From my own CDs to purchases from iTMS and eMusic to downloads from Goombah and various other places, my iTunes library contains music from a variety of sources. The main problem this creates is a (sometimes huge) variation in volume from song to song. I usually live in “shuffle mode,” meaning that it’s rare for me to listen to only a single album. I’ll select a playlist and let it shuffle through. Since almost every song has a different volume, this can make for some unpleasant surprises, particularly when I’m using my iPod, but even more so when the kids are in bed and the volume jumps to 11.

After reading about MP3Gain on Lifehacker, I decided to give MacMP3Gain a try. It’s a GUI front-end to MP3Gain. While the Lifehacker article focuses on the Windows version, MacMP3Gain is (unsurprisingly) for Mac OS X and it has none of the bells and whistles mentioned in the article.

The first thing I did was backup my iTunes library. The volume changes are made directly to the sound files and there’s no easy way to undo this, so making a backup is highly recommended.

Other than selecting a folder or playlist, following is pretty much the only interface you’ll work with.


As you can see, I’ve selected my iTunes folder. I’ve also selected Radio Gain Mode. This is explained on the MacMP3Gain website thusly:

This mode analyzes each file individually, then applies a unique gain offset to each file. This works well when songs have come from a variety of sources or from compilation CDs. If you listen to your music in “random” mode, then this might be preferred.

Whereas Album Gain Mode ensures that all songs within an album have the same volume, Radio Gain Mode ensures all songs in the library have the same volume which seems to be exactly what I’m wanting.

There isn’t much of a status window. It’s more of a status line. The following screen shows it processing one of the songs. Note the bottom of the screen where it reads “Applying mp3 gain change …” That’s the status line.


And this screen shows an error message:


It’s important to note that the error message never stopped the processing, so I can only assume that it’s looking for MP3s in a folder which contains no MP3s. There’s no log file produced, so it’s difficult to know.

It’s still processing my library and I expect it’ll run through most of the night. I doubt I’ll have time to resync my iPod in the morning, so it’ll likely be tomorrow or Friday before I know the results. I’ll post an update once I know more, and I’m really hoping that post doesn’t involve the steps necessary to recover an iTunes library.