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  1. #1
    Senior Member cathcam's Avatar
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    GAIN vs Amplify vs Compressors (Vinyl vs DVD)

    I just posted this over on the Audacity forums, I'd like to get an LMS perspective. I read a long thread here on the LMS Smartgain feature, but I pretty much don't use streaming music websites, only my own music.

    [Background: I'm on a kick to make digital copies of my entire vinyl collection, about 2,700 albums. I've already done about 700 CD's. I've almost exclusively used Audacity over the past 3-years and am still working on it. I get as many 12 vinyl albums done per week, so it's going to take a while :-)

    I keep the output from the process as VBR MP3, depending on the track, is circa 250kbps. I'm doing this so I can play my entire collection on random play by genre, year, artists etc. and create playlists of favorites. The MP3 files are stored on a NAS, backed up by another NAS, which is also backed up online. The music is streamed via a separate Logitech Media Server(LMS).]

    Problem: I use a logitech media server to stream music to every room in my house. The vinyl albums/tracks I've recorded don't play as loud as the CD tracks I've ripped. I've read about the recording levels in Audacity and pretty much follow the recommendations for levels. When I play back random tracks the CD tracks are always just a bit louder, no matter what type of music.

    There seems to be a couple of solutions to this.

    1. Use audacity AMPLIFY effect at the end of the editing to boost an album to as "loud" as possible. Easy enough on clean albums, but more time consuming on "noisy" albums. However, this doesn't seem to still get the "loudness".

    2. Start using compression - all sorts of reasons I don't want to. Not least it adds another layer of processing and issues.

    3. Use the Squeezebox/LMS gain control to try to achieve a balanced loudness. It's described here. http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/A ... Adjustment

    Question:Does Audacity set the gain volume adjustment metadata tags from your audio files?

    Is there a good article that discusses the general issue of vinyl loudness vs CD loudness, or how best to achieve a balance?

    Any recommendations?

    ++Mark.
    website: https://ctproduced.com
    discogs collection: https://www.discogs.com/user/4MC/collection
    ---------------------------
    http://markcathcart.com/about

    Running LMS Server, currently 7.9.2 on Headless WIN10 System; music on Netgear ReadyNAS; Transporter(Living Room)+Duet Controller; Squeezebox Touch(Master Bedroom), (2x)Boom(Office, Patio), Radio(Guest Bedroom), Classic(garage), Duet(basement). Also using Squeezeplay on Windows 10. Use Orange Squeeze app on Android.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathcam View Post
    I just posted this over on the Audacity forums, I'd like to get an LMS perspective. I read a long thread here on the LMS Smartgain feature, but I pretty much don't use streaming music websites, only my own music.

    [Background: I'm on a kick to make digital copies of my entire vinyl collection, about 2,700 albums. I've already done about 700 CD's. I've almost exclusively used Audacity over the past 3-years and am still working on it. I get as many 12 vinyl albums done per week, so it's going to take a while :-)

    I keep the output from the process as VBR MP3, depending on the track, is circa 250kbps. I'm doing this so I can play my entire collection on random play by genre, year, artists etc. and create playlists of favorites. The MP3 files are stored on a NAS, backed up by another NAS, which is also backed up online. The music is streamed via a separate Logitech Media Server(LMS).]

    Problem: I use a logitech media server to stream music to every room in my house. The vinyl albums/tracks I've recorded don't play as loud as the CD tracks I've ripped. I've read about the recording levels in Audacity and pretty much follow the recommendations for levels. When I play back random tracks the CD tracks are always just a bit louder, no matter what type of music.

    There seems to be a couple of solutions to this.

    1. Use audacity AMPLIFY effect at the end of the editing to boost an album to as "loud" as possible. Easy enough on clean albums, but more time consuming on "noisy" albums. However, this doesn't seem to still get the "loudness".

    2. Start using compression - all sorts of reasons I don't want to. Not least it adds another layer of processing and issues.

    3. Use the Squeezebox/LMS gain control to try to achieve a balanced loudness. It's described here. http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/A ... Adjustment

    Question:Does Audacity set the gain volume adjustment metadata tags from your audio files?

    Is there a good article that discusses the general issue of vinyl loudness vs CD loudness, or how best to achieve a balance?

    Any recommendations?

    ++Mark.
    website: https://ctproduced.com
    discogs collection: https://www.discogs.com/user/4MC/collection
    I would try replaygain first. You can use Foobar to add the tags.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathcam View Post
    I keep the output from the process as VBR MP3, depending on the track, is circa 250kbps.
    Why on earth are you going to all the effort to rip vinyl and use MP3. That's a lossy format. That means you are purposely throwing away some of the sound from the vinyl.

    Rip them to FLAC so you will never have to do it again.

    Mike

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sargent View Post
    Why on earth are you going to all the effort to rip vinyl and use MP3. That's a lossy format. That means you are purposely throwing away some of the sound from the vinyl.

