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Don't Give Up on Sound Check
Authored by: salcorn on Jan 07, '10 12:56:20PM

Those having trouble with Sound Check should make sure they have it turned on in both iTunes and their iPod or iPhone. Then give iTunes time to go through and normalized the whole library, and then resync.

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Don't Give Up on Sound Check
Authored by: gidds on Jan 07, '10 04:08:08PM

While Sound Check does have some wins (it's built-in, fast, and standard), it has disadvantages too.

For one, it adjusts each track in isolation. I have many albums with continuous music, and I was fed up hearing the volume jump drastically when a loud track ended and a quiet one started. Whereas you can tell iVolume to calculate the level over a whole album and apply the same adjustment to each track in it.

And for another, Sound Check isn't very good at judging how loud a track actually sounds. (A surprisingly difficult task.) So it can still leave unexpected changes in volume between tracks. ReplayGain (as used in iVolume etc.) takes a lot longer to calculate, but does a much better job of approximating human hearing.

iVolume is a pain in some ways (takes forever to start up if you have a lot of music, has its own GUI which doesn't match up with iTunes, and keeps its own database of all your music with details on the adjustments it's made), but I find it just about worth the hassle. I can't compare it with any of the other tools, though.


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Don't Give Up on Sound Check
Authored by: DrLex on Mar 10, '11 06:38:01AM

Sound Check used to be quite good when it was first introduced. But after a few versions, Apple have fiddled with it to make it faster. The main difference between Sound Check and ReplayGain is that Sound Check seems to only sample some parts of each song while RG analyzes the whole song. This makes SC faster but less accurate. If it happens to always sample in the silent parts of a song, it will make the adjustment too loud. And to make it faster, I believe iTunes now samples even more sparsely. I'm not entirely certain of this but it is the best explanation of why it is so much faster than ReplayGain and so much less accurate. I have encountered cases where SC and RG were off by more than 8dB, which is enormous.

I find Sound Check as it is now, useless. It only changes the distribution of too loud and too silent songs. ReplayGain is not perfect either, but it's corresponds much better to what I expect.

There is a middle road between iVolume and (mac)mp3gain, but it's not for the faint of heart. It's a program I wrote myself and it basically does the same as iVolume but without all the fancy GUI stuff, which is why it's free. You need to run the program in a Terminal. Because iTunes' way of handling ID3 tags is plain horrible, it takes specific procedures to make this program work. Reading the ReadMe is a must. But if you have the patience to do it, you can trick iTunes into using the more accurate ReplayGain for its Sound Check adjustment without modifying your MP3 data, for free.

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