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  1. #1
    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?

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    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?
    Hi,

    I asked a friend to make me a copy of an old vinyl record album from the 60s so I can add it to my iTunes library.
    He borrowed some equipment to do this and about half the tracks on the record came out very soft, much lower in volume than the other half. He somehow digitized them and sent them to me as email attachments. They are all MP3 format. Some of the soft ones are so soft, low in volume, as to make them almost unlistenable so I have to correct this. The hotter tracks are just fine, perfect.

    I was wondering if there is any facility within iTunes to raise the level of some of the tracks that are lower to match the ones that are hotter before (or during) my transfer to my iTunes library? I seem to recall on my old MacBook computer, on a much earlier version of iTunes, that there was a graphic EQ that could boost frequencies but also boost the overall level of a track, but within limits (like +/- 6db). I don't seem to have this capability in the iTunes (version 12.6.1.25) I'm using now on my iMac. If I do, I can't find it.

    Is there a program or app I can use that will do this for me. As I only have about half a record album to correct, I'd hope to find something I can download for free as I may never do this again. I don't need anything too fancy.

    Thanks for your help and suggestions,

    Bob M.

  2. #2
    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?
    IWT's Avatar
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    My view on this, however accurate or otherwise, is that you can't realistically enhance/change/improve on the original. You are going to get a great deal of distortion.

    The only serious way is for your friend to re-record the hopeless tracks at the proper volume, perhaps using the free Audacity app for example.

    Ian
    Ian

  3. #3
    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?
    Raz0rEdge's Avatar
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    One application I've used to tweak the "volume" of an MP3 is MP3Gain, this particular app is a Mac port of the original Windows only application. I haven't used these apps in a long time so not sure if it will work with the latest version of macOS.

    But as Ian correctly pointed out, these apps will boost the volume, but do it a dumb way and you can end up with a lot of clipping and distortion. So play around.

    If MP3Gain doesn't do what you want, you can try a more full featured audio editor like Audacity.
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  4. #4
    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?
    Rod's Avatar
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    As annoying as it may be I think re recording those tracks is the only way. The software I know of allows the input volume to be adjusted for various sources and I learned you cant just set one level for every track or album. Amplifying the sound level will probably just increase background noise (like a scratchy record).
    I used to be conceited but now I'm perfect.

  5. #5
    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?

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    iTunes has a volume slider under Info/Options. I've increased the volume a bit on a few songs which seemed to be lower than the rest after I put them in iTunes. Perhaps if you have to increase the volume a great deal as noted above, the quality won't be there, but give it a try and see.

  6. #6
    In iTunes, go to Preferences > Playback and click on "Sound Check". Sound Check is Apple's version of "Replay Gain". The way it works is when you import a track, iTunes scans the entire track and comes up with a gain correction that can be applied during playback. The sound file itself is not changed other than to have Sound Check metadata added, but playback gain is adjusted during playback. Using Sound Check helps a lot in avoiding major volume changes between tracks, including your vinyl rips.

    Replay Gain is a similar process, scanning the file, analyzing loudness, and adding a meta-tag that tells the player what adjustment the track volume needs. Very much like Sound Check, but more cross-platform. The downside to Replay Gain is there are few apps that can do the file scanning and meta-tagging AND deal with all the different file types. Typically, you have one app for .mp3, one for FLAC, etc. But Replay Gain works quite well. Look for it in apps like WinAmp, or Foobar2000.

    However, if the track is really, really low, and re-recording is not an option, you can always open the file in Audacity(free audio app) and apply "Normalization" (Effects > Normalize, set for -1dB), but understand this will change the file itself permanently unless you save-as a different filename. And, understand that Normalization looks only at the highest peak in the entire file, and adjust the entire track level so that peak lands at whatever level you choose. -1dB is safe. But be aware that one loud record tick can create the highest peak in the file and establish the normalization level, which won't be what you want. Fortunately, there are also declick functions in Audacity. By contrast, a single loud record tick will not affect the loudness analysis done by Sound Check and Replay Gain.

    The big difference between normalization and Sound Check/Replay Gain is that normalizing looks at the highest peak and ignores track loudness, then changes the actual data, where Sound Check and Replay Gain use a loudness determining algorithm to establish track volume and apply the correction as a meta-tag leaving the actual audio data unscathed. They are NOT the same. You can turn off Replay Gain or Sound Check any time. Once normalization has been applied, it's permanent.

  7. #7
    I'm surprised no one's mentioned GarageBand. Import one of the problem mp3 files into a track and adjust the gain. You might even try adding a compression plug-in. You can also apply various filters to the track to try to mitigate any side effects of adjusting the gain. Then export as an mp3 again. This may or may not work to your satisfaction (as others have noted with their proposed solutions), but it's worth a try. As has been said, the best solution is to get the recording levels right at the source.
    Last edited by usagora; 01-30-2019 at 11:21 AM.
    -Jonathan
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  8. #8
    How can I boost the volume of a song before adding it to my iTunes library?
    badshoehabit's Avatar
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    Another thought. I've never had good music volume (ie LOUD!!!) from my MBP so recently bought a portable bluetooth speaker which is wonderful.
    Sue

    If the shoe fits, buy it in every colour.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by usagora View Post
    I'm surprised no one's mentioned GarageBand. Import one of the problem mp3 files into a track and adjust the gain. You might even try adding a compression plug-in. You can also apply various filters to the track to try to mitigate any side effects of adjusting the gain. Then export as an mp3 again. This may or may not work to your satisfaction (as others have noted with their proposed solutions), but it's worth a try. As has been said, the best solution is to get the recording levels right at the source.
    The reason I didn't recommend Garage Band is simple. I'm an audio professional. I find the Garage Band interface completely confusing, clearly designed to take someone who has never done anything in audio before and lead them by the hand in a direction Apple thinks they should go. It's so highly irritating, and different that any other audio software, I never use it. Never. And deleted it's bloated 1gb of program and 2+gb of samples and loops.