    Rip them to FLAC so you will never have to do it again.

    Mike
    +1

    Dump Audacity. Invest £25 in VinylStudio it will increase your productivity massively although it does take some learning.

    I have been ripping my Vinyl to FLAC this way for some time but I’m still not finished.

    My process is as follows.

    1) Record using VinylStudio and output to FLAC. Set VS to output in artist/album folder structure with cover art to folder.jpg not embedded

    2) load tracks into Foobar2000 and add replaygain

    3) move tracks to LMS library folder

    4) use Album Art Exchange to find high quality album art and replace folder.jpg accordingly. I try to use 800x800 or greater.

    EDIT The whole process takes length of album plus about 10 minutes per album.
    Last edited by d6jg; 2020-01-22 at 13:05.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cathcam's Avatar
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    MP3 vs FLAC.

    First off, I could export FLAC plus almost any other format from Audacity. I'm doing the whole process for convenience and portability.

    In many of my rooms, cars, mobile players, my wife and I did a test and we couldn't hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC. Not every player I have supports FLAC. I have a 2013 Merc CLS550 that won't play them, and I can plug in a 1Tb USB Hard drive with MP3. To be fair, do you really think carefully produced MP3, or a FLAC file would sound any different on a Boom, Radio, or much anything except a Transporter, which I have in my living room. Even there, my wife and I struggled to hear the difference.

    Second, the first step of the macro I use on Audacity, post recording, saves the recording as a WAV file. I've had to go back to a few and rework them.

    I tried VinylStudio when I first started, and you are right, it was complex. That said, Audacity isn't that easy. I'll give Vinylstudio another go. Wavecorrector has also been recommended.

    You can hear a sample of what I've done hear, butchered by youtube transmission, also same website has mixcloud mixes. https://www.ctproduced.com/baddest-g...washington-jr/

    Of course, none of this helps with the original question equalization across tracks from different sources.
    ---------------------------
    http://markcathcart.com/about

    Running LMS Server, currently 7.9.2 on Headless WIN10 System; music on Netgear ReadyNAS; Transporter(Living Room)+Duet Controller; Squeezebox Touch(Master Bedroom), (2x)Boom(Office, Patio), Radio(Guest Bedroom), Classic(garage), Duet(basement). Also using Squeezeplay on Windows 10. Use Orange Squeeze app on Android.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathcam View Post
    MP3 vs FLAC.

    First off, I could export FLAC plus almost any other format from Audacity. I'm doing the whole process for convenience and portability.

    In many of my rooms, cars, mobile players, my wife and I did a test and we couldn't hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC. Not every player I have supports FLAC. I have a 2013 Merc CLS550 that won't play them, and I can plug in a 1Tb USB Hard drive with MP3. To be fair, do you really think carefully produced MP3, or a FLAC file would sound any different on a Boom, Radio, or much anything except a Transporter, which I have in my living room. Even there, my wife and I struggled to hear the difference.

    Second, the first step of the macro I use on Audacity, post recording, saves the recording as a WAV file. I've had to go back to a few and rework them.

    I tried VinylStudio when I first started, and you are right, it was complex. That said, Audacity isn't that easy. I'll give Vinylstudio another go. Wavecorrector has also been recommended.

    You can hear a sample of what I've done hear, butchered by youtube transmission, also same website has mixcloud mixes. https://www.ctproduced.com/baddest-g...washington-jr/

    Of course, none of this helps with the original question equalization across tracks from different sources.
    Replaygain should work to equalise the volume. Have you tried it?

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathcam View Post
    MP3 vs FLAC.

    First off, I could export FLAC plus almost any other format from Audacity. I'm doing the whole process for convenience and portability.

    In many of my rooms, cars, mobile players, my wife and I did a test and we couldn't hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC. Not every player I have supports FLAC. I have a 2013 Merc CLS550 that won't play them, and I can plug in a 1Tb USB Hard drive with MP3. To be fair, do you really think carefully produced MP3, or a FLAC file would sound any different on a Boom, Radio, or much anything except a Transporter, which I have in my living room. Even there, my wife and I struggled to hear the difference.

    Second, the first step of the macro I use on Audacity, post recording, saves the recording as a WAV file. I've had to go back to a few and rework them.

    I tried VinylStudio when I first started, and you are right, it was complex. That said, Audacity isn't that easy. I'll give Vinylstudio another go. Wavecorrector has also been recommended.

    You can hear a sample of what I've done hear, butchered by youtube transmission, also same website has mixcloud mixes. https://www.ctproduced.com/baddest-g...washington-jr/

    Of course, none of this helps with the original question equalization across tracks from different sources.
    Replaygain will work with SB Players if you set them up to handle it but as you are talking other players then I’d look at VinylStudio’s normalisation option. It lifts the volume permanently as opposed to Replaygain which is tags in the files that a clever player can read and interpret.

