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Thread: Not enough volume

  1. #16
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    Re: Not enough volume

    This is excellent information, thank you. I've been using dBpoweramp CD ripper exclusively for my own library and for when I rip client CD collections. If I haven't mentioned it I'm an AV Integrator and pretty much use Sonos exclusively for house audio distribution and I improve audio quality with the use of higher performance external amps, speakers, etc. It's mainly the fact that there is no control programming involved and the clients understand the interface! With that said, since I began by ripping my own 700+ CD collection I've since done all rips in FLAC and ALAC but never added RG tags. For clients I usually give them ALAC because 90% of them are Mac users - MBP's, iPads, iPhones, etc. and might want to use the files for other purposes on the Apple devices they own. And frankly I've never had a client complain about varying volume levels but now that I've learned about the RG capabilities in dBpoweramp it is more about providing the capability in the event it is needed down the road and just my desire to learn about all of these features.

    As you suggest, there are so many variables that I just need to do what would work for the client (or my) environment. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Is it possible to add RG tags to a CD library that I've already ripped to uncompressed FLAC (or ALAC for that matter)?
    2. I only see the RG tag options that are selectable in the settings dropdown area of the Replay Gain DSP option. Are there other options that I could apply if I knew the specific playback environment.
    3. Regarding adding RG tags to FLAC during ripping, does it matter what encoding level I use, for example Lossless uncompressed vs Lossless Level 5 (default in CD ripper) and/or is audio quality affected by using one FLAC compression level over another?

    Also, I thought AIFF was the older codec that doesn't support meta data and ID tagging as well as the newer ALAC so why doesn't Apple support it in iTunNorm, but wait were talking about Apple.

    Thanks again for the info, very helpful!

  2. #17
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    1. Is it possible to add RG tags to a CD library that I've already ripped to uncompressed FLAC (or ALAC for that matter)?
    Yes. I think most ripping programs can do that now. I'm not sure if it'd have much utility to add RG tags to ALAC files, since I would think most players that support normalization would "assume" iTunNORM for those.

    By the way, I've used ALAC with my Sonos for years, like your clients, and I very seldom come across a CD where the volume seems unusually high or low. I don't normalize those, and don't miss it.

    2. I only see the RG tag options that are selectable in the settings dropdown area of the Replay Gain DSP option. Are there other options that I could apply if I knew the specific playback environment.
    Not entirely sure what you mean, but I believe dBp writes RG and iTunNORM tags.

    3. Regarding adding RG tags to FLAC during ripping, does it matter what encoding level I use, for example Lossless uncompressed vs Lossless Level 5 (default in CD ripper) and/or is audio quality affected by using one FLAC compression level over another?
    Not at all....just a file size and compression setting. Doesn't affect the audio in any way.

    Also, I thought AIFF was the older codec that doesn't support meta data and ID tagging as well as the newer ALAC so why doesn't Apple support it in iTunNorm, but wait were talking about Apple.
    AIFF is older, but I think it still gets used a lot. You're right, it's not as metadata-friendly. I think Apple does support iTunNORM tags in all its codecs, including ALAC (iTUnes will run its Soundcheck routine and add them to an ALAC library, if you let it). It was Sonos that, for whatever reason, does not.

  3. #18
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    1. Is it possible to add RG tags to a CD library that I've already ripped to uncompressed FLAC (or ALAC for that matter)?
    Yes, download and install the latest Replay Gain Utility Codec.

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    2. I only see the RG tag options that are selectable in the settings dropdown area of the Replay Gain DSP option. Are there other options that I could apply if I knew the specific playback environment.
    Not in dBpoweramp. Not sure of other 3rd party software implementations of Replay Gain.

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    3. Regarding adding RG tags to FLAC during ripping, does it matter what encoding level I use, for example Lossless uncompressed vs Lossless Level 5 (default in CD ripper) and/or is audio quality affected by using one FLAC compression level over another?
    No. There is a recent thread about this, I just can't find it at the moment.


    ... sorry if I am repeating here, I didn't see the previous post by BrodyBoy
    Last edited by mville; 05-16-2015 at 12:35 PM.

  4. #19
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    Re: Not enough volume

    BrodyBoy,
    So to clarify, you are saying that if I were to play an ALAC file in iTunes it would normalize volume even if there were no RG tags attached to the ALAC file?
    And I agree with your Sonos comment and so as I mentioned this is really academic and a learning process. Also I would probably be better served to add the RG tags to FLAC files.

  5. #20
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    Re: Not enough volume

    mville,

    Thanks for the info, if I'm running the latest update of dBp 15.2 Ref do I still need to download the RG codec you mentioned. Also, how do I add the RG tags to FLAC? In Batch Converter?

  6. #21
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    if I'm running the latest update of dBp 15.2 Ref do I still need to download the RG codec you mentioned. Also, how do I add the RG tags to FLAC? In Batch Converter?
    Yes, go here (look down the page for Utility Codecs for Music Converter):

    https://www.dbpoweramp.com/codec-central.htm

    after the Replay Gain Utility Codec is installed, run Batch Converter. When you are on the dBpoweramp Music Converter window you'll see Repaly Gain in the Converting To dropdown.

  7. #22
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Thank you, I appreciate all the thoughts and information.

