vinyl conversion and normalizing

This is my first post here. I am fairly new to converting vinyl to digital form. That is to say, I am learning the ins and outs of doing it the right way. I have an extensive record collection. I have a an a new Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable and a dedicated computer. I have been going back and forth with different software trying to get the desired sound. I do my initial recording with Audacity, Wave Repair or Nero. Of the 3, I think audacity is the best balance between ease of use and functionality. I am using Click Repair to remove pops and crackle. I have tried noise reduction on Click Repair and Wave Repair. I think I like Audacity best for that task as well. The task I am now trying to settle concerns Normalization. Should I use normalization on a project before splitting it into tracks? Why use it at all if the whole project is from a single album? Also, I have an album that has distortion around the vocal on one track. I am guessing that I am hearing clipping from the original recording. I see no clipping on my end. Is there a way to reduce that distortion? Lat one, I promise. I just purchased a “Shure M97XE” cartridge to replace the one that came with my turntable, the (AT95E). Should that make an audible difference?


Joe :smiley:

Normalize and Amplify are slightly different arithmetic functions. They’re not what you would consider sound tools. Amplify bumps up the overall volume of whatever you select until the one loudest peak in the whole thing hits overload. Normalize does the same thing except it does left and right independently.

That’s it. Full stop.

You can tune both of them to settle on other values than overload (0dB) and Normalize also has DC Removal tools in the panel.

Enough people were using Normalize and not realizing that it could affect the left and right sound balance that the latest version has the ability to “group” left and right corrections – effectively turning it into Amplify.

If you’re pleased with the blue waves on your timelines where they are, then I’d not use either one.


Amplify pushes the level “by” a specified amount. For example it can increase the level by +3dB, or decrease the level by -6 dB.

Normalize pushes the peak level “to” a specified level. For example, it can adjust the level so that the highest peak is -1 dB.

“Amplify” always amplifies all selected channels by the specified amount.

Normalize can operate on stereo tracks either independently, or as “one thing”.
If Normalize is set to “Normalize stereo channels independently” then after normalizing, both the left and right channel will have the specified peak level.
If “Normalize stereo channels independently” is not selected, then both channels are amplified by the same amount so that the highest peak in the track (either left or right) is at the specified level.

A full description of Normalize can be found in the manual:

If you intend to keep the recording as “an album” (rather than extracting just a single track) then you should normalize before splitting the track. That way, the relative levels of the tracks in the album will remain as intended by the producer.

The purpose of Normalizing is that when you record you need to ensure that the audio never clips. Clipped audio is difficult to repair, and anything other than very minor clipping is impossible to fully repair - top tip: avoid clipping.
To avoid clipping, the recording will normally be made with some amount of “headroom”. This means that the recording will be a bit quieter than it could be, and probably a bit too quiet for normal listening. Normalizing after recording can bring the level up to a safe, but better (louder) level. A good level for recording (so as to allow some headroom) is about -6 dB (half track height). A good level to normalize to is around -1 dB.

Please note that they’re still arithmetic functions. They don’t “know” what music is. The highest sound peak in a vinyl transfer is unlikely to be music. It’s likely to be a cat hair on the record.


You may find this workflow tutorial from the manual useful:


Thanks Koz, in my case it’s a dog hair, which actually did happen a couple days ago.

Apparently wood glue is the latest thing to remove foreign material from vinyl records.

I thought you were “havin’ a larf” Trebor - until I followed the link and saw the great raft of videos showing folk doing this on YT - whoud’ve thought it :laughing:


haha wood glue, who would have thought it :stuck_out_tongue:

Watering down the PVA woodglue makes it more flexible when it dries and consequently easier to remove from the record, ( diluting it also makes the cost-per-record less ).

If you don’t fancy experimenting with dilutions …

Wood glue is a technique that needs some practice to get it good. Try it out on reocrdings you don’t mind sacrificing first. So far my forays have not been satisfactory. 1st time the glue was wrong and wouldn’t peel, 2nd time bits of residue remained in the grooves and record still sounds terrible.