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Level Matching 200+ backing instrumental songs for live cover singer
Old 13th October 2013
  #1
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mooghappy's Avatar
 

Level Matching 200+ backing instrumental songs for live cover singer

I have a bunch of tracks (over 200). They are high quality backing instrumentals for a live cover singer.

All the tracks have slightly different volumes, it can be a bit drastic sometimes.
Is there a simple way to match levels of all the tracks so we don't have to fiddle with the volume in between each song?

I was thinking of doing it manually by uploading each track into Logic Pro and using my ears as a gauge to match the levels and then rebouncing down...but there must be some easier way of doing this, or some automated software that can detect loudness and match the tracks accordingly?

Appreciate any tips.

Thanks!
Old 15th October 2013
  #2
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Anyone have any ideas?
Old 15th October 2013
  #3
iTunes have this option called Sound Check that levels the volume between songs
Old 15th October 2013
  #4
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ZombieMorg's Avatar
 

The Multimeter in Logic will tell you the RMS level of each track but obviously that will still leave you with the task of bouncing each track down separately.

Saying that, it wouldn't take that long to bounce 200 tracks down and it would be more reliable than relying on software like iTunes to do the job for you. Plus, if you need to playback the tracks outside of iTunes you will be able to do so.
Old 15th October 2013
  #5
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I am a solo performer who makes my own backing tracks. In the days of MIDI only it was easy, Just always use the same patches and velocity etc.
Now I add real bass and sometimes real drums. This is an ongoing challenge to keep each song balanced. Bass is also a issue once it hits that sub.

The best way to proof my mixes is run them through the PA and sub at playback volume.
Your ears are ultimately the best way to do this but man, 200 songs, that's going to be a task.

Because my studio is in an attic the PA is not an easy option so I do a few things that get songs to the 95% close enough state first. The final proof might end up being at a gig, but the songs are pretty close and there is no train wreak.

I use Wave Lab to master but any software that has global analyzing will work.

First I run the Global Analyzer to see what the average RMS level is, my goal is around 15db average. This is what matters. Just because a song shows peaking at 0 db doesn't mean it's overall volume is OK. RMS average is what you must look at.
There is a window from as low(hi) as say 8db all the way to 18db that will work, but I was told -12-15db was standard for pop music. Main thing is you want all your songs at the same level, ballads can be a tad softer say -17db.
If it is around -20db I'll first run the normalize tool and see what's up. Sometimes Normalizing is all that is needed to get the average level up.
If there no room left ( report 0db) and the song is still not loud enough I will manually look for peaks first.
One snare shot can put you over, They are easy to spot in wave lab.
If it still needs a little more then I'll squash it with a limiter. Loudness maximizer works for a few db,if it needs more than 4 I go back and manually look for peaks again.

I know this will be a lot of work but once it's done you will have the track forever.

You could start by loading the loudest song, analyze it, and use that as your benchmark

The only other solution I can think of is the put a limiter on the playback and take a chance on squishing a lot of tracks to death. Depends on the style I guess. I don't like squishy tracks. I go for the live band sound so you need dynamic range.
Old 15th October 2013
  #6
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PS- If you do use Wave Lab the songs are real easy to work on if they are in WAVE format on the hard drive. Wave lab will load them in from a CD drive too.
Once they are all in a folder they show in a window at the top of the workspace.
All you gotta do is click them to open and close. I mention this as I find some software is not as user friendly and workflow oriented as this. Wave Lab7 elements is just shy of $100 and a good investment. You don't need the full version for what I'm talking about.
Old 15th October 2013
  #7
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There is a command in Adobe Audition to normalize a group of files. Might be worth a one month subscription to the Creative Cloud... $30 in the USA.

Here is a tutorial that shows you how it works:

How to use Group Waveform Normalize in Adobe Audition 3
Old 15th October 2013
  #8
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Sander A's Avatar
 

Do you play back your tracks in Itunes? If so Ivolume works really good. It's a replacement tool for Itunes Sound Check.
Old 15th October 2013
  #9
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MichalS's Avatar
 

I would use SoundForge as it has really nice batch processing, and it can normalize files analyzing their RMS rather then peak values. You just select folder your files are in, select destination, and wait for the program to do the rest. Just set RMS value rather low (say -20dB), because it's better to have files a bit quieter, then to overload some peaks.
Old 15th October 2013
  #10
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We're playing back the tracks with an iPod....I am guessing there isn't some software that can go into the iPod to do this?

Sounds like the Adobe Audition or Soundforge would be easiest.

Thanks for the tips.
Old 16th October 2013
  #11
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Wave lab will batch process too, but I don't think there's a one button approach to this.
Don't you have the original backing tracks? Weird things happen when you start processing MP3 files. It depends on the quality your going for how much effort will be needed.
Old 16th October 2013
  #12
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Blast9's Avatar
I'm pretty Reaper has batch processing too! Worth checking out - great price for a full-featured DAW

Apparently Audacity has a batch feature which they call Edit Chains. (see "chain examples")

http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/C...cts_automation

Audacity is free.
Old 16th October 2013
  #13
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Protools or any other DAW probably has a gain plug in ( audio suite ) that can normalize all the audio files to the same RMS value. This would bell park everything and then you could just adjust the ones that don't fit where the eq is drastically different.

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Old 16th October 2013
  #14
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Sander A's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mooghappy View Post
We're playing back the tracks with an iPod....I am guessing there isn't some software that can go into the iPod to do this?

Sounds like the Adobe Audition or Soundforge would be easiest.

Thanks for the tips.
Ivolume does work with an Ipod. All it does basically is overwrite Itunes Sound Check values with its own measurement. So in your Ipod enable sound check and you're good too go!
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