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Windows 7: Normalize All Files With Nero Or Simply Use MP3Gain. Which Is Best?

01 Jun 2015   #1
plutosun

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
 
 
Normalize All Files With Nero Or Simply Use MP3Gain. Which Is Best?

Burn CDs With Nero's "Normalize All Files" Box Checked, Or Simply Use MP3Gain Without Nero's "Normalize All Files" Box Checked. Which Is Best?


Can someone help me with something that’s driving me up the wall?

I’m kinda new to burning CDs with Nero, and, after burning quite a few of them with the “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked, I noticed that the volume levels still had too much variance. So I did I a track analysis of my entire mp3 collection using MP3Gain, and discovered what I thought was the culprit: the decibel levels of all of the songs in my collection ranged anywhere from 75 dB to 99 dB—too much for Nero’s normalizer to handle, I suppose!

So, thinking that once I got all my songs down to a closer dB range, I ran my entire mp3 collection through MP3Gain, using 89.0 as my target setting. What I got (and now have) is a dB range of 88.2 to 89.8, which I thought would produce better results when I re-burned my CDs with these new values and with Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked.

My hopes were dashed (I think!) about a week ago when I came across a little blip about this subject in an online forum (a blip on a web page that, sadly, I neglected to bookmark and, for some reason, can no longer seem to find) that mentioned something along the lines of Nero first converting (by default) mp3 files to .wav format BEFORE the burning process begins, thereby undoing any plus or minus gains made with MP3Gain—thereby defeating one’s purpose. If this holds true, then I’m simply wasting my time!

If Nero does in fact convert to .wav format first before the burning process begins, and if conversion simply reverts my mp3s to their original values, then the only alternative I can see (since using Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” isn’t giving me the desired results) is to burn my CDs without checking the “Normalize All Audio Files” box. But herein lies another problem: As I’ve stated, the new dB range for my audio collection is between 88.2 dB to 89.8 dB, which is a plus or minus variance of .8 dB on my ideal 89.0 setting. I can deal with this, I suppose, but am still noticing changes in volume, especially when, for example, I’ve just listened to 3 songs at 88.2 dB and the next song that plays has a dB of 89.8 dB—which is a difference of 1.6db!). Add to this the fact that there are a bunch of songs in my collection that MPGain just couldn’t seem to place in the 88.2 dB to 89.8 dB range (some of my mp3s are actually still as low as 83 dB), and it would appear that I’m STILL going to be constantly adjusting the volume while listening to CDs! It’s enough to drive someone nuts—and I certainly can’t be the first and only person to encounter this.

Is there anyone out there who has the answers I need to create a more uniform volume level for my CD-listening experience? At this stage, I just don’t see the point in burning any more CDs until I get my head around this.






My System SpecsSystem Spec
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01 Jun 2015   #2
fireberd

Windows 10 64 bit
 
 

Nero does convert MP3's to wav's if you are burning a standard Audio CD. 16 bit/44.1Khz wav files are the "red book" standard for Audio CD's. There is one catch, once you have an MP3 file, when its converted to wav the fidelity will be no better than the MP3, you won't regain any lost fidelity with the conversion back to wav.

I do a lot of audio CD burning, as I have a recording studio. I take all my song files, whether wav or MP3 and set the volume level using "Goldwave" (an audio editor). On MP3's that I want to burn, I do the conversion to wav in Goldwave. I use the Gain function in Goldwave to set everything to the same level. Then, when I burn an Audio CD, all the songs are the same volume level. Goldwave is a shareware audio editor, used by many recording studios. GoldWave - Audio Editor, Recorder, Converter, Restoration, & Analysis Software

When I burn Audio CD's with Nero, I use the "Disk At Once (DAO) mode. This allows adding the CD Title, Artist name, and the Titles of each song to the CD.

I have a bank of 5 CD/DVD burners that I use for my CD production. Nero BurningROM (what I use) is the only burning program that I've found that will burn to multiple drives at the same time. Even the expensive Sony "CD Architect Audio CD burning program used by many recording studios will only burn to one drive at a time.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jun 2015   #3
plutosun

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
 
 
Nero And MP3Gain Volume Problems

First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to try to help me with all this. But, as much as I appreciate your response, I must admit that I’m still awfully confused. If you have the time, and willingness, to respond to me again, I’ve compiled a list of six questions below that perhaps you could answer, one by one—even if it’s a simple yes-or-no answer. Since you have your own recording studio, you seem to be the ideal person to help me get out of this Nero/MP3Gain nightmare in which I find myself! If you just don’t have the time to respond to me again, I understand, and am grateful for your attempt to assist me. And I’ll just keep plodding along here in this and other forums hoping the get the answers I need so I can finally start burning some good-SOUNDING CDs.

