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Author Topic: Normalization question - best practices  (Read 3449 times)

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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #30 on: February 08, 2017, 08:37:55 AM »
Thanks for the kind words, morst.

Your flip the headphones around trick is a good one!  I use that method frequently to check the material I'm working on and also check myself.
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Offline Pittylabelle

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2017, 08:01:44 PM »
The first step I do in any post work is to go through the entire concert and apply limiting to any places of loud audience noises, applause near mics, etc. so that the non-musical things are knocked down to the level of the music (or at least close to that).  I usually do this in Audacity using the Hard Limiter with the dB limit set by ear, and with the Residue Level set to 0.7 to soften the limiter.  I am very careful to do this such that the music itself is not being affected.  I usually need to experiment with the dB limit to get to this point without introducing clipping.

What is the equivalent method in "SoundForge"?
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 09:49:17 AM by Pittylabelle »
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Offline morst

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #32 on: February 25, 2017, 04:19:05 PM »
What is the equivalent method in "SoundForge"?

You could use a plug-in hard limiter like the one found under AUDIO UNIT called AUPeakLimiter.  I use the one called Mastering Limiter, that I got with the Isotope bundle, not sure if that comes with SoundForge for everyone or I just got a cool bundle.

They all have different controls but essentially the same function. Anything over the threshold gets smashed down to not go over -0.0dBfs, the variables are often pre-gain and attack and release time. Short times will be best for fast peaks.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #33 on: February 27, 2017, 10:29:45 AM »
Overly short attack times can make the sound dull and lifeless.  Play with increasing the attack time somewhat to find a more appropriate balance between clarity, and brilliance and openness on the one hand, and sufficient management of the initial peak transient dynamics on the other.  Same goes for the other parameters such as threshold, ratio, and release time.

In general, "hard limiting" is going to be introduce more sonic artifacts and has a greater potential to sound less good than "soft limiting".  Hard limiting and extremely short attack times is more aggressive, but do you really need to try and extract every last fraction of loudness at the expense of a natural and open sounding recording with more appropriately managed dymamics?   We're not producing commercial recordings which that fight for attention by being louder than everything else, while the music suffers for it.  For our stuff, headroom of a few dB at the top with nothing in it is not a problem.  The user can just turn up the volume another notch if it's not loud enough.  That allows for far less aggressive limiter settings which are much less of a problem to get sounding transparent. 

Normalization should be thought of as separate and far less potentially problematic modification than limiting.  For most tapers, I'd suggest simple straight normalization to something conservative like -1dbFS, without trying to apply limiting.

Don't let the cure be as damaging as what you are attempting to correct.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #34 on: February 27, 2017, 08:05:18 PM »
^ Gutbucket, while I'll agree with all of that in general terms, I will say it doesn't work for all situations.  I'm always recording music with a relatively wide dynamic range, and when there is loud applause between numbers closer to the mics, that interferes with raising the level of the overall concert to where the softer sections are even at a listenable level when the amp level is cranked at output.  The applause peaks leave little room for overall level raising through normalization, which is why I almost always need to apply limiting first to knock those areas down, which will then allow me to normalize to the loudest musical peak.  In other words, normalization on its own in such a situation does nothing.

Now, to be fair I don't really use a straight hard limiter, which does introduce artifacts as you say - I start with default "hard" limit settings and then soften by ear to where it's still doing its job aggressively enough without audible artifacts.  I also try to never apply limiting to the music, and if I do it's on a very narrow stray percussive peak or something like that.  Maybe that seems like a cumbersome way to do it, but it works for me.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2017, 09:40:13 PM »
That's totally reasonable. Applause louder than the music is a problem, especially for wide dynamic stuff with quiet passages, and it needs to be brought down in level some how.  It's less critical to reduce level of the applause as transparently as than music, but its still really distracting if I notice it it working..  not uncommon when its used overly aggressively or not set well.

It just distracts too much from the willing suspension of disbelief to hear the limiting working. In which case I'd rather keep my finger on the volume knob.
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Offline daspyknows

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2017, 07:13:18 PM »
You could use the Volume Envelope to reduce the first 5 seconds and then normalize it.

I think most audio editing software can do that. I haven't had to do it in a while luckily.

you didn't go past zero did you?

I like where these guys are going, but I'll play devils advocate and say to raise the levels of everything AFTER the blowout up as high as you can before you normalize.

On an unrelated note, if anyone can suggest a "drunken jackass" filter for the guy right next to me who yelled "Wowie Zowie" into my mic all night, even after Dweezil told him they would be playing the setlist, that would be gravy
If you have access to enough valium to hand them out, those and a couple rounds of beers usually quiet folks down.

I had "That Guy" next to me at Experience Hendrix.  I was thinking that North Korea nerve agent used to whack the half brother would work pretty quickly.

Offline morst

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2017, 03:50:13 AM »
Frog darts, bro. Frog darts.

I had "That Guy" next to me at Experience Hendrix.  I was thinking that North Korea nerve agent used to whack the half brother would work pretty quickly.

When I have to reduce audience applause, I try to fix that with the envelope tool and export a cleaned up version, and send THAT to the mastering limiter.

I would not want to apply a limiter to sustained musical peaks, only brief (percussive or plosive) ones.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Normalization question - best practices
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2017, 06:44:07 PM »
It just distracts too much from the willing suspension of disbelief to hear the limiting working. In which case I'd rather keep my finger on the volume knob.

Totally with you there.  I'd rather have the occasional clip in a recording if I set the level too hot as opposed to hearing limiter pumping.

Unless I'm running 4 channels, now I always record safety tracks for anything large-ensemble, especially with omnis.  Anything to avoid limiting at the time of recording, as you're never getting that dynamic range back.
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