    But, just as a sanity check, I downloaded a fresh copy today and tried to just open an mp3 file and do something...anything...with it. I gave it 5 minutes, and this old audio pro gave up.

    So, if you're going to suggest Garage Band, you'd better also post a detailed step-by-step, with a fresh start new project, because even drag/drop an .mp3 doesn't work.

    My policy is to never recommend something I wouldn't use myself, and even then with caution.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by badshoehabit View Post
    Another thought. I've never had good music volume (ie LOUD!!!) from my MBP so recently bought a portable bluetooth speaker which is wonderful.
    True, but that's a different problem, different solution. It doesn't address a single, or group of low-volume tracks.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by dc2bluelight View Post
    The reason I didn't recommend Garage Band is simple. I'm an audio professional. I find the Garage Band interface completely confusing, clearly designed to take someone who has never done anything in audio before and lead them by the hand in a direction Apple thinks they should go. It's so highly irritating, and different that any other audio software, I never use it. Never. And deleted it's bloated 1gb of program and 2+gb of samples and loops.

    But, just as a sanity check, I downloaded a fresh copy today and tried to just open an mp3 file and do something...anything...with it. I gave it 5 minutes, and this old audio pro gave up.

    So, if you're going to suggest Garage Band, you'd better also post a detailed step-by-step, with a fresh start new project, because even drag/drop an .mp3 doesn't work.

    My policy is to never recommend something I wouldn't use myself, and even then with caution.
    Well, my comment wasn't specifically directed at you, although it happened to be directly after your post. Obviously you have strong feelings about it. I've used it frequently for years without issue, including dragging and dropping audio into a track. Never took a course on it - just figured it out the basics pretty easily on my own and Googled specific things every once and a while like I would for any other app. To each his own. I'd say it's worth a shot for the OP just as much as any other suggestions. Can't hurt.
    -Jonathan
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by usagora View Post
    Well, my comment wasn't specifically directed at you, although it happened to be directly after your post. Obviously you have strong feelings about it. I've used it frequently for years without issue, including dragging and dropping audio into a track. Never took a course on it - just figured it out the basics pretty easily on my own and Googled specific things every once and a while like I would for any other app. To each his own. I'd say it's worth a shot for the OP. Can't hurt.
    Ok, I'll bite: so I got me a low-volume .mp3 file in iTunes. How do I open it in Garage Band? All I know is I have this low-volume file I can see in iTunes, and I've never even seen Garage Band before, so opening it to an existing project doesn't count, start from scratch. Start from there, and step-by-step it.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by dc2bluelight View Post
    Ok, I'll bite: so I got me a low-volume .mp3 file in iTunes. How do I open it in Garage Band? All I know is I have this low-volume file I can see in iTunes, and I've never even seen Garage Band before, so opening it to an existing project doesn't count, start from scratch. Start from there, and step-by-step it.
    I don't have my Mac with me right now, but all you have to do is start a new project and add a "real instrument" track. Then simply drag and drop the mp3 file onto that track. Then adjust the gain slider and add any plugins you want to experiment with. When you're happy, export the track as an mp3.

    Apple has a whole help section on the GarageBand for Mac app on their website if you or others need more details:
    https://help.apple.com/garageband/mac/10.2/

    I'm sure if the OP decides to go this route, he will ask for more details if needed. I don't want to hijack this thread into a debate about the user-friendliness (or whatever the beef is) of GarageBand. We've both already stated how we feel about it I was just throwing one more suggestion into the hat. Options are good.
    -Jonathan
    iMac (27-inch, Late 2012) - 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5
    MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2012) - 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by usagora View Post
    I don't have my Mac with me right now, but all you have to do is start a new project and add a "real instrument" track. Then simply drag and drop the mp3 file onto that track. Then adjust the gain slider and add any plugins you want to experiment with. When you're happy, export the track as an mp3.

    Apple has a whole help section on the GarageBand for Mac app on their website if you or others need more details:
    https://help.apple.com/garageband/mac/10.2/

    I'm sure if the OP decides to go this route, he will ask for more details if needed. I don't want to hijack this thread into a debate about the user-friendliness (or whatever the beef is) of GarageBand. We've both already stated how we feel about it I was just throwing one more suggestion into the hat. Options are good.
    Well, it's not a hijack. You offered a solution that every Mac user has access too, nothing to download or install it's all right there. But no instructions, and Apple's hand-leading doesn't get you there. That's not helpful...yet, but it could be if you know how to do this.

    I start GB and get thisIMG]https://i.ibb.co/9qQwY9n/garageband1.jpg[/IMG]

    Then I start a project and get thisIMG]https://i.ibb.co/9qQwY9n/garageband2.jpg[/IMG]

    So far, I can't open, much less find, the offending .mp3.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15
    Look, dc2bluelight, if the OP requests a tutorial, I'll be happy to take all the time needed to help them. It sounds to me like you're just trying to "prove" how supposedly "difficult" GaraBand is to use (which of course I disagree with). If you're truly interested for your own sake on how to import an mp3 file into a track, I'll be happy to record me doing that tonight and PM you a link. Send me a PM if you want me to do that. I'm sorry if you didn't deem my posts helpful, but I think they were. As I said, if more details is requested by the OP, I'll be happy to take the time. Otherwise, I'm done here.
    -Jonathan
    iMac (27-inch, Late 2012) - 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5
    MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2012) - 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5

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