Old 29th May 2012, 11:37   #1
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Volume Leveling and Winamp

PART 1

Why Volume Leveling is Needed

Although music is encoded to a digital format with a clearly defined maximum peak amplitude, and although most recordings are normalized to utilize this peak amplitude, not all recordings sound equally loud. This is because once this peak amplitude is reached, perceived loudness can be further increased through signal-processing techniques such as dynamic range compression and equalization. Therefore, the loudness of a given album has more to do with the year of issue or the whim of the producer than anything else. Because of this, a random play through a music collection can have significant volume changes with every other track.

There is a solution to this annoyance: within each audio file, information can be stored about what volume change would be required to play each track or album at a standard loudness, and music players can use this "replay gain" information to automatically nudge the volume up or down as required.

What is ReplayGain

The ReplayGain specification is a standard which defines an appropriate reference level, explains a way of calculating and representing the ideal replay gain for a given track or album, and provides guidance for players to make the required volume adjustment during playback. The standard also specifies a means to prevent clipping when the calculated replay gain exceeds the limits of digital audio, and it describes how the replay gain information is stored within audio files.

The audio industry does not have a standard for playback system calibration, but in the movie industry a calibration standard has been defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). The standard states that a single channel pink noise signal with an RMS level of -20 dB relative to a full-scale sinusoid should be reproduced at 83 dB SPL.

ReplayGain adapts the SMPTE calibration concept for music playback. Under ReplayGain, audio is played so that its loudness matches the loudness of a pink noise signal with an RMS level of -14 dB relative to a full-scale sinusoid.

In ReplayGain implementations, the reference level is described in terms of the SMPTE SPL playback level. By the SMPTE definition, the 83 dB SPL reference corresponds to -20FS dB system headroom. The -14 dB headroom used by ReplayGain therefore corresponds to an 89 dB SPL playback level on a SMPTE calibrated system and so is said to be operating with an 89 dB reference level.

SMPTE cinema calibration calls for a single channel of pink noise reproduced through a single loudspeaker. In music applications, the ideal level of the music is actually the loudness when two speakers are in use. So, ReplayGain is calibrated to two channels of pink noise.

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Old 29th May 2012, 11:45   #2
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PART 2

ReplayGain and Winamp

The WA implementation of ReplayGain is enabled/disabled via the General Preferences - Playback - Replay Gain options. To apply Replay Gain to your music files, right-click items in the Media Library or Playlist and select 'Calculate Replay Gain' via the 'Send To' menu. The Replay Gain values are stored in the file tags. These tags can only be understood by music players that recognize this particular implementation. The actual audio data is unchanged. Offically supported formats are MP3, WMA, WMV, AAC, MP4, M4A, OGG & FLAC. The wavpack format (wv) is also supported if the wavpack decoder (included in the Winamp Essentials Package) is installed.

The other 8 options on the General Preferences page are;

Amplification Mode: Default selection is 'Apply Gain / Prevent Clipping' (recommended by WA devs). This will level out the volume and prevent distortion. Three other choices are available.

Preferred Source: Choose between 'Track' (default) or 'Album' modes.

Disable if preferred source not available: Disables RG if e.g. 'Album' mode is selected but only 'Track' info is available.

Adjustment for files without RG: Pre-amp selection applied to all files without ReplayGain info (default value is -6.0 dB).

Replay Gain Preamp: Pre-amp selection to adjust global gain for all files with or without RG info applied (default value is 0 dB).

Ask before writing Replay Gain to analyzed files: When check marked, the Replay Gain Analyzer results dialog will appear at the end of each scan. WA dev's recommended preference is to use 'Save as Album', which also writes Track data. When unchecked, values will be saved automatically without prompting.

---Ask after each album is scanned: Prompts to save values after each album is scanned.

---Ask after all files are scanned: Prompts to save values after all files are scanned.


Within the media library's CD ripping options is another ReplayGain related option, "Automatically calculate Replay Gain". This option enables/disables the automatic calculation and application of ReplayGain values to ripped files. This is a hidden process which occurs at the end of each individual track. The default behaviour is to apply Album Gain (which also applies Track Gain). Note that enabling this option may considerably slow down the overall ripping process.


When selected, the WA implementation displays a window that shows the progress of the analysis and the final adjustment(s) that will be applied. However, the results of the analysis are never shown, thus the level of adjustment is not known. In other words, it can not be determined if the final adjustment values are minimum, maximum, or somewhere in between. The final overall volume could be lower than it needs to be, but there is no way to tell.


Undo is simple for officially supported formats. Just use the WA tag editor to delete the ReplayGain tags. A 3rd party tagger must be used to delete ReplayGain tags in a wavpack file and may also be used for the other file formats. Most of the popular 3rd party taggers support wavpack.

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Old 29th May 2012, 12:03   #3
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PART 3

A 3rd Party Alternative for MP3s Only

"MP3Gain" can analyze and adjust mp3 files so that they have the same volume. It is an implementation of the ReplayGain spec. MP3Gain uses David Robinson's Replay Gain algorithm to calculate how loud the file actually sounds to a human's ears. With MP3Gain, the loudness adjustment is done on the data itself, in a lossless/reversible way. Another difference with MP3Gain is the fact that it can only adjust physical volume in 1.5 dB steps. There is no quality lost in the change because the app adjusts the mp3 file directly, without decoding and re-encoding.

Here's the technical reason on why it's lossless (despite operating on the data itself), and also why the smallest change possible is 1.5 dB:

The MP3 format stores the sound information in small chunks called "frames". Each frame represents a fraction of a second of sound. In each frame there is a "global gain" field. This field holds an 8-bit integer which can represent values from 0 to 255.

