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Author Topic: Does MC20 finally support industry-standard Replay Gain tags (track AND album)?  (Read 2473 times)

yonkiman

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Last I checked, MC still didn't write replaygain tags in a way that my RockBox and many other hardware & software media players can read.  All it would take would be to write some additional tags (of course they are welcome to make this optional) while they are writing the MC-specific tags.  I haven't upgraded since MC16 but would love to get a Master License if this has been addressed.  The best summary of the issue I could find is here, from 2010:

http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=54943.5

Quoting myself from that thread:
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MC still does not use the "standard" replaygain tags, so no media player or portable device EXCEPT JRiver's can recognize or use it. 

MC's tag seems to be "MEDIAJUKEBOX:REPLAY GAIN".

"Standard" tags that the rest of the world (at least VLC media player, Foobar2000, and RockBox) expects are: 
  REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN
  REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK
  REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN
  REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_PEAK

And closing with my summary from that thread:
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Replaygain is the biggest/only audio feature I care about that MC doesn't adequately support, and I've been asking for it and working off & on with some of your developers on it since May 08, 2006 (http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=33706.0), with no results (http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=38695.0 and a long email exchange in September 2009 with Robert Brose that seemed to be making progress but sorta faded out).
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BryanC

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Hendrik

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Both replaygain_track_gain and replaygain_track_peak are written if the audio is analyzed in MC and the data is actually available.
Note that due to the way MC organizes albums on-the-fly, album gain/peak is not a value MC is aware of, and thus won't be written.

Note that ReplayGain is an outdated "standard" (in fact it never was an actual standard), and MC actually uses the actual industry standard, EBU R128, to analyze the audio for its volume gain and peak, but for compatibility reasons the value is adapted to ReplayGain levels and written into the same fields.
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ferday

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Note that album replay gain isn't of any real use.  If you want the value / album DR value, it can be done with an expression (I like album DR values)
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yonkiman

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Both replaygain_track_gain and replaygain_track_peak are written if the audio is analyzed in MC and the data is actually available.
That's GREAT!  But what do you mean by "if ... the data is actually available" - under what circumstances would MC analyze a track but the data wouldn't be available?  Just curious.

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Note that due to the way MC organizes albums on-the-fly, album gain/peak is not a value MC is aware of, and thus won't be written.
OK, I'll give up hoping for that - I guess it really only matters if you're shuffle-playing albums and even then it's just a volume adjustment per album.

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Note that ReplayGain is an outdated "standard" (in fact it never was an actual standard), and MC actually uses the actual industry standard, EBU R128, to analyze the audio for its volume gain and peak, but for compatibility reasons the value is adapted to ReplayGain levels and written into the same fields.
Well I definitely appreciate you supporting the older non-standard.

I guess I'll be paying up for an MC20 Master License!  Thanks for doing this, Hendrik! 
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yonkiman

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I was thinking about Album gain as a tag (vs. being calculated the way MC does it), and I realized not having an AlbumGain tag on every song CAN still cause a mix to be less than ideal - quiet songs will now play just as loud as LOUD songs.  Then I saw Alex B posted an example of exactly that 6 months ago:
http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=82102.msg561126#msg561126

I'd still like J River to consider calculating and writing the REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN.  Even if J River philosophically doesn't think it's necessary, it would certainly make some of their users happier and it wouldn't affect anyone else...

However I did just buy the Master License, so there goes my $45 of leverage.  :-) 
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6233638

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Media Center calculates gain for an "album" based on what is on the playlist.

Say you have an album which contains a mixture of very loud tracks, and very quiet tracks.
The ReplayGain "album gain" value would be an average between both those extremes.
 
Now say that you have a playlist which contains only the loud tracks from that album (Album A) and another album where every track is of a consistent level. (Album B)
These two "albums" will not sound consistent in level, since the "album gain" value for Album A was derived from the mixture of loud and quiet tracks, even if they are not actually included in the current playlist.
If you calculate the album value on-the-fly based on the sequential tracks, as Media Center does, this will give you a much more consistent level when played before or after Album B.
 
This also allows for smart-leveling in mixed playlists. For example, you can have a playlists of completely random tracks, which all use their individual track gains - but when you have two or more tracks off the same album next to each other in that playlist, a dynamic "album gain" value is used to preserve the inter-track dynamics.
 
 
I don't object to Media Center calculating and writing a traditional "album gain" value for when you want to transfer those files over to a portable media player for example, but there is no need for them in Media Center itself.
 
The only remaining issue with this system, as far as I can recall, is that there is still no way to tag an album and force track-based leveling.
The current workaround is to change the Media Sub-Type to Podcast (or Radio? I forget if that was ever implemented) which technically works, but my Music views specifically exclude tracks tagged as Podcasts.
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yonkiman

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Media Center calculates gain for an "album" based on what is on the playlist.

