Your Questions: How Can I Level The Volumes Of My Tunes?

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Last updated 14 November, 2017

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Kontrol S2 gain
The gain knobs are there so you can attenuate or boost the incoming volumes of your source material in order to balance them against each other and to set them to the optimum level, no matter how loud or quiet the original source.

Scratching For Controller DJs student Nyasha asks: “I use a Native Instruments Traktor S2 with my Sony Vaio and get my music on iTunes. The problem is that my tracks do not play at the same volume. Some play louder than others and I don’t know how to fix that. I use MP3 format for my music. Oh, I use Traktor software too. What should I do?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Truth is, tunes just don’t always come at the same volume. That’s what the “gain” knob is for – to balance the volumes of incoming source material so you can then forget the original volume, secure in the knowledge that effectively, as far as your DJ mixer is concerned, your input sources are the same volume. Setting autogain in your software makes this even easier if you’re happy with its results.

If you really want to make tunes all the same volume, you can use a long-standing MP3 “hack” via a free program called MP3Gain, which alters a flag inside MP3s to set them to a chosen volume, without touching the actual musical information. (Apparently there’s an AAC plug-in / extension for it so it’ll work with music bought from iTunes which comes in Apple’s proprietary music format, although whether that works the same way, I don’t know.) This is preferable to using “normalise” or other digital processing in a DAW (digital audio workstation) program like Audacity, which as well as being long-winded for lot of files, inevitably results in a degrading of the sound quality as you alter then re-export your files. To most, this would be a trade-off too far.

But in the “old” days, records came at different volume levels too. It’s really no big deal. My advice would be to use the gain control in your software/hardware to balance your sources when you’re cueing them, and not worry too much about this.

Do you get annoyed by your files being at different volumes? Do you put up with it, or do something about it? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.