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Are my assumptions of MP3Gain correct?
Nazgulled
post Apr 6 2012, 01:45
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Hi,

I've been using MP3Gain for some years now but up until recently I discovered something I was not aware and it's confusing me a little bit. I'm wondering if I have been using MP3Gain the way I thought I wanted... Sorry if this has been discussed before but I searched a lot (on these forums and Google) and couldn't find anything related.

I use MP3Gain so that when play my mp3s on my favorite media payer, they are normalized and play, roughly, with the same volume. I use Songbird and this media player has an option to "use audio normalization data" (with the options for track/album, I use track). To better explain things, I'll use an example...

I have this mp3 file, which, after analysis, reports a volume of 96.2.

When I set the target volume to 105 (just for example purposes), the mp3 final volume is 105.3 and the it contains this:
QUOTE
REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN=-16.26000 dB

When I set the target volume to 75 (just for example purposes), the mp3 final volume is 75.2 and the it contains this:
QUOTE
REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN=+13.84000 dB

If we do some basic math, we get this:
QUOTE
105.3 - 16.26 = 89.04 ~ 89.0
75.2 + 13.84 = 89.04 ~ 89.0

And the fact is, when I play this file with either target volume applied on Songbird with the normalization option enabled, I get the same volume level. If I disable the normalization option, I get different volume levels. The first one much louder than the latter, of course.

So, with my findings above, I conclude the following:
  • The target volume will have zero impact on media players which support reading of audio normalization data (generated from MP3Gain at least, I believe this is called ReplayGain). However, the target volume will have impact on media players which don't support reading of audio normalization data (or if such option is disabled). For instance, Windows Media Player. This player will play the 105 file above louder than the 75 one.
  • MP3Gain will always default to 89.0dB to set the replaygain track gain tag (which applications like Songbird read from) and there seems to be no way to change this.

Q1)
Are my assumptions of MP3Gain correct? I guess so because this is what I observed happening...

Q2)
What I want from MP3Gain are 2 things, a) normalize all mp3 to the same volume, b) increase that same volume a little bit.

Since MP3Gain always defaults to 89.0dB and there's no way to change it (or is there?) and since I want to have all my mp3s volume higher than 89.0dB, I guess my only option is to normalize all my mp3s with MP3Gain setting the target volume to my liking and don't enable the normalization option in Songbird. Right?

My real question here is, will all my mp3s still be normalized to that same target volume?

I would really appreciate some insight on this matter from the gurus out there... Thank you for your time.

This post has been edited by Nazgulled: Apr 6 2012, 01:47
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[JAZ]
post Apr 6 2012, 08:57
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The Replaygain spec is defined so that the tags are always represented relative to 89dB SPL.

When your player is not replaygain-aware, the playback will be the one you've set with MP3Gain.
When your player is replaygain-aware, you have to tell the player that you want a different relative gain.

In foobar, this is achieved with "File->Preferences", Playback option -> Preamp with RG info.
With winamp, this is achieved with "Options->Preferences", Playback option, Replaygain -> Preamp with RG info (ok, i have it in another language, not sure how it is in english right now).
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Nazgulled
post Apr 6 2012, 13:00
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Now that I look at those applications:

FOOBAR2000:


WINAMP:


SONGBIRD:


Songbird does not have such options as foobar2000 and Winamp sad.gif

Does that mean that if I want all my mp3s normalized but with a ReplayGain relative to something different from 89dB, I have to apply with MP3Gain and disable the normalization option in Songbird?
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dhromed
post Apr 6 2012, 13:47
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There are no additional options in Songbird under Advanced?

This post has been edited by dhromed: Apr 6 2012, 13:48
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stephan_g
post Apr 6 2012, 14:00
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QUOTE (Nazgulled @ Apr 6 2012, 13:00) *
Does that mean that if I want all my mp3s normalized but with a ReplayGain relative to something different from 89dB, I have to apply with MP3Gain and disable the normalization option in Songbird?

Looks like it, unless you can find some hidden pref in the configuration file that has no UI equivalent.

BTW, make sure you don't introduce any clipping. I have only a few CDs that would clip at 89 dB, but higher levels obviously get increasingly risky. Depends on how loud your music collection is mastered.
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2Bdecided
post Apr 6 2012, 14:28
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QUOTE (Nazgulled @ Apr 6 2012, 01:45) *
Since MP3Gain always defaults to 89.0dB and there's no way to change it (or is there?) and since I want to have all my mp3s volume higher than 89.0dB, I guess my only option is to normalize all my mp3s with MP3Gain setting the target volume to my liking and don't enable the normalization option in Songbird. Right?
Yes, unless Songbird includes a "pre-amp" setting to add the increase there.

