volume issues....

This doesn’t really seem to be an Audacity issue but I’m wondering if anyone can help with this.

When I am editing a file in Audacity, I make sure the levels are good before I export as shown in this screenshot:


When I export to WAV, and playback in a player, the levels are low:


I say it’s not an audacity issue is because when I open the exported WAV file in Audacity, the levels appear good. But if I play the WAV file in a music program like VLC, or make a video with the audio being the soundtrack, the levels are always low. The volume indicator on the 2nd image shows this. I have to turn up the volume on the player and the OS to get it to the level that it should be. When I upload a video to Youtube with one of these files as the soundtrack, the volume is quite low and you have to turn up the youtube player (and the OS volume) to get it to anywhere near what it sounds like inside Audacity.

I don’t know what could be causing this. If the levels look good in Audacity, why are they so low in VLC and anything else I play it in?

Any ideas???

gary in vermont

The file appears to be somewhat dynamic… That means there are quiet parts and loud parts, and it has a high peak-to-average ratio… That’s not necessarily a bad thing…

Some short-duration peaks won’t be perceived as “loud”… You can have a rather quiet acoustic guitar recording with “maximized” 0dB peaks, yet it doesn’t sound loud.

Loudness is related to the average level and the frequency content. Digital files are limited to 0dB* so your peaks limit how loud you can make a digital file, but perceived loudness doesn’t correlate to the peaks.

Most “real” live music is dynamic. Most recorded commercial popular music is highly dynamically compressed. Compression (and limiting) is used to bring-up to overall-average level without boosting or clipping the peaks. That can give you that modern “constantly loud” sound.

If you want to do that, you can experiment with the Compressor effect. You’ll just have to experiment with the settings to see if you can make an improvement. Of course, compression will change the “character” of the music (I’m assuming this is music) and you can over-do it. There are lots of compressor plug-ins, so you might want to download some others if you can’t get results you like.


  • Some file formats can go over 0dB, but your digital-to-analog converter cannot. So, if you try to go over 0dB, you get clipped (distorted flat-topped) waveforms.

thanks very much!

it sounds like you are saying that it’s playing in VLC and Youtube and others in lower volume because there are some peaks in the song that are higher than the rest of the music? and if that’s the case a compressor would bring down some of those peaks and make it play louder in the players?

If that’s it I will definitely give it a try!

I’m just wondering it also sounds like it would play louder if I didn’t boost the volume in the recording, which is making the peaks higher. FYI, yes it is (live) music and it was recorded a little low so I boosted the volume and it may have caused a little bit of clipping. I thought a clip here and there was worth it because it would be better than having a low volume recording. If I interpret your reply correctly, my efforts to boost the volume actually resulted in the players playing it LOWER instead… the opposite of what I was trying to do.

thanks again