Equalizing volume on multiple tracks.

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RyanThunder
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:31 pm

Equalizing volume on multiple tracks.

Post by RyanThunder »

Hey everyone. RyanThunder here.

There's something I've been meaning to do for a while for a particular collection of MP3s that I have: I want to make them all the same volume.

Is there an easy way to do this in GoldWave? For instance, being able to set up a particular volume level, then applying it to multiple song files? Or will I have to do some guesswork with the volume adjustment settings?
DewDude420
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Post by DewDude420 »

If your files are MP3 and you're wanting to do this for playback, you're better off finding a plugin or media player that will do this for you. If you open the mp3's in goldwave, edit, and save as mp3, you're encoding that mp3 twice, and this really hurts the quality.

There's also something to consider. The quality of the mastering can determine how "loud" a cd is. For example, I take a modern pop CD, and not have to do anything because not only has the music gone under intense dynamic compression, it's also been maxed out...quite often times you'll find a tolerable amount of clipping.

Now, let's take something with some quality, like the 24k gold CD's you've probably heard people talk about and wonder why. A lot of people think these sound horrible because they listen on cheap systems or they don't think it's really loud enough...it's becuase these albums have dynamics...they haven't been dynamically compressed...and on top of that, most of the time when going straight from tape, they leave themselves a lot of headroom becuase it's difficult to judge where the loudest section is going to be.

This, is actually, why some CD's are full range and some only peak around -3 or -6...and why some peak full range but sound quieter. It's really kind of difficult to guage these things accurately. In reality, dynamic compression IS the best way to manage volume....but you may or may not like the results..and there are some really good ones you can play around with that'll maintain a nice volume without sounding AS compressed.
RyanThunder
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:31 pm

Post by RyanThunder »

Hmm...that's pretty interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

You're right though: the more times you save an MP3, the more it hurts the quality. The reason I wanted to do this is because volume fluctuation gets pretty annoying when listening to different songs, and having to edit the volume (or adjusting the volume on my playback device) for each one individually can be quite a pain.

With that said, could you point me in the right direction to any plugins or media players that have this feature? I'd like it if it made permanent volume changes to the files themselves as opposed to adjusting it during playback only.
audioman
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:06 pm

Post by audioman »

Hi,
There's an excellent free program that will do what you want. It's called MP3Gain and can be downloaded at: www.mp3gain.sourceforge.net Its an excellent and widely used program to accomplish volume levelling. It does this with MP3 files so there's no MP3/WAV conversion necessary.
Try it I'm sure that you'll be happy with it!
Cheers,
Fred
DewDude420
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Post by DewDude420 »

You cannot really make permenant changes without recompressing the file. There is one exception.


There's a technology out there called ReplayGain. It's built in to some mp3 players (Winamp I believe uses it and foobar2000). What this does is something scans your mp3, gets a overall fingerprint, then writes some information in to the tag so when a compatible player picks it up, it'll adjust the volume.

it won't really compensate much for dynamic compression, but it seems to smooth out the volumes a lot more. I don't use it because i sit right next to my amplifier so i can adjust the volume as necessary. Seeing as I don't use it, i'm not aware of all the features. I don't know if you have to ENCODE the files with it or if you can apply it to files that already exist. I've seen options to add replaygain info, but, seriously, i haven't messed with it a whole lot.

MP3Gain seems to basically do just that, allow you to add ReplayGain information to MP3's that are already encoded, it actually seems like the reccomendation I would of made if i already knew about it. good call fred.
donrandall
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Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Post by donrandall »

Ryan, I agree that it would be a mistake to process your mp3 collection for reasons already discussed. If your goal is to make things more consistent when you playback and listen, I have a couple of ideas -- Assuming you are playing music stored on your computer harddrive.

Use a player that has a compressor built in. It may be called a level control or a gain brain or any of several different names. Basically, what it does is act like a volume control. If things get too loud, it will lower the volume even before the loud spike comes through. If things fall to a very low volume, it will bring it up a bit.

Various players offer to do this - not by processing your mp3 files, but by adjusting the playback itself, which does not alter or change your actual files. I am still using Music Match Juke Box, which offers that feature. You can still use MMJB, even though they were sold to Yahoo which has now abandoned the program. Download Version 9 of MMJB through http://www.oldversion.com/program.php?n=mmatch Old Version.Com has all kinds of cool stuff that is still available.

Avoid version 10 because it has a nag screen that prompts you to buy into the Yahoo transition -- which is now dead because it was nothing more that crapware at it's worst. MMJB is a very, very good player that works well and is stable. The cataloging and archiving of your music library is far more convenient and usable than with any other program out there. Oh yeah - IT'S FREE.

