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I've got a recording which fluctuates volume frequently. What I'd like to do is remove the dynamics and have the whole track play at essentially the same volume level.

Is there any way to do this with audio software? Trying to adjust manually would be a hugely painstaking process. Any help would be appreciated. I have Audacity, so that would be the preferred software, but if I have to buy something else I'll do it.

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You're searching by the wrong term - normalisation is an overall level adjustment, such that the peak signal reaches a predetermined figure, e.g. 0dB

You need to be looking for compression, which can be broken down further to include peak-limiting, brick-wall & multi-band compression types.
There is also a type of plugin which will, in effect, actively ride the fader to compensate for volume changes. This isn't true compression but can be helpful in a controlled situation where a simple volume adjustment over time can compensate for such as voice-level differences on a solo vocal track.

It really depends on the programme material on your audio track as to which of these methods would be most appropriate to the situation; there's really no 'one plugin fits all' solution.

Also, if your track isn't 'clean' e.g. spoken voice with ambient background, then the challenge also becomes to keeping that ambient level low whilst boosting the useful signal.

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I've been doing sound design/mixing for an indie film with wide dynamic fluctuations. Audio level automation is the most natural sounding fix unless there is a room tone or noticeable noise floor that will be adversely affected. It takes time but sounds much better than aggressive compression or limiting to fix the problem. Save the compressors & limiters to lightly polish the audio after the dynamic changes have been tamed. Luckily the project I'm on has clean audio. It's just got wild level changes.

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Check out Waves Vocal Rider, it's an audio plugin that rides the peaks and valleys of an audio single and maintains the user-specified volume. Despite its name, it can be used on anything.

I would not opt for compression, as it will not only remove volume dynamics, but it will change how the audio itself sounds. E.g. transients

Using a volume riding plugin will accomplish what you need - remove dynamics but maintain the source quality of the audio.

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