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Consistant Audio levels and great Segues

PlayIt Live default settings for Track Fading and Silence analysis will provide consistant Segues IF the MP3 or Wave file is saved at it's optimum level. One of the problems with when playing MP3 or Wave Files from different sources is varying audio amplitude. Quieter tracks lead to early transitions and seemingly makes some tracks seem overly loud. Yes, you could use a Compressor/Limiter to control this, but post processing will not change how PlayIt Live responds when in the Playout process.

My experience tells me that you must begin with consistant levels before adding tracks to PlayIt live.

If I hear or see a track is quiet, it's opened in an audio editor, such as Audacity, where the levels are Normalized to peak at -1db. Let me point out that most audio editing software sees the odd peak as the maximum amplitude of the track. The trick to this is to bring these individual peaks down to the overall average. Then Normalise the entire track to -1 dB. To compare, import another audio track that you find acceptable and compare the loudness of the two tracks.

It's not likely that a louder track is actually peaking over -0- db. But if it is, use the idea above to reduce the overall amplitude of the “Hot” track.

Remember: -3db is Half as loud. +3db is double the volume.

Over the years I have known people who use Programs, such as Audacity, to create Chains. Whereas all the titles in a folder are processed to cut silence, Normalize to -1dB and Saved to a separate file that is added to PlayIt Live.

By doing so they feel they have a more consistent sound requiring less Post processing.

I maintain that Original recording have the best fidelity but differ in amplitude. I suggest, if any processing with EQ or compression should happen post digital when being being played as audio, so all tracks are consistently processed at the same settings.

Perhaps these ideas will help you achieve consistent audio levels and great Segues with PlayIt Live.

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For MP3 files it would be better to use a program such as MP3 gain rather than Audacity as this will avoid re-compressing the audio, instead the range bits are adjusted for the track.

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Thanks for Sharing.  Opinions do vary, as does expertise. Just because someone says it, doesn't make a fact.      So  I won't argue.   Just use what you think works best and pleases your hearing.

     The point is... levels must be set.    -3 db = half the volume and that's a scientific fact.  Set levels up front  and you won't be spending big money on audio processors where you may loose the dynamic range by over compressing loud audio.    

     


  

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A fair point. Personally I try to avoid re-compressing MP3 files as each cycle is of the order of halving the bit rate. Broadly consistent subjective level is probably what can be achieved with a large library. With a small library (say a few hundred songs) putting careful adjustment on each file would be practical. I have many thousands of MP3s and a batch process is all I can consider. A post mixer multiband compressor (I have a Behringer) seems to control the overall sound from a random batch of MP3s reasonably well. Incorporating gain adjustment (as MP3 gain) in the library import seems a reasonable addition. Better processing might be better in the streaming module (a poor mans Optimod) with some sort of split band compression and overall limiting. That way the finished programme (including mic) is all processed as one.

I enjoy reading and acknowledging your obvious experience.   For me, I've  35 years around  Audio and Broadcasting.   What we are discussing here is more of a utility from the Pro end point of view.  because of the, yet to be offered , features.


I'm currently using Play It Software for background entertainment, And  also as a Barker utility for Trade Shows.   Announcements sold to various vendors.  a kind of a pay to be mentioned service by the sole sound provider at various shows.  I carry the  appropriate music on a a separate  hard drive and use Play It live to add the announcements that are pre recorded.  Live insertion works well also.  For these shows  I use a Pro VLA2 that has a warmer sound that you realise from Valves.  Using Valves in the audio chain removes some of the

the Raspiness you hear on MP3 recordings. (especially with the limited fidelity on the typical 400 watt PA system)


Mark you sound like you have a similar background and I, for one, would enjoy reading any comments or suggestions that you might like to contribute as new topics.  


Hey Mark...I was thinking the product you mentioned was another.  I downloaded MP3 Gain and was quite pleased with the results.  While I am cautious about what others recommend and download sites, I find this one to be very good.      Looks like Track gain works best for me.   Do you have any suggestion regarding settings or defaults?   

