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Music & Sound FX / What's the best way to normalize audio and make my songs LOUD?

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Jeku
Moderator
18
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Joined: 4th Jul 2003
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Posted: 17th Aug 2011 04:16
Hey all,

Most of my tracks are exported from Reason, and their volumes are usually pretty low in comparison to everything else I listen to. What do you recommend is the best way to amp up the volume of my tracks? CDEX has this cool normalize feature, but it doesn't seem to work properly with WAV files.

Thanks!


Software Engineer - Metamoki
Rudolpho
15
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Joined: 28th Dec 2005
Location: Sweden
Posted: 17th Aug 2011 10:35
Audacity's normalization function works fine for that if you set the maximum amplitude in the dialog to -0.0dB.
Keep in mind that it will only bring the top levels of your audio file up to max, so if there are portions between which the amplitudes vary greatly (relative to one another) that will be in the normalized version as well. You can however (again with Audacity, and probably a great deal of other sound editing applications as well) choose to normalize parts of your track differently for dealing with such issues.


"Why do programmers get Halloween and Christmas mixed up?"
srealist
10
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Joined: 18th Dec 2010
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
Posted: 17th Aug 2011 19:26
What I think you want is volume compression (not the same as data compression). I've not used Audacity in many years - I use Sonar.

However, I would venture to guess that there is a compression plugin that you can add to a track bus or the master bus in Audacity. If you set the compression at something like 20:1 with a threshold of -30db or so, your track would be VERY loud. You would want to do this after normalization.

You can also use a limiter. This is similar to a compressor except that it's compression rate is "infinite". You would only set the threshold in this instance.

The threshold basically tells the compressor to take everything at that level and above and apply the compression.

To properly use compression, you will need to do a lot of experimentation. I rarely use a threshold lower than -12db. Keep in mind that the lower the threshold, the more likely you are to amplify not only the relative volume of all your sounds but you will also be amplifying your noise floor. That AC unit in the background that you could barely hear in the recording will suddenly be wailing.

Another approach is to use parametric compression, which also accounts for compression in specific frequencies. This is a more sophisticated form of compression but yields better results when you know what you are doing. Rarely if ever do you want to significantly compress anything below 128hz and if you use a non-parametric compressor, you will be compressing everything on the frequency spectrum.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
SREALIST
Jeku
Moderator
18
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Joined: 4th Jul 2003
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Posted: 18th Aug 2011 06:59
Wow, thanks for the tips, guys! I'll look about hooking up a compressor in Reason and see if I can make the track louder from the source.


Software Engineer - Metamoki
srealist
10
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Joined: 18th Dec 2010
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
Posted: 20th Aug 2011 22:22
Sure thing, Jeku! You are welcome to email me with any question and I will do my best to help.
Jeku
Moderator
18
Years of Service
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Joined: 4th Jul 2003
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Posted: 21st Aug 2011 07:24
I solved my problem simply by using Amplify inside of Audacity. The songs have more punch and more volume. Thanks again for all your tips!


Software Engineer - Metamoki

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