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The CURSE of Normalizing. CURSE!


ski

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So... Are y'all ready for a nice lil' rant?

 

Let me start at the end of the story by saying that my afternoon spent chasing my ***** tail was entirely user error. Or was it? I'll let you decide...

 

See this?

1091751303_Screenshot2012-05-25at7_27_50PM.png.1fafe914eef3f3ac9c4dc60d37ba87c3.png

 

As many of you know, the normalize function is found in the Bounce dialog box. Now, I never, EVER, have that **** thing turned on. There's zero need for it 99.9999999999999999999999999% of the time. In fact, I can only think of one instance in all of the 1000's of posts here on LPH where it seemed that a forum member would have actually benefitted from having Normalize turned on. So he's the .00000000000000000000000000001%. He's a fine human being, too, I'm sure, so I don't hold it against him. But him aside, there isn't a single one of my colleagues who, in their right mind would have that ***** thing turned on when bouncing tracks.

 

HOWEVER...

 

It's on by default when you install Logic. That's right, on by default. Despite the fact that it has little if any relevance to normal music production, it's on by default. Brilliant.

 

So how did mine get turned on? Well, I'll tell ya... Recently I trashed my preferences because Logic was losing its mind. Trashing prefs is something I do ONLY as a last resort, but drastic measures were needed to be taken and alas, I trashed prefs. Sure enough, Logic's brain settled back into its skull and all was right with the world again. After re-establishing my preferences (which get blown out when you trash the prefs, "duh", right?) I went back to work, NOT realizing that...

 

(here's the good part)

 

...not realizing that the Normalize function defaults to ON when you trash the prefs! GAH, GAH, GAH!

 

So there I am, merrily bouncing away all my tracks on a record I've been working on for a few days. As always, I lay up my bounces on new tracks and put them out of phase with my reference 2-mix to see if everything printed OK (the idea behind this is that if the bounced tracks are the same as those that made up the 2-mix, you'd hear nothing as the track played down).

 

But not this time. I was having to adjust levels all over the place to get them to cancel with my reference mix. Why? Because I bounced all of my **** tracks, unwittingly, with Normalize on the whole time.

 

OMG.

 

So let that be a lesson to me and to you, that if you should ever trash your Logic prefs, and you're part of the 99.99999(etc) percent of people who would never need, want, or use that bloody "feature", remember to turn it off before bouncing. Otherwise, you might be prompted to run right over to LPH and post a rant.

 

GAH!

 

 

 

"Thanks for letting me vent, honey".

 

=sKi=

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That is indeed sad.

 

It is like finding out your pet turtle escaped from his tank and ventured out into the street. You stand there helplessly watching as he is crushed beneath the weight of the garbage truck. There is no salvation, not even if you pick out all the gravel and shell would the soup be the same. Ruined! Oh the pain and frustration of taking things for granted.

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ok so this may be a stupid question because i don't know how normalising affects the audio other than making it quiet.

 

Would Logic have made this a default to process audio because Logic is usually bundled with Soundtrack Pro in the Studio version, insinuating that a user should bring levels up in Soundtrack?

 

I sort of see it as being good in the sense that preparation for a track to be Mastered usually asks that there is around under -6db of headroom on the master...

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The normalizing function will indeed bring down the level of the signal appearing at your Stereo Output if the peak level exceeds 0dB on the meters (I just tested this). However, the more common function (and definition) of normalizing is to detect the highest peak level in the signal, and, provided it's not already hitting 0 dB, the level of the entire sound file is expanded so that that peak does hit 0dB. Either way, whatever you bounce with normalizing turned on will end up having its peak at 0 dB. Thus it's not a good way to prepare a mix for mastering. In fact, it's probably the very worst thing you can do to prepare a file for mastering!
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So, i have been using this function unawares for a fair few years now and have just adapted to the fact that my bounced audio files are way too loud to just drop in and play. Always having to adjust the level after introducing a sound is what we do anyway?

 

I can see the argument but do not see many negatives on it so far, imo. It seems that all it does is volume change and if that's going to make the wave size in the region bigger so i can see it wouldn't that be a positive?

 

BTW i'm not asking 4 a hiding :) haha

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I can see the argument but do not see many negatives on it so far, imo. It seems that all it does is volume change and if that's going to make the wave size in the region bigger so i can see it wouldn't that be a positive?

 

No.

 

Biggest negative is the hundreds of posts complaining that "My bounced file does not sound the same as when I press play in Logic?" or "How come my bounced file sounds so weak?" etc. Why would you want Logic to CHANGE what you've carefully mixed? When you're mixing, aren't you watching and adjusting your levels? If you do, and assuming you know what you're doing, why would you want the computer to then change it for you once again, blindly (without hearing the results), on the audio file you export?

