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Easy way to chop off peaks at same level across entire wav file?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by FilterFunk, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    I'm posting this on TB because (a)I'm not a member of any recording/music production forums, and (b)there's usually someone on TB who can answer just about anything! I'll do my best to not make this TL;DR...

    Here's a screenshot of one of my music wav files:

    As you can see, there's plenty of headroom there - no clipping, and the red light doesn't flash when played. Now, when I raise the overall volume level to match or at least reasonably approach that of commercial releases (I want to do this because I plan to sell my music), I get plenty of that nasty digital clipping. So, I have a solution that works - I go in and manually reduce all the peaks to a certain level; that way, I can easily raise the overall level and still have plenty of dynamics, but no clipping. Here's a screenshot that shows how I can hone in on a peak (I can be much more precise, but this is just for demonstration purposes):

    The problem? If I tried to do this for all of my songs, that's all I'd be doing! It's unreasonably tedious and time-consuming. Here's one more screenshot - I drew crude linear lines to show where I'd like to automatically chop off the level along the entire file, which would still give the recording plenty of dynamics while getting rid of unwanted peaks and allowing me to raise the overall level without clipping:

    Now for the jackpot question - is there a program/plugin that allows me to simply chop off the top and bottom of the entire waveform at a depth that I choose instead of simply reducing the overall volume, which would leave me right where I started, or instead of having to go in and reduce every peak by hand?

    I tried EQ/compression/limiting/brickwall, etc.; nothing worked. I also Googled the heck out of this issue to no avail. PLEASE HELP!!!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  2. I thought that was exactly what a limiter did.
  3. Yep - limiter would do the job.

    As for the rest of the workflow, that’s why mastering engineers make the big bucks!!!
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  4. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    I'm going to have to revisit limiters. Can anyone recommend any that you've had good experiences with?
    Bassbeater likes this.
  5. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
  6. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    MattZilla and FilterFunk like this.
  7. I use the Waves L2 and L3 limiters. I would definitely recommend them, but only if you can wait until they are on sale (fairly regularly) - I got them for under 30 each.

    There are plenty of free ones that I'm sure would suit your needs, but I don't know the names of any off the top of my head.
    FilterFunk and Bassbeater like this.
  8. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    You need to take off your mixing hat, and put on your mastering hat. Two very different things.
    A good limiter will raise your signal. If you can use VST plug ins in your DAW try the free Antress Modern Series.
    I found some of the suite had some cool features, and more than a little 'mojo.'
    The Modern Deep Purple HPF & LPF filters had a little magic in them.
    FilterFunk and Luke19Boarder like this.
  9. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but does your DAW have a Normalize function?
  10. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Great point!
    The question is how much "flavor" to add to the process of boosting low volume info and attenuating peaks. The overall level can be raised with no change to information with normalization. With compression you could have artifacts and response curves(the flavor) from the plugin algorithm, which may or may not be desirable. I usually normalize the source, then reduce volume if needed and process on a separate bus with an fx send.
    MonetBass likes this.
  11. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Normalization will raise the peak values, but won't likely increase the RMS values sufficiently for what the OP is after. Reduction of dynamic range will be required.

    @FilterFunk you could try a demo of Izotope Ozone. Their 'Maximizer' limiter gets used on more material than just about any standalone mastering package. I don't know that I'd call it the industry standard as there may not be an industry standard, but it's exceedingly commonplace to see it used for this purpose. As a bonus it's easy to use and sounds great in the right hands.
    FilterFunk and ddnidd1 like this.
  12. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    What audio editor are you using? I would be surprised if there wasn't a simple limiter included with it. Audacity includes one, for example.
    FilterFunk likes this.
  13. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I use the compressor in Audacity to squash the ever present snare drum peaks when I record rehearsals (ratio to taste).

    If the waveform hasn't clipped I Normalize it first.
    FilterFunk likes this.
  14. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    I would do as stated above, use the Limiter plugin. If your volume level is weak, enlarge the entire Wave form track or boost the volume, then use the limiter. Don't worry too much about clipping, digital has a lot of headroom to use beyond clipping that will still sound clear.
  15. Boy_Narf


    Dec 19, 2013
    Indeed I would use a compressor as well.
  16. Matthardy

    Matthardy Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2018
    Hate to be that guy, but did you deliberately mix in mono?
  17. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    Upstate, NY USA
    FilterFunk likes this.
  18. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    Thanks for all the responses, everyone!

    I ended up using the limiter in Audacity, and it did exactly what I wanted. Apparently, my problem was not knowing how to set the very simple controls (stemming from a lack of patience, no doubt!:oops:).

    Problem solved - TalkBass comes through again!
    DirtDog, Bassbeater and HolmeBass like this.

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