Wireless Music – Part 1: Normalizing the Volume?

Encouraged by John Walkenbach’s recommendation, I ordered a wireless music system for my PC last week from NewLink.ca (through eBay). It’s a brand new fully guaranteed product with a 2-year warranty, so it’s good. It should arrive sometime this week. J-Walk said:

Just plug a small transmitter into a USB port on your computer. Then place the receiver unit near your stereo system and plug it into the AUX jacks. Voila! Wireless music from your computer… It took about five minutes to set up, and it worked perfectly with no fiddling around. The sound quality is excellent. No noise, no interference. It even includes a little remote control so you can pause, skip to the next song, or mute the volume.

That sounds great to me for all kinds of reasons.

Realizing I’d now be able to listen to my MP3s on a good sound system (as opposed to my PC speakers), I decided to re-encode all my CDs at a higher bitrate. The old bitrate was 128kpbs. The new one is a CD-quality VBR (anywhere between 192kbps and 320kbps). I’m using Audiograbber to rip and normalize each track to 98%. (CDex is a good ripper, too, but it has a bug that doesn’t react well with my CPU.)

Although the volume of each track is set to 98%, inevitably some of them will play back too quiet or too loud. Can anyone recommend a Winamp plug-in or a player that automatically normalizes all the tracks during playback? (One that does so without compromising sound quality — not easy to find.) The ideal normalizer, which probably doesn’t exist, wouldn’t “process” the sound at all, but would allow the user to simply save the best volume setting for any track that needs adjustment. That’s the dream.

(See also Wireless Music: Part 2 and Part 3.)

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

5 Replies to “Wireless Music – Part 1: Normalizing the Volume?”

  1. Under winamp preferences, go to General Preferences, Playback.

    check the box for “Use Replay Gain”

    for amplification mode, select “normalize”


    I haven’t tried it before, just took a quick look because i figured something as simple as this should be built in to winamp.

  2. That’s funny. My Winamp doesn’t have a “Playback” option under General Preferences. Probably means I need to update Winamp, which I’ve avoid because the new Winamp doesn’t tag MP3s as easily as the old version (I think).

  3. version 5.32 here.

    careful with all the plugins in your next post. winamp plugins are notoriously buggy and occasionally filled with the dreaded spywares!

  4. I have Winamp Pro 5.24. It’s not broke, so I’m not fixing it (ie upgrading).

    Some of the plugins are very buggy. I scan for Spyware after each install. Nothing major so far. AudioGrabber is causing the most problems. It bogs down my system when it’s running. I’ve had a few freezes already. I’ll be glad when I’m done all this.

  5. I have about 100 CDs left to rip. It’s around 20gb so far, around 3500 songs, which is relatively small but large for someone who doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on CDs. I’m happy with it, but I am more than sick of ripping the CDs, and it’s going slower because these are the lower-priority CDs. I’ll probably end up deleting most of the tracks from these albums; all of them in many cases. I have an Enya CD that probably won’t stay on my hard drive for long. Tracy Chapman, some thing. Any whiff of “Pop” and I’m usually out of there. The ripping process is taking longer than normal because I’m normalizing all the tracks before I encode. Instead of a simple single-pass rip direct to MP3, AudioGrabber scans for the peak level of each track, normalizes the volume if it falls within a certain range (below 95%), saves the track as a WAV file, and then encodes it to MP3s with its proper tags. On average, it triples the time it takes to encode a CD. Instead of 2-3 minutes per CD, it averages about 10 minutes. So, yeah, it’s slow going. I’ll be glad when it’s done.

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