Originally Posted by LeibnizLover
Doesn't using the gain pot also add a layer of dsp? i'm genuinely puzzled why one is better or worse?
"using the gain pot" is using a program to process your signal. (we are talking itb mixing, right?)
Normalization and Gain are the same DSP process: multiplication.
Normalization is a multiplication where we know the max limit: 0 dBFS.
Gain is a “free” factor multiplication, in 64 bit mixers you can go up to plus/minus 6000 dB.
So Normalization is a “fixed amount of gain” to a file. A fader represent a “variable amount of gain”.
The bad reputation of the Normalization process I think it comes from the 16 bit recording era, where recording the closest to 0 dBFS was mandatory to preserve the 96 dB dynamic range. For example, if you record at -18dBFS in 16 bit you have a 13 bit sound quality. If you apply Normalization to this file you will have noise problems.
Now with 24 bit files you can record safely at -18 dBFS, because you will have at least 126 dB of dynamic range. So it will be not a problem to normalize 24 bit files.
Also Normalization can be done virtually.
For example, Reaper has a Normalization option in its Item properties. This Normalization is done inside the mixer and it’s done virtually in 64 bit resolution. The sound does not suffer any change in resolution or noise. It’s completely transparent.
Originally Posted by neilwilkes
Normalization adds an unnecessary layer of unwanted DSP to your audio file, with all the rounding errors & quantization distortions that implies.
Just say "no" to normalization & use the gain pot instead.
Doing it virtually, inside the DAW, you do not add errors. It’s a “linear” operation, so you can do it one thousand times and you will have the same sound.
If you are doing it physically, in the file, in 24 bit files the rounding errors are very, very low. In a -18dBFS peak file the errors will be at about -120 dBFS, far beyond the normal noise level of any recording.
It will be indistinguishable one multiplication more or two.
In 16 bit files things are different. It will depend a lot of its peak level. If your 16 bit file peaks at – 3dBFS, normalizing will not be a problem. If it’s a finalized file, it will be better to normalize it to -0.5 dBFS.