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Author Topic: Audio Level Troubles  (Read 3139 times)

mixtape1

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Audio Level Troubles
« on: June 07, 2012, 05:10:42 pm »

I recorded an hour-long podcast featuring two people speaking (each person is recorded onto a separate track, if it makes a difference) and the levels are all out of whack - sometimes people are shouting, other times people are speaking at barely above a whisper. Is there any sort of software out there that will equalize the audio levels so that it is one consistent block of audio? Thank you!
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rocksure

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2012, 02:20:09 am »

A combination of compression and automation is the answer to that. Pretty much any good DAW would have some form of both of those in it.
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Tim Halligan

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2012, 02:51:03 am »

The levels are not out of whack.

Why would you want the whisper to be as loud as the shouting?

Unless you're really in to the "nothing like nature" aspect of audio mangling.

FWIW, the whole "everything loud all the time" style of audio presentation is really hard to listen to and concentrate on. Remember our brains are programmed to detect changes...so constant level tends to disappear from consciousness quite quickly.

Think really carefully before you turn your audio into a brick.

Cheers,
Tim
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Mo Facta

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012, 04:12:17 am »

I love how he wants the audio to be "one consistent block" instead of having any allusion to it actually "sounding better".

It's typical of today's mindset.  Why are people so afraid of dynamics????

Cheers :) 
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Jim Williams

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012, 10:55:32 am »

  Why are people so afraid of dynamics????

Cheers :)

It's the mastering guys that are afraid of dynamics.
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Patrick Tracy

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2012, 08:30:35 pm »

The levels are not out of whack.

Why would you want the whisper to be as loud as the shouting?

So you don't blow out your ears or your speakers after cranking the volume to hear the whispers over road noise etc.

Fletcher

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 09:00:09 am »

In this day and age - reducing the dynamic range of a presentation is pretty far from difficult.  It can be done in any DAW without a struggle.  All you need is a little time and patience and you can solve the problem easily by "drawing" fader automation.  If you don't have a DAW program, there is a nice little program called "Reaper" that can be downloaded for free that will give you the abilities you seem to require.

Peace
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Tim Halligan

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2012, 02:21:13 am »

So you don't blow out your ears or your speakers after cranking the volume to hear the whispers over road noise etc.

So you're suggesting it's ok to ruin the programme for ALL listening scenarios by "fixing" it for ONE listening scenario?

Yes...somewhat reducing the dynamic range of the programme may be what is required, but turning it into a pancake is not doing anyone - the listener or the artist - any favours at all...and removing all of the dynamics of the material just sounds awful.

But as long as it doesn't blow up your car stereo right?

 :o

Cheers,
Tim
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jaykadis

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2012, 02:47:39 pm »

There is certainly a middle ground between inaudible and blasting - you want intelligibility but don't need everything to be full volume all the time. Some difference in level can help identify each speaker as long as each is audible. The noise floor of the listening environment can be used to help determine the lowest level acceptable but it is not the only consideration.


If the levels are wildly different, it will take a bit of manual adjustment followed by some compression to get the best balance. To get the best results you will need to go through the whole show and manually fix the inaudible sections with gain adjustments. Applying compression afterwards can help smooth out the whole track but it is not necessary to overdo it. The same manual adjustments may be necessary to lower the extreme loud sections. It can take considerable time to get it to sound "natural".

Patrick Tracy

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Re: Audio Level Troubles
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2012, 03:33:04 pm »

So you're suggesting it's ok to ruin the programme for ALL listening scenarios by "fixing" it for ONE listening scenario?

Yes...somewhat reducing the dynamic range of the programme may be what is required, but turning it into a pancake is not doing anyone - the listener or the artist - any favours at all...and removing all of the dynamics of the material just sounds awful.

But as long as it doesn't blow up your car stereo right?

 :o

Cheers,
Tim

What constitutes ruining the program is a matter of opinion. I would argue that the drastic dynamic range of the recording is proof that it was already ruined and that processing it after the fact can mitigate the damage. Out of control volume changes from poor performance and bad mic technique don't sound "natural" to me, and "natural" sound doesn't automatically mean good sound. Sound is unnatural as soon as it hits a microphone anyway. If you want natural sound then show up in person and take the electronics out of the equation.

I'm not advocating making the waveform into a brick, just making it practical to listen to in the real world of imperfect listening environments. This is spoken word after all, and the point is the meaning of the words rather than the sound of the words.
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