Which Amplify level to use on recorded vinyl

Hi Guys,

I see mixed stuff on here but basically what I’m after is to know the level to Amplify a track to that has previously been recorded from vinyl.
Track was recorded as a 24-bit wav. Is it best to amplify this to 0db, -0.2db, -2db?

Thanks in advance,

See this suggested workflow tutorial in the Audacity Manual (it recommends -3dB(:


Although I now notice that this related tutorial recommends -1dB.

I think I’ll make that consistent in the Manual and change that to -2dB in both places - that’s what I use for my recordings these days before I export.

But back when I was recording my LPs (and writing those tutorials) I used to use -3dB which is plenty loud enough for use on my hi-fi and my iPods.

When Dominic Mazzoni (the founder of Audacity) first wrote the Normalize effect he had the default set at -3dB, it was only much later that the default setting was changed to -1dB.


Great thanks. Does no one use 0db these days?

People do, I don’t :wink:

And although Normalize defaults to -1dB - it’s very close cousin Amplify defaults to 0dB

The big difference is that Normalize will remember and reuse your last-use settings.

But Amplify on launch calculates what is required to reach 0dB and uses that as its recommendation (which personally I think would be better if that was notched down to a target of -1dB)


Does no one use 0db these days?

I’m not afraid of 0dB. :wink: Nothing bad happens digitally unless you “try” to go over 0dB. Some people worry about “inter-sample overs” but there is no inter-sample digital data… only samples. There is a hard-limit on the digital-side of the DAC but there is no engineering/scientific reason the re-constructed analog can’t go over 0dB “between samples” on the analog-side. And if it does happen with some DACs I’ve never heard of it being audible.

If you make an MP3 (which is lossy and imperfect) some peaks get higher and some peaks get lower so the MP3 can end-up going over 0dB. For that reason, some people normalize to around -1dB if they are making MP3s. But I don’t worry about that either… I’ve never heard any distortion from that, nor have I ever heard about it being audible. If you hear a compression artifact it’s probably something else. Also, MP3 can go over 0dB without clipping so you won’t actually get clipping unless you feed it into your DAC at “full digital volume”. And heck… If you’re decided to make an MP3 you’ve already accepted an “imperfect” format…

1dB makes almost no difference in loudness so it’s not too critical but you might want that “extra” decibel… Normalized digital records generally aren’t as “loud” as normalized digital recordings for a couple of reasons - Older recordings usually weren’t as compressed & limited as modern recordings (they didn’t have digital processing to do what can be done today). And similar to what MP3 does, the analog recording & playback process makes some peaks higher some and lower (without affecting the sound of the dynamics) so when you normalize you end-up with a quieter file.

ok thanks, so 0db could be ok. Maybe I’ll play safe at -1db

I bet your ears won’t notice the difference if you do “play safe” :ugeek:


Thanks guys for the replies


Following on from here. Trying to amplify many files one by one is tedious. Looks like you cannot use the macro to amplify properly.
If using normalise on a macro with remove dc offset off and normalise stereo off with just the peak amplitute set to say -1db would this be the same as amplify?


To get the same effect as Amplify, “Normalize stereo channels independently” should be off (not selected).
In most cases the “DC Offset” setting will do nothing, but better for that to be enabled so that it can fix problems with DC Offset if present.

In other words, the defaults shown here are ideal for your purpose: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/normalize.html

Great, that would be much easier on a macro than doing amplify manually. Ive got about 1800 todo…

That will probably be too many for Audacity to manage all in one go, but macros can usually manage a few hundred files in a batch.

ve got about 1800 todo…

1800 songs or albums? There’s another consideration - On an album some songs are intentionally louder than others. If listen to whole albums and if you want to maintain the “original artistic integrity” you should make one file for the whole album and normalize the album as a whole before splitting the songs.

And if you’re listening to individual songs you should know that the peaks don’t correlate well with loudness so if you normalize all of your music some songs (and some albums) will still be louder than others.

…Audacity does have a Loudness Normalization effect which targets an LUFS loudness level instead of targeting the peaks like regular normalization. Loudness Normalization doesn’t automatically check for clipping so you probably don’t want to use it in a macro. There are 3rd-party volume-matching tools such as ReplayGain, WaveGain, and MP3Gain and they can be configured to avoid clipping. These also allow you to choose between album & track mode and they can batch-process, but I think you have to process on album at a time if you want the album mode.

When I digitize vinyl I normalize the album as a whole, but then I use ReplayGain (usually in track mode) on Winamp or Sound Check on my iPod at playback-time.

They are all singles.