Exported MP3 very loud

• Jan 11, 2018 - 17:27

When I export a MuseScore file to MP3, the volume level of the resulting MP3 is extremely high. I can reduce the volume of the MP3 using Audacity but then my Yamaha Clavinova won't recognise the changed file exported from Audacity. If I export from MuseScore directly to the USB-drive for the piano, everything is fine except the VOLUME!!!
It's probably a setting or combination of settings (MuseScore, PC, Audacity, Yamaha), but I can't find it! Can anyone help? Thanks!


In reply to by Shoichi

Hello Shoichi, thanks for your quick response! I tried decreasing the volume in the Synthesizer, in the Play panel and in the Mixer - and saved each time - but the results remain the same - VERY LOUD! There are so many variables involved, I'm getting confused! I can only do a comparison: if I play an MP3 from another source on the Yamaha with comfortable balance and volume settings and then play the exported MuseScore MP3 at the same settings, the latter blasts out of the speakers! Maybe I should try to get Audacity to export the edited MP3 in a different way such that the Yamaha will "see" it. Guess I have to go to an Audacity forum for that!

In reply to by Luna1949

In that case the MP3 you are comparing against probably was not from a professionally-produced source - probably whoever produced it failed to normalize it. Check other sources, like CD's you buy in the store, music you listen to on iTunes, etc, and you should find the MP3 from MuseScore is comparable. That's the whole point of normalization - to keep volume levels consistent. Sounds like the file you are comparing against failed to do this, so you were forced to turn the volume up higher than you should have.

In reply to by Luna1949

I think Marc has already responded exhaustively but I try to explain what I meant:
Open the Synthesizer and turn the volume down a little bit. Now the 'Save to Score' button is activated,


use it then export.

ok after some attempts it seems to me to conclude that the exported mp3 file does not retain the settings of the Synthesizer, excuse me.

Standard practice in the audio world is for files to be "normalized" so that everything plays at more or less the same volume. That way you don't have to adjust your speakers between each song. So the volume of the exported audio should be similar to all other music on your computer (eg, music played via YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, etc). It would normally not be a good idea to reduce this unless you want your music quieter than everyone elses. but if you do for some reason desire this, you can indeed reduce it with Audacity. Not sure what you mean about your Clavinova not recognizing it - if you have problems there, that sounds like something to discuss with the support folks at Audacity and/or Yamaha.

Thanks to all of you who have responded. After reading all the comments and the links, it would seem I have run up against a known issue - or, at least, a source of confusion for less experienced users like myself.
Mark, you are correct in that some of the MP3 files I used for comparison are not commercial and perhaps not normalised.
I tried the following. I ripped a song from a commercial CD using plain vanilla Windows Media Player and I exported a song (with no dynamics) from MuseScore to MP3. I didn’t change any parameters in the process. The MuseScore music was still much louder than the (normalised?) commercially-based MP3. That was also clear from the wave patterns in Audacity when I loaded them in that program.
I have, however, solved part of my problem. The reason the Yamaha couldn’t recognise the MP3 files that I had corrected with Audacity was because they all happened to have very long file names. I shortened the names and can now use the reduced-volume files on the piano.
But I’m still curious about why normalisation in MuseScore increases the volume to such an extent.

In reply to by Luna1949

First, I'm curious which commercial CD you tried that turned out not to be normalized - this would be extremely unusual!

Anyhow, as to why normalization often means an increase in volume, consider that MuseScore can be used to produce scores for an entire orchestra with 100 musicians all playing "fff" dynamic, so the default volume level within MuseScore has to be set low enough that this would not distort. And yet another score might be a for a solo flute playing "ppp" the whole time, so that's going to be very quiet in comparison. The first score will sound basically the same after normalization, the second will get a lot louder , others will be somewhere in between.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for your explanation, Marc. I think now I was comparing apples with pears (quiet instrumental MP3 ripped from commercial CD versus "normal" 3-instrument MP3 (2 voices and piano) from MuseScore).
I've read some more on normalisation, compression, and so on and it's all too complicated for me! What I did take away is the feeling that Someone Else (the industry?) is deciding what a good sound level is and I don't always agree when I am producing or creating the sound myself, as in MuseScore.

