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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old June 12 2008, 06:15 PM   #1
ITL
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Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

One of the things I use my computer for is writing music. The finished piece is saved as a stereo WAV file. But it's just not loud enough. When composing the piece, I make it as loud as possible - the software's volume meters indicate if it's clipping, and obviously any clipping can be heard as distortion.

Yet I have downloaded music thats twice as loud, and clear as a bell. No unwanted distortion whatsoever. Here's a comparison of waveforms:

MY PIECE:



DOWNLOADED MUSIC:



As you can see, the second waveform is much bigger. It looks clipped and horrible, but believe me, it sounds fine

I've circled two points on my piece that are just on the limit of clipping - any increase in volume, and those sections distort.

So - would audio compression (NOT file compression. Different thing altogether) make a difference? Unfortunately I know very little about audio compression. And if that's not the answer, is there any way to make my WAV file louder without it clipping?

Thanks for any help.
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Old June 12 2008, 07:15 PM   #2
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Re: Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

I can't really tell for certain if there are any clipping in the 2nd sample. The peak could just be right at 0 db.
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Old June 12 2008, 07:34 PM   #3
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Re: Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

Surely the gain has just been upped on the downloaded sample??
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Old June 12 2008, 07:45 PM   #4
Jim Steele
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Re: Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

ITL wrote: View Post
So - would audio compression (NOT file compression. Different thing altogether) make a difference? Unfortunately I know very little about audio compression. And if that's not the answer, is there any way to make my WAV file louder without it clipping?

Thanks for any help.
You've hit the nail on the head really. Commercially produced stuff is compressed, gated, limited, crunched and normalised to hell.

Getting a good, consistent volume on your tracks is a matter of a good mixing and good mastering in equal measure. And compressors/limiters aren't just something you'd apply to the final mix, generally you use them on each individual track (to varying degrees of course).

My best advice to you would be to experiment - see what works, download a few plugins and see what they do.

What sort of software do you use? Can it use VST plugins?

Here's a few to try out:

http://www.kjaerhusaudio.com/classic-series.php

http://www.digitalfishphones.com/mai...em=2&subItem=5

I've used the Classic Series plugins on final mixes with varying success, they are decent. The Fish Fillets are really for vocal processing but the compressor can be used on stereo mixdowns too.



Edit: Although, bear in mind that you don't want to compress the life out of your stuff - you need to strike a balance between levelling it off and letting it breath. Some dynamic range is no bad thing.
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Last edited by Jim Steele; June 12 2008 at 07:55 PM.
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Old June 12 2008, 07:57 PM   #5
ITL
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Re: Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

My music software (Reason 2) doesn't take VST's, but does have it's own compressor module that can be used on any track:



So I guess it's trial and error time with that!

I do have a sample/waveform editor that takes VST's, so I'll check out those links. Thankee!
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Old June 12 2008, 08:07 PM   #6
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Re: Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

Oh! I forgot:

http://www.computermusic.co.uk/page/..._beginner_pdfs

Best magazine ever, and those tutorials really help me out.

Enjoy!
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Old June 12 2008, 08:28 PM   #7
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Re: Audio Compression and Volume Levels - Advice Needed.

Thanks again!
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