Turning up the volume...

Before I accidentally wiped the web server that runs this site, I had been blogging about the problem of SACDs and the fact that they are often mastered with absolute peak volumes set to about 6dB quieter than they really should be (for technical reasons). I thus modified by AUAC audio converter program to automatically boost SACD rips by whatever it took to get the loudest track on a CD to be as loud as it could reasonably go without becoming distorted.

Which is fine for SACDs... but there are times you think to yourself (especially with some recordings on really old CDs) that the volume levels on even ordinary CDs aren't entirely what they should be. Whilst incorporating a volume boost into an SACD extraction tool is a good idea, a standalone volume boosting utility sounded like it might be quite useful, too!

I've therefore written the Absolutely Baching Volume Maximiser Utility, or MAXV for short and you can read all about it -and obtain it- from this page.

If you have a folder full of FLACs, you can run MAXV in it, and it will analyse the peak volume levels for every file found. If all are capable of withstanding a volume boost sufficient to take the loudest file to the -0.5dB level (which is close to, but not exactly, the theoretically loudest possible level of 0dB), then all the files in that folder have their volumes boosted by that amount. The relative volume differences between files remains unaltered (so your pp symphony movements do not suddenly sound as loud as the loudest fff movements!), and the volume boost is applied to entire files at a time, so different parts of a file do not get boosted differently from other parts of the same file.

Thus, all the files end up sounding just a bit louder than they did before. Meanwhile, MAXV leaves the original files safe-and-sound, and completely untouched, so if you don't like the consequences of applying a volume boost, you can just delete the volume-boosted copies and stick with the un-touched originals.

As ever, the utility is a simple Bash shell script, so you can inspect the file and check what it does and how it does it before running it.