    The point made about FLAC over mp3 is that some of us can tell the difference even on what might be considered low end kit and if you have FLACs you can easily convert to mp3 if you wish but you can’t do it the other way round.

    I’ve digitised close to 1,000 vinyl albums. I stupidly started off with 320kbps mp3. I am now redoing those early ones to FLAC.

    dbPoweramp Reference edition is an excellent CD Ripper and also includes a powerful audio file converter.
    VB2.4 storage QNAP TS419p (NFS)
    Living Room - Joggler & SB3 -> Onkyo TS606 -> Celestion F20s
    Office - Pi3+Sreen -> Sony TAFE320 -> Celestion F10s / Pi2+DAC & SB3 -> Onkyo CRN755 -> Wharfedale Modus Cubes
    Dining Room -> SB Boom
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    Everything controlled by iPeng

  8. #8
    Senior Member w3wilkes's Avatar
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    The subject of high bitrate MP3 and FLAC comparisons has been covered at great length on these boards. I personally use DBPoweramp LAME VBR -v0 -q0 for ripping as I have devices that don't do FLAC. In my own comparisons I can't tell the difference. One of the best threads on these boards on this subject is the results of a double blind test done by a user on these boards, @archimago;
    https://forums.slimdevices.com/showt...ssless-out-now

    This multi part blog post covers all the info on how the test was done and the results of the testing;
    http://archimago.blogspot.com/2013/0...lind-test.html
    Main system - Rock Solid with LMS 7.9.3 Official on WHS 2011 - 2 Duets and Squeeseslave
    Cabin system - Rock solid with LMS 7.9.3 Official on Win10 Pro - 1 RPi 3 Model B/Hifiberry DAC+ Pro/PiCorePlayer and Squeezeslave
    Squeezebox Boom - "At Large" player around both home and cabin
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  9. #9
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    I used to DJ in a radio station, so here's my advice:

    The most important aspect, is using the best record player and cartridge u can, to get the most signal into the computer without any clipping. So I would have the computer at 100% max recording level (sound card, software), and I would set the actual gain feeding the computer via an analog dial / fader somewhere between the record player and soundcard input. (In my case it was a studio mixing board... in yours maybe ur record player has an output knob, but if not, I would get a lil Mackie board with phono fader or similar, and VU meter, to set the gain prior to the soundcard).

    In the station, we had studio mixing boards that let us control on the fly via a fader how much signal was going from the source to the output. We could monitor this on a VU meter.

    When recording however, u should NOT make adjustments on the fly. Further it's hard to tell how to max the signal without clipping unless u listen to the whole album side to set the recording gain, before doing the actual recording.

    So basically, u have to guess where the album side is loudest, and set the recording gain to its max at that point, without clipping. Easier said than done. Again, u should use that one point for the whole album side, and do not use compression for any reason. Personally I would not use normalization or amplify either, but I'm not sure they are big sins if u do. U can later break the album side into tracks, but doing it this way will preserve mastering intentions so relative volume differences between tracks is consistent as intended.

    Once all the tracks are made, I would apply RG tags to it, album and track, and that will give u the consistent volume u want. Just make sure u only use gear that support RG on playback, and enable it.

    Again, to me, the most important aspect is setting the analog gain to the best max fixed point for an album side.
    Using: Win7 64 + LMS 7.9 & Duet & ipads w/the logitech app, and ipeng on an ipod
    http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.ph..._Artists_logic & http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Compilations

  10. #10
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    If I was using Audacity I would do the following

    Set Audacity to record at 44.1 kHz 32bits

    With 32 bits it isn't that critical to set an ideal recording level as you have lots of headroom to play with. Just make sure that the peaks are well clear of any clipping.

    Then use Audacity to Normalize the whole album, say at -1 dB peak (-1 dB to give you headroom when you convert to mp3). This will apply a volume increase so that the peaks reach -1 dB or whatever level you choose.

    Having said that, there is a problem with LPs in that you are likely to have multiple clicks, etc. Those clicks can spike to a higher level than the music. So ideally you should clean up the clicks etc before doing any Normalization.

    Then reduce the bit depth for the whole album to 16 bits (with dither), save in whatever format you choose. Personally I would always save as FLAC (for a reference backup) even if I was then going to save as mp3 as well.

    By the way, if you are comparing the overall loudness of your vinyl to CDs don't forget that it is quite possible that dynamic range compression was applied then the CDs were mastered. Not a good thing. (There is lots written about the loudness wars.)
    Last edited by JohnB; 2020-01-29 at 14:33.
    Allo Digione Signature (+LiFePo Batteries), Touch, Metrum Jade, Bryston B4 SST2, PMC OB1i speakers, HP Proliant Microserver/Ubuntu, PC/Windows 10, iPad 4, iPeng.

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