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Let's talk for a bit about Amplitude and how loud your audio file should be. As a general rule, you want the loudest points of your audio file to just about reach the 0 dB mark on the Amplitude scale. I'm just going to zoom out a little bit so you can see it. We have 0 dB right there, and again it's above and below since the scale goes both ways of the center line here. 0 dB is considered to be the optimal level for digital audio, and ideally, you should record your audio so that it's at this level. But you're always going to have some recordings that are a little quieter and could stand to be a little louder. For example, I have this interview_BD.wav file still open, and I can see that its loudest point is probably right around here.
There's another spike over here. And that goes to about the -4, -5 dB level there, but those were the loudest points of the entire file. The spikes in the rest of the file are all between round -10 dB to -8 dB or so. So in this movie, I'm going to show you the process of normalizing your audio, which is the process of raising the amplitude of your audio file so that its loudest points reach 0 dB or as close as 0 dB as you want to get. Many people prefer to take their audio to -0.1 because remember, anything over 0 dB runs the risk of clipping or distorting your audio.
Now technically, normalizing isn't just for increasing volume. If you have a really loud file that goes over 0 dB, you can also normalize it to bring its loudest points below 0 dB. But normalizing tends to be used most frequently for increasing the level of audio. Plus, if you have a file that's over 0 dB, it's probably clipped and distorted to places, and normalizing can't fix that kind of digital audio noise. So, probably the quickest way to normalize a file is to go to the Favorites menu, and here you'll find a lot of commonly applied effects, including Normalize to -0.1 dB and Normalize to -3 dB.
Since I want to make my file as loud as possible without clipping, I'll take it -0.1 dB. But first, let's listen to the beginning of the file. Keep an eye on the level meter down here. (male speaker: Well, we have one farm in Ojai, where we've been since 1998, and that is, really, an urban farm.) So you can see I still have a decent amount of breathing room once we get past the opening part of the recording here. So I'm going to select Favorites > Normalize to -0.1 dB.
Audition takes a second to process it, and just like that, we have now increased the overall volume of the entire file so that its loudest point reaches -0.1 dB. Let's listen and watch the meter again. (male speaker: Well, we have one farm in Ojai, where we've been since 1998, and that is--) So you should be able to hear and see the difference in this case. We came right up to just under 0 dB. Now, since normalization raises the entire overall level equally, there should be no relative difference in volume within the track.
No single section is any louder or quieter than any other section than it was before normalization. So that's a really quick way to normalize. Now, one issue here is that as I pointed out a moment ago, the spike here is about 3 or 4 dB louder than the rest of the recording. But because it's the loudest point-- actually this is probably the loudest point here--Audition uses that as a reference, and took it to the -0.1 dB level. The rest of the track is still peaking at about the -3 dB level. So overall, this file could still be a little bit louder.
I'm going to undo my normalization for a moment. So one way I can normalize my file so that the majority of it can be a little bit louder is to manually reduce the amplitude of these larger spikes. I'm just going to zoom in on this one here, and I'm just going to try to select the portion of the waveform that's loudest. I'll zoom in a little bit more. And I'm going to reduce the selection by maybe about 3 dB. Now, this is going to be imperceptible since it happened so fast, but I've now effectively reduced the loudest portion of my recording, which means that when I normalize, I'll be able to increase the overall recordings level more.
If I play this, you shouldn't hear any difference at this point. (male speaker: So that's the best--) You see how quickly that goes by. That's just the word so. (male speaker: So that's the best of--) So that. Now, there is another portion of the recording that's a little bit louder, and that's at the very beginning. So we can see this here. And again, let's do a quick selection and just reduce it down. And I can even do this visually just to make sure it matches about the size of the rest of the waveforms around it. And again, we shouldn't hear a difference. (male speaker: Well, we have one farm--) So now, I want to select Favorites > Normalize to -0.1 dB.
You can see that the overall file now looks much larger. It gave me more breathing room, and now my file is able to get louder. (male speaker: Well, we have one farm in Ojai, where we've been since 1998, and that is--) But nowhere is this getting any louder than -0.1 dB. So that's normalizing. Now, if you want to normalize to a level other than -0.1 or -3 dB, you can go to the Effects menu and choose Amplitude and Compression and Normalize. Here, just select dB and then drag the number to the level you want to normalize to.
So if I wanted to normalize to, say, -2 dB or 2.5 dB, I could do that. I'm just going to cancel out of this for now. Now, you can accomplish what we've done here with Compression, and we'll talk about that in a later chapter, but if you're just looking to quickly increase the overall level of your file, it doesn't get much faster than just going to the Favorites menu and choosing Normalize to -0.1 dB.
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