“Normalizing” is a post-processing step that is done to make recordings as loud as possible.
It works like this: the computer scans the recording to find the loudest part. Then it determines how much louder it can make this part. Finally, it amplifies the entire recording by that amount.
I explained in a previous article how to normalize your recordings with Audacity and other audio programs.
That method works fine. However, there is an alternative method and that is to use the free program MP3Gain.
MP3Gain works on MP3 files, not WAV files, and it doesn’t change the actual recording. Instead, it calculates how much the recording can still be amplified and then stores this number in a special place in the MP3 file.
Now your MP3 player program or your iPod will automatically amplify the sound by that amount during playback.
The advantage is that you can easily undo this operation later, something that isn’t possible if you normalize the WAV file.
Another benefit of MP3Gain is that it can work in “album mode”. In album mode, it analyzes a group of MP3 files instead of just one, and makes them as loud as possible relative to each other. That means all these MP3’s will have more-or-less the same loudness.
That is really convenient if you’re going to make a CD or playlist of your recordings. If you don’t do this, you may have to reach out for the volume dial on each new song because it may be a lot louder or softer than the previous one.
MP3Gain is free software and really easy to use. If you get stuck, take a look at the excellent manual.
You can download MP3Gain here.
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