When an MP3 player decodes the sound in the frame, it uses the global gain field to multiply the decoded sound samples by 2^(gain/4). If you add 1 to this field in all the MP3 frames, you effectively multiply the amplitude of the whole file by 2^(1/4) = 119 % = +1.5 dB. Likewise, if you subtract 1 from this field, you multiply the amplitude by 2^(-1/4) = 84 % = -1.5 dB, reducing the amplitude of the whole file.


The way MP3Gain works actually has a very strong benefit. Since it is the data itself that is modified, MP3Gain does not require special support from music players.


MP3Gain can store 'analysis' and 'undo' information in special tags inside the mp3 file itself. These tags are in the APEv2 format. If you choose not to use these tags or delete them, then you will not be able to automatically undo changes made by MP3Gain. You will still be able to undo any changes, but you will have to manually keep track of what changes where made to your files and undo the changes manually. Logs of the analysis, changes, and errors can be saved to text files with names and locations of your choosing. MP3Gain must be used to undo any changes made with MP3Gain.


After MP3Gain completes an analysis, the results are displayed with an indication of whether clipping is present. Adjustments can then be chosen (up or down) before they are applied, to see their effect on clipping. This allows a minimum adjustment to be made when the main goal is to prevent clipping. Of course, the same adjustment (minimum or not) needs to be made to all files when the main goal is overall volume leveling.


CAUTION!!!

There is another app with a similar name. "Mp3Gain PRO" does a form of volume normalization inside the mp3s. If you feel a song is too quiet or too loud at the beginning (or middle, or end), then it can boost or reduce the volume just for that part. Pretty cool, if that's what you need. In order to make its fine-tuned adjustments, it must re-encode the mp3 file. The changes Mp3Gain PRO makes are not undo-able. For this reason, I do not recommend it for general use.

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Old 29th May 2012, 12:50   #4
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I have used both WA's and MP3Gain's implementations of ReplayGain for years without any apparent damage to my music files.

MP3Gain usually allows me to achieve volume leveling at a higher overall level than WA's ReplayGain, but it only works on mp3s. In addition, WA's lower level is easily dealt with by kicking the master volume control up a notch or three.

My main issue with WA's implementation is that it does not work with some my portable music players.

Has anyone found other methods of volume leveling (and/or clipping prevention) that work well with WA, other than 'normalizing' the wav files before trans-coding (which is my least favorite option since it tends to smother the music's dynamics)?

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Old 5th June 2012, 23:32   #5
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i don't think most people know what volume leveling is or means, so i'd say replay gain instead, as that is actually mentioned in the prefs and other areas of the app/tags, unlike "volume leveling." (they won't know what RG is either, but at least they might have seen it)

you can also apply RG via the center top file info window's buttons, but this is not best practices, since if you have multiple tracks from the same album, you need to do them all at once to get the right album RG level. so anytime multiple tracks from one album are being done, they should all be done together to get the right album RG setting. in addition, album tags must be present, (and maybe some combo of other tags depending of different factors).

you say "the results of the analysis are never shown." well, first they are in the tags, and in the ML columns if selected. but those analysis results can be shown if they are applied manually, so you can see them prior to application.

also, i do not believe winamp allows the user to remove just RG values, at least from id3. you'd have to delete the whole tag. a better undo is to just deactivate the RG feature in winamp, or use mp3tag to delete the RG values.

i would never use mp3gain b/c i do not want to impose or use APE tags on my files, and i would not want to need them to undo changes. imo, id3 works best with mp3, APE causes trouble.

mp3gain IS useful for situations where the user must adjust the data itself, b/c normal RG is not supported, but in such a case, i would adjust my hardware/software first, before i started applying mp3gain and APE to all my files. there's no question that i have DL'd mp3s that had mp3gain applied and i am stuck with them that way b/c the ape tags are gone.

you could also explain that all RG does is change the volume, but it changes it across the whole track. and the other tag it uses, peak value, is what it uses to prevent clipping.

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Old 6th June 2012, 10:09   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
i don't think most people know what volume leveling is or means, so i'd say replay gain instead, as that is actually mentioned in the prefs and other areas of the app/tags, unlike "volume leveling." (they won't know what RG is either, but at least they might have seen it)

you could also explain that all RG does is change the volume, but it changes it across the whole track. and the other tag it uses, peak value, is what it uses to prevent clipping.

you say "the results of the analysis are never shown." well, first they are in the tags, and in the ML columns if selected. but those analysis results can be shown if they are applied manually, so you can see them prior to application.
I can come up with a better title, equating volume leveling and RG. How about:
Volume Leveling/ReplayGain (Keeping all your tracks at close to the same volume)
Too long?

I though the text made it clear that all RG does is change the volume across the whole track. I can try to make it clearer. RG is a technique. The way it is applied by WA and mp3gain are different. The bytes that control volume across the entire track are adjusted real time by WA's implementation. MP3Gain adjusts these bytes directly, so there is no need to adjust them during playback. The algorithms that WA and mp3gain use to determine these adjustments are probably close, but not the same (patent issues). The one mp3gain uses was stated, don't know what WA uses. I can also add more info on how clipping prevention is done, but again both implementations use the same techniques to accomplish it.

As to RG analysis results, WA does show 1 interim result, the peak value detected (if, like you say, the user elects to see it). This result is also shown on the advanced tab of the WA tag editor for flac files, but it is not shown in the WA tag editor for mp3 and wavepack files. Don't know about other formats, but unless they use vorbis tags I don't think it will be shown for them either. Likewise, the peak value is not one of the column choices in the media library. MP3Gain will provide more interim analysis results than the peak value detected, but as with WA, the user has to elect to see them. Also WA doesn't tell you if clipping was detected, mp3gain does.

