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Normalize Vs Volume increase
tinpanalley
post Jun 29 2011, 23:08
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I'm having trouble figuring out which of the two is better for me to create a vinyl recording at the highest volume without clipping.

I capture a record via my preamp into Audacity, and I get what seem to be relatively low levels even though I make sure the levels are right when I record (Peak: -6.4db, RMS -24.6db). Am I doing something wrong? Or are those levels right? These recordings don't seem as loud as mastered CDs.

Anyway, to get the most accurate sound possible, should I use normalize or just increase the volume? If normalizing makes everything sound the same at a peak level, doesn't that completely screw with the dynamic range of the music?

Thanks!
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AndyH-ha
post Jul 8 2011, 20:36
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I 've paid no attention to Audacity for some years so I can't comment on what ways it might have improved. The declicking and noise reduction were not very good, probably as likely to be destructive as helpful. It was clumsy relative to what I'm used to, but then being used to something else counts a great deal when making comparisons. It does not come close to better programs in display quality where actually getting much information off the screen is the goal.

There is nothing wrong with its recording quality, but the same can be said of virtually every recording application in existence. The main thing about it is that it is freeware. If you can't, or don't want to, put money into something better, it is way more than nothing.

Recordings applications do get some information from the hardware, or at least from what the OS tells them about the hardware through the driver; I won't pretend to know what is involved at the code level. Audacity is normal, Sound Forge is abnormal in regard to not letting you recording into a floating point format. Using floating point is not about the hardware, it is about optimal DSP processing. The hardware characteristics are irrelevant from that viewpoint. If you want only to record and store, floating point would be an irrational choice. (From what I read, there is such a thing as a floating point ADC, and it can have certain advantages, but I've never seen anything about one being used in recording music.)

To each his own in regard to tastes and goals. The kind of person who believes there's some benefit to keeping vinyl transfers at 24-bit has something weird going for him but it is hardly the kind of weird as the person who blows up a bus station because god told him sinners were using the buses to escape cosmic vengeance, and I have nothing to say against him.

I occasionally do only manual declicking, perhaps totally irrationally even then, but this is quite infrequent. I know there is a real data difference from any automated declicking process, and I know it is easy to severely damage the recording with such tools, but mostly it is possible to get very good results without any obvious downside, if your focus is on the music. I'm only concerned about 'how much' for any given recording. If I can't tell a difference in A/B comparisons, or I can only tell a difference by paying very close attention during an A/B comparison, then the easy route to the music is the rational choice.

I've been buying LPs from thrift shops for some years and have obtained some marvelous music. For anywhere from twenty cents to two dollars I get an album that would cost considerably more new, and, in many genres, is often better than a new version redone to modern mastering practices. I find not the least charm in the "vinyl sound". Getting the recording nearer to what it would have been if it had never been cut to the media to begin with is my goal.
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tinpanalley
post Jul 8 2011, 21:09
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 8 2011, 15:36) *
Getting the recording nearer to what it would have been if it had never been cut to the media to begin with is my goal.


I totally appreciate that perspective as well. Maybe you're swaying me a bit to see it that way. The ONLY counter I have for that is that, well, it WAS cut to that media. The Beatles WERE cut to vinyl. Robert Johnson WAS cut to 78s, and for the most part people like this were heard on AM radio on crappy speakers. I've played CDs of the Beatles that are mastered "correctly" to my parents who grew up with them and they say, "hmmm.... interesting. But it's not the way I grew up listening to them so it's like a different song to me. The rhythm and the beat and the singing is what got us back then. Not the perfect sound."

But yeah, how it sounded, let's say, in the studio has value as well. I think this is an endless debate which we don't need to continue here.
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greynol
post Jul 8 2011, 21:16
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Um, no, The Beatles were recorded to tape and the audio from that tape was manipulated in various ways in order to prepare it to be cut to vinyl. If you want to get closer to what was done in the studio, you go back to the tape.

As to the rhythm, beat and singing, they are still present on any version of the CDs no matter how they were mastered, no?


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tinpanalley
post Jul 8 2011, 22:46
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 8 2011, 16:16) *
Um, no, The Beatles were recorded to tape and the audio from that tape was manipulated in various ways in order to prepare it to be cut to vinyl. If you want to get closer to what was done in the studio, you go back to the tape.

As to the rhythm, beat and singing, they are still present on any version of the CDs no matter how they were mastered, no?


A. It's an opinion, not fact. It's just how may parents, with uneducated ears feel, man.
B. I said they were "cut to vinyl", not that they weren't first mastered on tape. Is that wrong? They weren't cut to vinyl? What they were mastered on is also irrelevant to the average person who first heard them on record or radio. Or am I wrong in assuming that most people didn't have reel-to-reel tape machines in the average household in the early 60s?
C. I know you made an attempt to apologise for the comment "discussed to death" you made earlier that I took personally, and I let it go. But I have to say that the "um, no" at the start of your reply would be considered by most people to be a passive aggressive and kinda pretentious way of saying, "You're wrong and I'm going to make you look stupid for saying what you did." If you need to be right all the time then either shut my thread down or ignore me. I realise "Super Moderator" lends you a certain omnipotence, but I didn't ask for the attitude. And yes, it's attitude. Clearly not everyone can be as knowledgeable about audio as you and you need people to know it. I'm sorry, it's how I feel. Shut me down if you have to.