1) As I stated in my original post: After burning quite a few CDs, via Nero, with the “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked, I noticed that the volume levels still had too much variance. So I did I a track analysis of my entire mp3 collection using MP3Gain, and discovered what I thought was the culprit: the decibel levels of all of the songs in my collection ranged anywhere from 75 dB to 99 dB—too much for Nero’s normalizer to handle, I supposed! (Remember that I’m kinda new to this CD-burning game, so I can only make uneducated guess at this point!) Thinking that if I first got all my songs down to the same relative dB range, I could fix the problem, I ran my entire mp3 collection through MP3Gain, using 89.0 as my target setting. What I got (and now have) is a dB range of 88.2 to 89.8, which I thought would produce better results when I re-burned my CDs with these new values and with Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked.

Then I found a post in another online forum from someone stating that Nero first converts song files to .wav format BEFORE burning, and such conversion automatically reverts all MP3Gain changes back to their original values—thereby defeating one’s purpose. If this holds true, then I’m simply wasting my time!

So my first question to you is: Does Nero in fact convert to .wav format before burning, and, if so, am I just wasting my time using MP3Gain? I’m assuming from your post that you’re saying “yes” to this question.

2) If Nero does convert to .wav format first before the burning process begins, and if conversion simply reverts my mp3s to their original values, then the only alternative I can see (since using Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” isn’t giving me the desired results) is to burn my CDs without checking the “Normalize All Audio Files” box. But herein lies another problem: As I’ve already stated, the new dB range for my audio collection is 88.2 to 89.8 dB, which is a plus or minus variance of .8 dB on my ideal 89.0 setting. I can deal with this, I suppose, but am still noticing changes in volume, especially when, for example, I’ve just listened to 3 songs at 88.2 dB and the next song that plays has a dB of 89.8 dB—which is a difference of 1.6db!). Add to this the fact that there are a bunch of songs in my collection that MPGain just couldn’t seem to place in the 88.2 to 89.8 dB range (some of my mp3s are actually still as low as 83 dB), and it would appear that I’m STILL going to be constantly adjusting the volume while listening to CDs!

And, since that is the case, which of the two methods would YOU suggest I use? Do just settle for the best I can get with Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked, or do I burn my MP3Gain-converted files (settling for the 88.2 dB to 89.8 dB range as the best I’m going to be able to achieve) WITHOUT Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked? Or, is there a third alternative that I’m unaware of? My hands are tied here at this end until I can figure out the best method. Or, IS there no “best” method, and EVERYONE who burns CDs runs into this volume problem no matter what method they use?

3) Does the same thing apply when I’m trying to burn an entire ALBUM to a CD? That is, if I’ve used MP3Gain’s “Album Gain” function, would I be undoing all the changes I’ve made to the album tracks by checking Nero’s “Normalize All Audio Files” box before burning?

4) Here’s something I’d really like the answer to: If I merge 8 or 9 tracks from one album (let’s say an ambient album) into one long track, do I, via MP3Gain, use the “Album Gain” function or would I now consider this simply one track and use the “Track Gain” function instead before burning the CD?

5) I realize that when using MP3Gain to get all the tracks on an album to be at the same volume, I am to use the “Album Gain” function. But sometimes, when making compilation CDS (say a “Best Of “ CD by a particular artist), I run into the problem of some of the tracks not being in the 88.2 to 89.8 dB range. Some of my tracks, after running them through MP3Gain are stuck at, say, 83.0 to 85 dB; and, no matter what I do I can’t get the values any higher without clipping them. But when I run these same tracks through MP3Gain using the “Album Gain” function (instead of the “Track Gain” function, which I’m supposed to use), I most certainly can get ALL the tracks at the same and acceptable volume. I guess my question is this: Can I use “Album Gain” on a collection of tracks that aren’t all from the same album (instead of using Track Gain) if it’s the only way to get the desired volume for all the tracks? And, most importantly, will it work?

