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Current mp3gain alternatives for reducing clipping?, Clipping determined to have been caused by iTunes equalizer.
post Dec 18 2012, 05:05
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Hi All,

First time poster, long time reader.
I've been using mp3gain for years, and I basically just want to know if there are any modern equivalents or alternatives to reduce clipping in mp3 files. This is all that I use mp3gain for. I do not use it to make all tracks or albums the same volume. I actually prefer there to be volume differences between songs and albums.

I'm surprised that "clipping" is not a more-discussed issue among all music listeners, not just audiophiles. I have countless examples of songs that, during their regular volume, even at 320 kbps, produce distortion that to my ears is unbearable. Like a fuzzy crackle whenever the levels push through the ceiling. After applying mp3gain to bring below the clipping level, these tracks sound perfect to my ears, and the clipping is totally eliminated. I can't imagine not lowering the gain on most tracks, and I guess that is why I'm surprised that there are not a plethora of programs that try to address it.

Anyway, mp3gain does what I need, which is "apply constant gain". I don't necessarily need track/album gain, target volume, or max-no-clip. I just like to be able to manually reduce tracks by a few decibels to eliminate clipping. Basically, my question is:

- Are there any other programs that do the same thing (i.e. reversible process to apply constant, custom gain reductions without loss in audio quality)? Are there any where the focus is removing clipping rather than equalizing volumes? I guess this is an odd thing to ask since mp3gain serves my purpose, but I can't help but think that this program is old, and support for it has run out. Surely there must be something equivalent that's more current? I've tried many recommended alternatives, but none of them seem to satisfy my needs - they're either way overboard (too many features I don't need), or they are missing key features. I'm also looking for a Mac equivalent, but none of the current Mac mp3gain ports have all of the following:
- Reversible
- Can analyze for clipping
- No loss in audio quality
- Can apply custom, constant gain changes to files/albums

Sorry for the long post, and many thanks for any help.

This post has been edited by BrownNote80: Dec 18 2012, 05:12
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post Dec 18 2012, 12:03
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To test whether it's clipping or expectation bias (which we ALL suffer, hence the need for ABX testing and TOS #8 to ensure claims are verifiable on these forums):

- you can decode the original full volume MP3 with clipping causing flattened peaks when there would have been overs then reduce its volume by, say 6.02 dB (6.0 is close enough) in Audacity or similar editor and save as a 16-bit or greater WAV (PCM) at 44100 Hz sampling rate
- use mp3gain to apply -6.0 dB gain (which is actually -6.02 dB rounded) so they're matched for loudness and decode that (e.g. open it in Audacity and save it in the same lossless WAV format as the other sample.

Use any ABX tools such as Foobar2000's ABX Comparator or PC-ABX or ABC/HR for Java (which you can use on a Mac) and choose the area to test and the number of trials (e.g. 8 to 10 trials).

I admit I've thought things and written about them on these forums that an ABX before I hit send has shown to be inaudible (in fact one of these was clipping-related - a huge multi-sample clipped over picked up by mp3gain scan at the end of a Rachmaninov symphony, which I tested as above and found to be indistinguishable from the unclipped version amongst the loud crash of percussion and full orchestra. I'd convinced myself of a nasty noise in unblind testing but was unable to tell it from the clean sound or the lossless original scaled to the same reduced loudness once I didn't know which sample I was playing and trying to match with the known versions.)

Some very old presets for encoders such as LAME used to include a --scale switch to reduce the likelihood of decode clipping but ABX has not demonstrated an audible difference even when clipping occurs.

Another unlikely possibility is that your hardware (ADC) is non-linear near full scale, which would be a big surprise in this day and age, and while many high end amps are non-linear with respect to intersample overs (when viewed on an oscilloscope), they are very linear up to full scale and I'm not aware that any of them have ever been ABXed in music reproduction. You could record your soundcard's analogue output (e.g. via a 3.5mm stereo male-to-male cable into another computer) and ABX that against the output of a mp3gain-reduced signal to rule out any hardware problems.

Personally, recognizing that the loudness of a CD relative to another is not intentional artistic choice and that there's no standard loudness, I apply Album Gain to all my music. I do not care about UNDO (and I keep the original lossless anyway so I could re-encode) and I usually apply the Album Gain in foobar2000's Convert... dialogue before it is sent to LAME to be encoded, so that when I scan it, Album Gain is usually very close to 0.00 dB. But feel free to enjoy your music as you like.
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Posts in this topic
- BrownNote80   Current mp3gain alternatives for reducing clipping?   Dec 18 2012, 05:05
- - A_Man_Eating_Duck   Replaygain?   Dec 18 2012, 07:47
- - greynol   QUOTE (BrownNote80 @ Dec 17 2012, 20:05) ...   Dec 18 2012, 08:36
|- - bernlin2000   QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 18 2012, 01:36) QUOT...   Dec 19 2012, 20:54
- - Dynamic   To test whether it's clipping or expectation b...   Dec 18 2012, 12:03
- - 2Bdecided   It might not be expectation bias. It could be dodg...   Dec 18 2012, 13:02
- - greynol   Either way, TOS8 still applies. We can speculate ...   Dec 18 2012, 15:14
- - BrownNote80   Did any of you even read my question? I'm not ...   Dec 18 2012, 17:39
- - john33   At the expense of upsetting some people, I would s...   Dec 18 2012, 19:44
|- - greynol   QUOTE (john33 @ Dec 18 2012, 10:44) The g...   Dec 18 2012, 20:03
- - A_Man_Eating_Duck   Did you miss my itty bitty post at the top?   Dec 18 2012, 19:45
|- - BrownNote80   QUOTE (A_Man_Eating_Duck @ Dec 18 2012, 11...   Dec 18 2012, 19:53
- - BrownNote80   Ok, so you've piqued my interest. I followed D...   Dec 18 2012, 19:51
|- - greynol   QUOTE (BrownNote80 @ Dec 18 2012, 10:51) ...   Dec 18 2012, 20:13
- - BrownNote80   Since we're apparently so hell-bent on discove...   Dec 18 2012, 20:26
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (BrownNote80 @ Dec 18 2012, 15:26) ...   Dec 20 2012, 03:03
|- - Dynamic   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 20 2012, 02:03) For...   Dec 20 2012, 13:40
|- - skamp   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 20 2012, 03:03) For...   Dec 20 2012, 13:57
- - greynol   Try EQ-ing in such a way that none of the sliders ...   Dec 18 2012, 20:37
|- - BrownNote80   QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 18 2012, 12:37) Try ...   Dec 18 2012, 20:46
- - greynol   You're very welcome. I apologize for suggesti...   Dec 18 2012, 21:01
|- - BrownNote80   QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 18 2012, 13:01) You...   Dec 18 2012, 21:27
- - Dynamic   It sounds like you no longer need an alternative t...   Dec 19 2012, 02:38
- - greynol   Hi and welcome, I don't know what it is you t...   Dec 19 2012, 21:48
- - 2Bdecided   Some EQs (like the one in the Sansa clip) automati...   Dec 21 2012, 12:17
- - ErectX   MP3s directly encoded from loudness war era CD aud...   Dec 23 2012, 18:33

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