Both implementations show the bottom line, namely the album and/or track values that will be used to control volume (including clipping prevention, if needed). These are the final analysis results, so I should have wrote that WA only shows 1 interim analysis result and mp3gain shows more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
you can also apply RG via the center top file info window's buttons, but this is not best practices, since if you have multiple tracks from the same album, you need to do them all at once to get the right album RG level. so anytime multiple tracks from one album are being done, they should all be done together to get the right album RG setting. in addition, album tags must be present, (and maybe some combo of other tags depending of different factors).
You are referring to the default Big Bento skin. I don't use that and didn't know. But since it is possible for skins to provide alternate ways to apply WA's RG, that needs to be mentioned, along with the drawbacks you stated.

Can you point me to where I may find the info to clear up the doubt about tag combos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
also, i do not believe winamp allows the user to remove just RG values, at least from id3. you'd have to delete the whole tag. a better undo is to just deactivate the RG feature in winamp, or use mp3tag to delete the RG values.
WA's RG adjustment values can be removed independent of the other tags for flac files. I assume this would be true for other formats that use vorbis tags, but they can not be removed independently for formats that use id3 tags. Your other points here are valid and should be added.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSinatra View Post
i would never use mp3gain b/c i do not want to impose or use APE tags on my files, and i would not want to need them to undo changes. imo, id3 works best with mp3, APE causes trouble.

mp3gain IS useful for situations where the user must adjust the data itself, b/c normal RG is not supported, but in such a case, i would adjust my hardware/software first, before i started applying mp3gain and APE to all my files. there's no question that i have DL'd mp3s that had mp3gain applied and i am stuck with them that way b/c the ape tags are gone.
Is the APE tag trouble in general or due to bugs in WA?

True, if you don't use the APE tag to record the mp3gain change, you can not use mp3gain to automatically return the track to the original volume level. But you can keep a log of the change and manually use mp3gain to reverse the change.

Also true, if you don't use the APE tag or keep a log or otherwise don't know what the change was, you can't get back to the original volume level. But you are not stuck. You can still use mp3gain to make another change, up or down, to the overall volume level.

This brings up another issue I did not mention. In the case where you need to increase the overall volume, this is awkward with WA's RG implementation. You have to use the pre-amp adjustment. This then affects all the other files with established WA RG values, since this adjustment is applied ahead of the WA RG adjustments. If you need to use the pre-amp for some files, then I think you would need to reanalyze all the files you did without this pre-amp adjustment being applied to prevent them becoming too loud again.


Ok, thanx for your input. Now how do I apply all these changes? Will a moderator let me back into the original posts or do I have to do them all over again?

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Old 6th June 2012, 22:18   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
I can come up with a better title, equating volume leveling and RG. How about:
Volume Leveling/ReplayGain (Keeping all your tracks at close to the same volume)
Too long?
i think thats good. i might say: "Volume Leveling/ReplayGain (Playing back your tracks at similar volume levels automatically)"

there probably also needs to be a clear explanation in the text of "gain" basically meaning "volume"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
I though the text made it clear that all RG does is change the volume across the whole track. I can try to make it clearer. RG is a technique. The way it is applied by WA and mp3gain are different.
personally, i think RG and mp3gain should not be conflated. they have the same goal, but they are otherwise completely different, and mp3gain really has nothing to do with winamp specifically. i think there should very clear delineation between them, totally different methods.

i also forgot to ask if mp3gain can support an "album" mode? i think it doesn't, but i could be wrong. if not, another big strike in my mind.

might be an idea to explain that "track gain" is best for any and all listening EXCEPT when listening to any two or more tracks off of the same album in sequential order. in that case, "album gain" is the better option to preserve the intended differences in dynamic range, (like DSOTM has for instance)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
The bytes that control volume across the entire track are adjusted real time by WA's implementation. MP3Gain adjusts these bytes directly, so there is no need to adjust them during playback.
i think winamp just reads the tag and adjusts the gain directly to the winamp volume slider. so if the slider is at 75%, it does that plus 3db if thats what the tag says. but i'm just guessing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
The algorithms that WA and mp3gain use to determine these adjustments are probably close, but not the same (patent issues). The one mp3gain uses was stated, don't know what WA uses. I can also add more info on how clipping prevention is done, but again both implementations use the same techniques to accomplish it.
that doesn't really concern me. meaning, how they arrive at their values isn't really pertinent imo. what is pertinent, is how it works. so like one is done on tag reading playback, the other direct to the audio, that kind of thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
As to RG analysis results, WA does show 1 interim result, the peak value detected (if, like you say, the user elects to see it).
i'm not sure what you are talking about here? if i have RG tags set to be manually applied, i can see both track and album RG values and peak values PRIOR to application. thats the default.

personally, i don't need to see them, so i make it so it just writes everything automatically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
This result is also shown on the advanced tab of the WA tag editor for flac files, but it is not shown in the WA tag editor for mp3 and wavepack files.
well, i said that once written, you can't edit the id3 ones anyway, and you probably can't see peak values for id3 at all. but u can see the RG values in the tags and ML. (another reason to use vorbis over id3 btw where possible)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Don't know about other formats, but unless they use vorbis tags I don't think it will be shown for them either. Likewise, the peak value is not one of the column choices in the media library. MP3Gain will provide more interim analysis results than the peak value detected, but as with WA, the user has to elect to see them. Also WA doesn't tell you if clipping was detected, mp3gain does.
no, the default is you will be shown them in winamp, and its all values. u have to elect NOT to see them, (and actually, i think that should be the default)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Both implementations show the bottom line, namely the album and/or track values that will be used to control volume (including clipping prevention, if needed). These are the final analysis results, so I should have wrote that WA only shows 1 interim analysis result and mp3gain shows more.
i'm really not following you, and i'm not sure if its because you're mistaken about things, or i don't understand the terms you're using.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
You are referring to the default Big Bento skin. I don't use that and didn't know. But since it is possible for skins to provide alternate ways to apply WA's RG, that needs to be mentioned, along with the drawbacks you stated.
well, esp since its the default.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Can you point me to where I may find the info to clear up the doubt about tag combos.
not sure what you mean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
WA's RG adjustment values can be removed independent of the other tags for flac files. I assume this would be true for other formats that use vorbis tags, but they can not be removed independently for formats that use id3 tags. Your other points here are valid and should be added.
umm, thats exactly what i said. i specifically said id3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Is the APE tag trouble in general or due to bugs in WA?
imo, they're trouble. we've had this discussion before, just recently in fact, and i pointed you to threads about APE and the problems i had with them.

imo, best to strip them, and not deal with them. and that in turn, is another strike against mp3gain. and i would also point out that 1.5db increments are a bit too far for my tastes. dbs are created as the levels the human ear can detect differences between, so one would want increments of one db or less, not more than one db.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
True, if you don't use the APE tag to record the mp3gain change, you can not use mp3gain to automatically return the track to the original volume level. But you can keep a log of the change and manually use mp3gain to reverse the change.
how many people do you expect would do this? its like saying use a phone book instead of google, or actually WRITE the phone book.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Also true, if you don't use the APE tag or keep a log or otherwise don't know what the change was, you can't get back to the original volume level. But you are not stuck. You can still use mp3gain to make another change, up or down, to the overall volume level.
and how would you know what the orig volume level is to get back to?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
This brings up another issue I did not mention. In the case where you need to increase the overall volume, this is awkward with WA's RG implementation. You have to use the pre-amp adjustment. This then affects all the other files with established WA RG values, since this adjustment is applied ahead of the WA RG adjustments. If you need to use the pre-amp for some files, then I think you would need to reanalyze all the files you did without this pre-amp adjustment being applied to prevent them becoming too loud again.
i'm not following you here at all.

all the pre-amp does is adjust the baseline. so if ones RG tags get the files to 89db, and i adjust the pre-amp to +2 db, then now all the RG files will playback at 91db. where's the problem in that?

the only issue is the preamp adjust ALL files, including ones WITHOUT tags, but you can compensate for that by adjusting down the db setting for files WITHOUT RG tags, which by default is already at -6db.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
Ok, thanx for your input. Now how do I apply all these changes? Will a moderator let me back into the original posts or do I have to do them all over again?
you probably need to do them again. i would start a new thread with new copy, and add a link from this one to the new one.

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Old 7th June 2012, 07:40   #8
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RAC - a live leveler (gain control)

Maybe you check out a Winamp-plugin I made, which levels all sound live while playing. Version 1.1 controls the gain in the mid frequencies for better listening pleasure.

The plugin is stuck in the Winamp-plugin-review for months now. Somebody still doing this for Winamp? I even made a new version since then, version 1.1. You can download it from the site at

http://mindbytez.com

On the site go to the "RAC".

The plugin is best suited for movies, but it works on music too. Play around with the settings if you like.

Richard
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Old 7th June 2012, 08:29   #9
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interesting, how does it work? compression? buffers? does it adjust gain midway thru a song? i'd not be into that. but for some internet streams, wavs and so on, i could see a use.

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Old 7th June 2012, 09:17   #10
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Hi MrSinatra,

I tried to respond to your post #7, but took too long. The token expired. Will try again next week when I have more free time.

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Old 7th June 2012, 09:22   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindbytez.com View Post
Maybe you check out a Winamp-plugin I made, which levels all sound live while playing. Version 1.1 controls the gain in the mid frequencies for better listening pleasure.

The plugin is best suited for movies, but it works on music too. Play around with the settings if you like.

Richard
Hi Richard,

I see your plug-in is a DSP. Does it provide linking to another DSP or is a stacker required?

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Old 7th June 2012, 09:31   #12
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Gain Control Plug-in

It is a Winamp Nullsoft Signal Processing Studio DSP plugin. I do not know a way to stack those or link to another DSP.

If there is a way, please point me to it so I can code it in.
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Old 7th June 2012, 09:35   #13
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you cannot directly do what Aminifu is mentioning (linking to another DSP) if this is just a sps file - the only way would be to use a DSP stacker plug-in to load the Nullsoft SPS plug-in with your sps file active and the other DSP plug-in(s) required.

and this is stuck in review as there were issues with the review system where submissions would not show up (from around February to April) and as no one on the team has confirmed if it is fixed or not (despite asking), i've now given up doing plug-in reviews so i've no idea who is doing plug-in reviews now (i assume no one).

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Old 12th June 2012, 13:31   #14
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Hi MrSinatra,

This response to your post # 7 is a summary rather than in a 'quote - reply' format since so many points are made in that post. If I miss something you would like me to address, let me know.


WA RG and mp3gain are not conflated, imo. The article is written in 3 parts to keep things separate. Part 1 discusses the general issue of tracks playing at different volume levels and the replay gain specification developed to deal with the issue. Part 2 discusses WA's implementation of the replay gain spec. Part 3 discusses a separate app that applies the replay gain spec for mp3s only.

MP3Gain does support album mode. The difference between album and track modes was not explained. Thanx for pointing out that omission. Personally I only use track mode. Some users may want to maintain the relative difference in volume between tracks on an album, so that info needs to be added.