6) I have some old comedy skits (with sound effects, etc.) that my friends and I did years ago, which, until most recently, sat on the original cassettes onto which they were recorded until I converted them into individual mp3s. Back in the day, we weren’t privy to software programs like WavePad and iZotope RX 4 Advanced (which I have on my computer) that would allow us to edit and clean up these skits to our liking. Now, happily, I’m able to do that. I’ve had no problem removing the hiss from all of these old skits, via these software programs, and they sound great. But here’s the problem: Many of these skits were done over a period of time, sometimes using different microphones and other equipment, and therefore, have different volume levels throughout. And I’ve actually even cut and pasted parts of some skits into other skits—parts that are now louder than the skits they’ve pasted onto. And all of this was done BEFORE I knew anything about “normalization,” etc.

So now I have all these skits that not only have different volume levels throughout, but, when I burn them to a CD, after trying out both methods mentioned above (i.e., with the “Normalize All Audio Files” box checked, or with the box unchecked and merely burning the mp3s at or near the 89.0db target volume, after using MP3Gain), the volumes of each skit, and on all of the skits as a whole, are all over the place! And I haven’t a clue as to how to rectify this.

Knowing what software programs I have to work with (i.e., WavePad and iZotope RX 4 Advanced), do you know what I can do to get each skit to individually have the same volume level throughout, but, when burning ALL the skits onto a CD, making sure that ALL of the them now have the same volume level?

Why does this have to be so damn hard? What and I not understanding here?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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01 Jun 2015   #4
fireberd

Windows 10 64 bit
 
 

1. Nero does convert to wav before burning. If you are making standard Audio CD's and NOT MP3 CD's you must have wav files. I would first convert the MP3's to wav and then set the audio level to whatever you want. Then they will all be at the same approximate level. As I originally stated I use Goldwave to do this. I think you can use the free Audacity to do the conversion and sound level setting. If not, Goldwave is relatively cheap, so get that.

2. See #1 response.

3. I know nothing about MP3 gain and how it works. Again, each song individually, converted to wav first and then the gain setting.

4. Again I know nothing about MP3 gain. Assemble what songs you want using Nero BuringROM and burn the Audio CD. Use the lowest burn speed your burner drive has (most SATA drives 16X is the lowest CD burning speed).

5. Again I know nothing about MP3 gain.

6. Goldwave will allow you to set the gain of individual sections within a song or audio file. After you get the gain set for the individual sections within a song or audio file you can then set the entire song or audio file to the desired volume level.

Comment, it looks to me setting the MP3 level then conversion to wav that produces a different volume level is your main problem. As in #1, convert the MP3 to wav and then set the desired volume level.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2015   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

In the final analysis, a group of songs that are supposedly set to the same volume (say 90 db) will NOT have the same perceived volume when played back. This is physics, and physiology. Ears, human perception, blood and brains. Not anything to do with mp3s, WAVs, Nero, etc.

If you are not satisfied with the available semi-automatic tools (normalize, mp3 gain, whatever), your only choice is to manually diddle the waveforms of each song in an editor, make test burns, play back, make notes, readjust, make another test burn, etc, ad infinitum, until you personally are satisfied.

You can carry that as far as you have patience---using an equalizer on certain portions of a song but not on other portions; using a compressor on some songs but not on others; locating another "master" of a problematic song in hopes it was mastered in a different way, etc, etc. Until you are blue in the face and decide you are chasing your own tail. Or until you find the holy grail.

If you did a series of test burns and had a friend listen to test burn #3, he might say it's fine. You might say there's way too much variance--which only reflects your own hearing, not his. You may be unusually sensitive to minor volume fluctuations.

You are at the mercy of your source material as well as your physiology. If your source material was nothing but pre-1960 acoustic guitar instrumentals, you likely wouldn't have nearly as much difficulty with this. I'd guess you are dealing with source material from the "CD era"--the last 30 years or so. Which means you are subjected to a lot of engineering and production tweaks that are difficult to overcome, other than by manually trying to unf*** what those engineers and producers did for their own possibly pathetic reasons. One song at a time. That's somewhere between tedious and impossible.

This problem is all the more obvious if you are making compilations that abruptly switch genres, styles, eras, and engineering from one song to the next, with little continuity or connection. Mozart to Frank Sinatra to Snoop Dog to a spoken word comedy album track.

