Use Volume Leveling in WMP 12 to Solve Loudness Problems

Normalize your music library so all songs play at the same volume.

To minimize differences in loudness between the songs in your music collection, Windows Media Player 12 offers a volume leveling option. This is another term for normalization and is very similar to the Sound Check feature in iTunes.

Rather than directly (and permanently) changing audio data, WMP's volume leveling feature measures the differences between songs and calculates a standard volume level. This is a non-destructive process that ensures each song you play is normalized in relation to others. The information is then stored in each song's metadata (much like ReplayGain), so that the levels are kept for all future listening.

In order to use volume leveling in WMP 12, audio files have to be in the WMA or MP3 audio format.

How to Automatically Normalize Your Music Library in WMP 12

If you want to eliminate or minimize major volume changes between songs in your Windows Media library, launch the WMP 12 application and follow these steps.

  1. From the menu tab, select View followed by Now Playing.

    Alternatively, you can use the CTRL+M keyboard shortcut to bring up the WMP main menu tab, or CTRL+3 to launch the Now Playing view mode.

  2. Right-click anywhere on the Now Playing screen and select Enhancements > Crossfading and Auto Volume Leveling. You should now see this advanced options menu above the Now Playing screen.

  3. Select Turn on Auto Volume Leveling.

  4. Close the settings screen by selecting the X icon in the top right-hand corner of the window.

    Screen showing auto volume leveling optioj

Points to Remember About WMP 12's Auto-Leveling Feature

For the songs in your library that don't already have a volume leveling value stored in their metadata, you will need to play them all the way through once. WMP 12 will only add a normalization value once it has analyzed the file during playback.

This is a slow process compared to the Sound Check feature in iTunes, which automatically scans all files in one go. If you already had a large library before turning on volume leveling, then you may want to set WMP to automatically level the volumes of all new songs added to your library.

How to Automatically Add Volume Leveling When Adding New Songs

To ensure all new files added to your WMP 12 library have volume leveling automatically applied, follow these steps:

  1. From the main menu tab, select Tools followed by Options...

  2. Select Library, then select the checkbox for Add Volume Leveling Information Values for New Files.

  3. Select Apply > OK to save the setting.

Instead of slowly playing through all the songs in your library to normalize them, you may consider simply deleting the entire library and then re-uploading it. By turning on volume leveling for new files, and then re-importing all your music files you can save a lot of time. Just make sure you don't accidentally delete the source files for the library.

Why Does the Loudness Between Songs Vary So Much?

There's a good chance that the audio files you have on your computer or external storage device are not all from the same place. Many people's media libraries come from the following sources:

The problem with these is that loudness, sound quality, and other factors can vary greatly. Often the difference is so stark you're forced to constantly change the volume yourself while listening. This is not an ideal way to listen to music, so enabling volume leveling is often worth the effort.

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