UPDATE (Sept. 2008: The CompWide plug-in hasn’t worked since I bought a PC pre-installed with Vista. I don’t use anything now and I’m sick of trying to find solutions for things that aren’t compatible with Vista.
While I’m waiting for my wireless music system to arrive, I’ve decided to check out some that claim to automatically normalize the volume without spoiling the dynamics of the music. I’ll check them out and test them throughout the day when I have time. Then I’ll post my results.
— This one isn’t the greatest, but it’ll do the job if you’re not picky and your sound system isn’t too hot to begin with. I tried it with some classical music and it was fine to my ignorant ears. But I couldn’t stand what it did to reggae and bluegrass and folk and all that other stuff I listen to. Changing the volume throughout a song is not a good idea. It doesn’t sound good — period. This plug-in also produced too many audio “artifacts” (clicks and pops). I hope the next one is better.
— Hard to say if it’s as bad as the KMG plug-in, but it’s still not good. The sound is still being processed during playback, which seems to create artifacts. Like I said in my previous post, all I really need is a normalizer that doesn’t “process” the sound at all, but allows the user to simply save the best volume setting for any track that needs adjustment and remembers it whenever that track comes up again. Wouldn’t that be easier to program anyway?
— This one is it. It has some presets that provide good examples of what it can do, and if you don’t like them, you can easily adjust them. The configuration window displays a small real-time graph that shows you what the audio signal looks like “dry” (i.e., untouched), how much more or less volume is being added to the signal, and what the actual output looks like. You can make on-the-fly adjustments and immediately see (and hear) how it’s working out. It’s worth it to take the time to find the settings that work best for the kind of sound you want, for the kind of music you listen to. It works very well for classical music, but there are some reggae songs that it doesn’t know what to do with. To fix that, I simply reduced the rate at which it increases or decreases the volume, so the change isn’t as drastic. Generally I would still prefer something that allows me simply set the overall volume for any track that’s too loud or too soft, but this one executes the adjustments seamlessly without producing any noise or any other undesirable “artifacts.” (Certain settings will produce distortion, but just turn down the maximum volume and it’s fixed. Nothing to it.) This is the one. Look no further. should be a standard plug-in for Winamp. NOTE: This is a preliminary short-term test. Long-term use might reveal different results.
4:44pm (something different)
Toaster — This is an excellent plug-in that’s supposed to display the artist, the song, the album title and the album cover in a pop-up window that fades in and then out whenever a new song plays. But I spent at least an hour trying to make it work, and all I can say is: it’s beyond me. I don’t have the patience for it. All I can get out of it is the artist and the song title. Customizing the display is not as straightforward as it could be, and I can’t find a help file that is in any way helpful. People who write code for a living can probably figure it out, though. I would love to get this one working. Anyone have experience with this plug-in? Can you tell me exactly how I can make it display the artist, song title and the album title? (Displaying the album cover would be nice, but I can live without it if I have to.) Thanks.