Leveling the audio in a music library?


Here’s something hyper-specific: I listen to music on a Sansa Clip+, which has a MicroSD slot. I just bought a 128gb for my Android tablet and I’m going to be migrating the 32gb card from that in to my Clip, which, assuming the Clip can handle it, will more than quadruple its current storage (6gb). That means my Clip can go from “only my favorite songs” to “my entire music library.”

The problem: I know for a fact not every song or even every album on my system is the same volume. More than half of these MP3s date back nearly 20 years, 75% from video games, occasionally ripped by different people using different software and different volume settings. Some albums are much quieter than others, and a few are just a little too loud versus the average volume of the entire library taken as a whole.

As somebody who listens to music as he falls asleep every night, I’m tired of being on the edge of dozing off only to get shaken awake by a song that’s a little too loud even if the song itself is not necessarily noisy, or alternatively wondering if my Clip is even still playing a song because it’s too quiet to hear.

Is there a piece of software that will help with this problem? Audio leveling is tricky business, because some songs are SUPPOSED to be quiet, and some songs are SUPPOSED to be loud, and while I know enough about audio editing software to apply a leveling filter, that’s going to destroy a lot of songs because it looks at them individually.

I need something that looks at a library as a whole and nudges entire albums in one direction or the other. Does such a thing even exist, or am I going to have to meticulously go through 30gb of music (12,000 songs!) and do this manually by ear?


I have no idea if the Sansa Clip+ supports Replay Gain tags, but if it does I would recommend using MusicBee for normalization. It’s free, and it’ll scan your entire library to add Replay Gain tags that will normalize the levels for you.

For older audio tagging support, you could try MP3Gain, which can do APEv2 tags.


Personally, I use <a href="“http://www.mediamonkey.com/information/free/”>MediaMonkey to manage my library and normalize track volume across it. There is a free and a paid version, and unfortunately only the paid version allows you to add level track volume across your library.

The benefit of MediaMonkey is that it supports adding Replay Gain tags and directly modifying track volume. The benefit of leveling the file directly is that it will play at the leveled volume on any device, not just those that interpret Replay Gain tags.

As far as free options, you might want to look into a program called MP3Gain.

EDIT: @_al beat me to recommending MP3Gain.


The Clip does indeed support replay gain.

I tried messing with Media Monkey like four or five years ago, but I never noticed it doing anything vastly different. Maybe it’s worth a second look.

Thanks for the tips, folks.