As far as mp3gain goes---album gain, track gain, and the rest of it: there's no substitute for your own hearing and experimentation. Play with the settings and trust your findings. It's a very imperfect tool. It doesn't and can't "hear" anything. Keep your expectations to a minimum, prepare to be dissatisfied, and be prepared to manually tweak each and every song before committing to a burn if you remain dissatisfied. You don't have to satisfy anyone else's ears.

Ditto any "normalize" function.

Enjoy.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2015   #6
plutosun

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
 
 

Once again, I really do appreciate all your advice, time, and effort to help me. But, to be honest with you, there simply MUST be a better way for me to do this than to have to now convert all the thousands of mp3s in my audio collection to .wav format BEFORE I can burn them to CD just to get the volume on each of them to sound the same when playing my CDs. Just think of how much disk space such a conversion would use up! I'll continue to put my S.O.S. out on this and other forums until I find a more suitable and reasonable solution!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2015   #7
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by plutosun View Post
Once again, I really do appreciate all your advice, time, and effort to help me. But, to be honest with you, there simply MUST be a better way for me to do this than to have to now convert all the thousands of mp3s in my audio collection to .wav format BEFORE I can burn them to CD just to get the volume on each of them to sound the same when playing my CDs. Just think of how much disk space such a conversion would use up! I'll continue to put my S.O.S. out on this and other forums until I find a more suitable and reasonable solution!
Why in the world would you think that a conversion to WAV would solve anything?

Your ear doesn't care if it's listening to mp3s, WAV, FLAC, or whatever. It reacts the same way regardless.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2015   #8
plutosun

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
 
 
A Big "Thank You" To Senior Member Ignatzatsonic!

I want to thank you for once again caring enough about my dilemma to respond yet again. At the risk of looking like I still just don't get it, are you telling me to hell with checking Nero's normalize" box, and simply accept the imperfect 82.8 to 89.8 decibel range I've attained through MP3Gain because that's simply the best I can do--unless I want to start looking into manually adjusting waveforms (which sounds like an awfully tedious task)?

I promise to mark this post as "solved" (for real this time!) no matter what your response, because, as a newbie, I especially don't want to start off on the wrong foot here by busting everyone's chops with my personal Nero/MP3Gain challenges!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2015   #9
plutosun

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
 
 

It isn't that I personally think that a .wav conversion would mean anything. It's that I read on another forum that Nero's normalization function converts all mp3s to .wav BEFORE burning to CD, thereby UNDOING any MP3Gain changes made to sound files--making one simply wasting their time. I guess it doesn't really matter now, because I think you're telling me to skip normalization and simply accept the dB range MP3Gain has given me. The only other problem I have is whether I should use MP3Gain's "TrackGain" or "AlbumGain" when converting tracks from an album that have been merged into one single track (as in the case of merging an ambient album's tracks). God, what I wouldn't give for some kind of online course that could just spell all this out for me, so I wouldn't have to bug the shi# out of total strangers like you. Still, it's nice to know that people like you are out there to lend a helping hand to us audio-challenged folk!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2015   #10
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by plutosun View Post
are you telling me to hell with checking Nero's normalize" box, and simply accept the imperfect 82.8 to 89.8 decibel range I've attained through MP3Gain because that's simply the best I can do--unless I want to start looking into manually adjusting waveforms (which sounds like an awfully tedious task)?
No.

I'm not telling you to do anything other than experiment, trust your own ears and results, and continue to search for a magical solution if you think there is one.

If you can satisfy your own ears by doing XYZ, then by all means do exactly that.

I am aware of only certain tools. Maybe you will find another tool or some previously unheard solution. More power to you. Tell us what it is.

I notice the "varying volume" problem occasionally on my source material. In a very quiet environment and with serious listening, I wouldn't find it serious enough to want to reach for the volume knob more than 1 song in 50. For casual listening, less often than that.

That's not to say I can't recognize volume differences more often, but not enough to make me want to adjust. I realize and expect varying volumes WITHIN a song. I like that. That's part of the enjoyment of listening.

But much, maybe most, post 1990 recordings don't have that natural dynamic range. It's a near-constant crescendo. But I don't listen to that stuff anyway.

I quit going to movie theaters due to the constantly deafening volume. It's part of the same syndrome as the lack of dynamic range in modern music and loudness wars I previously told you about. It's a laughable attempt to get rubes (that would be radio listeners) to not switch stations. Advertising driven.

I have no idea what I would notice on your source material.

Nor do I have any idea how frequently you would notice the "varying volume" problem on my source material.

Do what you want.
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