I can't quite recall the settings I used but I liked the concept. It has to be more than 10 years since I used it (I'll explain why) so I don't have it to hand. As I remember it, I had a folder of some hundreds of MP3 files taken from "various artists" CDs, some of which dated back to the early days of CDs. I did a trial run and found a setting which didn't clip much (if at all) and used that as the target "volume". That seemed to work well enough and let me burn some MP3 CDs for my "cutting edge (!)" Philips MP3 capable portable CD player. The iPod was relatively new then and I had been less than impressed with my Rio 500 which I won in a competition and only held about 6 tracks so I went down the MP3 CD route. A few years later I bought an iPod and now iTunes will adjust for subjective loudness (I guess using a scaling factor at replay, determined at ingest) so I'm less bothered by subjective loudness issues. Also, modern CDs are generally mastered much louder (little or nothing kept for headroom) so loudness variation on newer MP3 seems less apparent. With Mixxx (or similar) there is a channel faded for each of the 2 players (I also have a basic hardware panel - the Numark) so a quick gain tweak is easy. My Mixxx "line up" is to keep about 6 or 8 dB back, and that allows manual fixing of low levels or quiet intros. As my Netbook has become my DJing machine, I may well use MP3 gain on that library (or put a smaller library - perhaps my iPod library which is less than 1000 tracks on it and loudness level that) then experiment further with PlayIt. Mixxx can support a channel per player but that isn't how my hardware panel is intended to work so I use one soundcard channel for mix and the other for cue/prehear.
I missed one Android auto mangle. It should have read "there is a channel fader"......

In my original writing I was pointing to the need to for control over audio levels to maintain better segues.

MP3 Gain does a very good job.  

Recently, I've been converting Record album tracks to MP3 using a Stanton Turntable(with USB out) and a Shure 44-7  Cartridge. (Stanton 500 series is no longer manufactured)  It   seems to me that old fashioned analogue mixing sounds different and that difference is very obvious  when crossfading from a Digital recording to a A/D Track.  Utilising MP3 Gain post conversion  resolved that issue, 

As a side note.  At Home I use a Yamaha mixer with USB (ASIO) for Voice Production and when I have a need to do things the old fashioned way with a mixer.   

I've become fond of SD cards for recording "canned" material.  So I utilise a Denon SD recorder.  Often I adjust m y clocks and record PlayIt Live for 5 hours while I'm busy on other work.   Then during my long commutes I play it back in my car.   This allows me to get a better feel for real time listening and the adjustment i make in the Ply It live Clocks.    As a program provider to  radio stations in the UK and US,  PlayIt Live has become a tool used to pre-produce these programs.  SD's are the media of choice for storage of the final product, as well as an old fashioned delivery method.  

  


Hi Gents,

It was great reading your comments. You both have an incredibly wealth of knowledge and it is great that you are both willing to share your practiced skills. You're invaluable to forums like this.  

One last Comment on setting Levels and perfecting seques....

   

MP3 Gain works without problems when loaded from Sourceforge. 

  

MP3Gain is NOT the same as Mp3  G a i n    P r o    or   MP3 Pro.   

Interweb comments indicate serious problems by  those who have mistakenly downloaded them, 

It's  big Caution Sign. 



If you need to edit levels on songs that have  extremely quiet   intros or segments, you can use Audacity without a noticeable change in quality. 

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I appreciate that you both know this, but for the benefit of others reading this thread, if you need to "re-master" audio to reduce the dynamic range it is best to start with a WAV (or similar) file rather than MP3 (or similar).


I've had occasion to fix intros which are "too quiet".


Showing my age somewhat, the song that most illustrates this problem for me is "Roxy Music" - "Virginia Plain".


Hearing that on AM radio, the intro is a bit quiet but when I got it on record I was very surprised at the difference as the intro was extremely quiet.


To this day, I don't know if they issued a "radio mix" of the song, the engineer rode the fader, or if the compressor just always worked hard.


For those too young to remember https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8DJP6XYGDQ


and it's got a "drop dead" end as well....


Hmm you are correct re master and Wav.   Although many can't  hear the difference.   In the digital world it's best to "remaster'  at the best level of quality.  

 

Back in the 70s, The early Optimods and Gates AGCs were very noisy, so   we recorded to Cart with  our levels mastered for -0- Db,  so we  pumped up the intro on Virginia Plain to an acceptable level BUT it had a lot of hiss.  I don't recall a Broadcast version.

We had a few problems with Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath also,.  The FM underground  stations preferred no talk over intros, so we could not hide the breathing.

As far as age.   I recall seeing The Stones in Hyde Park in 1969 (I think).  46 years ago. 

In my radio days, we just cued past things like that, as they tended to disrupt the flow.  This is one of the wonders of digital editing that I appreciate.  It's a simple matter to bring the level up of a quiet intro without raising the noise floor. 

 

So that I don't use the wrong one, could someone please post the link to MP3Gain ?


I was worried that this would reduce the quality of the audio.  Are you saying that it only adjusts the volume parameters within the file?


Stephen.

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