  8. #23
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Actually, one other question. If I'm applying RG tags to FLAC would I use the same settings I mentioned above which include the Track, Album Gain & iTunes Normalization or would I just use the Track & Album Gain option in the RG settings Write drop down menu? This is assuming iTunes will never play FLAC files.

  9. #24
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Some comments on this interesting thread:

    The best way to find out what if any metadata (non-applied) replay gain settings are used by your playback systems, run a little test. Record/rip some audio, no replay gain metadata. Make a copy with a different name, right click and edit metadata in the copy to set replay gain (album) tag to -30. Make another copy of the original and set the replay gain (track) to -30. Make a third copy and set ItunesNorm (or whatever it is called) to -30. You probably have to repeat this for each filetype (FLAC, mp3, m4a. ALAC, etc. that you use. If you have .WAV files, you probably will have to run the ID Tag Update codec to add a proper chunk so you can add tags to the.wav files, as most editors that support .wav files don't write proper metadata chunks.

    Now play each file through your playback systems, and listen to the results. The files set to -30 should play back very markedly softer than the original if the tag is used by your playback system. Also note, if you are using more than one DLNA control surface with the same DLNA renderer (player), results may be different with different control surfaces.

    For moderately/heavily compressed audio, such as mp3 or m4a files, you could probably just as well use the replay gain (apply) option, (once you are sure how you like it set), there is little to be lost from further modifying the audio in these compressed files. You might consider keeping a "unapplied" backup copy of the files (quite possibly on a USB "brick" drive) in case you are concerned about changing your mind about the settings. Once you "apply" the setting, the files will play back at the same level on any playback device that doesn't try to do its own level adjusting as the actual level is now "burned into" the recorded audio. For FLAC, I'd not use the "apply" version if at all possible, but set tags which control the playback device.

    I too was surprised at the number of tracks that report that the replay gain normalizer set at -18 LUFS could not meet that target because the played back track would have clipped, as I previously commented on this forum. When we designed analog audio systems in the pre-digital days, the rule of thumb in a conservatively designed system in the parts of the system where levels were controlled (i.e. there was a VU meter and someone hopefully with a gain control watching it) we allowed 20 dB of headroom above the "normal operating level". 18 dB is very close to that limit. And if the matrerial was recorded on analog tape, the tape saturation would serve as a limiter well below 18 dB if you recorded at typical levels.

    If the end result of the replay gain normalizer misses the -18 target by a dB (LU) or two, you probably will not notice. If it misses by five or 10, it will play back very soft except for the (probably brief) loud part. I would expect to see this issue in classical and some jazz music where I expect extreme dynamic range, but when it exists in pop music, to me that probably points to bad mastering before making the CD.

  10. #25
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    Re: Not enough volume

    I too was wondering if the cause of all the clipping warnings was the mastering of the CD's themselves. I was also wondering if anyone had any comments on what Write parameters to use when adding RG tags to FLAC files. I'm assuming I don't need the iTunesNorm settings.

    I guess after this informative discussion, learning about all the variables especially in the playback end and considering my specific experiences using mostly Sonos for playback of files ripped from CD, I'm left wondering if adding RG tags to ALAC files is even necessary. My concern is that if I do a CD rip project for a client and hand them a batch of ALAC files with RG tags and their player of choice doesn't allow manual enable/disable for RG then they are stuck RG manipulating volume. If I'm installing their system then I can control the playback environment but I've never used RG with Sonos/FLAC and I don't ever recall seeing setup options for it in the zone players (but that doesn't mean RG options aren't there). I could see where RG might be useful if Sonos is set to shuffle an entire music library for a day long listening session so I'll have to try it.

  11. #26
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    Re: Not enough volume

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    BrodyBoy,
    So to clarify, you are saying that if I were to play an ALAC file in iTunes it would normalize volume even if there were no RG tags attached to the ALAC file?
    And I agree with your Sonos comment and so as I mentioned this is really academic and a learning process. Also I would probably be better served to add the RG tags to FLAC files.
    iTunes will scan the files and normalize if the Soundcheck function is enabled.

    One of the (many) annoying quirks in iTunes is that Soundcheck can turned on inadvertently. On my son's laptop, for example, he has an extensive ALAC library, uses iTunes as his player, and very occasionally burns discs for friends. Because the library was ripped and carefully tagged in dBp, all the iTunes settings for library management & normalization are turned off. But sometimes, out of the blue, he starts up and sees that iTunes is scanning & normalizing his library. (The scan can easily be cancelled, but it'll do the whole library if you let it.) It took us a long time to figure why it would do this. It turns out that when you burns a disc, iTunes defaults to applying normalization to that disc. But if you don't catch this and turn it off, it leaves Soundcheck enabled...so the next time you open iTunes, its library scan sees "missing" iTunNORM tags and wants to start applying them. Really obnoxious! (Oddly enough, iTunes documentation suggests that Soundcheck doesn't even work on ALAC files.....yet it adds the tags anyway.)

    So, clarifying again on your question, it's not something that happens when you play a track in iTunes. It's something that will happen if Soundcheck is enabled and iTunes doesn't see iTunNORM tags during its routine library update scans. (By default, it scans for changes each time it opens.)
    Last edited by BrodyBoy; 05-16-2015 at 06:40 PM.

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