In reply to by Luna1949

I think you may still be misunderstanding. The point of normalization isn't for others to decide what is a good sound level for you. The point is to help make sure all commercially-recorded music is at approximately the same level to start with, so that you can then decide where to to set the volume level on your own system however you like and have some confidence that the same volume level on your system will produce fairly consistent results from one recording to another. I mean, if you like changing the volume every time you change songs, that's fine, you're still welcome to do so, but forcing everyone to do that would not be good. That's why commercially-produced music is virtually always normalized - so everyone in the world can decide for themselves how loud they want to listen to music.

In reply to by Luna1949

Note that if you use no dynamics in your MuseScore file, the loudness of the overall resulting file will be quite constant. That means that after normalization your entire file will be perceived as "loud".
However the music ripped from a CD does have a dynamic range, some passages are more loud than others. Even when normalized, most of the song will sound "normal" and it only has some louder peaks when all instruments/the full band play all out at the same (short) time the drumset hits all its stuff at the same time.

Normalization only tries to ensure that all loudest peaks of your files end up at the same volume level.

Again, thank you all for your explanations.

@Ziya Mete Demircan: your link helped me to realise that having no dynamics in my MuseScore was my problem. I hadn't put them in because I was still working on the notes. Now they are in and export to MP3 gives a normalised, NOT LOUD file.
@jeetee: your last comment just confirmed what I had figured out, thanks!
@Marc: thanks for persisting! Your explanations of normalisation are clear and I now understand how it works in MuseScore.

In reply to by Luna1949

Great! At the risk of confusing things further (but hopefully not):

It is indeed true that music with no dynamics will end up uniformly loud, and that most real music isn't that way, so only the "peaks" will be loud but the rest will be quieter in comparison. This in itself is something of a problem in the audio industry, which is why "compression" exists and is used in conjunction with normalization.


Your goal in producing a song is usually for the volume to be similar to every other song out there, so your listener doesn't have to turn the volume up or down when your song comes on the radio or playlist (or have to endure the too-loud or too-soft result if he doesn't). Normalization is supposed to do that, by identifying the loudest passage - the "peak" - and increasing the overall volume of the track by whatever it takes so the peak is at the "normal" level - which is to say, your peak volume will be the same as everyone else's.

What often happens, though - particularly in classical, jazz, and other music outside the world of pop - is that there might be only one brief peak, and the rest of the music is much quieter in comparison. The result is that while your peak volume might be the same as the peak of other songs, most of your song is a lot quieter, and the overall perception of the listener will be that your song is quieter than everything else. The peaks might be the same, but since most of your song is much softer than the peak, he's still going to turn the volume up (and then potentially be annoyed when the peak comes and seems too loud).

The solution to this is compression - artificially lowering the peaks (or raising everything else) so the peaks aren't that much different from the rest of the song. After compression, then , the peaks will still be at "normal" level, but since they aren't that much higher than the rest of the song, the rest of your song won't seem so quiet in comparison.

This basically means that the loudest and softest passages in music that has been compressed in this fashion won't be all that different. The vast majority of popular music is verily heavily compressed, with the softest passages being only barely softer than the loudest. This is pretty much taken for granted as acceptable. Classical and jazz producers, on the other hand, typically struggle with this a lot more. On one hand they don't their music to seem much quieter than everyone else's, but on the other they want their actual dynamics to be honored. So they try to find a balance - how much compression to apply so the average volume isn't too soft, but the loudest passages will still be very noticeably louder. You'll see musicians and mastering engineers fighting about this all the time.

Anyhow, sounds like your song - since it has no dynamics whatsoever - was basically already complete compressed, so indeed the softest passages were as loud as the loudest, thus making it seem louder than music that is not so heavily compressed. Peak volumes were doubtless the same, but your softest passages were no quieter whereas in other music, the softer passages are at least somewhat quieter (more so for classical or jazz than pop usually).

Not sure if that information was helpful or interesting to you right now, but there it is for future reference :-)

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