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Recommended method for increasing volume of vinyl transfer?
Kalnoc
post Aug 28 2013, 02:51
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Is there a “best” way to increase the volume of a track ripped from vinyl after it has been exported as a 16-bit FLAC? Would using the amplify effect in Audacity cause any quality loss as long as I prevent clipping?

The recording setup is: turntable output to the Phono input on my receiver. Then the signal goes from the Tape monitor output to the line in on the soundcard. Recording and cleanup is done in Audacity 2.0.3. I record a side at a time and save the 32-bit float project file in case I need it later. After noise removal and click/pop elimination I select each track and export as a 16-bit FLAC. The problem is that I think set my input volume to low for this particular album. What I had read before trying a vinyl transfer ( this was my first attempt) said to err on the side of caution to avoid clipping because you can increase volume but not fix clipping. But it didn't mention the proper way to increase the volume if needed (normalize vs amplify, etc).

If I need to start back with the 32-bit float project files to preserve sound quality I can, but would prefer to work with the already “cut” individual FLAC files.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I'm trying to figure out these issues before moving to the next LP.

This post has been edited by Kalnoc: Aug 28 2013, 02:54
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saratoga
post Aug 28 2013, 03:55
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A simple level change is ok. Technically its not lossless, but the rounding error is absolutely tiny.

FWIW, if you have software that supports replaygain you don't even need to do that. You can just scan with replaygain and the levels will be raised automatically during playback.
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Kalnoc
post Aug 28 2013, 05:14
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Thank you. I had considered replaygain but since I'll be using a variety of playback software, some of which does not use replaygain, I guess I need to change the actual files. After posting my this topic I found this Audacity plugin which looks like it could be useful for determining how much amplification to apply. Anyone have experience with it?

Thanks again.
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Glenn Gundlach
post Aug 28 2013, 05:45
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What _I_ do is turn up the input level and transfer it again. Unfortunately with LPs there is no standard level on a disc which means every disc is an experiment. I get around that by buying a CD and avoiding the LP issue.

G
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AndyH-ha
post Aug 28 2013, 07:29
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The Normalize function is available in the majority of editors. It is Amplify, but easier for this purpose. You decide on the peak level you want, such as -1dBfs, 0dBfs, -10dBfs, whatever. You tell the function that answer and it does all the rest. Do it on the entire album at once and everything will stay exactly in balance. I recommend normalizing after you are finished making all other changes to the data (except converting to 16 bit).

With many editors it is easy to append one file (side B) to another (side A), ending with the entire album there at once. Then normalize.

What is still easier is to just record the entire album in one file to begin with. Most recording applications should let you either stop or pause the recording while you turn over the disk and get ready to go. I Stop, make sure the cursor is at the very end, then click on Record again to continue with side 2. Other programs might require some slightly different procedure. Having done about 750 LPs this way, I find every advantage, no disadvantages.
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cliveb
post Aug 28 2013, 08:53
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Normalisation is a completely benign process for LP transfers. The surface noise on an LP is so high that it is way above the quantisation level of a digital transfer. What this means is that the very slight rounding errors that result from normalisation only affects the accuracy with which the LP's surface noise is reproduced.

If you are hoping that after normalising your LP transfers they will sound as loud as more modern sources (such as CD), then you will probably be disappointed. Old LPs typically have far less dynamic range compression than modern masterings, so your LP transfers will still sound quieter than CDs. If you want to balance that out, you'll either have to apply some DR compression to the LP transfers, or adjust the volume of the CD rips downwards. The latter option is preferable, as it does not mangle the dynamics.
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Dynamic
post Aug 28 2013, 14:20
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When I want to do this (on Windows, that is) I simply load all the track into Foobar2000
...then scan for ReplayGain as an album
...then use the converter to convert to lossless format (e.g. FLAC, but perhaps in a different folder) set to 16-bit
...and in the Convert dialogue I turn on ReplayGain set to Album Gain and Apply Gain
...and with DSP set to Advanced Limiter to tame any peaks that exceed full scale
Then run the conversion and I have tracks at the desired volume.

I agree that as cliveb said, any added hiss is way below the noise floor of vinyl.