I agree that many would not care about how things work, I included the technical stuff (including the comments on the difference in the reported analysis results) for those who would be interested. As to the WA analysis results, I was talking about the detected peak value not being shown in the media library and it's not shown in the WA tag editor, except for tracks with vorbis tags. The rest of the analysis stuff I was talking about could be 'overkill', since it makes no difference to the bottom line.

The pertinent point I should add is that the WA RG implementation does not allow a target level to be selected and the mp3gain RG implementation does. Some have complained that the target level WA's RG uses is too low. Careful use of the pre-amp adjustment could deal with this, but too large an adjustment could cause clipping. Some discussion of why clipping is undesirable probably needs to be added to part 1 of the article.


The 1.5db step increment/decrement is a function of the mp3 file format. This is explained in the article. Both WA and mp3gain have this limitation for mp3s. I have not been able to find out what step resolution WA's RG can achieve with other formats.


Before switching to mp3gain, I don't remember WA's RG needing the album tag or any other combinations of tags to be present in order to analyze and add replay gain tags. MP3gain does not have this restriction. I need to do some testing of this.


As far as returning to the original volume level. I was incomplete/wrong in regard to WA. Except for the WA tag editor being able to remove RG tags for formats that use vorgis tags, a 3rd party tagger is needed to remove these tags for other formats or WA can be 'told' to ignore the RG tags, like you say.

For mp3gain, the APE tags it can insert are needed to have mp3gain automatically return tracks to their original levels. Or, mp3gain can be 'told' to create the logs containing the info needed to use mp3gain to return tracks to their original levels manually. This is explained in the article. If you download a file that was 'adjusted' by mp3gain and you don't have the APE tags or the logs, then you can't get back to the original level, but you can still change the volume level of the mp3 further, up or down as needed.

Personally, I don't care about returning tracks to their original levels, since the whole point for me is having all tracks (even those from the same album) have close to the same overall volume level. The info about returning to the original levels, for both WA and mp3gain, is provided for those who would be concerned about this.


The example you gave for a track with low overall volume would probably not be a problem. But what about a track that needs a much larger adjustment. Then the other files, with RG tags, would be increased by this large adjustment also, maybe into clipping range. The only 'safe' way I see would be to re-analyze, but I'm not sure the pre-amp level is taken into account with WA's RG implementation. I need to do some testing of this also.


In places I agreed with the points you made and simply rephrased in my own words. Thank you for your comments. They have helped me realize stuff I had overlooked.


The article is not for new users only, hopefully those with some experience would get something out of it too.

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Old 12th June 2012, 13:56   #15
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I came across the article linked below that has an interesting take on loudness levels in new CDs of new and old music.

http://www.howtogeek.com/trivia/the-...known-as-what/

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Old 12th June 2012, 16:25   #16
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Yeah, loudness wars and compression (frequently found in "remasters" unfortunately) are bad for anyone who appreciates dynamic range and headroom.

Anyway, at this point i think you need a new draft in a new thread before any further comments are made.

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Old 13th June 2012, 02:05   #17
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well done on this thread aminifu

post updates here and i'll upload to the tsgh
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Old 13th June 2012, 02:26   #18
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Hi Rocker,

Thanx for the encouragement. It will take me a few days to incorporate the additions and corrections.

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Old 13th June 2012, 03:16   #19
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this is good news indeed. thx rocker. also, i would include this "official" winamp blog link for reference:

http://blog.winamp.com/2009/08/24/au...h-replay-gain/

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Old 13th June 2012, 09:21   #20
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this is good news indeed. thx rocker. also, i would include this "official" winamp blog link for reference:

http://blog.winamp.com/2009/08/24/au...h-replay-gain/
The only reason I would not favor a link to that article is that it is dated. It's one of the reasons I decided to write my article.

The list of formats supported leaves out wavpack and maybe others. More important, the WA preferences dialog shown has been updated with some important options since that blog was written.

It addition, there is nothing in that article that is not (or will not be) in mine (after the soon-to-be-posted updates to which you have contributed to).

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Old 13th June 2012, 18:28   #21
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you can state all that, but it is the "official" word from winamp, and it is just for reference. i think it should be included.

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Old 14th June 2012, 05:18   #22
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you can state all that, but it is the "official" word from winamp, and it is just for reference. i think it should be included.
These official documents need to be updated when important changes are made to the product. I know this entails more work, but it still needs to be done, imo. Most companies I've worked for stressed that the job wasn't finished until the documentation was as complete and up-to-date as possible or relevant.

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Old 18th June 2012, 13:14   #23
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Volume Leveling/ReplayGain
(Keeping your songs playing at close to the same overall volume)


PART 1


Why Volume Leveling is Needed?


Although music is encoded to a digital format with a clearly defined maximum peak amplitude, and although most recordings are normalized to utilize this peak amplitude, not all recordings sound equally loud. This is because once this peak amplitude is reached, perceived loudness can be further increased through signal-processing techniques such as dynamic range compression and equalization. Therefore, the loudness of a given album has more to do with the year of issue or the whim of the producer than anything else. Volume differences between songs have always existed, but digital mastering has taken this to new heights. Link below to an article on the "Loudness War".

http://www.howtogeek.com/trivia/the-...known-as-what/

A random play through a music collection can have significant volume changes with every other track played! Tired of manually adjusting volume while listening to a playlist? There [I]is a solution[I] to this annoyance: within each audio file, information can be stored about what volume change would be required to play each track or album at a standard loudness. Music players, that support it, can use this "replay gain" information to automatically nudge the volume up or down as required.

