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Topic: Normalizing very old music (Read 11923 times) previous topic - next topic
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Normalizing very old music

I've been buying old 1920s music tracks from a popular site on line. After using MP3gain, I converted these into WAV files and then burnt them to a disc. The disc was supposed to be a gift for my Brother's birthday. Unfortunately the disc had distortion on some of the tracks probably due to LARGE differences in volume from these ancient oldies. Converting to a wav file doesn't help either, but I've burnt quite a number of discs with newer music (volume levels are more uniform) and they sound fine. Maybe I'm just not using MP3gain correctly.

An old friend suggested I try to find a way to alter the gain. That's easy to do if you're recording something, especially if you have a preamp. Doing it to an MP3 has got me puzzled. I don't mind if all the tracks are lower in volume. What program or app should I use and how should I use it. All suggestions appreciated ..... Thanks.

Old Nerd 


Normalizing very old music

Reply #1
I've been buying old 1920s music tracks from a popular site on line. After using MP3gain, I converted these into WAV files and then burnt them to a disc. The disc was supposed to be a gift for my Brother's birthday. Unfortunately the disc had distortion on some of the tracks probably due to LARGE differences in volume from these ancient oldies. Converting to a wav file doesn't help either, but I've burnt quite a number of discs with newer music (volume levels are more uniform) and they sound fine. Maybe I'm just not using MP3gain correctly.

Did you get any clipping warning from MP3Gain? If not, the distortion is probably in the original source material, and not caused by MP3Gain.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #2
foobar2000. ReplayGain. Read more about those two.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #3
An old friend suggested I try to find a way to alter the gain. That's easy to do if you're recording something, especially if you have a preamp. Doing it to an MP3 has got me puzzled. I don't mind if all the tracks are lower in volume. What program or app should I use and how should I use it.
You can decode to uncompressed audio, apply gain to that, and possibly re-encode to MP3. Or you can use MP3Gain, which is designed for this purpose, and which you have already done. It seems clear the problem is in your original files, not in any of the downstream conversion or processing. You have not specified whether the original files, before MP3gain, sound clipped. I suspect they will be as (1) ReplayGain rarely introduces clipping and can be instructed specifically to avoid doing so, and (2) lossy encoding itself, with or without gain, does not introduce audible clipping.

Anyway, whether or not the problem is with the purchased files before processing, for future reference as Canar said, you could start here and at the thread I link in my second post: http://hydrogenaudio.org/forums/?showtopic=101944

Normalizing very old music

Reply #4
Guys, I think we should not forget what the source is. For example, it is known that classical music is more dynamic than current genres, and that it is not rare that replaygain increases the volume of them.
As such, I would not find strange at all that there is an increase of gain in these files when applying mp3gain.

Said that, MP3gain precisely has the option to indicate the target gain in the main window, so it is very easy to change to a *lower* value so that less gain is applied.

But before we can conclude anything about this, we need to know two things:

First, which gain was applied? (i.e. what is the result of the scan of mp3gain?, screenshot or text would be nice)
Second, a small sample (less than 30 seconds) of the wav, in the place where it distorts. Cutting the wav can be done with audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net) or other audio editors.
Also, there's an upload forums here, to upload that sample.  (If you know how, upload to flac instead of wav. audacity can do so)

Normalizing very old music

Reply #5
We would really need samples of the uncompressed audio before and after applying gain. So: take the original MP3, decompress, upload a thirty-second sample; and then do the same thing again but with application of MP3gain between the first and second steps.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #6
The originals sound fine


Normalizing very old music

Reply #7
Hey, don't be too hasty. MP3Gain has a column that says "Clipping" and if there's a Y in that column for any of the tracks, that is likely what the problem is. When you scan them, does that happen?

Normalizing very old music

Reply #8
Sure the GUI is all snazzy, but does this really justify using lossy compression when the destinaton format is audio CD?

EDIT: I assumed the sources for these tracks were lossless.  The original post did not explicitly specify either way:
I've been buying old 1920s music tracks from a popular site on line.

 

Normalizing very old music

Reply #9
Hey, don't be too hasty. MP3Gain has a column that says "Clipping" and if there's a Y in that column for any of the tracks, that is likely what the problem is. When you scan them, does that happen?


