I have a track in Garageband that is recorded at a very low volume. If I could I would go back and redo it, but I can't, so I just have to live with it.

So far, to boost the volume of this track, I have tried setting the track volume to the highest possible, but this is still too quiet. Is there a way to boost the 'raw' track, or a filter I could apply?

It would also help to be able to see the waveforms in the Track Editor, where they aren't showing up because of the low volume.

  • What version of GarageBand? – BenV Jan 18 '11 at 22:24
  • Sorry - GB 5.1. Your tips look helpful so I'll give them a go. Thanks! – Bill Cheatham Jan 18 '11 at 22:39

You can add a little bit of compression, boosting the gain that way. This is probably the best way to handle this, and the one that can potentially get you the best audio quality.

Another option is to open the audio file in a waveform editor like Peak and normalize the audio or increase the gain that way. (Right-click on the Garageband file in the Finder and navigate to the audio file.) This is an operation you won't be able to undo, so I'd back up that file first. Keep in mind that this will raise the noise level of this track across the board, and you have less control than you would by using the compressor.

If nothing else is working: Not exactly optimal, but if the track would sound good with a little distortion, you can run it through a guitar amp plug-in. (I wouldn't do this with, say vocals or a flute, but it might be good with bass or a hi-hat, depending on context.)

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  • Nice. I found the .aif files in the package, opened them in Sound Studio, normalised and saved. Has caused a knock-on issue with L/R tracks, but that's another question! – Bill Cheatham Jan 24 '11 at 21:49

Many plugins have the ability to adjust the level either before or after the effects processing. You could throw one of these plugins on the track and boost the level without adding any other processing.

The newer versions of Garage Band have the ability to normalize tracks (although it might only be available as an export option). You could solo the track in question, export and normalize it, and then import the normalized audio.

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If you have the output Audio file, you can get Audacity, and Effects->Compress it using the compression plugin (included, I believe). It's awesome. You can adjust how loud you want each sound range to be (within reason).

You may need LAME if you have to open MP3s.

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  • 2
    Why compress? Why not normalize? Seems to me he's already reduced his dynamic range significantly by recording so quietly. Or, am I not understanding? Or, are you suggesting to use a compression plugin as an expander? – Brad Jan 19 '11 at 4:05
  • @Brad Misread... But compressing is cooler (no matter what everyone else may say :) ). – muntoo Jan 19 '11 at 4:36
  • @muntoo, I don't understand. Can you explain? – Brad Jan 19 '11 at 4:39
  • @Brad I thought it said something similar to "some of the music is really quiet". If you mean the "But compressing is cooler (no matter what everyone else may say :) )", look here. – muntoo Jan 19 '11 at 5:28
  • @muntoo, I still don't understand. Yes, I know what compression does. I am trying to understand why you would use compression over normalization in this case. Are you saying that you wouldn't, and you simply suggested it because you misread the original post? – Brad Jan 19 '11 at 14:12

Boost it before you import it into Garageband.. I use Levalator -- it's free and does a great job of evening out tracks before you start the editing process.

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The answer to this question is to 'Normalize' the "very low volume" audio file.

Normalization is a process which applies gain equally to, or attenuates equally, the selected audio to reach a target level.
Either the peak amplitude or the average amplitude of the selected audio is used as the starting point for the adjustment.

Wikipedia - Normalization(Audio)

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From a samplist-engineer's toolbag: AUgraphicEQ on 10 bands to adjust relative volume of different bandwidth components of the sound. I use this a lot since learning it on a guitar pedal EQ which can round off the hi and lo frequencies to make the sound smoother. Use it to find the best atmosphere in/from sounds.

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  • How will this equalizer help with low volume levels? – Marc W Nov 17 '15 at 3:58

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