Not Sure What to Call This...

I’ve been recording music on my laptop, and I’ve been using Audacity to add the final touches to my recordings. However, there is one issue I’ve noticed with one of the tracks I’ve made. The sound seems to be “higher” than it should be according to the program. This is based on how it visually appears. What should I do to correct this, if it even needs a correction? Unfortunately, I cannot take direct screenshots because the WiFi on my computer is currently not working. However, I will attached pictures from my phone. Thanks!

Edit: I can’t attach photos because they’re too large? Not sure what to do here.

Another edit: it appears there is a hissing sound during silence at the end of the song, although my microphone wasn’t running during that time. The other song, which does not have vocals yet, does not have this issue.

I assume you are talking about amplitude, not pitch?

The “digital maximum” is 0dBFS which is shown as 1.0 on the default Audacity waveform display. The easiest way to check the peaks is to run the Amplify effect. Audacity has already scanned your file and Amplify will default to whatever gain is needed (up or down) to get 0dB peaks. In other words it shows you how much headroom you have. If it defaults to +3dB, your peaks are currently -3dB, etc. If you wish, you can run Amplify just to check the peaks, then cancel the effect if you don’t what to make a change.

Analog-to-digital converters, digital-to-analog converters, “regular” WAV files, and CDs are all hard-limited to 0dB. If you try to go over 0dB you’ll get [u]clipping[/u] (distorted flat-topped waves).

Audacity itself can go over 0dB, so for example you can boost the bass and if that pushes the peaks over 0dB you run Amplify or Normalize to bring down the level before exporting and your audio won’t be clipped.

Note that the peaks don’t correlate well with perceived loudness. If you normalize all of your files for 0dB peaks they won’t all sound equally loud.

Thanks for the reply. Really wish I could post a picture here to show what I’m referring to. It is not so much the amplitude, it is the equalization (possibly having some relation to low, mid or high EQ levels). At least that’s what I’m assuming. I could send you a picture if you’d like to show you what I’m talking about.

You can’t really see equalization/frequency response in a waveform. A spectral/spectrum display gives you some frequency information but it’s not easy to see if a recording is going to sound good or bad.

There is information [u]here[/u] about how to attach images or audio files.

You said you’re making “final touches”… What’s the situation? What’s wrong with the original recordings?

You can sometimes improve a recording or make a good recording into a great recording but if you have a bad recording there’s only so much you can do.

Final touches as in adjusting the amplitude to just under peak level…my music is sort of a different form of alternative rock so that amplitude works for the full band tracks. And I can’t attach images because no matter what I try, I receive a notification on my screen that the image is too large.

I saw your images on HydrogenAudio. You have [u]DC offset[/u] which is usually caused by a defect* in your soundcard/soundchip. (It happens during recording.)

You can’t hear DC (zero-Hz) but you can sometimes hear a “tick” at the beginning or end when the offset suddenly kicks-in or kicks-out, especially if there is silence. The offset will also limit how “loud” you can go without clipping.

Final touches as in adjusting the amplitude to just under peak level…my music is sort of a different form of alternative rock so that amplitude works for the full band tracks.

I’m not sure what that means but you are unlikely to get as “loud” as a professionally mastered recording, no matter the style.

But the style does matter too and for example “quiet” acoustic guitar recording can max-out on the peaks and won’t sound as loud as “more dense” recording with multiple instruments or distorted guitar, etc.



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  • Your soundchip probably isn’t “defective”. It’s just a cheap design… You didn’t say if you are recording from a microphone but if you are, good quality recording is normally done with a [u]audio interface[/u], a good studio or stage microphone, and a good quiet “studio”. (Stage/studio mics are not compatible with consumer soundcards and “computer mics” are not compatible with audio interfaces, mixers, preamps, or PA systems.) Or you can use a “studio style” [u]USB mic[/u]. These are super-handy and more economical than a mic + interface, but they have limitations and some of them have a reputation as being noisy.

Thanks for the info. I am using a studio-style USB mic, a Samson C01U to be exact. Any suggestions on what to do? I am only planning on releasing a 2 track single recorded using this setup.

Edit: I tried DC offset removal on Audacity, it did not really solve the problem. It did center the waveforms somewhat more though.

I am using a studio-style USB mic, a Samson C01U to be exact.

I’m surprised it has an offset! Usually you find it in cheap consumer soundcards… But, the offset can be removed and as long as you keep your recording levels below clipping (below 0dB) you should be fine. Offset gives you less headroom so you’ll clip at lower volumes than without it but it’s not the end of the world…

Any suggestions on what to do? I am only planning on releasing a 2 track single recorded using this setup.

Edit: I tried DC offset removal on Audacity, it did not really solve the problem.

What’s “the problem”? I mean what’s the problem with the sound?. If there’s something wrong with the sound, fixing the offset won’t fix the sound…

The fact is, lot’s of problems can’t be fixed! :frowning: That’s why pros still record in soundproof/sound-absorbing studios with good equipment , good mic position (and a good performance :wink: ). You may be able to get nearly-professional results “at home” (lots of people record audiobooks in simple home studios) but it’s NOT easy… And, most people get their audiobook rejected the 1st try…

It did center the waveforms somewhat more though.

Some waveforms are not symmetrical so that can be normal. And if you have a DC offset, any clipping will not be symmetrical and removing the offset won’t balance the peaks (and of course it won’t fix the clipping). True DC offset shows-up during silence.

Or, a high-pass filter (maybe around 20Hz if you have deep bass that you want to preserve) will remove the offset since DC is zero-Hz, and it will help to balance-out the top & bottom halves of the waveform. But that won’t change the sound except it may leave (or create) a “tick” at the beginning which you’d have to edit-out.

The high-pass filter of 20hz solved the problem! Thank you so much. It is too bad I can’t have the recording amplified to where I want without clipping but you can only do so much with a basic home setup.

…Edit (yes, I have a habit of these): I found that by adding the high pass filter, exporting the WAV file then re-importing and normalizing the audio to -0.1 peak amplitude, I was able to get much closer to achieving the amplitude I wanted still without having any DC offset issues…unless there is something being degraded in the audio file that I am unaware of. It sounds fine through Audacity and iTunes. It is easy to second guess myself since I am not terribly experienced with this.

It is too bad I can’t have the recording amplified to where I want without clipping but you can only do so much with a basic home setup.

The secret to “winning” the [u]Loudness War[/u] is dynamic compression and limiting (with the usual make-up gain to bring-up the overall volume).

Audacity has compression & limiting effects or there are 3rd-party plug-ins but like I said you are unlikely to get the same loudness (with as little “damage”) as a professional mastering engineer.

And IMO, the pros are over-doing it with modern recordings and I find that “constant loudness” boring and I often turn-down the volume. When I listen to a good more-dynamic recording (with quiet parts plus loud parts/accents that “jump out”) I usually want to crank-up the volume. …I was listening to Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road the other day and I was enjoying how the drums sound… How they pop-out of the mix with impact.

But, it’s a matter of style and constantly-loud is the current-popular style. Or maybe I should say “constantly intense”, since we all have a volume control to adjust the actual listening volume.

I completely agree. It seems that music was mastered very well in the mid 90s. It was loud, but not too loud. Dynamic range was still present for the most part. I’m trying to emulate that mastering style with my first single.