To prevent clipping when applying an overall target dB level for the standard loudness, it's best to use a relatively low level than a high one. Analog clipping is a form of waveform distortion that occurs when an amplifier is over-driven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its maximum capability. Along with distortion, clipping can damage a speaker's tweeter (the part that plays high frequencies) via overheating. In digital signal processing, clipping occurs when the signal is restricted by the range of a chosen representation for the signal. For example in a system using 16-bit signed integers, 32767 is the largest positive value that can be represented, and if during processing the amplitude of the signal is doubled, sample values of, for instance, 32000 should become 64000, but instead they are truncated to the maximum, 32767. This causes the relative differences in amplitude between different parts of the signal not being what they should be.

Clipping in the original file or when applying an overall target dB level most often occurs because of the DSP engineering techniques applied to the file.


What is ReplayGain?


The ReplayGain specification is a standard which defines an appropriate reference level, explains a way of calculating and representing the ideal replay gain or volume for a given track or album, and provides guidance for players to make the required overall volume adjustment during playback. The standard also specifies a means to prevent clipping when the calculated replay gain exceeds the limits of digital audio and it describes how the replay gain information is stored within audio files.

The audio industry does not have a standard for playback system calibration, but in the movie industry a calibration standard has been defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). The standard states that a single channel pink noise signal with an RMS level of -20 dB relative to a full-scale sinusoid should be reproduced at 83 dB SPL.

ReplayGain adapts the SMPTE calibration concept for music playback. Under ReplayGain, audio is played so that its loudness matches the loudness of a pink noise signal with an RMS level of -14 dB relative to a full-scale sinusoid.

In ReplayGain implementations, the reference level is described in terms of the SMPTE SPL playback level. By the SMPTE definition, the 83 dB SPL reference corresponds to -20FS dB system headroom. The -14 dB headroom used by ReplayGain therefore corresponds to an 89 dB SPL playback level on a SMPTE calibrated system and so is said to be operating with an 89 dB reference level.

SMPTE cinema calibration calls for a single channel of pink noise reproduced through a single loudspeaker. In music applications, the ideal level of the music is actually the loudness when two speakers are in use. So, ReplayGain is calibrated to two channels of pink noise.


Your eyes glazing over yet? Had enough of this technical stuff? Yes, move on the Part 2. No, search the WEB for more details. Here's a link to get you started.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replay_Gain

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Old 18th June 2012, 13:17   #24
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Volume Leveling/ReplayGain
(Keeping your songs playing at close to the same overall volume)



PART 2


ReplayGain and Winamp


To apply WA's ReplayGain (RG) to your music files, right-click one or more selected songs in the Media Library or Playlist and select 'Calculate Replay Gain' via the 'Send To' menu. Some Winamp skins (user interfaces) provide additional ways to select a RG calculation. The calculated RG values are stored in special file tags. These tags can only be understood by music players that recognize this particular implementation. The actual audio data is unchanged. The data in these tags is used by WA to control the overall volume as it plays the song. Offically supported file formats are MP3, WMA, WMV, AAC, MP4, M4A, OGG & FLAC. The wavpack format (WV) is also supported if the wavpack decoder (included in the Winamp Essentials Package) is installed.

The RG calculation determines the peak value detected in each song. The peak value is used along with the track (song) and album adjustment values for a particular target dB level that will control the overall volume without causing clipping. The relatively low overall target dB level used is not published and can not be changed. The final overall volume may be lower than it needs to be, but this 'safe' dB level is easily countered by raising your sound device's master volume control and/or applying the Replay Gain Preamp (explained below).

Album value calculations seek to maintain any relative volume level differences between songs, as they are on the real album. To use this correctly, only select the songs that are from the same album when you do the RG calculation and be sure the album tag in these files is correct. If a file's album tag is empty, the album value is not calculated but the track value is. The track values are always calculated even if there are no tags in the files.

Selecting 'Save as Album' when you save the RG calculation results saves both the album and track values. That way you can use either one when you want to. WA dev's recommended preference is to use 'Save as Album'. Selecting 'Save Track data' when you save the RG calculation results only saves the track values. I recommend using this option if you have included songs from different albums in the same RG calculation. You can redo the RG calculations at any time (if you decide to group song selections by album and add their RG album values later).

WA's use of these RG tags is enabled/disabled via the General Preferences - Playback - Replay Gain options. The other 8 options on this General Preferences page are;

1) Amplification Mode: Default selection is 'Apply Gain / Prevent Clipping' (recommended by WA devs). This will level out the overall volume and prevent distortion. Three other choices are available: Apply Gain, Prevent Clipping, and Normalize. These are sub-optimal ways to use RG. Applying gain alone may cause clipping. Preventing clipping alone will not level out the overall volume. Normalizing will apply a constant amount of 'correction' to reach the target dB level and may cause clipping. Normal RG uses varying amounts of 'correction' to reach the target dB level.

2) Preferred Source: Choose between 'Track' (default, all songs play at close to the same level even if they are from the same album) or 'Album' (songs from the same album will maintain their relative volume differences, if any).

3) Disable if preferred source not available: Disables RG if e.g. 'Album' source is selected but only 'Track' tags are available.

4) Adjustment for files without RG: Pre-amp selection applied to all files without RG tags (default value is -6.0 dB). -6.0 dB was chosen as an average across a broad range of music and deemed appropriate for the target dB level that WA's RG uses. I recommend changing this to 0 dB and adjusting it as needed when playing songs with RG tags mixed with those without RG tags.

5) Replay Gain Preamp: Pre-amp selection to adjust the global gain for all files with or without RG tags (default value is 0 dB). This gain is not taken into account by the RG calculations. It may be useful when playing streaming media that is very soft or very loud (you still need to be ready to adjust volume manually). This gain can also be useful if you feel that WA's RG overall volume level is too soft. Use this preamp (and the previous option #4) with care, it could work against what you're trying to accomplish with RG.

