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Improving the sound of your old CDs

Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:50 am

A good thing about old CDs (mid-80’s to early 90’s) is that they were made before releasing recordings with increasing loudness, also known as the Loudness War.

One of the reasons some people prefer vinyl or non-remastered CDs is because of less dynamic compression on the older releases.
A lot of them sounded better, but the volume was too low on most of them, and now on some newer devices you can't raise the volume loud enough for older CDs anymore. Great masterings, but too low in volume. So this is a basic tutorial to improve the sound on your old CDs in only a few steps.

What you need:
GoldWave v5.67 (Free evaluation version)

Optional:
mpTrim (Free)

(Click on the images to see them bigger)

1. After you have installed everything, run GoldWave and load your file.
For this tutorial I used “I’ll Never Know” from the old “Love Letters” CD (ND 89011), previously ripped using Exact Audio Copy (Free)
WAV file to preserve the original quality.

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As you can tell by looking at the sound graph, the sound is too low. (Peak level: 56%)


2. Next step, go to Effect / Stereo / MaxMatch:

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Now you can see the volume of the song has been increased, but not loud nor clipped, just a natural sounding recording.

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Comparison between before and after MaxMatch


So why this “MaxMatch” option is better tan simply normalizing the file?
This command automatically balances the left and right channels and maximizes the volume levels. Essentially, this effect uses the “Match Volume” effect internally on the left and right channels (it makes the volumes of separate files seem similar), then uses the “Maximize Volume” effect (it searches the selection for the current peak volume level. It then displays the level and the position of the level within the file. You can then specify a new absolute maximum volume level. The volume of the entire selection is changed so that the maximum will match that value. A value of 0dB gives you full dynamic range. This is often referred to as "normalizing" the volume).

After processing, the left and right channels will have the same average volume level and at least one channel will have full dynamic range (1.0 or 0dB). Note that it is rarely possible for channels to have the same average and both have full dynamic range at the same time. Typically one channel will have a dynamic range of slightly less than 1.0 or 0dB.


3. Save the changes (I recomend to save it in WAV to preserve the original quality; you can later tranform it to FLAC or whatever format you want).

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Now enjoy your song with fuller sound!
By doing this you’ll find that sometimes older remasters/remixes sound even better than recent releases!


EXTRA STEPS (OPTIONAL):
In case you saved your file in MP3 (320kbps extremely recommended!), you can do an extra step to give your MP3 an ever fuller sound.
(My version is in Spanish – sorry – but the location of the commands are the same.)

4. First, run mpTrim and load your MP3:

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5. Now go to the bottom and press the “Auto” button:

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Save your file and now you’re done!
With this program your MP3 won’t lose any quality (it won’t re-encode).


IMPORTANT NOTE 1: If your files are just MP3s, ONLY do Steps 4 and 5!

IMPORTANT NOTE 2: These steps would also make your loud recordings to sound a little better too, so give it a try.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:06 pm

cool jimmy!.
I myself use Adobe Audition, to make songs louder, but also to enhance the mastering.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:40 pm

I'm curious about the mpTrim on how well it fills the lost information that was acquired during compression, I'm definitely going to give that a try! :smt023

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:48 pm

Johnny2523 wrote:cool jimmy!.
I myself use Adobe Audition, to make songs louder, but also to enhance the mastering.

Hi Johnny which version do you use CS6 do you have the full or demo I haven't tried this one and was curious as to what is locked out on the demo if it is the one you are using?

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:19 pm

promiseland wrote:
Johnny2523 wrote:cool jimmy!.
I myself use Adobe Audition, to make songs louder, but also to enhance the mastering.

Hi Johnny which version do you use CS6 do you have the full or demo I haven't tried this one and was curious as to what is locked out on the demo if it is the one you are using?


Im using CS6 full version. If you look in all Elvis section i shared a CD. every track on there was remastered with this program.
its also handy when u need elvis voice more upfront, on stereo recordings u can use a ''Center Extractor'' button, Which u can either remove the vocal, or only keep most of the vocals.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:33 pm

Very interesting and usefull topic!!!, i use 10 years old "magix music on cd" (non free) software to enhance the original source if needed,

When it is used properly alot of things are possible with it.

The most beautyfull Way to enhance is analogue , no digital errors or noises, only re-equalizing i can't do properly analogue Because it reduces the stereo effect, digital there is more possible

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:06 pm

All processing should be done at 24 bit depth. Processing files in 16 bit affects the sound quality.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:16 pm

This is cool Jimmy! I can't wait to try it

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:20 pm

Thanks, Jimmy. There's one album, particularly: the one with the beautiful cover art: "King Of The Whole Wide World" I think that's the title. And this may be the problem.

I will have to re-import in .wav. No biggie. Thanks again!

rjm

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sun May 12, 2013 9:02 pm

I use Mac mp3gain to normalize at 89dB. Is this program better Jimmy?

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Mon May 13, 2013 8:46 am

Retroaudio! Does this Plugin look familiar? :wink:

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Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Mon May 13, 2013 9:13 pm

promiseland wrote:Retroaudio! Does this Plugin look familiar? :wink:

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:shock: no, would love to try that

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Sat May 18, 2013 12:29 pm

retroaudio wrote:
promiseland wrote:Retroaudio! Does this Plugin look familiar? :wink:

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:shock: no, would love to try that

Here's "Good Luck Charm" on Push-Pull (2A3) warm.

http://www46.zippyshare.com/v/24899510/file.html

The whole program is $1,499.00 so may be a little out of your range.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:07 am

How bout taking a new cd digital remaster and make it back to analog sound not using a tape but a good program?
Last edited by ritchie valens on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:10 am

What's the name of this program?

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:26 pm

ritchie valens wrote:How bout taking a new cd digital remaster and make it back to analog sound not using a tape but a good program?

That's the purpose of the Tube Amp plugin I posted for Retro.

Re: Improving the sound of your old CDs

Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:43 pm

Thanks a lot for this interesting Thread. I will see what I can do with it.