How To Make All Your MP3s Play At The Same Volume

Isn’t it annoying sometimes when you are playing back mp3s and the you have to keep dashing for the volume control because the playback volume can differ dramatically from track to track. This can occur particularly for older CDs that weren’t recorded in a modern studio. Although some mp3 players like iTunes try to fix this using ‘soundcheck’ to make each track play back at the same volume, they don’t tend to work very well.

The best way of achieving a constant playback volume is to use MP3Gain. MP3Gain adds extra information to the tags within the mp3 file to ensure that all tracks have the same volume. It does this by using an algorithm to calculate how loud the file actually sounds to a human’s ears. It also does this in a lossless way so it doesn’t impact the quality of your music files, and the modifications are fully reversible if you don’t like the results.
To use MP3Gain on your music collection do the following:

(I) Download and install the latest version of MP3Gain

(II) Once installed select the following options:

  • Options -> Add subfolders
  • Options -> Preserve file date/time
  • Options -> Don’t clip when doing Track Gain Options

(III) Now click on ‘add folder’ or ‘add file’ in the header to add your music files

(IV) Now you need to apply gain. There are two ways of doing this. You can either analyse each track (‘Track Gain’)individually to increase/decrease the volume to your target level. Or, you can analyse each album and apply the gain to the whole album so that the albums average volume hits your target level. I prefer applying ‘Album Gain’ as Artists often deliberately make some tracks louder or quieter. If you don’t tend to listen to complete albums at a time then ‘Track Gain’ is for you.

  • Track Gain: If ‘Track Gain’ isn’t displayed on your toolbar, click the drop-down next to ‘Album Gain’ and select ‘Track Gain’. Then click the ‘Track Gain’ button and let it run (note: for large libraries this could take a while).
  • Album Gain: If ‘Album Gain’ isn’t displayed on your toolbar, click the drop-down next to ‘Track Gain’ and select ‘Album Gain’. Then click the ‘Album Gain’ button and let it run (note: for large libraries this could take a while).

(V) Clipping: If you are lucky, then you won’t need to do this last stage. “Clipping” is when the music hits max volume and gets distorted. This can be present in a file before the gain was calculated, and sometimes applying gain can introduce clipping.

If any of your tracks have a “Y” under the ‘clip(Track)’ or ‘clip(album)’ columns then click Modify Gain’ in the menu bar , and select ‘Apply Max-No-clip Gain for Album. This will physically apply the album gain changes to the file(s).
One final note. If you are a iTunes user, I would recommend turning SoundCheck off. Not only does MP3Gain do a much better job, if you use Soundcheck on files that were already in your music library and you’ve just applied gains, iTunes calculations will now be out. If you’re determined to use SoundCheck, you’ll need to reimport your files again and let iTunes do it’s initial analysis (WARNING – YOU WILL LOSE PLAYLISTS, RATINGS AND PLAYCOUNTS!)

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