6) Ask before writing Replay Gain to analyzed files: When enabled, the RG calculation results window will appear at the end of the calculation. When disabled, track and album (if applicable) values will be saved automatically without prompting. WA always displays a window that shows the progress of the calculations.

7) ---Ask after each album is scanned: Prompts to save values after each file is scanned.

8) ---Ask after all files are scanned: Prompts to save values after all files are scanned.


Within the media library's CD ripping options is another RG related option, "Automatically calculate Replay Gain". This option enables/disables the automatic calculation and application of RG values to ripped files. This is a hidden process which occurs at the end of each individual track. The default behavior is to apply album and track tags. Note that enabling this option may considerably slow down the overall ripping process.


Undo (returning songs to their original volume levels) is simple, just disable WA's use of the RG tags. Alternatively, the WA tag editor may be used to delete the RG tags from files that use the vorbis tagging standard (e.g. flac). A 3rd party tagger must be used to delete RG tags from files that use other tagging standards (e.g. id3 in mp3s) and may also be used to delete vorbis RG tags.


Still using mp3s? Yes, move on the Part 3. No, go apply WA's RG and stop jumping for the volume control.

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Old 18th June 2012, 13:25   #25
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Volume Leveling/ReplayGain
(Keeping your songs playing at close to the same overall volume)



PART 3


A 3rd Party ReplayGain Alternative for MP3s Only!


"MP3Gain" is a free program that can analyze and adjust mp3 files so that they have the close to the same overall volume. It is a different implementation of the ReplayGain spec. MP3Gain uses David Robinson's Replay Gain algorithm to calculate how loud the file actually sounds to a human's ears. With MP3Gain, the loudness adjustment is done on the data itself, in a lossless/reversible way. The physical volume is adjusted in 1.5 dB steps. There is no quality lost in the change because MP3Gain adjusts each mp3 file directly, without decoding and re-encoding the file.

Here's the technical reason on why it's lossless (despite operating on the data itself), and also why the smallest change possible is 1.5 dB:

The MP3 format stores the sound information in small chunks called "frames". Each frame represents a fraction of a second of sound. In each frame there is a "global gain" field. This field holds an 8-bit integer which can represent values from 0 to 255.

When an MP3 player decodes the sound in each frame, it uses the "global gain" field to multiply the decoded sound samples by 2^(gain/4). If you add 1 to this field in all of the MP3's sound frames, you effectively multiply the amplitude of the whole file by 2^(1/4) = 119 % = +1.5 dB. Likewise, if you subtract 1 from this field in all of the frames, you effectively multiply the amplitude by 2^(-1/4) = 84 % = -1.5 dB, thereby reducing the amplitude of the whole file.


The way MP3Gain works actually has a very strong benefit. Since it is the "global gain" field data itself that is modified, special support in music players is not required. All music players can play mp3s 'adjusted' by MP3Gain.


MP3Gain can store 'analysis' and 'undo' information in special tags inside the mp3 file. These tags use the APEv2 format. If you choose not to use these tags or delete them with a 3rd party tagger, then you will not be able to use MP3Gain to automatically undo its changes. You will still be able to undo the changes you make, but you will have to do it manually. MP3Gain can make logs of its analysis, changes, and any errors detected. These logs are text files and may have names and storage locations of your choosing. MP3Gain must be used, along with information from the changes logs, to manually undo the changes made with MP3Gain.

MP3Gain provides either Track mode or Album mode analysis and respective overall volume adjustment values. Album mode seeks to maintain the any relative volume level differences between songs, as they are on the real album. To use Album mode correctly, only select the songs that are from the same album when you do the analysis. Both modes may be used for analysis even if there are no tags in the mp3 files, but only a track or an album adjustment can be written to a file.


MP3Gain is very easy to use. Have it load one or more mp3 files or a folder of mp3s and select a track or album mode analysis. As MP3Gain analyzes each file, the results are displayed along with an indication of whether clipping is present in the original file. After all files are analyzed, overall target dB levels (to a tenth of a dB, i.e. xx.x) can then be chosen, before they are applied, to see their effect on clipping. This allows a minimum overall target dB level adjustment to be made when the main goal is to remove clipping in the original file. Of course, the same overall target dB level adjustment (minimum or not) needs to be made to all files when the main goal is overall volume leveling of all files in the group. Additional analysis and adjustments, moving the overall target dB level up or down, can be made at any time.


Use MP3Gain or WA's RG for your mp3s, while it is possible, I don't recommend using both on the same mp3 files. If you use MP3Gain for your mp3s and WA's RG for your other file formats, be sure to set the "Adjustment for files without RG" option to 0 dB or take whatever it's set to into account when you select the MP3Gain overall target dB level for your mp3s.



CAUTION!!!

There is another app with a very similar name. "Mp3Gain PRO" does a different form of volume normalization inside the mp3s. If you feel a song is too quiet or too loud at the beginning (or middle, or end), then it can boost or reduce the volume just for that part. Pretty cool, if that's what you need. In order to make its fine-tuned adjustments, it must re-encode the mp3 file and the changes it makes are not undo-able. For these reasons, I do not recommend Mp3Gain PRO for general use and recommend making a backup of the original mp3 file.

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Old 19th June 2012, 03:56   #26
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Hi Rocker,

Thank you again for deeming my contribution worthy of adding to TSGH. There is an incorrect italic tag in the third sentence in the second paragraph of Part 1. Will you fix it for me? Sorry I missed that. Hopefully there are no major errors in the facts presented in the article.