Say you have an album which contains a mixture of very loud tracks, and very quiet tracks.
The ReplayGain "album gain" value would be an average between both those extremes.
 
Now say that you have a playlist which contains only the loud tracks from that album (Album A) and another album where every track is of a consistent level. (Album B)
These two "albums" will not sound consistent in level, since the "album gain" value for Album A was derived from the mixture of loud and quiet tracks, even if they are not actually included in the current playlist.
If you calculate the album value on-the-fly based on the sequential tracks, as Media Center does, this will give you a much more consistent level when played before or after Album B.

What I'm lobbing for is to have exactly what you describe as a problem: The option to let Album A's "loud only" subset of songs be somewhat louder than Album B's "consistent" (or "mix of loud and quiet") songs, because I feel that would come closest to what the producers of the albums were trying to do sonically.  I want (we all want) to remove the huge differences in mastering volume between albums, but I would like to have the option to preserve the relative volumes of tracks.  I want relatively quieter tracks to continue to be relatively quieter tracks regardless of what comes before or after them.   I want relatively louder tracks to continue to be relatively louder tracks regardless of what comes before or after them.

If your goal is for the tracks in your above example to play at a similar level, that sounds exactly like what Track Gain is for.

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This also allows for smart-leveling in mixed playlists. For example, you can have a playlists of completely random tracks, which all use their individual track gains - but when you have two or more tracks off the same album next to each other in that playlist, a dynamic "album gain" value is used to preserve the inter-track dynamics.

That's cool, and I'm not saying MC shouldn't have it - I might even use it, but it's not what I'm looking for.   And more importantly, and I can not emphasize this enough, my media player doesn't support it.  So it might be great if all everyone used was MC, but why can't we also be compatible with my Rockbox and all the other perfectly good hardware out there that supports the original implementation of ReplayGain?

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I don't object to Media Center calculating and writing a traditional "album gain" value for when you want to transfer those files over to a portable media player for example, but there is no need for them in Media Center itself.
Agreed and that's all I'm asking for.
 
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The only remaining issue with this system, as far as I can recall, is that there is still no way to tag an album and force track-based leveling.
The current workaround is to change the Media Sub-Type to Podcast (or Radio? I forget if that was ever implemented) which technically works, but my Music views specifically exclude tracks tagged as Podcasts.

Yes, it would be nice to have kept Track Gain and Album Gain around as an option for the hardware/people/other use cases where this more sophisticated solution doesn't work.
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6233638

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I want relatively louder tracks to continue to be relatively louder tracks regardless of what comes before or after them.
Track dynamics are preserved for each album.
If you play the full album, the value MC calculates should be equal to the fixed-level Album Gain value.
 
My point was that if you change the track dynamics, by only selecting part of an album, such as  all the loud tracks for example, the album level is dynamically adjusted in MC for that playlist, rather than it being a static value which is no longer accurate for that selection.
 
All tracks in that selection are still treated as an "album" with one volume adjustment applied across all tracks, the difference is that this value is now based on the tracks which are actually included in the playlist.

So when compared against other albums, they will be closer in volume than if you used a fixed value that was calculated from the entire album.



Say that you have an album with four tracks:
  • Track 1: -13dB
  • Track 2: -33dB
  • Track 3: -13dB
  • Track 4: -33dB

The average for this album is -23dB, which is exactly our leveling target, so the leveling correction would be 0dB if the album is played in its entirety, or if we used the old ReplayGain fixed-level correction.

In Media Center, if you play play Tracks 1 & 3 together, without Tracks 2 & 4, the correction will be -10dB, since the average level is -13dB, and -10dB brings that average level to our target of -23dB.

If you play tracks 1, 2, and 3 together, the correction will be -3.33dB, since the average of that selection is -19.67dB.

This value will be applied to all tracks in an album equally so that the difference in level between each of them is preserved, but the average level of that collection of tracks is closer to our target level of -23dB than a fixed correction of 0dB.


If the tracks are played separately in a mixed playlist, rather than grouped together, then individual track-based leveling will be used instead.

That's cool, and I'm not saying MC shouldn't have it - I might even use it, but it's not what I'm looking for.   And more importantly, and I can not emphasize this enough, my media player doesn't support it.  So it might be great if all everyone used was MC, but why can't we also be compatible with my Rockbox and all the other perfectly good hardware out there that supports the original implementation of ReplayGain?
Yes, even if it's only applied during handheld conversion, it would be nice if MC wrote a static Album Gain value. (assuming it does not currently - I don't have any portable devices configured through MC)
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