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Volume Normalizing to Cassette Tapes

by Longblades / October 31, 2005 11:36 PM PST

I've been converting old, old LPs and tapes using audio cleaning Lab 3 with great success for about three years now. The CDs I've put together are sounding good at the ice skating arena, where the sound system reduces everything to mono.

Tapes are better for some users but I have a problem with the volumne. The first tape I did sounds as if it was never volume normalized.

Is something lost when going from the computer to cassette tape? The sound when actually recording, with a line in to the cassette recorder from the computer, is fine but the playback from the cassette has some songs way too loud and others barely audible.

I believe the sound card is from Crystal Sound Fusion.

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You post has far too many questions to answer.
by Kiddpeat / November 1, 2005 3:05 AM PST

You don't say how, or if, you normalized the audio on the computer.

There are lots of potential adjustments and/or problems at the tape recorder, and the playback of the tape.

For starters, I suggest connecting a set of headphones to whatever sound card output (line out?) you are using. Check the volumes there. That will tell you if the problem is in the computer, or further downstream in record and playback.

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The old fashioned way? (VU meter?)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2005 3:21 AM PST

If I think back to how it was done years ago, we had a VU meter and someone with their fingers would bump up or down the volume/amplitude to keep the VU meter from going too low or into the red.

I think this still works.


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Yes, volume was normalized first
by Longblades / November 1, 2005 4:51 AM PST

The audio was normalized using acl3. It was further checked on the acl VU meter. It was further adjusted by ear to compensate for different densities in the music. After that burning directly to CD produces a good mix of songs at similar decibel. But sending directly to the cassette recorder seems to lose all the volume editing. Output from the computer while a cassette is recording can be heard and is fine but final output when the cassette is played back is not.

After making all these adjustments to the sound should I save the final version on the hard drive and then make the cassette recording from that?

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I wonder.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2005 5:51 AM PST

I wonder if you used software meters and such? My post was about the old analogue meters and ears method.


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Meters on the recorder would be the last line of defense.
by Kiddpeat / November 1, 2005 8:22 AM PST
In reply to: I wonder.

If it sounds OK coming into the recorder (that's what you listened to, correct?), then the problem is in recording the tape. How are you connecting to the recorder? If you used the wrong input, there would definitely be a problem. Also, by all means watch the meters and adjust accordingly.

I hope you're not going to say it doesn't have meters.

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My Own Answer to My Own Question
by Longblades / January 15, 2007 12:11 AM PST

It has taken a while because I don't have easy access to arenas to test this out in but it seems the problem is threefoldfold. First, by coincidence most arenas around me have tape systems about the same age and they are all wearing out. All four arenas I use have advised me to bring my own player, which helps a LOT. I guess CD players are newer, they seem to be working better.

Second, all four arenas play in mono. My playlists include some old, old music which was originally mono and some in stero. Some in the middle say "the new high fidelity". When played back in mono some songs get louder and some get faint and the problem seems to be exaggerated on tape.

Volume normalizing and VU metres just don't cut it when recording music to be played back in an arena, though it is some help. The CDs that worked best are the first ones I did by ear alone, before I discovered vol. normalizing. The wave pattern and the VU metre may say a song peak is such and such but if the music at that point is violins we probably will have a hard time hearing it at all in the arena. Similarly, a low volume point might be the bass of drums but that will come through loud and clear.

So, I no longer volume normalize. I put all music into mono. I do watch the VU metre but my ear is the best way for me to try to decide how loud to go. Then I still try out a CD RW or tape in the arena before burning or making a final copy. No matter how much I plan in advance sometimes I just cannot anticipate what the sound will be like in a big arena, ice all over, horrible acoustics and differing numbers of people swishing around. And as the ice gets more and more cut up the sound deteriorates, or rather there is competing sound.

Perhaps this will help someone else out. If anyone else out there is putting together music to play in ice rinks.

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