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Old 21st June 2012, 02:48   #27
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are the above your revisions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aminifu View Post
These official documents need to be updated when important changes are made to the product. I know this entails more work, but it still needs to be done, imo. Most companies I've worked for stressed that the job wasn't finished until the documentation was as complete and up-to-date as possible or relevant.
i don't disagree, but that doesn't mean the link can't be posted.

also, this:

http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?t=345499

and the hydrogen links in it.

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Old 21st June 2012, 05:22   #28
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are the above your revisions?
Yes they are and they have been posted to the TSGH, along with a link to this thread. So all the comments and links here are available to any who wants to read them.

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Old 5th February 2016, 09:34   #29
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for further reference:

http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?t=345499

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReplayGain

and R128:

https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/r/r128.pdf

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Old 29th September 2016, 15:55   #30
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Volume Leveling/ReplayGain
(Keeping your songs playing at close to the same overall volume)



PART 3


A 3rd Party ReplayGain Alternative for MP3s Only!


"MP3Gain" is a free program that can analyze and adjust mp3 files so that they have the close to the same overall volume. It is a different implementation of the ReplayGain spec. MP3Gain uses David Robinson's Replay Gain algorithm to calculate how loud the file actually sounds to a human's ears...
I have been using this for years & still use it on all my mp3s...

However...

Although I find it still works with Windows 10 it runs quite slow & is prone to temporary freezing. And since it hasn't been updated since 2009 (yes, even longer than winamp) I'm not holding my breath for any more updates...

Is there any other software out there that does the same job using the David Robinson's Replay Gain algorithm (or similar) that will fully utilise the capabilities of a modern Windows 10 x64 PC?
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Old 29th September 2016, 16:32   #31
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i don't quite follow you. mp3gain and RG are different. which do u want to use?

also, winamp uses the old RG. r128 is newer but not yet supported.

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Old 29th September 2016, 17:04   #32
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i don't quite follow you. mp3gain and RG are different. which do u want to use?

also, winamp uses the old RG. r128 is newer but not yet supported.
I'm using MP3Gain

Still works on Windows 10, just not very well.
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Old 29th September 2016, 17:11   #33
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i know what mp3gain is. what i don't know is what your plan is for your files/collection?

mp3gain and RG are different. which do u want to use going forward?

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Old 29th September 2016, 19:25   #34
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I have been using this for years & still use it on all my mp3s...

However...

Although I find it still works with Windows 10 it runs quite slow & is prone to temporary freezing. And since it hasn't been updated since 2009 (yes, even longer than winamp) I'm not holding my breath for any more updates...

Is there any other software out there that does the same job using the David Robinson's Replay Gain algorithm (or similar) that will fully utilise the capabilities of a modern Windows 10 x64 PC?
I was also happy using Mp3Gain for years. I've only been using Windows 10 for a little over 2 months and had not tried using Mp3Gain with it. Thank you for the info on how it performs with Windows 10.

In all the years I spent using Mp3Gain with my mp3s I never found another program that could do what it does. Anyway, lossy formats like mp3 are not used very much anymore except for use with mobile devices with limited storage memory. Most desktop users with ample storage now use loss-less formats for their digital music.

I also don't expect any more updates for Mp3Gain. It's developer abandoned it long ago.

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Old 30th September 2016, 10:00   #35
DJ-Garybaldy
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I'm using MP3Gain

Still works on Windows 10, just not very well.
Works on Windows 10 here without too many issues (It just takes a while to volume level tracks) have you go the right Visual Basic files installed?

Its the same as it was on Windows 7/8 mp3gain requires Visual basic installing to work properly.



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Old 30th September 2016, 10:38   #36
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Actually tested mp3gain on 2 different W10 installs and ones sluggish while the other install whizzes through files.

I suspect its down to the Visual basic files not being installed as i'd mentioned previously.



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Old 30th September 2016, 18:12   #37
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Originally Posted by DJ-Garybaldy View Post
Works on Windows 10 here without too many issues (It just takes a while to volume level tracks) have you go the right Visual Basic files installed?

Its the same as it was on Windows 7/8 mp3gain requires Visual basic installing to work properly.
Thank you for your input. I just tried Mp3Gain v1.2.5 and it works as fast as it did on Windows 7. I must have the necessary support files installed properly.

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Old 17th December 2017, 02:06   #38
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Just curious here. Would volume compressing at the outputs also do the trick ? BTW, your comments are extremely helpful.
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Old 18th December 2017, 06:07   #39
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Just curious here. Would volume compressing at the outputs also do the trick ? BTW, your comments are extremely helpful.
the point of RG is to try to make it so the user doesn't have to adjust the volume knob to achieve a consistent volume across differing tracks without using compression.

most audiophiles don't like compression or the EQ limiter b/c it meddles with the audio in basically an impure way (like killing the dynamic range, etc). what do u mean by "compressing at the outputs" tho?

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Old 20th March 2018, 15:55   #40
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I don't know if anybody is actually monitoring this thread anymore, but wanted to pose a question just in case. This whole replay gain thing is a nice concept, but I'm not entirely convinced that the Winamp implementation works. I am using v5.666 build 3516. What I am experiencing is that the replay gain settings seem to be completely ignored. Using MP3Gain, I processed an MP3 file using "normalization" settings of 82dB and 94dB, then played the file using both settings, while measuring volume with an SPL meter. In both instances, my max dB was virtually identical (+ or - a tenth of a decibel), despite having a 12dB differential in the gain adjustment. (While I am by no means an audio expert, I realize that the gain settings probably don't correlate exactly with actual volume levels - i.e. 12 dB difference in gain not equal to an actual 12dB difference in volume - but there should've been a noticeable difference.) What's more, if I disable replay gain altogether I get the same readings on the SPL meter!!! Replay gain appears to have no effect whatsoever. Anybody else ever notice this?
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