your target amplitudes for each movement of the quieter symphony, starting with the loudest movement
–make the actual changes to each movement, again using Amplify.
I hope this helps.

Schubert and edgar-rft:

Thanks for the information.

I am not familiar with “amplify” or the “gain” controls.

I will try to digest what you have stated and see if it is helpful in my situation.


Edit: After using “amplify” to determine how loud is the loudest movement of the louder symphony, couldn’t I simply combine the four tracks of the lower-volume symphony into one track and “normalize” to that value? For example, if the loudest peak of the louder symphony is -2db, then I could normalize the combined track to -2db. Correct?