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apply gain to "normalize"


Brit
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I have seen a few threads on this subject, but I am still confused.

I have "apply gain" selected in the Replay Gain setting. Yet many of my new songs in a playlist will come in at quite dramatic volume differences - which of course can be quite annoying if away from the volume dial.

I tired Mp3gain which is time consuming when working on different files (and I have thousands)... and it doesn't work on m4a (AAC) files. Audacity reprocesses the files with audio match and is time consuming as well. Any ideas? 

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23 minutes ago, Brit said:

I have "apply gain" selected in the Replay Gain setting. Yet many of my new songs in a playlist will come in at quite dramatic volume differences - which of course can be quite annoying if away from the volume dial.

I tired Mp3gain which is time consuming when working on different files (and I have thousands)... and it doesn't work on m4a (AAC) files. Audacity reprocesses the files with audio match and is time consuming as well. Any ideas? 

So do your files currently have the replaygain already tagged? If not this feature won’t work. If you have 1000’s of files, it may take some time to process them all, but this is only required to be done once. Then the benefit will exist for all players.

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ReplayGain depends on small packets of data stored inside each audio file which tell the player the maximum levels that will be found within the file, and what adjustments need to be made to normalise the gain setting.

To check if a file contains this data, start a song playing in PA and long-press on the artwork area and select 'Info/Tags' and you should see the Track, Album and Peaks values. If they are not present, you'll need to add them yourself, externally to Poweramp.

I use foobar2000 on a computer to do this, you can drag your whole music collection folder onto it, select all, and use the right-click menu option ReplayGain > "Scan as Albums (by tags)". Once it has worked out all the values, click "Update File Tags" to write the data back to all the selected files. Each stage of this process could take a while with large numbers of files (could even be several hours for big collections) so just leave it to run.

M4A is an Apple-centric format for which tag standards have never been formally published, but the details were reverse-engineered ages ago and ReplayGain should work fine with it.

Andre

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There are two different gains, one for album and one for tracks.

  •  Track gain sets all the tracks to an equal loudness.
  •  Album gain keeps the loudness relative to other other unchanged, but the average album loudness is normalized.

If you listen to albums you obviously want to use track gain but if you listen to playlists consisting of individual tracks, then you want to use track gain. You have a setting for this and it's called source and can be found under the RG settings.

There is an old feature request for having Poweramp setting the source based on if a "album" is being played or individual tracks. But as it's now you need to set it according to your own listening preferences.

If you only have individual tracks, then you could apply track gain across the bulk of tracks, but if you have albums, then you should add the gain album by album in order to not loose the intended loudness differences between the tracks.

Some people find it easier to reach for the volume dial than to go through the hazzle of normalizing. It's a pain to go back and re-do a library, I have done it a couple of times before I got to what works for me.

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I have a bit of OCD when it comes to my music library... 10k tracks across 800 CD's... The cleanups of tags/naming/normalization/... has always started with a innocent "I will fix the ones that I listen to", and it always ends up that i trudge through the bulk of it...
End-result is a library organized in "Artist\Album" folder hierarchy, so it's relatively easy to apply something across all tracks in a album, so I ran the normalization on a folder at a time.

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I tend to leave it on Track Gain, as I rarely listen to whole albums in their entirely - and even when I do I prefer each track to be level-matched anyway. The only time I would find it useful is for concept albums or other gapless material.

But yes @6b6561 , I did the same as you and spent a few days adjusting all of my tags to tidy up after years of mess. Multiple-Artist tags now all tidily semicoloned, Album Artist tags are all correctly set, Artist names tidied up so they are consistent (for case, usage of "The", etc). Then I threw everything into foobar2000 and cleared all existing ReplayGain tags and re-built them all. Some (such as my Singles folder) I removed the Album Gain tags completely, as they are pointless in that situation.

Andre

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4 hours ago, andrewilley said:

I tend to leave it on Track Gain, as I rarely listen to whole albums in their entirely - and even when I do I prefer each track to be level-matched anyway. The only time I would find it useful is for concept albums or other gapless material.

But yes @6b6561 , I did the same as you and spent a few days adjusting all of my tags to tidy up after years of mess. Multiple-Artist tags now all tidily semicoloned, Album Artist tags are all correctly set, Artist names tidied up so they are consistent (for case, usage of "The", etc). Then I threw everything into foobar2000 and cleared all existing ReplayGain tags and re-built them all. Some (such as my Singles folder) I removed the Album Gain tags completely, as they are pointless in that situation.

Andre

Ah the joys of an OCD music fan🥴

I have used dbPoweramp (no relation here) for a very long time for ripping my CD collection, and it can be used to also calculate Track and Album Replaygain settings. It is also very good at completing the initial metadata tag settings. But I use mp3tag to do all of my batch editing and clean up for anything after that.

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Thanks so much for the thorough and intelligent answers. I downloaded foobar2000. I did the scan by track method on my most recent purchases (since I predominantly use playlists). Easy and quick. I'll test them when I can.

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@Brit Even if you use the Album scanning mode, foobar will still add Track Gain values too, so you get both options in the player later. I only use pure 'Track-only' scanning for singles, or other items that have no real concept of an Album status (such as random song Collections).

As @6b6561 mentioned, it would be handy if PA had an extra Reply Gain setting where 'Album' gain settings are only used when you are playing in album-oriented modes, otherwise 'Track' gain is used (for All Songs, folders, Playlists, etc).

Andre

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