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I used to listen music using iTunes, which allowed me to adjust the audio volume on a per-file basis:

Get Info --> Options --> Volume Adjustment (-100% <---> None <---> +100%)

That was pretty useful, since I have many files with different "default" volumes - making some play too loudly and others too softly for the same global volume adjustment. I think that adjustment was specific to iTunes (i.e. not saved as part of the file metadata), since the same file played elsewhere was not affected by this setting.

Now I dropped iTunes and I'm using VLC, and I'm wondering whether a similar funcionality can be achieved (either natively - which I believe is not currently possible - or through extensions). I tried the volume normalizer and compressor features (though I'm a total noob at the subject), and while I had some success on the same file, when it changed files the discrepancy was back.

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I recommend foobar, but it seems VLC also supports ReplayGain. Also see here for more. –  Karan Jan 11 '13 at 0:12

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Your iTunes volume settings are stored in iTunes-only metadata called "iTunNORM." The universal standard is ReplayGain. They are measured a little bit differently but will both adjust playback for perceived loudness.

One difference is that you generally don't set ReplayGain values manually; you run ReplayGain analysis to have volume levels set for you.

  • To convert existing iTunNORM values to ReplayGain values using Mp3tag: There are multiple steps and considerations, so try this forum post: http://forums.mp3tag.de/lofiversion/index.php/t9139.html

  • To measure ReplayGain correctly: Use a ReplayGain scanner to update audio file metadata. (foobar2000 -- the greatest audio player ever invented by humans -- can do this for you as well.)

  • To use ReplayGain in VLC: In v2.0.5, go to Preferences > Audio > Replay gain mode, then select either Track or Album.

I suspect you want Track mode. Regarding Track-gain and album-gain (from Wikipedia again),

ReplayGain analysis can be performed on individual tracks, so that all tracks will be of equal volume on playback. Analysis can also be performed on a per-album basis. In album-gain analysis an additional peak-value and gain-value, which will be shared by the whole album, is calculated. Using the album-gain values during playback will preserve the volume differences among tracks on an album.

On playback, listeners may decide if they want all tracks to sound equally loud or if they want all albums to sound equally loud with different tracks having different loudness. In album-gain mode, when album-gain data is missing, players should use track-gain data instead.

If you still use iTunes, iPod, etc. you may also try finding some tools available to convert ReplayGain values back to iTunNORM. (A few are listed in the "Scanners" section of the Wikipedia links above.)

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Thanks for the info, that sure explain things better. I had tried ReplayGain after seeing Karan's comment, with no luck at the time. But now I upgraded VLC to 2.0.5 and had moderate success. I'll try the other resources from your answer, hopefully after using a scanner or converting from iTuNORM I'll achieve better results. –  mgibsonbr Feb 15 '13 at 23:40

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