The rest of you, thank you ever so much for your kind attempts to help me understand. I apologise for my slow intake of all the info you've given me but I assure you it's been helpful to me and I appreciate it.

This post has been edited by tinpanalley: Jul 8 2011, 22:48
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Posts in this topic
- tinpanalley   Normalize Vs Volume increase   Jun 29 2011, 23:08
- - DVDdoug   Audacity's Amplify effect has an option of set...   Jun 30 2011, 00:43
|- - db1989   tinpanalley, your observation matches tracks that ...   Jun 30 2011, 12:31
- - tinpanalley   Thanks so much for the thorough reply. So, 2 quest...   Jun 30 2011, 01:06
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE 1. What do you recommend I do with my settin...   Jun 30 2011, 01:52
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jun 29 2011, 20:52) CDs ...   Jun 30 2011, 02:05
- - AndyH-ha   There is no "need" to amplify or normali...   Jun 30 2011, 02:55
- - tinpanalley   But doesn't normalizing in making all loudness...   Jun 30 2011, 03:09
|- - tropicalfish   QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Jun 29 2011, 21:09) ...   Jun 30 2011, 05:15
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (tropicalfish @ Jun 30 2011, 00:15)...   Jun 30 2011, 08:31
- - tinpanalley   Well here's what I have... I think this will h...   Jun 30 2011, 17:51
- - tropicalfish   Record with Audacity. Go to Normalize, and check O...   Jun 30 2011, 19:25
|- - db1989   QUOTE (tropicalfish @ Jun 30 2011, 19:25)...   Jun 30 2011, 19:43
|- - tropicalfish   QUOTE (db1989 @ Jun 30 2011, 13:43) QUOTE...   Jun 30 2011, 22:51
|- - db1989   QUOTE (tropicalfish @ Jun 30 2011, 22:51)...   Jul 1 2011, 13:25
- - tinpanalley   Perhaps I should have also stated that the way I r...   Jun 30 2011, 20:31
- - AndyH-ha   A recording made with proper equipment should not ...   Jun 30 2011, 20:51
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jun 30 2011, 20:51...   Jul 1 2011, 18:19
|- - musicollector   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jun 30 2011, 12:51...   Nov 28 2011, 04:30
- - tinpanalley   Ok, how about if I just control that from the phon...   Jun 30 2011, 20:55
- - mixminus1   I'll second AndyH's advice on recording bo...   Jun 30 2011, 21:01
- - tinpanalley   I basically already do what you're suggesting ...   Jun 30 2011, 21:06
- - AndyH-ha   The gain is normally set to leave plenty of headro...   Jun 30 2011, 21:24
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jun 30 2011, 16:24...   Jun 30 2011, 21:30
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE How do I know if my sound card can handle 32...   Jun 30 2011, 21:36
- - mixminus1   Audacity has the option to export to bit depths gr...   Jun 30 2011, 21:40
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Jun 30 2011, 16:40) Of...   Jun 30 2011, 21:43
- - AndyH-ha   Audacity is FREEware. If may also be adequate for...   Jun 30 2011, 22:15
- - tinpanalley   Ok, I'm trying Sound Forge now. Aiming for -6d...   Jun 30 2011, 22:16
|- - mixminus1   QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Jun 30 2011, 14:16) ...   Jun 30 2011, 22:36
- - AndyH-ha   It may be true that most editors work in floating ...   Jun 30 2011, 22:25
- - tinpanalley   No, just that when I choose 32-bit (IEEE float) it...   Jun 30 2011, 22:39
- - tinpanalley   You see, that's what I thought.   Jun 30 2011, 23:05
- - tropicalfish   There are no 32-bit devices, so why use it? You mi...   Jun 30 2011, 23:22
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (tropicalfish @ Jun 30 2011, 18:22)...   Jun 30 2011, 23:52
- - tropicalfish   So you want to record in floating point, and then ...   Jul 1 2011, 01:15
- - tinpanalley   I don't really care how I record. I just wanna...   Jul 1 2011, 01:28
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE 1. What do you recommend I do with my settin...   Jul 1 2011, 01:53
- - tinpanalley   All the 24 and 32 bit stuff still has me really co...   Jul 1 2011, 04:08
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Jul 1 2011, 04:08) I...   Jul 1 2011, 18:25
|- - tinpanalley   Thanks for the wonderful feedback. Just wanted to ...   Jul 1 2011, 19:51
- - AndyH-ha   There exist a continuously varying analogue signal...   Jul 1 2011, 06:06
- - AndyH-ha   QUOTE Come on Andy - think that one through proper...   Jul 1 2011, 20:36
|- - DVDdoug   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 1 2011, 12:36)...   Jul 1 2011, 22:12
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 1 2011, 22:12) We...   Jul 4 2011, 12:34
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE It's the bits I don't get.OK, I...   Jul 1 2011, 21:46
- - AndyH-ha   My experience is based on CoolEdit Statistics repo...   Jul 4 2011, 20:32
