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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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