Another player that I have and use a lot is the Ots Audio player. Ots offers variations on it's player and they have made some revisions since I downloaded mine a few years ago. In looking at their website, it looks like the one they label OtsAV Radio Webcaster is the one you would want.
http://www.otsav.com Click Products > OtsAV Radio Webcaster.

Next to the graphic of the green box, you will see a link to a page where you can compare the features of the variations on their product. The processing and advanced features of this incredible player are absolutely DYNAMITE! But the Ots software is not free. In fact, it is a bit pricey.

The next suggestion will only work if you are playing back through an amplifier that is outboard of your computer:

Buy a good stereo compressor - a real piece of electronic gear, not just software - and incorporate that into your system.

There are many to choose from and most are just fine and will serve your needs very well. I personally think DBX is the best bang for the buck. Their DBX266SL is a nice unit and the price is right and it will do what you want. Their DBX166XL is a step up and includes a limiter and a noise gate. You probably would not have a use for the noise gate, but the limiter would prevent a clipped signal from ever hitting your amp and speakers, which is good. Look 'em over at
http://www.zzsounds.com/cat--2886
piano nick
Posts: 423
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 8:33 pm

Post by piano nick »

DewDude420 wrote:If your files are MP3 and you're wanting to do this for playback, you're better off finding a plugin or media player that will do this for you. If you open the mp3's in goldwave, edit, and save as mp3, you're encoding that mp3 twice, and this really hurts the quality.

There's also something to consider. The quality of the mastering can determine how "loud" a cd is. For example, I take a modern pop CD, and not have to do anything because not only has the music gone under intense dynamic compression, it's also been maxed out...quite often times you'll find a tolerable amount of clipping.

Now, let's take something with some quality, like the 24k gold CD's you've probably heard people talk about and wonder why. A lot of people think these sound horrible because they listen on cheap systems or they don't think it's really loud enough...it's becuase these albums have dynamics...they haven't been dynamically compressed...and on top of that, most of the time when going straight from tape, they leave themselves a lot of headroom becuase it's difficult to judge where the loudest section is going to be.

This, is actually, why some CD's are full range and some only peak around -3 or -6...and why some peak full range but sound quieter. It's really kind of difficult to guage these things accurately. In reality, dynamic compression IS the best way to manage volume....but you may or may not like the results..and there are some really good ones you can play around with that'll maintain a nice volume without sounding AS compressed.
I just had to quote this because there is far more truth and importance in these statements than many of us realize, particularly the part about compression.

Because we all have Goldwave, we can rip our CD's and look/listen to the waves - it can be very revealing - both the listening AND the looking.

It's not hard to tell when the crap has been compressed out of a song - the red and green completely fills the screen, and when you do a Maximize on various parts of the song, you'll find it's at 0 dB in numerous places. There are no dynamics left at all.

For the past five or ten years, compression has taken over in the pop music industry to the point that a large amount of music is not listenable any more. Let me see if I can find an interesting link; found it:

http://www.prorec.com/Articles/tabid/10 ... Limit.aspx

After it has been read, I think most of us will understand what it's all about. Sadly many people do not, and many of these people are the producers of music (not the sound engineers, they're just following orders to make their songs "punchy" or "stand out" on the radio).

Be very careful with compression.

That's the end of my rant.


Now as to how to make a set of songs sound similar: I finally settled on the following method:

After recording (and maybe applying very moderate compression), I max a set of songs to about -3 dB or thereabouts.

Then I save them to a Playlist in Windows Media Player, and listen to all the songs as I'm doing some other chore at the computer. If a song "jumps out" more than the others, I make a note to decrease the level a bit. If I don't notice the song, or it fades into the background, I make a note to increase the volume a bit.

The important thing for me is to NOT concentrate on listening, but to put the songs in the background of my mind - the reason is that my experience listening to music subconsciously takes over and picks up any vagaries in listening level. If you concentrate on a song you've worked on for many hours, you will never "hear" it properly - you'll hear it the way your mind wants it to sound.

There should be places where the dynamics vary and will result in loud and soft passages. Don't screw these up - this is dynamics.

Another reason I "listen" rather than "compute" the levels is that the mood of some songs may require more emphasis (volume), while others by nature shouldn't be as loud. If you mechanically set the levels, this will be missed.

An example: in classical piano, there is a song by the American composer Edward MacDowell called To A Wild Rose. Do you think this should be as loud as Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# Minor (where some parts are scored as fff)? If so, you're going to kill the rose. :lol:

Final point - if you're making a CD to listen to in the car, more compression will be required or you may never hear the quiet parts.

But don't compress everything as though it will be listened to while standing behind a jet during takeoff. That wont' be music, it'll be noise.
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