Normalize Or Compress volume fluctuations

Normalizing was great for 8 bit samplers in the 80ies.

What software think is a loud peak may not be what you think is a loud peak. Normalizing vocal tracks is probably a futile process. Avoid normalizing unless you have some long track of specific value that’s just has no power to work in a mix or to drive compressors to even react enough or something like that.

You will most likely have a peek somewhere in your vocal track and that will offset the rest. If you think you have to use this track for one reason or the other, cut the track up in phrases or sections that are equal in sound level and put them on different tracks with no FX whatsoever, then set the levels to what sounds equal and bounce the tracks to a new one. Then a compressor can shave the last unevenness off. It could work as a Plan B but Plan A would be …

… resing! :confused:

I rarely use “Normalize” but I think it fits perfectly, and was designed for, your very situation. You could merge the various parts into one audio part, and then normalize it, or normalize each part separately. And yes, you should leave some headroom; I typically normalize at about -6dB (in the very cases when I use it, that is)

What about the volume handles, same as normalising (sort of) then when you get the volumes sorted you’ll be in a better position to hear if the vocal takes are comparable. Then I like using a UAD la2a with maybe a 1176 before/or after to catch any fast stuff. Works well without pumping.

Whoops – Ulf posted while I was typing. It’s true that a digital measurement might not always equate with what your ears are hearing, but if you leave a fair amount of headroom, normalize function is still the quickest way to achieve what you’re after.

That’s my theory, anyway

yeah, automation is your friend, but I always forget about volume automation because … i don’t know hehe. I automate filters and more fun stuff, though.

But now we’re talking CubaseVST. I don’t remember what the automation look like back then even? It was those light green blobs you could draw in lanes … if you could find the stuff since it was one big list of just about everything, and there you found automatable stuff marked with a black dot.

Upgrade and resing! :mrgreen:

C6 C5 C4 SX all have volume handles…

Handy for equalising… volumes. :smiley:

According to my understanding, Normalizing simply increases signal equally on whatever you normalize so that the peak is at 0db. If you use Maximizer and set the output to 0db, it effectively includes normalizing (as well as compression). I would never normalize an individual track or a track segment; that would just take away headroom. For what you want to do, I agree that the volume handles are the solution.

Normalising does not compare. It will just operate on the audio clip and set the peak to a given level. That’s it.

Given that all your little clips consist of various bits of phrases, words and bits of words, normalising all these clips to the same level would produce a very unnatural result.

That is where the volume handle would come in. if you find a clip that is too loud or too quiet then just grab the little handle in the middle top of the wave display (arrange page) and drag up or down to change the level of that clip till it sounds natural. Then compress the result.

The only thing I can think of is Wavelab has whats called a Meta Normaliser.

This will compare track volumes (usually RMS) but I think you can set it to peak, and produce an even volume between tracks, this is usually useful for CD preparation where you would want the relative volume between tracks to be consistent.

What compressor are you using? I find good results can be had with the ones I mentioned before.

In particular the La2a (type) can actually be set to stupid amounts of gain reduction without pumping, but then again it depends on the type/style of track.

Best to sort the levels at the track first before compressing. (volume handles) :smiley:

Although good results can be had by using two types of compressor, a slow one to even the fluctuations and a fast one to catch the peaks that get through.

Not exactly – you can set the peak value to whatever you want… as I mentioned, I typically set it to -6dB for the reason you cited – headroom

Maybe my knowledge is limited, but I still say normalize is exactly suited to your situation. It doesn’t make all your various parts the same volume, it simply establishes a common peak level – it’s NOT a form of compression/limiting. You even said you thought that you sang with the same energy in each take, but for some reason the volumes were different. Assuming this is basically true, normalize will use a common reference point, and all your dynamic range will be retained.

Then, if you want to even out your dynamic range, apply a compressor AFTER you’ve set the common peak reference point using normalize

The poster above who cited the function in Wavelab is exactly analogous to THIS situation – various audio clips with different overall RMS/peak values

I can’t comment on the volume handles suggestion because I’ve never used it

I stand corrected - you can set it to any output level you want. But regardless, the right answer is the one Split gave - use the volume handles on each segment - highlight the segment, grab the handle at the top and move it up or down. You have to do it by ear. Twilightsong’s approach isn’t going to make them all the same volume.


Volume handles to bring up any spurious low level stuff in order to minimise compression

Well like I said I’m not too familiar with the subject, but check this out: from the manual:

A common use for Normalizing is to raise the level of audio that was recorded
at too low an input level.

You can use various gain strategies to correct a low volume audio, but then you don’t know where you’re at. If you use normalize, all your peaks will be equal volume and the rest of your dynamic range will be proportional, too. Unless you have a really wild peak in one (or more) of your parts. Wait – maybe I just confirmed what you’re saying :laughing:

I WILL say this: I think normalizing files during mastering is a horrible idea – you don’t want your solo voice and guitar ballad to be as loud as your full ensemble Death metal tune. It seems like a lot of releases actually do exactly that – all the songs, regardless of other factors, are all equally LOUD

They are, just different ways of going about it (with subtle differences) in as far as they can all change the gain of a signal without affecting the dynamic, unlike compression.

The point against normalising.

Normalise will increase the signal to a threshold acording to the highest peak, now this peak could be a loud “B” sound on a word or maybe you have a drop in with just a quiet “Oo” if you normalise each of these to the same threshold the “Oo” will now be way out of proportion to the line with the “B” sound in it. So you will have to fiddle about endlessly with the normalise function to get the balance right.

Using the volume handles to do the same thing can be done in real time on a loop thus letting you hear the result immediately, far more intuitive and flexible. Indeed within the audio part/segment you can even switch to the pencil tool and draw in a volume envelope to refine the gain over the part. Something that Paul Woodlock fought for many years ago to be included in SX that used to be so good in the old VST32 but not so well implemented in today’s Cubase.

I sometimes normalise a track, but only if I have a single audio part on that track, or after recording several takes into lanes on a track. I see it as a simple way of raising the level of something that was maybe recorded at too low a level. Feels tidier to me. But after splitting or punching in etc I will use handles.

It’s all good, whatever the ears like :sunglasses:

This is what I like about this kind of Forum. I knew NOTHING about volume handles before this thread

As far as I’m aware they are in all versions. Make sure you have zoomed vertically enough.

@Steve - are you still looking for the handles? Single click on the part you want to change so that it is highlighted. At the left and right ends you should see little triangles at the top of the part - these are for fades in and out. If you look at the center of the part (if it’s a small part you may need to zoom in to see) you will see a small square block at the top of the part. Click and hold this square block and drag the mouse up and down. You will see the waveform increase/decrease in size representing the volume change.

Apologies if you already found this out! :blush: