[MPA] Sound Level of tracks

Scott Jacob Loehr scott at folkloehr.com
Mon Feb 12 09:34:08 PST 2007

>Does anyone happen to have any advice on how to set the sound level 
>on a collection of AIFF files prior to burning them to a CD?  Right 
>now some are very low, others are quite high, and I'd like to 
>balance them out so that the loudness is about the same on all of 
>the tracks.

	If you have Roxio's Jam, you can adjust the volume of each 
individual song by increments as small as 0.1 db.  You can also 
normalize the tracks individually or collectively as one song 
(extremely useful for live recordings).  Roxio's Toast does many of 
the same things.

	For even more control of levels within a song, I import the 
songs into Digital Performer (my DAW MIDI/Audio sequencer/recorder of 
choice), and use volume automation to increase the volume on the soft 
parts and pull back the volume on the loudest parts.  Though this 
defeats part of the 'purist' approach of accurately capturing the 
full dynamic range of the event (my preference), it does make the 
final CD more 'lowest common denominator'-friendly for listening 
environments such as iPods, automobile CD players on the freeway, 
computer speakers, and boom boxes (my clients' preference).

	With most studio mixes, I'll find the loudest peaks and 
transients within a song and reduce them by a few decibels in Digital 
Performer.  These peaks are usually less than a hundredth of a second 
in length, so the audible effect of reducing them is much less 
noticeable than using a limiter or compressor.  I frequently wind up 
being able to raise the overall level of the song between 5 and 7 db 
without any extra unwanted coloration.

	I hope this helps... the more dynamic the recording, the more 
delicate the surgery.

Scott Jacob Loehr

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