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Volume normalisation, replay gain, foobar2000...


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I've been using Poweramp as my music player of choice on a Samsung Galaxy S3 for about 3-4 years now.

The recent purchase of a Samsung Galaxy S6 (with no SD card slot) turned the task of getting my music off the old phone into a bit of a nightmare - some was bought under itunes on an ancient G4 mac, some I ripped from a large CD collection, some was bought from Amazon's mp3 store and some is my own stuff recorded at home.

Add to this that it was all located in about 3 different places on the old phone, including the SD card, meant I found it a complete pain trying to get it all onto the new phone.

Anyway, after many hours it's finally all on the new phone but now something is glaringly obvious - vastly differing volume levels from track to track.

Now I know this is not a new problem, several hours spent on the internet this evening has shown me that many people face this problem and there appear to be just as many suggestions about what to do but in a way, I find myself between a rock and a hard place...

I don't want to ditch Poweramp, so I guess the Replay gain function would help with this problem but that (correct me if I'm wrong) is only reliant on accurate tagging ?

It seems the go to suggestion for tagging is foobar2000 but that's Windows only and I have a mac ?

(N.B. on the subject of tagging, what exactly needs to be tagged where in order for Replay Gain to work).

I stopped using itunes for purchases years ago when Apple forced the upgrade to version 10 which my computer was too old to run but I do still use it for playback of existing music or stuff I rip onto the computer.

Is it possible that I could tag with this ?

Only trouble is, I guess I'd need to go through every piece of music I've just spent 3 days transferring onto the new phone, checking tags....and not all that music is on the computer anyway ?

Sorry, a rambling post, I'm just really unsure of the best way to proceed to ensure an even volume across all tracks that won't involve days of work !!

Any ideas gratefully received :)


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Foobar2000 can do ReplayGain tagging I believe.

Basically it scans a whole music file, finds the peak level, and determines a gain factor which would need to be applied in order to bring that peak level up to the format's maximum playback level. That gain boost is then applied (to the whole track) during playback to make any MP3 file play as though it had been encoded with a digital 100% peak level.

If you are dealing with a set of thematically connected files (e.g. an album) you can set it to detect the maximum peak over ALL of the tracks, and then apply the same gain boost to each track, thus keeping the relative volumes between the different tracks intact.

What it does NOT do is dynamically normalise levels on the fly, nor apply psycho-acoustic models to the audio to make music 'sound' louder. In fact, peak level adjusted tracks may not even 'sound' the same level, even though they do peak at the same volume, depending on a ton of factors such as the dynamic range of the recordings, companding in the mix, etc.


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Hi Andre,

Many thanks for your reply and you make some very valid points.

Having done a lot of recording at home, I'm familiar with normalising tracks, getting the overall volume of an album's worth of music broadly the same and as you say, the concept that just because everything is normalised to the same level, it won't necessarily mean that everything 'sounds' the same volume - been there, done that ;)

Perhaps what I'm trying to do is unachievable.

As a matter of interest, the music player that comes bundled with phone has a feature called 'Smart Volume' which '...automatically adjusts each tracks volume to an equal level...' how does that work exactly ?

It's an inferior app to Poweramp tho !

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There are lots of on-the-fly music normalisers around, which basically "turn it up during the quiet bits" (although there are a lot more technical ways to describe it :) ) but as they also reduce the dynamic range and mess with the sound they are not always ideal for hi-fi listening, but great for noisy environments where actually hearing something is more important than overall quality. Also reducing the excessive peaks can help for nighttime listening.


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