Normalizing When Normalizing Won’t Work

Hey, there!

Sometimes, when normalizing your audition audio, it doesn’t normalize all that much, if at all.

You’ve seen it – the waveform just barely grows, if at all.

How come?

Here’s the usual reason why: we begin our auditions with a slate, filled with enthusiasm, friendliness, and, unfortunately for the normalization process, loudness.

If you slate like I do, you go with “Hi! This is [name] as [role].”, you take a beat, and then the audition performance ensues.

(You can’t help but be excited. You’re a professional VO talent, and you’re auditioning for paid work!)

Then, looking at the waveform, that “Hi!” often ends up being the loudest moment in the whole piece of audio. There may be almost no room to raise the volume with the normalization process, because the “Hi!” is already almost full volume.

So – how do you fix that?

Remember that you only normalize what you select. So, only select the audition part of your audio, leaving out the slate.

Then normalize.

Then, and this is important, extend the selection to the left to include the slate, then Export Selected Audio… as usual. You don’t want to export your work without the slate.

Be sure to listen to the results, and adjust to taste.

And here’s a link to how to use Audacity to normalize, including audio samples:

Any normalization tips or tricks you’d like to share? Do so in the comments below, please.

Hope this helps.


8 Responses to Normalizing When Normalizing Won’t Work

  1. William Cline February 25, 2016 at 6:11 am #

    Thanks for the great tip.. it’s easy to forget that the slate is usually the loudest part of your audition.


  2. Hernán Soto February 25, 2016 at 7:46 am #

    Excellent advise, as always. Thank you Sir!

  3. Marlon Braccia February 25, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    Thanks, David. Can you please further advise how to apply this advice when I have yells (called “efforts”) in a game or animation audition? Normalizing all obviously brings the majority of the track too low, but leaving the yells and efforts out of normalizing has them spiking too high. I’ve tried backing up from the mic, but that sounds like I’m yelling from down an alley. If I normalize normal speaking tone parts and efforts separately, there’s an audible bump in the audio at the juncture. Turning down the gain for the yells sounds out of place, too. What is the best way to handle this please?

    • John Wilkins December 12, 2018 at 9:50 pm #

      I’d like to hear David’s thoughts on this as well, Marlon. Did David ever weigh in elsewhere?

  4. Joe J Thomas November 26, 2018 at 6:37 am #

    I do something similar. I start with “Hi!” just so I can cut it off and normalize the rest. For times when there’s inconsistent sections, I’ll normalize each section separately (such as for deaths in video game auditions)

  5. Donna Curry November 26, 2018 at 7:03 am #

    Excellent tip. I was wondering why normalizing wasn’t making much of a change in my sound file. So simple, but didn’t think about it until you pointed it out. Thank you.

  6. Richard Masotti November 26, 2018 at 7:24 am #

    Thank you for this great tidbit. Makes sense.

  7. Niels Gramsen July 9, 2019 at 12:24 pm #

    Thank you for this simple yet efficient tip

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