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Normalize MP3 Collection?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Andy Hardin, Jan 9, 2003.

  1. Andy Hardin

    Andy Hardin Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm in the process of building a computer based, touchscreen, mp3 jukebox for my gameroom. One of the problems that I am encountering during the process of digitizing my entire CD collection is the variances in "loudness" that have been discussed many times here in the audio forum. Older CD's are "quieter" than the newer CD's due to the production methods used.

    Once I transfer all of my albums to the jukebox I would like to be able to normalize the volume of the entire collection so that each song that comes from the jukebox is a "constant" volume. Very rarely will an entire album be played at once, instead classic rock will mix with 80's will mix with newer albums.

    I'm not concerned with possible sound quality loss (as long as it is minimal) from this process, but what I am wondering is if anyone knows of a utility that will take an mp3 collection, normalize it, and correct (rewite?) the files to the normalized volume level.

    Any input appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Well, any mp3 encoder worth anything will Normalize tracks for you. Nero's Audio Editor would do the trick. The problem is that recent CDs have compressed the dynamics to the high end. So even if you normalized all your songs to a standard volume, some songs would still sound louder because everything's shoved into the high end of the volume.
     
  3. Andy Hardin

    Andy Hardin Stunt Coordinator

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    Exactly, I can normalize on the album (or ripping session) level, but not at the entire collection level.

    So normalizing an entire new album when I rip and then an entire old album still leaves me with the same problem, they normalize against themselves. I need to find an overall benchmark to normalize against.
     
  4. Nathan_W

    Nathan_W Stunt Coordinator

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    Andy:
    Probably the best utility for this: mp3gain
    Completely lossless...
    Sidenote: How are you encoding your mp3s? LAME?
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Normalizing sets peak level- which will do exactly jack for you-- 99.9% of discs are already normalized to max level at peaks.
    Check my piece in the FAQ and PRIMER about volume differences and why it happens.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...24#post1219924
    -Vince
     
  6. JeffMuller

    JeffMuller Stunt Coordinator

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    Vince,

    But why do they compress the dynamic range so much now?

    It's a waste.

    Jeff
     
  7. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

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    Isn't this a function of whatever application is doing the playback? for instance, iTunes has the little checkbox that says "Automatically adjust song playback volume to the same level"
     
  8. Andy Hardin

    Andy Hardin Stunt Coordinator

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    Nathan - Yes, I am using LAME
    Patrick - It may be a function of the software. Remember my application is a touchscreen jukebox, so the software I am using is specifically tailored to that, and does not have as many playback features as a more robust product like iTunes.
    You can check it out here (and some project examples), under Virtual Jukebox:
    http://www.cybertechdesign.net/mameroom/#
     
  9. Nathan_W

    Nathan_W Stunt Coordinator

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  10. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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    I'll second MP3Gain.

    For what Andy is trying to accomplish, this (free)program will do the job.

    I have over 1,000 mp3s on my office laptop which is hooked up to speakers. I used to have to reach for the volume knob throughout the day to to varying degrees of "loudness" amongst different songs. I installed MP3Gain ran the files through using the "Radio" feature and now they are all very close to each other volume-wise...no more reaching for the volume knob.

    The one thing that sort-of bothered me (if I remember correctly) was that by running all of these files through the software you were losing dynamic compression? I'm not sure about this but I thought I remember reading this in the help file. Although Nathan_W says the end result is lossless.

    Download the program and try it out on a few mp3s that are very different in terms of volume.
     
  11. Nathan_W

    Nathan_W Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Vic_T

    Vic_T Stunt Coordinator

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    The track will have to be normalized while they are being created. Once they are in MP3 form, there is not way to normalize the tracks after the fact. There may be some MP3 players out there that will re-adjust the volume on the fly to keep the level consistant on playback, but I am not aware of one.
     
  13. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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  14. Mikael Soderholm

    Mikael Soderholm Supporting Actor

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  15. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    We should have a thread - why is it so hard to make cds?
    In my year of experience with CD-RW, and pleasing if limited amount of success, I have been more than amazed at the number of people on many sites who have problems of all sorts with their cd burning - incompatible media; "medium speed errors"; opaque messages from their software; burned out burners, etc. On Nero, Roxio, ezCD, etc. By comparison, the simplest recording tape deck allows adjusting the volume of inputs, and the pause feature allows control of "space" between audio tracks.
    But I've just seen Jim Coates' January 11 computer column at The Chicago Tribune called "Computer Burner Does So Much More", in which he effectively states that a new software, CD MAKER, from Broderbund, has made a giant step forward in simplifying the processes of all kinds of CD making (audio cd's, data backup cd, etc).
    Is this true? The only thing in the short article that I did not see, was reference to the problem of wildly disparate sound levels, on different tracks, of the compilations we burn on cd. Makes me sceptical.
    Here is a link to the Tribune, see the link with the article title, if anyone wants to look, tho you may have to register to do so.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/technology/
     
  16. JeffMuller

    JeffMuller Stunt Coordinator

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  17. Vic_T

    Vic_T Stunt Coordinator

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  18. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Vince has the facts right. A peak of 0db on your meter is simply the loudest point. It is average volume of the material between -(infinity) and 0 where most of the music is consistant.

    Listen to any FM (or AM for that matter) music station. All radio stations generally use some degree of compression/limiting for 2 reasons: first to have all the music perform at generally the same level (making rock stations sound punchier), and secondly to allow the compressed signal to be strong enough to extend the gap between program volume and the FM carrier signal. A fadeout leading into another song is less noticable over the air because the compression takes that signal and increases its volume. Definitely a plus when you're driving down the highway and the radio needs to be heard over the high speed of your car's engine - Why do you think you have to turn the volume down when you get back into the city and have to pull up to that first stop light/sign?

    Most modern music is heavily compressed to accomodate the average car stereo or ghetto blaster. That's why it sounds like crap on a $1000 home theater system. Conversely, take a concert CD like Horowitz in London, play it on a fine stereo system, then try driving down the highway with it. It's gonna sound like crap, because you have to keep turning it up and down to be heard at a decent volume over the engine!

    Radio and television ads are the same way - why do you think you have to turn the volume down during the commercial breaks? Because the music and dialogue are so heavily compressed (deliberately, in fact) that the average volume is significantly higher than during that drama you're watching.

    You frequently have to adjust the volume while watching your own video library because the dynamic range is simply that much wider, and what works a large theater doesn't always work the same way at home in a more intimate sized environment. Think about that the next time something explodes during a movie!

    Back to the matter at hand, I find using an audio program (such as Steinberg's 'Get It On CD') that allows me to modify the sound with compression and peak limiting allows me to create mix CD's with more consistant AVERAGE volume levels that work well for driving, using for breaks at gigs, and even for using on my work telephone hold system. The software also lets me trim leads and tails so that fades are shorter, and front silence is reduced to near nil.
     
  19. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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  20. Jason Garrett

    Jason Garrett Stunt Coordinator

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    I just got a copy of the Music Match Jukebox Plus 7.5 because PC Magazine touted it as the best media player out now and it has the option of volume leveling amongst many, many other really neat features. I found it while viewing my library and selecting a number of tracks then right clicking. 3/4 to the bottom of options is Prepare Tracks For Volume Leveling. I can't attest to just what this actually does, but it appears to do what you are looking for. You might read the website and see if it is what you are looking for.
     

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