Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Normalisation...never heard of it!

Normalisation (or normalization for the Americans), is a very useful tool when mastering or mixing down tracks. As I´ve said earlier, mastering aims to achieve the loudest possible mix without losing too much sound quality. Normalisation helps us achieve this by doing the following. Firstly, it finds the highest peak in a track. Secondly, it raises this highest peak to the loudest it can go (normally 0 dB or 0.3 dB/98 %). And lastly, it raises everything else in the track to a point which is relative to the highest peak. Thus, normalisation creates a louder track without affecting the signal-to-noise ratio [1].

This is how one can normalise tracks in Ardour. If you look in the Edit menu of Ardour, you´ll find a dropdown called Region Operations and inside you´ll find a Normalize Region command. The shortcut for this command is `N´. So select the track you wish to normalise, then simply press `N´. Your track has now been normalised. You might even see the track peaks change a little. I recommend you do this on all your recorded tracks to achieve a louder, more professional mix.

[1] Normalisation Wiki Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_normalization


dcsimon said...

Hello, I stumbled upon your blog via the Ardour.org forums. I really like some of the posts you have written up and hope that you continue to provide similar material. It's always cool to find others who are actively involved in Linux Audio and actually use the stuff.

Brian said...

Hey dude,
Thanks a lot. Its always cool to know other people are actually reading what I write. I started using Ubuntu Studio because I am a cheapo, but I´m actually really impressed with it. I´m now just trying to prevent other cheapos like me from spending money on the pro stuff.


Post Paint Boy said...

Another great post, Brian. You're demystifying mixing/mastering for me, one step at a time!

Zak said...

oh no no. !!!
Never Normalise the tracks !!

There are plenty of ways to make a track louder, e.x - change the gain , and more.

try to normalise 16 tracks and play them back, sounds flat and just loud.

Start playing with the faders buddy !!
I wish i could work my alesis multimix with my ubuntu studio for some recording. Well...i'll stick to Reaper

Ubuntu Rocks


Brian said...

Hey Zak,

Thanks for the feedback. I do, however, disagree with you slightly. Normalisation merely sets up a common reference point for which all tracks can be mixed from.

In other words - you would never just normalise and call it a day. You would normalise and then adjust the faders for each track till your mix is tight.

I hope this doesn't come off as offensive - I'm just trying to explain my point.


Wolfram said...

Hello, I disagree on this point, sorry.

I leave some headroom on each track for security during recording and later for processing. This gives me the flexibility to use plugins with some head room for added volume (addition of echos/reverb, equalization with peaks, etc) without instantly running into clipping.

Brian the Lion said...

Hey Wolfram,

Thanks for the feedback. You actually have an excellent point. I never thought about how effects boost the gain and could cause clipping. I will try to rectify this in a future post.

By the way, our blog has moved recently to http://briansbedroom.org/

Thanks again,