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On a Mac: How do I balance out an audio file DAW Software
Old 23rd May 2007
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On a Mac: How do I balance out an audio file

so heres the problem, now that I have finally been able to identify it and put my finger on it, we have these audio files, that when played, go from really loud at some points, to really soft at others, so its like your listening to it, and it fades down really low ( like you want to turn up the volume) and then really loud at others (like you want to turn down the volume). We are trying to do this from the computer end as the audio has itself already been recorded. I need a program, that will do this efficiently and effectively on a mac. We used to use Sound Forge by sony on our PCs and it did it perfectly, all we had to do is hit balance out the sound or something like that. However we have recently switched to Mac and now need a program that will do it on the Mac. We have tried Bias peak and Amadeus Pro, but well we havent figured out how to do it or if there is even a way to do it, using these programs. The closest we have come is Normalizing and Reducing the gain, but it doesnt seem to work anywhere near effectively as on Sound Forge, and although we would love to still use Sound Forge, that is no longer an option, I proposed using it on soft windows, but the people I am working with are now adamently opposed to putting windows on a mac so we need a new program to do it on the Mac. It has been a bit frustrating for me, because deciphering what needed to be done, has not been the easiest. But I really greally appreciate all your help, because without you guys, I would have been completely lost from the get go! So greatest acknowledgement for all of you who surf this forum and share your knowledge, because you give your greatest asset for the greater good of the community..... your time! Thank you all so much!

Any and all suggestions are Greatly Appreciated!

Grattitude and Appreciation for Your Support!

Light, Joy, Peace and Harmony

Old 23rd May 2007
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Gear Tramp's Avatar

What you want is volume automation, or compression, or both.

I think every audio editing program offers these, but I could be wrong... crazier things have happened.
Old 23rd May 2007
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Geert van den Berg's Avatar

Like GearTramp said you need to use volume automation and maybe some compresssion, however maybe that isn't even necessary.

The normalize funtion in Soundforge can do RMS normalization: it can look at the average level of the audiofile and bring the average up on the whole file. Drawback of that method is that it alters the dynamic range, but for what you want to use it for it is ideal and also for quick editting/mastering large batches of soundfiles for games/cd-rom.

Normally normalize only looks at the loudest peak in the file and then brings that up to the loudest level possible = 0dBFs, or another peak level if you'd want that. The rest of the audio gets the same amount of boost, but the dynamic range of the material is unaltered, so soft sounds stay soft in relation to the loudest peaks.

If your material is very dynamic from the start, and with a couple of loud peaks, the chance is that one of the peaks already goes near 0dBFs, so then using normalize doesn't make the sound much louder.

The best way to make the soft sounds louder is to first determine the loudest sound in your program, adjust your volume control so that is still comfortable and then go thru the whole program and fade the volume up where necessary. (if you would do this professionally you'd use a calibrated monitor level, but for this that isn't a necessity). For this it would be ideal if you have some sort of fadercontroller. There are a couple of single fader controllers on the market, which would be ideal for this. (only you need to make sure the app you're using is supported).

I understand you might find this time consuming but it's the most transparant way of doing this. You can use a compressor, but if it's not a good one, or you don't know exactly how to use it, it can ruin the sound easily. However if you want to hit commercial levels with your program you'd probably need to compress to get the energy of the loudest sounds a bit louder.

I recall reading you posting this question in another thread as well. You mentioned you tried Audacity. I'd say that is perfectly capable for what you want to do. But you can't do it instant as in SoundForge.

There are some other freeware options. You could use Ardour (that is a bit more difficult to install though) or you could use Reaper, but that still has a very limited feature set on the Mac, don't know if the automation is working yet.

On the other hand, if you got an Intel Mac (of the later generations otherwise windows isn't even an option) it's fairly easy to install windows on an external firewire disk and then you could still use SoundForge. I don't know of any other program that does rms normalization.

But if you got the time to mix, then riding the volume is the best option. It gives complete control and sounds the most transparant as well.
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