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Turn it up to 11! - John C. Kirk

Feb. 7th, 2007

09:48 pm - Turn it up to 11!

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One tricky issue I've had with my computer recently is trying to find the right volume settings. It's normally not too bad, but when I hook up the MIDI keyboard the sounds are very quiet, and if I turn up the speakers then I get deafened by the "new mail" beep. As far as I can tell, the best solution is to turn up the speakers about half-way, put the "MIDI Synth" volume to maximum, and then set the "Wave" volume fairly low.

I've now found a related issue when I play CDs, particularly the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack (borrowed from a friend). Track 1 is fairly quiet, so I turned up the speakers, and had that playing in the background. Track 2 ("Overture/Hannibal") is somewhat louder... So, there I am, typing away, and suddenly I get the organ music of "BUM! BA-BA-BA-BA-BOOOM!" crashing out; almost made me jump out of my chair!

This has been a public service announcement :)

(As a side-note, I think that the "Overture" half of the track is far better than the "Hannibal" half.)

Comments:

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From:totherme
Date:February 8th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)
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This is dynamic range - the point of the sudden extra volume in the overture is to make you jump out of your chair - that's what the artist intended.

Where it goes wrong is when your media presentation is a composite of stuff from many different artists (like a TV programme with ad breaks). Then they can find themselves competing to be the loudest. Which sucks.
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[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:February 11th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC)
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Fair point - I have tried "volume levelling" on my mp3 collection in the past, although I've only had limited success with that (e.g. tracks from cassettes still seem significantly quieter than tracks from CDs).

As for TV, I've often found that programs on Sky are slightly quieter than the ad breaks, so I need to adjust the volume up/down accordingly. However, there's a much more obvious difference if I record programs to VHS - the adverts play back fine, but the programs themselves often get increasingly worse sound quality as they go along, so that by the end of an hour long program I might have the volume on maximum and still be straining to hear the speech through the static. I don't think it's a defect in the VCR/tapes (since the adverts are fine), and I don't have that problem if I record things onto the Digibox, so I wonder whether this is some kind of anti-piracy mechanism, or just an odd compatibility problem?
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