Hello iF,
I came back for one more look. No, I don't see any clipping. I do see audible problems when I import them to Audacity which might mess up normalizing. One song is low in volume and should be louder because it's really hot jazz. The slow dance song is way too loud for that type of song and has an annoying rise in volume about mid way. Some stooge turned the volume up. Perhaps the envelope tool in Audacity can be used to fix that and the amplification tool / effect can be used on the tracks that are too soft. Maybe I won't need to normalize after doing that.
Worst case scenario: If all my efforts to make a clean disc don't work out, I can make a tape (everyone reading this will wince) and send it to my brother. He just had his old deck serviced. Gain is easy to control if I'm recording on a deck.

I tried to include a picture of the Audacity waveforms, but it looks like I need Photobucket to do that. Too much trouble.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #10
If mp3gain doesn't say it's clipping, then it's not clipping - and letting mp3gain raise the volume to a level where it still says it's not clipping isn't going to make the file sound worse.

If the playback sounds worse, then the fault is in the playback, not the file. Some sound cards, amplifiers, powered speakers etc start to distort far below full scale, and old recordings (with no real treble of their own) are excellent at revealing distortion in things which always seemed audibly fine with modern pop music.


When burning a CD from different sources, if you're trying to match the loudness of the various tracks, there are probably easier ways. Anyone want to suggest one? I use fb2k with ReplayGain, or wavegain - but a one click "match the loudness of each track, then maximise the overall peak level" is not something I've found.

Cheers,
David.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #11
When burning a CD from different sources, if you're trying to match the loudness of the various tracks, there are probably easier ways. Anyone want to suggest one? I use fb2k with ReplayGain, or wavegain - but a one click "match the loudness of each track, then maximise the overall peak level" is not something I've found.

I've never bothered to maximize peak levels, but I usually do try to volume-level when making CD-R comps for friends. The easiest way I've found is to ReplayGain scan by track (MP3 or FLAC format, not sure WAV will hold the tags?) with foobar. Then, CDBurnerXP has an audio CD option to apply volume changes according to ReplayGain track gain. It's fairly foolproof.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #12
I actually make a lot CD-R compilations for my family.
It can be a quick and simple process, or you can spend a fair bit of time 're-mastering' the project.

I actually went through a whole process with someone on another forum, explaining how to use Foobar2000 and ReplayGain to do just this.


ReplayGain (using libebur128) scans the files and calculates how much difference there is between the assessed loudness and a target reference loudness.  This is then stored in the meta data of the file for referencing by a player than can read said tags.

MP3Gain is doing something similar, but I am not sure what algorythm is used to define the tracks 'loudness' level.

In theory, ReplayGain via Foobar2000 should yield good and fairly accurate level adjustments to reach a general ball park level across all track (track gain) or all albums (album gain).  However, loudness is more complicated than a fairly simple algorithm can account for.
Tonality (bassy/bright) can affect how we perceive how loud something is, which the algorithm isn't perfect at.  ReplayGain allows for the user to adjust the values to something they perceive as delivering a closer balance between tracks.

Sometimes level changing just isn't enough, and sometimes EQ must be applied, or even a little bit of limiting/compression depending upon your target loudness of the CD.


It sounds to me, in your case, you have some +ve MP3Gain values, which is driving the transients into clipping.  Ideally, you want to keep the peak level at or below -0.3dB on a CD to account for older, outdated mechanisms in the CD player DSP and inter sample peaks - but 100% / 0dB peaks are found on many a release by top audiophile music engineers - so make your own choice there.

I agree with what Hotsoup, and others, say above.  Dump all the tracks for the compilation into Foobar2000.  ReplayGain scan by tracks. 
*important* Then listen to the track list for any obvious volume differences and adjust if necessary. *important*

You could then use a ReplayGain aware CD burner like CDBurnerXP, but I would prefer to export the files from Foobar2000 as uncompressed .WAV files applying ReplayGain to them and dithering.  Any gain adjustment to digital audio should be conducted a 24 bit or higher precision, and be dithered back down for 16 bit CD-R.  I would go one step further, and add a soft clipping limiter effect if you have any +ve RG values, just to save clipping distortion (either that or manually offset all other RG values down by the same amount as the largest +ve one to make it zero)
The dither and noise shaping algorithm used in Foobar2000 is actually not bad at all.

PM me if you want a longer and technical walk through, I'll be happy to help.



Normalizing very old music

Reply #15
[/img]
Hey, don't be too hasty. MP3Gain has a column that says "Clipping" and if there's a Y in that column for any of the tracks, that is likely what the problem is. When you scan them, does that happen?


