Volume issues- clarification needed- Audacity and ITunes

I am new at this so bear with me. I’m transferring LPs to CDs. Using beta Audacity and Mac Itunes. My steps are: recording, cleaning, normalizing, labeling, exporting multiple files as wav files, then sending them to Itunes for eventual burning to CD. My goal is to have the Cd play different tracks without having to adjust the volume for each track when it plays . I am confused by the volume aspect of these programs. Here are my questions:

  1. When I normalize, I do so to the entire recording, then split it into tracks. Is that wrong? am I supposed to do each track separately?

  2. When the .wav file is imported into Itunes, Itunes does some kind of checking and seems to adjust he level of the recording. It might be just for playback on Itunes and nothing else, not exactly sure of this. Can anyone clarify?

  3. When I choose tracks to burn, ITunes gives the option of doing a sound check, presumably so the recording level is more even. This procedure apparently makes yet another volume adjustment to the tracks, don’t know if temporarily for burning or not. Can anyone clarify?

  4. Assuming several volume adjustments are made this way (Audacity’s normalization, the import to ITunes, the Itunes burning to CD) what is the net result of all these adjustments? Are some canceling each other out? If so then, can or should any of these adjustments just be skipped?
    Thanks in advance to all you mavens out there.

Just a quick point. Did you make it thorough all that and get a CD you didn’t like?

It will take me a minute to wade through all that.


Yes, I made it through all that and for the most part got CDs that are Ok, (except for a few glitches like not checking all items on a playlist so it burned only partially.) Fortunately I’m trying a lot out on a CD-RW so I don’t waste a lot of CD’s. I just wanted to know if I’m spinning my wheels with the volume settings in Audacity only to be upstaged by ITunes.

I do a lot of LP and tape transcription. What I do is:

  1. transcribe the recordings with my recording level set at a fairly optimal maximum level using the gain controls on my pre-amp and my external soundcard - testing the levels prior to recording (just like in the old days of making tapes from LPs).
  2. Do all the cleanup editing work
  3. divide the album into its appropriate tracks with Audacity labels
  4. then I will take a view if I need to lift the signal level at all. If I do then I use Audacity’s Amplify effect rather than the Normalize. (We discovered recently from threads on the forum that amplify and normalize appear to act somewhat differently to each other in Audacity - briefly, Normalize appears to act on each track independently and maytherefore change the stereo image - whereas Amplify amplifes both trcaks by the same specified amount)
  5. Use Audacity’s Export Multiple to create a set of WAV files at 44.1kHz 16-bit PCM stereo (the Red Book standard for CD’s)
  6. Backup my WAV files to an external USB disc (actually I make duplicate backups on 2 separate discs)
  7. Burn a CD with the WAV files (for additionl backup and for playing)
  8. Then I normally rip the made CD into iTunes in the normal way (I have my import set at 192-bit AAC) -if I’m lucky, the CD I’ve made from an LP,will be recognized by the Gracenote CDDB database and will provide the necessary metadata tags - otherwise it’s down to a bit of tuping
  9. Alternatively you can import the WAV files into iTunes and then use iTunes’ converter to convert to AAC - note that you will probably need to delete the WAV filesfrom iTunes as it will have both versions (WAV and AAC) at that stage.

The only manipulation of the signal level is done at stages 1 and 4. I have my iTunes’ and my iPod’s settings set so that they don’t do any further signal level management in the way of normalization or volume limiting or producing the standard sound level across all tracks. Control of the signal level at the iPod/iTunes level is all down to the volume control.

This workflow produces excellent transcriptions of my LPs in both CD and iTunes/iPod AAC format. I would definitely recommend doing the multiple levels of normalization and amplification - the workflow above has hardware amplification at the initial capture stage and then only one further software amplification(optional - and not often required).