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Thread: Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

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  1. #1
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    Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

    I've searched through the forum's and help guides but I didn't really find an answer to my ReplayGain (not RP apply) setting questions. I do CD ripping for clients and I've started to think it would be a good idea to include RG tags just in case their media player of choice can read and use them. I need some guidance on the Write settings to use. Because the majority of my clients are Apple users I mainly rip in ALAC format and if I want to include iTunes Normalization which setting should I use? In the RG settings there are several options in the Write drop down:

    *Track, Album Gain, & iTunes Track Normalization
    *Track, Album Gain, & iTunes Album Normalization
    *iTunes Track Normalization
    *Album Gain & iTunes Album Normalization

    Also, I'm confused as to how a media player would use both Track and Album gain settings should both be applied during ripping, is there some priority to which a player would read first, etc. I would appreciate a link to more detailed description of the various options.

    Thank you for your assistance,

  2. #2
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    Re: Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

    1. an apple device uses itunes normalization. This is a single value, thus one must choose to use "track" normalization or "album" normalization for the apple value. Thus the difference in the first two options. The 3rd option doesn't add RG at all. The 4th option adds RG album value and itunes normalization using the album value.

    2. The above is why RG is more flexible than itunes normalization. (ability to use track and album versus only one, chosen in advance when writing tag).

    3. Ability to use track and album RG is player dependent. For example, I use LMS/Squeezeboxes, foobar2000, and Roon Server. All 3 have a way to use either track gain, album gain, or (most interestingly) "smart" selection that depends on certain things. So one can set the player/program to use only track gain, or only album gain, or a "smart gain". The "smart gain" works in the following way. If this is selected and I'm playing a mixture of tracks from *different* albums, then the player will automatically use "track" RG (because I'm trying to have the volumes of the tracks about the same). If I'm playing an album (or a playlist that has complete albums one after the other), then the player will automatically use "album" RG (in order to maintain the intra-track volume differences which are supposed to be there).

    I'm very fond of this "smart gain" approach. Unfortunately, with ipods, iphones, itunes, etc. it is not so smart. Apple playback applies only one value, and you had to choose it way in advance. If one was assigning volume adjustments using itunes as ripper, one would ONLY get track level adjustments. It is only programs like dbpa, foobar2000, and a few others that can take RG values and convert them to apple readable volume normalization values.

    So, for your clients you'd want to ask: Do you mostly listen to albums or mostly to random mixture of tracks? If the latter, you'd likely use "Track, Album Gain, & iTunes Track Normalization". At least in this case, they can use this and then when playing complete albums, they can simply turn OFF the "use volume normalization" in their apple playback device.

  3. #3
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    Re: Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

    Great information, thank you. If I use the "Track, Album Gain, & iTunes Track Normalization" what would happen if the iTunes user didn't turn off "use volume normalization" in their Apple device when listening to a complete album? The other big draw for clients is Sonos which I don't believe can read ReplayGain tags but correct me if I'm wrong.

    The "smart gain" feature does sound compelling and something I'd be inclined to use also. I run Roon on a MacMini pulling ALAC music files from a QNAP TS-241 NAS and this is what I do my more serious listening on. I use Foobar2000 on my Windows based CD ripping PC, mostly for quick listening tests and to see how the genre's are showing up to make sure all are correct. I'll look into setting this up on Roon.

  4. #4
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    Re: Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    If I use the "Track, Album Gain, & iTunes Track Normalization" what would happen if the iTunes user didn't turn off "use volume normalization" in their Apple device when listening to a complete album? The other big draw for clients is Sonos which I don't believe can read ReplayGain tags but correct me if I'm wrong.
    What would happen is that the album would be played using Track gain. And this would modify the relative volume of each track. So when there is supposed to be a very quiet track relative to some other louder track, the volume normalization would increase the volume of the quiet track. Apple/itunes has been working this way for years and the average user never even notices this. So its not horrible; it's just not the way the artist intended the album to sound from song to song.

    Regarding SONOS, I have one but don't really use it. From reading their forum, I think there are lots of complaints about how SONOS deals with volume normalization. It *may* now uses RG tag info, but will use itunes value instead if it exists(but not really sure about this). I also recall that it only uses the Track level RG if it does use RG at all. Sonos is a good product, but for some reason they are way behind on volume normalization (i.e., they don't use anything like the "smart" gain application of LMS, foobar, or Roon.

  5. #5
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    Re: Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

    Ok, I think I'm understanding this now and the fact that the use of RG is player dependent as far as which values it uses, track, album, etc. A while back I tried to play a bunch of tracks with RG values on Sonos and it didn't work to level volume so I'm guessing they still haven't really implemented this capability yet. Seems odd that they wouldn't be more on top of that feature but then how many music libraries out there have RG tags embedded. Thanks again for all the info.

  6. #6
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    Re: Replay Gain settings/iTunes Normalization

    Quote Originally Posted by sjc View Post
    Ok, I think I'm understanding this now and the fact that the use of RG is player dependent as far as which values it uses, track, album, etc. A while back I tried to play a bunch of tracks with RG values on Sonos and it didn't work to level volume so I'm guessing they still haven't really implemented this capability yet. Seems odd that they wouldn't be more on top of that feature but then how many music libraries out there have RG tags embedded. Thanks again for all the info.
    correct. And Sonos has poor Volume Leveling implementation as of now. Lots of threads about this on their forum.

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