 

To me that's the equivalent of Photoshop automatically adjusting, say, the contrast on your picture before printing. So the printed document will never look like what you had on your screen when you clicked "Print."

 

Same with audio. If I'm going to adjust my levels in Logic, that's because I know what levels I want. I don't want Logic to then change those levels for me once I bounce the track.

 

If you're going to offer the option to people, it makes much more sense to have it off by default. They can always turn it on if they want to. But having it off means that what you bounce = what you hear in Logic. And doesn't that make sense?

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Yeah definitely with a final bounce i see this being not so good, although i bounce every sound out of the virus and drop in all audio. This is great and sad to know because every single thing i've ever made in logic has always been bounced with this turned on. So in effect normalising all my sounds twice...
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I've noticed that if you trash your preferences after you've loaded Logic, Logic will save your settings from the open song to a new preference file.

That's not what's happening.

 

Preferences are stored in a preference file (~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.logic.pro.plist), not in Logic project files. Logic files don't know ANYTHING at all about how your preferences are setup. Your preferences are global and do not change depending on which project is loaded. An example of preferences is key commands: projects don't have their own key commands, your own preferences do. Your preferences store your key commands, so the key commands are always the same on your system independently of which Logic file you load. Loading the same file onto different Logic systems also means you can use different key commands stored in the different preference files on the different systems, for the same Logic file.

 

On the other hand, Logic files have project settings. Those are unrelated to preferences and are only saved inside the project file. That means that file will always open with those settings independently of which Logic system they're loaded on. An example of a song setting is the sample rate. Your Logic system does not have a default sample rate, it will just read the sample rate of your project file when you load it.

 

Here's how Logic uses preferences:

1) When you open Logic, you transfer com.apple.logic.pro.plist from HD to RAM.

2) The whole time Logic is opened, you work with the RAM preference file. If you change preferences while Logic is opened, you change the RAM file - not the HD preference file.

3) When you close Logic, you transfer com.apple.logic.pro.plist back from RAM to HD, overwritting the original com.apple.logic.pro.plist on your HD.

 

So trashing a preference file while Logic is open accomplishes exactly nothing: it trashes a file that was going to be overwritten when you close Logic anyway. The proper way to trash preferences is to quit Logic, trash preferences then reopen Logic: at that point Logic does not find a preference file so it creates a new one with default factory preferences.

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To expand a bit upon David's reply...

 

Preferences: "global" to all Logic projects

Project Settings: project-specific parameters.

 

On the surface, it might seem as though there is some redundancy between Prefs and Settings, i.e., both have a MIDI section. In fact, both have a "General" tab. But if you were to open both the Pref window and the Project Settings window and position them side-by-side, you'd see that the parameters aren't duplicated. Those listed under the Preferences are global to all Logic projects, while those listed under Project Settings can be different from one project to the next.

 

391118200_Screenshot2012-05-28at2_24_22PM.png.bedfa61754e986f592140d6d9587b387.png

 

It's a really good idea to become familiar with the differences between Prefs and Settings. But with there being 150 different parameters that you can set, don't be dismayed if you don't memorize them all right away.

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Yes David is right.

 

I probably shouldn't have used the word 'settings' as there is a distinction between project settings and Logic global preferences.

 

What I was saying was that if the .plist file is trashed whilst Logic is open it seems to create a new preference file when you quit. This .plist file contains your global preferences that you had set up before you trashed the .pref file.

 

Consequently you don't have to go through and set up all your global prefs again.

I'm not sure if the key commands are stored tho.

 

Try it. If it works it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't

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What I was saying was that if the .plist file is trashed whilst Logic is open it seems to create a new preference file when you quit. This .plist file contains your global preferences that you had set up before you trashed the .pref file.

You may want to re-read my previous post: Logic does not create a new preference file: it loads your pref file in RAM, then transfers it back to your HD when you close Logic. So you've done nothing at all, and you're back to using the same old preference file you were using, whether or not your trash the HD preference file while Logic is open.

 

Consequently you don't have to go through and set up all your global prefs again.

Because you're still using the same preference file! Trashing the prefs while Logic is open accomplishes nothing at all. If you had corrupted preferences, you've just transferred those corrupted preferences to your RAM, then back to your HD. So you're still using corrupted preferences.

 

Trashing the Logic preferences while Logic is open accomplishes nothing at all, because when closing Logic, that file you just trashed is overwritten by your RAM preferences anyway.

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The moral of the story is this: trashing prefs is going to cause normalize to revert to ON if it was previously set off. And as an aside, it's not the only pref that's not set in the preference pane, but it's certainly a critical one to be aware of.
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