|- - 2Bdecided   I think you may think I might be being clever than...   Jul 4 2011, 23:34
- - AndyH-ha   Perhaps I am just too ignorant of what is involved...   Jul 5 2011, 08:38
- - 2Bdecided   Vinyl is an intrinsically AC-coupled format. It ha...   Jul 5 2011, 14:08
- - pdq   Think of it this way. If there is a DC offset in t...   Jul 5 2011, 16:14
- - tinpanalley   Hey all, I've been absorbing everything you g...   Jul 6 2011, 22:37
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE - 32-bit IEEE Float? - 32-bit PCM? Floating ...   Jul 7 2011, 01:34
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 6 2011, 20:34) [b]Do...   Jul 7 2011, 05:06
|- - AndyH-ha   I'm curious about this inability to record in ...   Jul 7 2011, 09:31
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 7 2011, 04:31)...   Jul 7 2011, 17:56
- - tinpanalley   This is probably like asking if there is one way t...   Jul 7 2011, 18:37
- - AndyH-ha   There are many descriptions of the process publish...   Jul 7 2011, 19:20
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 7 2011, 19:20)...   Jul 8 2011, 12:01
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 8 2011, 07:01) The...   Jul 8 2011, 15:49
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE but is there any series of processes that ar...   Jul 7 2011, 20:36
- - tinpanalley   Here's a comparison of the 32-bit, higher gain...   Jul 7 2011, 21:04
- - tinpanalley   This sounds great to me as I'm hearing it even...   Jul 7 2011, 22:16
- - greynol   No you're not crazy, just know that 32 bits fo...   Jul 7 2011, 22:34
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE And normalising... if I get good levels on t...   Jul 7 2011, 23:38
|- - tinpanalley   Couple of things: QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 7 201...   Jul 7 2011, 23:48
- - greynol   No, they aren't contradictory at all. DVDdoug...   Jul 8 2011, 00:03
- - tinpanalley   Ok, my bad. I misunderstood. I have some people te...   Jul 8 2011, 00:08
|- - greynol   QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Jul 7 2011, 16:08) I...   Jul 8 2011, 00:55
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE Then what is the difference to just doing a ...   Jul 8 2011, 00:39
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 7 2011, 19:39) But a...   Jul 8 2011, 01:57
- - AndyH-ha   The Sonic Foundry Noise Reduction plugin 2.0 has b...   Jul 8 2011, 02:46
- - greynol   I simply wanted to let you know that I respect tha...   Jul 8 2011, 02:53
- - AndyH-ha   I made an inquiry elsewhere. I got back that your ...   Jul 8 2011, 03:04
- - tinpanalley   Ohhh!!! Well, why didn't someone j...   Jul 8 2011, 07:34
- - AndyH-ha   Because Sound Forge has such an unusual approach (...   Jul 8 2011, 08:19
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 8 2011, 03:19)...   Jul 8 2011, 15:45
- - tinpanalley   This is the info from a download from the site (wh...   Jul 8 2011, 16:08
- - 2Bdecided   Nothing automatic there, just "manual click r...   Jul 8 2011, 20:30
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE Is Audacity totally a lame program? Vinyl ca...   Jul 8 2011, 20:32
- - AndyH-ha   I 've paid no attention to Audacity for some y...   Jul 8 2011, 20:36
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 8 2011, 15:36)...   Jul 8 2011, 21:09
|- - greynol   Um, no, The Beatles were recorded to tape and the ...   Jul 8 2011, 21:16
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 8 2011, 16:16) Um, n...   Jul 8 2011, 22:46
||- - greynol   Denying that vinyl was the most common medium back...   Jul 9 2011, 00:07
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 8 2011, 21:16) Um, n...   Jul 9 2011, 12:30
- - Juha   Couple questions: Would normalization be more sec...   Jul 9 2011, 09:31
- - AndyH-ha   What one gets by normalization is independent of t...   Jul 9 2011, 09:40
- - tinpanalley   If I'm going through a recording process with ...   Nov 12 2011, 23:24
|- - mjb2006   Why did you bump this thread? Your question has no...   Nov 13 2011, 00:20
||- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (mjb2006 @ Nov 12 2011, 19:20) Why ...   Nov 13 2011, 05:09
|- - botface   QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Nov 12 2011, 23:24) ...   Nov 13 2011, 10:24
|- - tinpanalley   QUOTE (botface @ Nov 13 2011, 05:24) by s...   Nov 13 2011, 22:24
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Nov 13 2011, 22:24) ...   Nov 15 2011, 11:23
- - AndyH-ha   It also depends on the channel balance. Some cartr...   Nov 15 2011, 11:36
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Nov 15 2011, 11:36...   Nov 16 2011, 13:43
- - botface   Yes, I wasn't suggesting recording in mono as ...   Nov 15 2011, 17:27


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