(Peak: -6.4db, RMS -24.6db). Am I doing something wrong? Or are those levels right?
1. What do you recommend I do with my settings when I capture vinyl, for someone like me who is all about the purity of the sound as it is reproduced by the stylus and cartridge?
2. I have Sound Forge and have decent knowledge of sound tech. Should I be using that instead of Audacity or is there some other program which would be even better? I'd rather learn a more complex program and capture my vinyl correctly than use a novice program that isn't going to reproduce sound as faithfully.
CDs are 44.1kHz, 16-bit. These settings are more than adequate for vinyl. There's no harm in using 48kHz (or higher), and if you've got a 24-bit soundcard there's no harm in recording at 24-bits.
But doesn't normalizing in making all loudness equal, in essence, affect the intended range of volume from track to track? Because it makes the entire album "loud" by the same amount even if one song is intentionally meant to be quieter?
If you amplify your entire recording (either all in one track, or separate tracks) by the same amount, then you will still get the intentional volume differences between each of the different songs.
Audacity's Amplify effect has an option of setting the peaks to 0dB, which is the same as normalizing.* IIRC, Audacity's Normalize, adjusts both channels separately which can upset the left-right balance. On the Audacity forum, they seem to recommend Amplify .
Then after that, Amplify. It'll automatically find the right amount to amplify to get your highest peak to 0dB. If you use normalize, then all the tracks (if you record each track separately) will lose the intentional volume differences and they will appear/sound as if they're the same loudness.
Stay in floating point until everything is done.
How do I know if my sound card can handle 32-bit or not? Audacity clearly shows it as an option, does that mean it can do it?
Of course, just recording in Sound Forge in the first place would simplify things quite a bit - what is it about Sound Forge's recording process that you don't like?