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Normalize Vs Volume increase
tinpanalley
post Jul 6 2011, 22:37
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Hey all,

I've been absorbing everything you guys have helped me with recently. Just did a new recording at 32-bit (my set up won't allow IEEE float, Sound Forge just says my USB device can't do it). All my peaks are at about -6.0 now. I have to bring the file over from the laptop's Sound Forge to my tower to finish processing. How should I save this WAV knowing that I will be doing some light click removal?

- 32-bit IEEE Float?
- 32-bit PCM?
(by the way what's the difference between IEEE Float and PCM? A huge can of worms?)
- 24 bit?

Thanks guys! I won't save until I've heard some thoughts.

This post has been edited by tinpanalley: Jul 6 2011, 22:38
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DVDdoug
post Jul 7 2011, 01:34
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QUOTE
- 32-bit IEEE Float?
- 32-bit PCM?
Floating point has an exponent, so it can hold very-small fractional numbers and very-large values. PCM can actually be integer floating point.

ANY of these formats are fine. With floating point you can go above 0dB, but de-clicking should only reduce peaks, not increase them. Use any format that your de-clipping software supports.

Don't worry so much!!!! Unless you're doing something that might cause clipping, the differences are completely meaningless. It's like the difference in a car that has 10,000 horsepower and 1 million horsepower... It's all overkill and you're never going to notice the difference driving to work. wink.gif

QUOTE
(my set up won't allow IEEE float, Sound Forge just says my USB device can't do it).
I think your hardware is 16-bits... There are NO 32-bit or floating-point ADCs or DACs. When the software & drivers allow recording in 32-bit floating point or 32-bit integer, its just a convenience to convert the data on-the-fly during recording. If you record to 24 bits with 16-bit hardware, that's just a format conversion too... You can't get more than 16-bits of resolution from 16-bit hardware.

It's not as convenient, but you can convert to IEEE 32-bit floating point later as a separate step, if you want/need that format for some reason.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jul 7 2011, 02:05
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tinpanalley
post Jul 7 2011, 05:06
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 6 2011, 20:34) *
[b]Don't worry so much!!!!


But...but... what if my computer blows up and my vinyl starts to melt and leak and causes death and mayhem and destruction and death again all because of the wrong settings!?!?!?!?!?!?!? laugh.gif laugh.gif

No, I know. It's just that when you've been sitting in front of the computer for 30 minutes reading and rereading all about settings and bit-rates and so on, you start to worry more than necessary. It's just capturing audio, but ideally one doesn't want to have to do it more than once. It's awesome though that you guys have been able to give me pointers from the most practical all the way to the most minutely accurate and technical. So for that and for making me even more of an audiophile than before, I thank you all whole-heartedly.

I'll post an image of the waveform I got.

Thanks!
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AndyH-ha
post Jul 7 2011, 09:31
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I'm curious about this inability to record in floating point.. That format is not a hardware format, it is just the data container. It should be irrelevant how many bits come in, that is just where you are dumping them. I don't understand any reason there should be a limitation with any soundcard.

Could you be more specific:
Exactly what is the message?
Is it identified as coming from the application or the OS?
What is the OS?
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tinpanalley
post Jul 7 2011, 17:56
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 7 2011, 04:31) *
Exactly what is the message?


I had listed it on a previous page...
"An error occurred while opening an audio device. An unsupported media type was requested.
USB Preamp (USB Audio Codec) does not support 32-bit floating point input."

It appears when I choose New Recording options in Sound Forge which leads me to believe it is application driven. Regular 32-bit is fine.
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tinpanalley
post Jul 7 2011, 18:37
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This is probably like asking if there is one way to draw a line, but is there any series of processes that are typically run on all record captures as a base to "clean them up" or is it too dependent on too many factors to give a general list?
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AndyH-ha
post Jul 7 2011, 19:20
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There are many descriptions of the process published. Opinions differ, of course.

1. Rumble filter
2. auto declicking
3. decrackling, if indicated
4. manual declicking follow-up
5. noise reduction
6. normalization
7. convert to 16 bit

Several of those steps can involve quite a bit of variation, mainly related to the condition of the LP and to the facilities of the software employed.
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DVDdoug
post Jul 7 2011, 20:36
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QUOTE
but is there any series of processes that are typically run on all record captures as a base to "clean them up"
This page has lots of helpful information.

Of course, the main thing is noise reduction. There are3 or 4 types/categories of noise reduction, and these require separate steps.

1. I always try to remove "snap", "crackle", and "pop". (I don't use Sound Forge and I don't know about it's tools.)

2. "Regular" noise reduction, where you feed-in a sample of noise-only (i.e. a "noise fingerprint") can reduce hiss, hum, and other more-or-less constant low-level background noise.