QUOTE
My real question here is, will all my mp3s still be normalized to that same target volume?
The same target value as each other? Yes, if you always set the same target value in mp3gain.


I think most people either
a) get mp3gain to change the mp3s, and then let dumb software play those mp3s as-is, or
b) get something to write ReplayGain tags to their mp3s, and then let smart software read those tags and apple the gain change

I think it's quite rare for people to do both - i.e. change the audio data, and read the tags.

(Unless they apply the album gain using mp3gain, and listen to those mp3s on any dumb player - but then use the track gain tags in some smart player. Or maybe have a louder target value applied to their mp3s for portable listening, but then read the tags to get a lower non-clipping value for at-home listening on a smart player. Or some other specific use.)

Cheers,
David.
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Nazgulled
post Jun 4 2012, 03:07
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Thanks everyone for the input so far and sorry for the delay in replying back to this thread, I've been very busy and couldn't be bothered with this issue for the moment...

QUOTE (dhromed @ Apr 6 2012, 13:47) *
There are no additional options in Songbird under Advanced?
Not relative to this subject...

QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 6 2012, 14:00) *
Looks like it, unless you can find some hidden pref in the configuration file that has no UI equivalent.
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 6 2012, 14:28) *
Yes, unless Songbird includes a "pre-amp" setting to add the increase there.
Tried to look for one, doesn't seem to exist...

It was on the roadmap though, but Songbird developers don't seem to care about their desktop player anymore, they only care about Android and bloating their desktop app with music stores. Unfortunately that's the state of what once was a great player... sad.gif Why not move to a different one you might ask? Well, I'm very much used to this one now (I used to be a Winamp user) and honestly, as a Windows user, I just don't like the look and feel of any other player available for this system... And yes, to me, looks matter...

QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 6 2012, 14:00) *
BTW, make sure you don't introduce any clipping. I have only a few CDs that would clip at 89 dB, but higher levels obviously get increasingly risky. Depends on how loud your music collection is mastered.
Yes, I have the "Don't clip when doing Track Gain" option enabled, I wouldn't want my tunes to get all distorted tongue.gif.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 6 2012, 14:28) *
I think most people either
a) get mp3gain to change the mp3s, and then let dumb software play those mp3s as-is, or
b) get something to write ReplayGain tags to their mp3s, and then let smart software read those tags and apple the gain change

I think it's quite rare for people to do both - i.e. change the audio data, and read the tags.
After writing many other things in reply to the quote above (which I have deleted before posting), I just realized something and now I think I understand everything discussed above...

The top "Track Analysis" and "Track Gain" on MP3Gain toolbar are 2 separate things and I should either use one or the other, not both. I believe this is what you meant... So, here's my two conclusions:
  • If I only use smart players which read ReplayGain tags, I should only use the "Track Analysis" button so MP3Gain writes the proper ReplayGain tags to the MP3 files with 89dB as the target volume, something we can't change directly on MP3Gain, we would need a "pre-amp" option on the player. This won't change the MP3 file, only the tags.
  • If I want my tunes to be all normalized in a dumb player like WMP, I should use the "Track Gain" option and use the target volume I want. This will write undo information to the MP3 file because this operation changes the MP3 themselves.
Given these conclusions, if they are correct, I think I should undo all the "Track Gain" changes I've done to my whole library and just let the ReplayGain information rest on the tags. I really don't use any dumb player (besides the layer I use on Android which doesn't yet support it), the WMP was just used as an example to describe my interpretation of things. On my day-to-day life I use Songbird on the desktop and XMBC in the living room both of which are smart players regarding ReplayGain.

I might as well change the target volume to 89dB (just to keep it at the default value in the interface) since this will have zero impact on the "Track Analysis" which will write the proper ReplayGain tags that smart players will use to normalize data. And that should be enough... If I want my tunes louder, I should use software with a "pre-amp" option. This way, my tunes will be normalized and louder to my liking without messing with the files themselves.

Are all these assumptions correct?

This post has been edited by Nazgulled: Jun 4 2012, 03:49
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2Bdecided
post Jun 8 2012, 10:38
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Short answer: yes!

btw, I think many people here would suggest trying foobar2k.

Cheers,
David.
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Nazgulled
post Jun 8 2012, 15:53
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jun 8 2012, 10:38) *
btw, I think many people here would suggest trying foobar2k.

I already tried foobar, it's not my cup of tea...

But you know what? I found my Songbird replacement 2 days ago... It looks the same but it's sooooooo much better with so many features, it's called MusicBee. It even includes a menu option to add ReplayGain to all my files (it uses MP3Gain command line tool), no need for MP3Gain itself. It's just perfect for me... smile.gif
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