Hello iF,
I came back for one more look. No, I don't see any clipping. I do see audible problems when I import them to Audacity which might mess up normalizing. One song is low in volume and should be louder because it's really hot jazz. The slow dance song is way too loud for that type of song and has an annoying rise in volume about mid way. Some stooge turned the volume up. Perhaps the envelope tool in Audacity can be used to fix that and the amplification tool / effect can be used on the tracks that are too soft. Maybe I won't need to normalize after doing that.
Worst case scenario: If all my efforts to make a clean disc don't work out, I can make a tape (everyone reading this will wince) and send it to my brother. He just had his old deck serviced. Gain is easy to control if I'm recording on a deck.

I tried to include a picture of the Audacity waveforms, but it looks like I need Photobucket to do that. Too much trouble.


Normalizing very old music

Reply #16
I can't see all but one of those pictures due to dead links, but the one that loads looks like a normal track, except with slightly lower volume.  I think just running it through replaygain or even just manually boosting the gain should be fine.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #17
http://s3.amazonaws.com/images.pr-alpha.co...2f5e/mobile.jpg[/img]

All very helpful / friendly comments from 2Bdecided, Hotsoup and Spanky Monkey. thanks so much. I tried to put in 2 Audacity images but only got one. Maybe the other will appear.
Site said: DON'T PANIC Something bizarre and inexplicable has happend. 

Normalizing very old music

Reply #18
If mp3gain doesn't say it's clipping, then it's not clipping - and letting mp3gain raise the volume to a level where it still says it's not clipping isn't going to make the file sound worse.

If the playback sounds worse, then the fault is in the playback, not the file. Some sound cards, amplifiers, powered speakers etc start to distort far below full scale, and old recordings (with no real treble of their own) are excellent at revealing distortion in things which always seemed audibly fine with modern pop music.


When burning a CD from different sources, if you're trying to match the loudness of the various tracks, there are probably easier ways. Anyone want to suggest one? I use fb2k with ReplayGain, or wavegain - but a one click "match the loudness of each track, then maximise the overall peak level" is not something I've found.

Cheers,
David.


Thanks David .... I'll try that. This old music has it's own troubles for sure. Ticks, pops, and various recording levels depending on the label more than likely. The next factor is what someone may have done to the music before it was submitted to the site where I bought it. :-(

Normalizing very old music

Reply #19
The long off-topic discussion about supposed problems with the site has been moved to the Recycle Bin. Please read the posts there, follow their advice, and keep further posts to this thread on-subject. If, after following the various suggestions about how to upload files, you really think you have found a problem that is not due simply to a misunderstanding of how the site/HTTP/etc. work, please post about it to Site Related Discussion, not here.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #20
mirroropt: don't try to reply in the Recycle Bin, it won't let you. To tell us where your files came from (my last question), you need to reply here.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #21
Audacity screenshot: Notice the yellow bar where the volume goes up.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/images.pr-alpha.co...2f5e/mobile.jpg

This should work. Notice I said should.

IMPORTANT: I'm not going to delve into this topic any further. The origin of the music files are 83 year old records. I'm just chasing the wind on this one.

Normalizing very old music

Reply #22
mirroropt: don't try to reply in the Recycle Bin, it won't let you. To tell us where your files came from (my last question), you need to reply here.


Amazon MP3 music

Normalizing very old music

Reply #23
If mp3gain doesn't say it's clipping, then it's not clipping - and letting mp3gain raise the volume to a level where it still says it's not clipping isn't going to make the file sound worse.
<snip>
Cheers,
David.


I have a question David. How is clipping determined? Example: Take normal audio, boost the gain 20dB and turn it down 23 dB. There should now be lots of 'flat tops' at -3dB. Will those be detected as 'clips'? Also, I've seen old old audio - OK, the 70s - where one channel on the board was clipped on peaks. Can it detect those problems? And, clipped audio after going through further processing may show up with low frequency tilts so that the flat tops now lean left or right.


Normalizing very old music

Reply #24
I have a question David. How is clipping determined?


Amplitude higher (lower) than + (-) 1.0 after applying a proposed gain change.

Also, I've seen old old audio - OK, the 70s - where one channel on the board was clipped on peaks. Can it detect those problems? And, clipped audio after going through further processing may show up with low frequency tilts so that the flat tops now lean left or right.


Mp3gain is not a tool for detecting clipping.  It can simply warn you if the gain changes you are about to apply are sufficient to avoid clipping.

 
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