The hardest part is getting a good recording to start with. Typically, there is too much room reverb and room noise. The amount of reverb that sounds great in a concert hall usually sounds unnatural in a living room, and the background noise that you may not notice live tends to stand-out in a recording. (Although after you have experience recording you tend to become more-aware of the noises.) Professional live rock recordings are close-mic’d and multitracked (with separate mics/tracks for the audience) so they are almost getting a studio recording.
Is there anything i need to know about the Limiter settings in my application? to bring down some of the peaks, like clappng/applause, whoops, etc?
Limiting probably won’t make those parts sound much quieter.
So yes, it’s probably the best thing to start with the Envelope Tool. The trick is to fade-down and fade-up so you’re not making any sudden-unnatural changes in volume. Then you can normalize to (possibly) bring-up the overall loudness.
If it’s not loud enough overall, you can use the limiter (with make-up gain to bring-up the loudness). Before limiting I recommend normalizing (or just use the Amplify effect at the default setting) to get a known “starting point”. (Normalizing as the last step after everything is usually a good idea too.)
The Audacity limiter is very good. It uses look-ahead so the hard-limit setting won’t distort the waveform. If the original recording isn’t clipped you can probably “get away” with 6dB of limiting with very little effect on the sound quality. You can repeat the process if you want more of the effect.
Note that compression and limiting make the signal-to-noise ratio worse and since they are normally used with make-up gain, the background noise increases. That’s just something you have to live with except where you want to turn everything down (between songs, etc.) (It’s OK to use make-up gain… It makes no difference if you add the gain or if the listener turns-up the volume control.)
Limiting is a kind of (fast) dynamic compression. You can also use “regular” compression, but there are more settings to mess with (and different compressor plug-ins that you can install) so things are easier if you can get good results with just limiting.
It’s up to you if you want to process the songs individually or the performance as a whole. If you process the songs individually, re-join with a crossfade so the “splice” is not noticeable.
Even if you process the concert as a whole, you may wan to edit-out excessive gaps or extra talking between songs. By crossfading the crowd noise you can keep the recording natural sounding without long gaps between songs.
Often, I’ll “steal” applause from one part of the performance and mix it back-in different places. Depending on what I’m working with I like to “build” one or more applause tracks of 20 seconds or longer, then fade/edit/mix with the original recording where needed. A couple of times I’ve stolen applause from a different recording!
If I’m making separate files for each live song, I’ll also use some applause “tricks”. I general like a short 1-2 second applause/crowd noise fade-in at the beginning of the song and 10-15 seconds of applause at the end with the last half (or more) fading-out.
But just a note… I’m rarely working with original recordings… I’ve done this when making CDs or MP3 from professionally recorded video concerts.