--------------------
Dynamic the artist formerly known as DickD
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DVDdoug
post Aug 28 2013, 17:49
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In Audacity the Amplify effect will scan your file first, and automatically set the default amplification as required for 0dB peaks (AKA Normalize or Maximize). If you've done anything to bring the peaks above 0dB, Amplify will set the default gain as required to bring the peaks down to 0dB. If your peaks are already at 0dB, Amplify will default to no-change (0dB gain).

As Andy suggested, you'll generally want to do this to your album as a whole if you want to keep quiet songs (relatively) quiet and loud songs (relatively) loud as originally intended by the album producer.

ReplayGain is trying to match the volumes of all your music... It's NOT trying to normalize to 0dB, or make them as loud as possible.... I can't predict what it will do to any one album but in general it tends to reduce the volume of most songs. Most music is already normalized (including the quiet-sounding songs). Since many of the quiet-sounding songs can't be boosted without clipping, you typically have to reduce the the loud-sounding ones if you want to match volumes (and that's what ReplayGain tends to do).
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2Bdecided
post Aug 29 2013, 11:39
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First things first: as long as the recording levels and sound card are reasonable, a digital gain change is benign (and undetectable in any way!) for LP sources. There is no need to re-record just to get 6dB extra gain. It's far far more important to avoid clipping when recording (except for really nasty scratches/clicks, which it's OK to clip - you'll remove them anyway). If you're peaking 20dB down, and/or your soundcard isn't great, then you probably do need to raise the level before digitising. Even then, I wouldn't bet my life on ever being able to hear a problem.


I do have sets of CDs copied from LPs and cassettes where I ReplayGained* the whole lot before I burnt them. However, that was for a specific purpose: I wanted consistent levels across many CDs, and I was creating more CDs over time. The only way that all the CDs would kind-of match in level was to trust ReplayGain, or to manually match some fixed reference. RG was easier and good enough.

* - Album gain when I copied whole albums (which is entirely equivalent to applying track gain on the single file before the tracks are split, if that's more convenient), Track gain where I only copied individual tracks.


However, generally when transferring vinyl or tapes of any sort, I will peak normalise once across the whole album, sometimes after audio restoration, but usually before splitting tracks (simply because it's easier). If there is one single peak that is dragging the level way down, I may reduce this peak before peak normalisation (if having higher levels matters - e.g. I'm giving the CD to someone else) but I never add compression. On crappy commercial cassettes, it's sometimes necessary to treat the two sides separately because they're not the same volume coming off the tape (if one side is supposed to have quieter music, that's fine - but often the cassette duplication machine was rubbish and just made one side quieter by mistake). Match by ear or ReplayGain and then peak normalise the resulting complete album.


You don't have to do anything though. As long as a CD peaks above -6dB (and often even if it doesn't!) it's a faithful copy of what the vinyl sounded like played on your system - just use your volume control to make it louder on playback. And if you want loudness to match on playback across all your music (CD rips, vinyl transfers, whatever) without using your volume control, you'll need to use ReplayGain or Soundcheck or whatever anyway during playback, even if you used ReplayGain for the vinyl rips (because your CD rips will be far louder - unless you apply ReplayGain to those files too - which some people do, especially with mp3gain - but usually to cope with software/hardware players that don't support ReplayGain).

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
David.
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Kalnoc
post Aug 29 2013, 16:42
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QUOTE (cliveb @ Aug 28 2013, 02:53) *
If you are hoping that after normalising your LP transfers they will sound as loud as more modern sources (such as CD), then you will probably be disappointed. Old LPs typically have far less dynamic range compression than modern masterings, so your LP transfers will still sound quieter than CDs. If you want to balance that out, you'll either have to apply some DR compression to the LP transfers, or adjust the volume of the CD rips downwards. The latter option is preferable, as it does not mangle the dynamics.


No, one of the reasons I went with the LP for this album was to try and avoid the overly-loud ( and less dynamic) sound of the CD. I just think my level was so low that everything is too quiet, resulting in a very flat sound. I will try another transfer, with a more appropriate input volume and with the tips provided in this thread, and see if that helps.

This post has been edited by Kalnoc: Aug 29 2013, 17:02
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Dynamic
post Aug 29 2013, 17:32
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There really should not be any difference between the flatness of a recording at low level brought up and a recording at high level left the same, providing they are loudness matched.
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