v17 replaygain doesn't seem to be working
#81
I would like to make an addition to this thread with some possible solutions for all who claim that replaygain isn't working. If you want to skip my ramblings and explanations, just apply the solution printed in bold.

I've struggled myself for a long time to understand all the implications and think that I can now make some valid suggestions. Beware, though, there is probably no solution that works the same for everybody since the best settings depend on what kind of music you listen to and how you listen to it.

There are several factors which play a role in this and if you want to get some background, read up on Wikipedia or the internet in general on the following topics: Loudness Wars and Dynamic Range.

Just a few technical things.

1. 100db is taken as the maximum loudness value up to which no distortion occurs. Modern recording equipment can get much closer to this theoretical value than was possible 20 years ago when engineers had to leave more "headroom". That means, modern recordings are in general louder than older recordings.

2. Most modern recordings of pop music have a low dynamic range. Dynamic range (DR) is the difference between the quietest and the loudest sound in a recording. Classical music and jazz music typically have a high dynamic range, pop music used to have a high dynamic range when musicians still played real instruments and sound engineers didn't mix for headphone listening while skating on the boardwalk. For an awesome effect of high dynamic range listen to either the beginning of Pink Floyd's "The Happiest Days of our Lives" from the Japan Blackface CD pressing which has a DR of 16 or Flim and the BB's "Tricycle" with a DR of 20 which will blow your speakers away if you set them too high when the drums set in.

Too cut a long story short, modern recordings with a low DR will sound subjectively even louder since the volume never goes below a certain threshold. Electronic music is know too have a dynamic range between 3 and 5.

3. If you mainly listen to music from the same period, chances are that you won't complain about replaygain because to you all tracks will sound about the same volume. Things get tricky when you listen to a wide range of music, like pop from the Beatles area up to today. In this case the predefined settings will not be able to normalize volume between tracks and older music will sound distinctively quieter. You will also notice this if you burn a CD with such mixed music or your car and you constantly have to adjust volume manually.

Now that you have read all this, understanding replaygain fully is just two logical steps away. Someone at some point decided that the preamp volume reference should be set to 89db. That was a long time ago, though, when music at its loudest was indeed around that value and slight variations would be caught. But as we learned before, today's music is much closer to 100db. Since we're talking about AMPLIFICATION that means, older music will only get (pre-)amplified ever so slightly while modern music will remain louder (dynamic range plays a role in this, too, not only volume).

Now the solution is simple, you will need to ramp up the preamp volume. A lot. Set preamp to 95db for files with replaygain information and make sure all your files actually HAVE such tags. Leave the other value at 89db just to be sure not to amplify anything that is already very load. You should not have files without replaygain info, anyway.

If you mainly listen to mixed playlists, choose "Track levels". If you usually listen to whole albums choose "Album levels".

Personally I disable clipping protection as 95db should not lead to distortion on good equipment (24bit recordings should never clip) and there have been reports that it might impact sound quality. Those reports are old, though, and might have to do with processing power which wasn't as good as today back then.

Anyway, I hope this is useful since the replaygain question seems to be one of the most asked when it comes to music playback and is therefore probably life-critical in a First-World-problem sense.
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RE: replaygain doesn't seem to be working - by HeresJohnny - 2019-04-07, 00:01


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