I went with N-track from FaSoft, a shareware utility that costs something like $45 if you want all the nasty "buy-me" pop-ups turned off.
It seems remarkably like a big league editor (at least when based solely on screen shots) and I wanted something that I could download immediately via a slow dial-up connection.
So I fire it up to help me re-order some DAT tracks prior to burning the client a quick review copy CD. And I notice this nifty "Normalize" utility that promises to make the world a happy place - by avoiding the "why isn't my CD as loud as the last Mega-Naughty release" problem. I know that a ten minute explanation of compression and relative volume levels will still need to take place, as it does with every client, but I thought that this "Normalize" utility might just postpone that classic client concern. Should I expect any nasty effects from these Normalize magic buttons?
They swear that no compression is involved, they just add a user-defined amount of gain to bring the peaks up towards zero. They also warn that tracks recorded too low will show an increase in noise when the overall level is boosted. But if my peaks(on a live club gig 2trk recording) are running around -4 / -5dB, am I getting some "free" level boosting by running this sort of utility? I'm doing this at home on an old notebook with with absurdly bad speakers, so I can't let my ears be my guide. Do they do anything other than just boosting the whole track up a few dB based on the gap between my highest peaks and 0dB?