Is there a quick way to “master” my tracks in audacity?

Like, if I’m going to bounce down several mp3’s and I just want them all to be the same volume.

Down and dirty, just for reference, quick mastering thing…



Try [u]MP3Gain[/u].

Note that most commercial music (including many quiet-sounding songs) is already normalized (“maximized”) for 0dB peaks. That means many quiet or average-loudness songs can’t be made louder without potential clipping and the only way to volume match is to make the loud songs quieter.* If you’ve got enough analog gain/volume that’s not a problem, but some people are disappointed when their music is quieter after using MP3 gain (or other volume matching methods).

(and Apple’s Sound Check) use similar algorithms except they don’t change the loudness of the actual files. They work with your player software to make a volume adjustment at playback time. For these, you need a compatible audio player. (Since MP3Gain changes the actual MP3 file volume, it works on any player.)


  • You can make the quiet songs louder with dynamic compression or limiting but that makes the music less dynamic.

Okay, cool. Thank you.

Yeah, I’ll just stick with trying to get everything around “par” with “uping” and “downing” the gain. Little more listening back and forth, but all good…

Thanks for the breakdown, man!


Yeah, I’ll just stick with trying to get everything around “par” with “uping” and “downing” the gain. Little more listening back and forth, but all good…

A couple of things you might want to “play with”…

Audacity recently added an effect called [u]Loudness Normalization[/u]. You can use it to set the LUFS loudness (which is an international standard for measuring the loudness of digital audio). And/or if you want to measure LUFS loudness without changing it there is a free 3rd-party plug-in called [u]dpMeter4[/u].

Again, you have to be careful with loudness normalization or (RMS normalization) because you can get [u]clipping[/u] (distortion) if you amplify too much.

LUFS isn’t "perfect’, and two different people may not agree when two different songs are “equally loud”, especially if the songs are different styles/genres or one or both are highly dynamic (very-loud and very-quiet parts in the same song).


If you want to volume-match a limited number of songs (10 or 20 songs to be burned onto a CD, etc.) here is a procedure:

  1. Use the Amplify or Normalize effect to “maximize” all of the songs.
  2. Listen to the songs (or check LUFS) and if they are volume matched, you’re done!
  3. If they are different choose the quietest song as your reference.
  4. Adjust the louder songs down to match the reference.

A note about MP3 -

As you may know, MP3 is lossy compression. When you open a compressed file in Audacity (or any normal audio editor) it gets decompressed. If you re-export as MP3 you are going through another generation of lossy compression and the “damage” does accumulate. You may not hear any quality loss but it’s something to be aware of.

Ideally, if you want MP3 you should start with an uncompressed file and compress ONCE as the last step. Or if you are stuck with MP3 originals, try to minimize the number of times it’s re-compressed.

There are special purpose editors such as [u]mp3DirectCut[/u] that can do limited editing (including volume adjustment) without decompressing the file. MP3Gain works similarly without decompressing/re-compressing, and ReplayGain doesn’t “touch” the audio at all. There is a limitation to the MP3 format that volume adjustments (without decompression/re-compression) can only be done in 1.5dB steps so your adjustments are not as precise.

Something else to be aware of when normalizing or volume-adjusting MP3s - If you have an uncompressed WAV file that’s 0dB normalized and you make an MP3, the MP3 peaks often go slightly over 0dB and Audacity will show (potential) clipping. That’s part of the lossy compression which changes the wave shape and makes some peaks slightly-higher and some peaks slightly-lower. For the same reason, some MP3s purchased from Amazon will show (potential) clipping in Audacity. That’s not necessarily a big problem but it’s just something to be aware of.

There’s a LOT more to mastering (or re-mastering) than volume adjustment but mastering often includes the use of limiting and dynamic compression* to make it “loud” or [u]louder than everybody else[/u]. :wink:

But the Loudness War has acquired a (well deserved) bad reputation. And with people using ReplayGain and the with streaming services using loudness matching, mastering engineers are using less compression and getting back to making the music sound good overall.