3. A rumble filter will remove subsonic noise. And, a 50/60Hz notch filter can remove line-frequency hum, and in some cases may work better than the regular noise reduction filter.

4. A noise gate will mute the sound completely when the sound level falls below a preset threshold (i.e. between songs). But, it's usually best to do this manually by muting between tracks and/or by adding a short fade-in/fade-out before/after the music starts/stops.

Now... with noise reduction you can get artifacts (side effects), so it takes some trial & error. Sometimes when I've done a massive amount of processing, I'll keep an untouched archive copy with all of the original analog & vinyl defects.

Some clicks might not be removed, some musical sounds might get misinterpreted as clicks and removed, and sometimes the "repair" is worse than the original click.

The same is true with regular noise reduction, especially with quiet-delicate music. You can sometimes get some strange "digital" artifacts.

And, even a noise gate can be distracting if the background noise suddenly goes dead-silent.

You might not want to do this, since you want to preserve the original sound, but a lot of older recordings have rolled-off highs, so I sometimes boost the highs with some EQ.

And as the last step (after making a full album-length WAV file) I normalize.


----------------------
For de-clicking, I use Wave Repair ($30 USD). Wave Repair does an amazing on most "clicks", and in the manual mode it only "touches" the audio where you identify a defect. On the downside, it usually takes me a full weekend to clean up a vinyl transfer. sad.gif The record I'm working on right now is in terrible shape, and it's taking me even longer!!!! And, I believe it only works on 16-bit files.







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tinpanalley
post Jul 7 2011, 21:04
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Here's a comparison of the 32-bit, higher gained capture I did of one side of the same album. Better, right?



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tinpanalley
post Jul 7 2011, 22:16
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This sounds great to me as I'm hearing it even without any further processing.

I've learned a lot in the past week or two. And that is entirely credited to all of you who have taken the time to help me "get it". A lot about what I can hear, what I want to hear, and as an audio and music purist what I think I should hear.

I think my aim here with all this, with my attempts to capture my records into a portable format or for computer listening to not do any further damage to some very valuable records I have is the following: I'm not trying to turn the audio from the vinyl into a magnetic tape or digital studio master. I'm trying to faithfully capture the actual sound from the record. The experience of "putting the record on" at home which is, at its core (if you'll indulge me the temporary philosophical observation) why I put on the vinyl rather than the CD version of the same album. I put this version of Coldplay's Parachutes on (that the waves are from) rather than the CD because I want that sound. Don't we all, even if we have our own opinions of that band's quality and wouldn't be caught dead listening to Coldplay, listen to records for 'that sound'? For that matter, it's also why I remain contented with a 'noisier' vinyl copy of an Oscar Peterson record rather than going and getting some badly or even some decently remastered CD. We own turntables because we, each of us in our own way, like the sound. Isn't that it?

Click removal for surface damage is one thing; I WILL do that because it's not "supposed" to be there. It's surface damage. And the same goes for click removal on my older vinyl. But to a certain degree, I want the vinyl sound. Hence the point of listening to vinyl in the first place. when I transfer my 78s, I'm not going to do a lot of click removal because to a higher degree, it will kill the mono, higher frequency sound coming from the shellac. Hum caused by electrical fields that my ear wouldn't hear from my record player through speakers is another thing I'm willing to remove. But rumble? I don't know... If you listen carefully after a side is finished, there tends to be a distinct lack of rumble in the room when the needle comes off the vinyl. So, perhaps some rumble is fine? And normalising... if I get good levels on the capture, I just don't see the point in messing with the sound. I don't think I understand the concept of normalisation yet.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I need a good Click removal (Click Repair seems to work best for me), a good program to remove some electrical noise and I think that might be it. Am I crazy?

This post has been edited by tinpanalley: Jul 7 2011, 22:20
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greynol
post Jul 7 2011, 22:34
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No you're not crazy, just know that 32 bits for vinyl is complete overkill. Even 24 bits is overkill as a delivery format.

With the exception of feedback, you are hard-pressed to provide objective evidence showing that a delivery format of 16-bits, properly dithered, cannot fully provide every audible nuance found on even the most pristine copy of vinyl. If you like feedback, you should be able to capture whatever amount is present when listening while recording.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jul 7 2011, 22:46


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DVDdoug
post Jul 7 2011, 23:38
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QUOTE
And normalising... if I get good levels on the capture, I just don't see the point in messing with the sound. I don't think I understand the concept of normalisation yet.
It's simply a volume adjustment. It's no different than an analog volume adjustment. It does not affect the "character" of the sound.

