If you get all your MP3 files from one source, like iTunes or Amazon, the mp3 music files will generally have a very similar volume level. But if you get your MP3 files from different locations, exchange them with friends, maybe record some from online radio, chances are that the volume levels vary.

This means that when you load the MP3 files on your MP3 player or mobile phone, you will need to adjust the volume when you play these MP3 files. Although quite possible, it is not the perfect scenario. Wouldn’t it be much nicer if all MP3 music files had the same volume level, so you can just enjoy the music without adjusting your player’s volume all the time?

The solution is volume normalizing. Normalizing the volume in MP3 files basically takes care of adjusting the volume in each file to match a certain standard. In other words, you make the volume level for the MP3 files the same. There are different techniques for normalizing, peak normalization being a common method. But peak normalizing is not a very good method, since it does not really adjust the music volume as it is perceived by humans. A better method is to use statistical analysis to analyze the volume level as it is really heard by humans and then adjust the file.

This might all sound rather difficult, but it is actually very simple with the right tools. A great, free program to normalize you MP3 files is called MP3Gain. Start by downloading and installing mp3gain in on your PC. Even though it is a free program, the program has be translated to quite a few languages, so pick your own language during the installation.

When you start the program, you will see a simple GUI where you start by selecting the MP3 files.

MP3Gain program window

Just click the Add File(s) button to make your selection of MP3 files for which you want to adjust the volume level. If your MP3 files are already organized in a folder, you can add the complete folder with the Add Folder button.

Before you start the analysis, you can change the Target “Normal” Volume, which is set a 89 dB (decibel) by default. Normally the default will do fine, so experiment with that if the results are not satisfactory.

The next step is to run a Track Analysis, where the program checks and analysis all MP3 files to determine the volume adjustment they need to match the target volume level. This process can take a little time, depending on your computer speed and the number of MP3 files that need to be analyzed.

MP3 file volume analysis

When the track analysis is completed, some or more of the columns will contain the resulting information. The most important column is the Track Gain, which indicates the adjustment the program will apply to the MP3 file volume level to match the target volume. As you can see in the example, different tracks have different Volume levels, so the adjustments will also vary.

For full details on all the columns and the colored items, I recommend you take a look at the Help option in the program. The help file contains a lot of useful background information as well as a detailed description of the program options and GUI.

The final step is to apply the volume adjustments to the MP3 files, for which you need to click the Track Gain button. Again the program will take a little processing time to complete the changes to the MP3 files. Once the volume adjustment processing completes, you can play the MP3 files and check the results.

Adjust MP3 file volume

Apart from the better normalization algorithm, there is another reason to use MP3Gain to standardize the volume level for MP3 files. This is the fact that MP3Gain does not change the actual MP3 file; there is no recoding of the music data. Instead the program simply writes a tag in the MP3 files with volume level info. An MP3 player will use that info when the MP3 file is played back on the MP3 player. So the MP3 file normalizing process is completely lossless!

Apart from the basic volume adjustments as described above, you can also adjust a complete album. If the album tracks have a volume or loudness difference that you want to maintain, the album analysis and album gain options allow you to adjust the overall album volume to the target volume, but keep the volume differences between the tracks.


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