Burning CDs- Keeping volume levels the same

I have (legally) made compilation CDs of my favorite workout songs that I play on a CD player when I work out. The problem is that one song will sound nice and loud at one volume level and then when the next song comes on, it won’t be loud enough. I have to continually adjust the volume level. Is there any software available that can make sure when I burn songs to a CD they all sound equally as loud?

I’ve had good luck with running the files through MP3Gain prior to burning them on a disc. It’s definitely noticeable how much louder CDs have been mastered in recent years, isn’t it?

There’s an automatic level adjuster in iTunes, but it’s far from perfect. I still have to go in manually and set the levels on some songs.

Thanks, Anaptyxis. My CDs are regular audio CDs and not MP3s. Would I have to first convert them to MP3, use MP3Gain, and them convert them back to regular audio files?

What you want to do is called “normalizing” the volume levels. Many (most?) CD ripping and burning programs contain a normalization option to adjust volume before burning. You should go digging through your menu options looking for this setting. MP3Gain is only useful if you have MP3 files but, in your case, converting CDs to MP3s is a wasted step.

Then would it work for the MP3 files I do have that I want to convert to regular audio files that can be played on a regular CD player or will converting them to regular audio files mess up the normalization again?

Exact Audio Copy (freeware) will let you rip a CD to .WAV files (i.e. uncompressed) and normalize them on a track-by-track basis. You can then burn the .WAV files to an audio-format CD using your usual burning program, without having to got through mp3 compression / decompression.


That would work OK, but if you’re going to download Exact Audio Copy anyway, I’d recommend doing the mp3 -> WAV conversion first, then normalizing the .WAV files, then burning to audio CD.

It’s always bad to convert from original to lossy (mp3) and back again as you loose fidelity in your recording. It shouldn’t screw up your normalization, but still, not always good. EAC is a good recommendation for ripping.

This is the correct answer. For example, on Windows Media Player, I think this option is turned on by default; but whether it is or not, you can switch it on (or off) by selecting Options from the Tools menu, clicking on the Burn pane, and checking (or unchecking) the box labeled “Apply volume leveling across tracks on the CD.”

I used Yahoo! Music Jukebox to burn the tracks onto CDs and “Normalize Volume” is turned on by default also, but I guess it doesn’t work so well.

Some programs use different processes to normalize. The bad ones will simple amplify all the wave forms so the loudest part hits the 0db line, regardless of how loud the rest of the song (or other tracks) are. The better ones will take the RMS amplitude (average across the entire song) and amplify (and possibly compress) that way. That will provide a better result from track to track. You’ll of course have better results if your tracks are similar in style. Classical piano or string quartet recordings will have a higher range of volumes than my punk collection, which is just loud all the time.

Unfortunately, yes, as Hodge says.
And as a Mac user with just iTunes for audio CD burning, I’m often irritated that there doesn’t seem to be a way to normalize tracks while burning (at least in the ancient version I’ve been using, which I’ve held onto for other reasons), as people describe for WMP. Hrmph.