It's generally not necessary, but there's no harm in it... The main purpose is to get the volume more in-line with most digital recordings. i.e. If you are playing your low-level digitized vinyl at a comfortable volume, and you switch to a more modern recording, you'll get "blasted", and you'll have to turn-down the volume. There's more to perceived loudness than peak levels, so even after normalizing, your files will probably not be as loud as most (over compressed) modern recordings. (And, there are other solutions such as ReplayGain, that adjust/match the volumes at playback time.)

Normalizing could become necessary if you're not able to get enough volume from your portable player.


...This might add to the confusion, and you're never going to hear the effects of this... But, if you are rendering to a 16-bits from a higher-resolution format, and you don't normalize first, you are not getting the "full advantage" (the full dynamic range) of all 16-bits.
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tinpanalley
post Jul 7 2011, 23:48
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Couple of things:

QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 7 2011, 18:38) *
It's simply a volume adjustment. It's no different than an analog volume adjustment. It does not affect the "character" of the sound.

Then what is the difference to just doing a volume increase in Sound Forge?

Secondly...
QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 7 2011, 18:38) *
if you are rendering to a 16-bits from a higher-resolution format, and you don't normalize first, you are not getting the "full advantage" (the full dynamic range) of all 16-bits.

...and...
QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 7 2011, 17:34) *
you are hard-pressed to provide objective evidence showing that a delivery format of 16-bits, properly dithered, cannot fully provide every audible nuance found on even the most pristine copy of vinyl.

Aren't these two comments contradictory to each other?

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greynol
post Jul 8 2011, 00:03
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No, they aren't contradictory at all. DVDdoug's comment was (and should be) taken into account.

As has already been discussed to death, recording in 24-bit provides a greater margin between clipping and adequate SNR. It also provides more than enough resolution to ensure that any post-processing (calculations are done at 24-bit or better), ultimately including normalization, will not degrade SNR. Once this is all done, your finished product can be converted to 16-bits, and if done properly (which includes making use of at least 14-15 bits, but preferably all 16), will not produce any audible degradation.


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tinpanalley
post Jul 8 2011, 00:08
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Ok, my bad. I misunderstood. I have some people tell me I should never save less than 24-bit and other people who tell me it's a waste and that I should do EVERYthing at 16-bit because I'll never notice the difference anyway.
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DVDdoug
post Jul 8 2011, 00:39
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QUOTE
Then what is the difference to just doing a volume increase in Sound Forge?
Right!!! There is no difference. In your 1st post, you said you had a peak of -6.4dB. If you increase the volume by +6.4dB, your new peak level is 0dB and that's the same as normalizing to 0dB! (Of course, every recording is going to be different before normalizing.)

When you normalize the software automatically scans the file before calculating and making the appropriate adjustment.

QUOTE
Aren't these two comments contradictory to each other?
One of the themes running through this discussion (and lots of discussion at HydrogenAudio) is that there are often true mathematical or measurable differences that are not audible differences.

I know you want to make absolutely the best recording possible, even if you can't hear the difference. But at some point, these things aren't worth worrying about... Do you want to use a format that's 10 times better than your hearing, and 100 times better than vinyl? Or 1000 times better than you can hear?

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greynol
post Jul 8 2011, 00:55
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Jul 7 2011, 16:08) *
I have some people tell me I should never save less than 24-bit and other people who tell me it's a waste and that I should do EVERYthing at 16-bit because I'll never notice the difference anyway.

First, I try to shy away from the word should. Second, I do not trust what people say unless they provide objective evidence.
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=16295

I see no reason why one should limit himself to recording and processing at 16-bit unless there is some kind of constraint, at which case I would consider upgrading if it is feasible. On the other hand, it's helpful to understand a little about resolution and the limitations of the physical media and hardware involved, without blindly believing that more always results in an audible improvement.


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tinpanalley
post Jul 8 2011, 01:57
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jul 7 2011, 19:39) *
But at some point, these things aren't worth worrying about... Do you want to use a format that's 10 times better than your hearing, and 100 times better than vinyl?


No, you're right. I absolutely don't care about that level of perfection which is why my 'final analysis' if you will was basically, look, I get that using more bits upfront minimizes processing decay and it doesn't cost anything. Fine, I'll do it. But processing more than what my naked ear can hear with click removal etc is silly to me especially since i want it to sound like a record anyway. So, I'm gonna keep it simple. There's a site I visit often where this guy makes vinyl transfers on a daily basis with all kinds of specs and I listen to the files and they sound like a CD without even the warmth or texture of vinyl and I think.... wait, what's the point? So he's processed the vinyl until it sounds like a CD. Ok. Why not just get the CD? But yes, you're right. There is a limit to how much mathematical perfection is worth it when essentially what you want is to enjoy the music.

...funny, my initial question was just about normalizing vs increasing volume. I think we can close this thread now as far as I'm concerned. Don't want anyone else feeling like it's been "discussed to death".
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AndyH-ha
post Jul 8 2011, 02:46
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The Sonic Foundry Noise Reduction plugin 2.0 has been included as part of some versions of Sound Forge for a few years. I have no idea if it is totally integrated or still arrives as a DX plugin that can be used with like any other DX plugin.

Prior to that bundling, the plugin was only available as a separate item, more expensive than many editors. Without this plugin, the declicking and noise reduction facilities of Sound Forge are pretty primitive. If you have it, it can do a rather good job of cleaning up most LP transfers.

The older original vinyl releases are very frequently a different, and generally superior, mastering than later CD releases. That is one big reason for retaining the LPs, regardless of what you think about LP noise and distortion. Since few of the LPs I've worked on are much newer than 1980 (certainly fewer in number than those prior to 1960), I don't know much about albums released simultaneously on both formats.

Rumble filtering isn't very much about what you hear in most cases, it is about those very low frequencies, which are most definitely there in every recording from an LP, that eat up a significant amount of amplifier power, going nowhere. Sometimes there can be enough of this stuff to cause bass distortion. It is also claimed to sometimes be at a high enough level to case bass speaker damage, but it that isn't happening from playing the LP, it probably isn't part of the problem.
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greynol
post Jul 8 2011, 02:53
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I simply wanted to let you know that I respect that you have a preference for the sound of vinyl and that 24-bits as a recording format (or interim storage format) is more than adequate and that 16-bits is adequate as a final delivery format.

Please don't take the "discussed to death" comment personally. Hi-res is a point that is often argued with no difference in outcome. I thought I'd just summarize the consensus.


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AndyH-ha
post Jul 8 2011, 03:04
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I made an inquiry elsewhere. I got back that your experience of not being able to record in floating point, because of the hardware you are using, is indeed a peculiar aspect of Sound Forge. The program first queries the device and then sets format limitations based on it.

If you want floating point, you have to convert after recording. The results will be identical, there is just that extra step.

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tinpanalley
post Jul 8 2011, 07:34
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Ohhh!!! Well, why didn't someone just make it is as clear as what THAT guy said?!?!?
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AndyH-ha
post Jul 8 2011, 08:19
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Because Sound Forge has such an unusual approach (and senseless, it seems to me) that nobody knew.
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2Bdecided
post Jul 8 2011, 12:01
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 7 2011, 19:20) *
There are many descriptions of the process published. Opinions differ, of course.

1. Rumble filter
2. auto declicking
3. decrackling, if indicated
4. manual declicking follow-up
5. noise reduction
6. normalization
7. convert to 16 bit

Several of those steps can involve quite a bit of variation, mainly related to the condition of the LP and to the facilities of the software employed.

The kind of person who believes there's some benefit to keeping vinyl transfers at 24-bit wouldn't run any automatic process on their recordings.

Many people who are closer to the sane "16-bits is more than enough for vinyl" end of the spectrum wouldn't run automatic processes on their recordings either.


None of the auto declicking or denoising algorithms are "transparent" (if you can even define that term for these processes) - they all have a "sound" to them when used aggressively - but some fall into the "do more good than harm" category - the one you suggested (NR-2) being the best one that I can afford. There's some newer stuff over $1k that may be better, and of course CEDAR ($5k+) - though even those products can be abused.

There is something to be said for listening to a raw transfer on decent quality equipment. It's a bit like listening to lossless audio. With lossy audio (and automatically restored audio), you never know if any faults you hear are down to the processing - and this thought can be distracting. Whereas with lossless audio, or unrestored audio, you know any faults are there on the original, so you might as well forget about them (or fix them manually, if possible).


I often listen to my records - either directly, or looped through the NR-2 declicker (and sometimes, denoiser) in real time. Then I can pick how "clean" I want it to sound when listening. Actually picking optimum settings for preserving on CD is more time consuming, brings out the perfectionist, and requires "a decision", which isn't something I'm that good at!

Cheers,
David.

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tinpanalley
post Jul 8 2011, 15:45
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Jul 8 2011, 03:19) *
Because Sound Forge has such an unusual approach (and senseless, it seems to me) that nobody knew.


Actually, Andy, whenI made that posting it was because late last night, some dude had popped in and left this enormous posting of computer generated spam gibberish and was obviously cleaned out by one of the mods. It was pretty ridiculous.

Now, I guess that the fact that Audacity LETS me do it just means it isn't checking the hardware but then it can't really do 32-bit IEEE floating anyway, it's just not programmed to know what I have. Correct? Is Audacity totally a lame program? Vinyl capturing sites seem to love it?!

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