How do I normalize volume in VLC?

What is Normalizing Volume?

Volume normalization is a feature that aims to even out the volume across audio and video files, streams, and playlists so that the volume level remains consistent. This prevents the need to constantly adjust the volume when switching between songs, shows, movies, or other media.

Volume normalization works by analyzing the loudness of an audio track and then applying gain adjustment to bring the overall loudness to a target level. Typically, the target level is based on standards set for television, film, and music playback volume.

Volume normalization is useful because it provides a consistent listening experience. Some audio can have much louder or quieter volume compared to other tracks. Normalization prevents the need to constantly turn up and down volume and allows for seamless transition between media. It’s also helpful for listening at lower volumes, like at night, where inconsistent loudness is more noticeable.

Normalization can be applied in real-time when streaming media or as a one-time adjustment to even out volume across local media files and playlists. The process is automated using audio analysis algorithms to measure volume and apply the ideal gain adjustment.

Enabling Volume Normalization in VLC

Volume normalization is a feature in VLC media player that aims to even out the volume across different media files and streams. Here’s how to find and enable volume normalization in VLC:

First, open VLC and go to Tools > Preferences (or press Ctrl+P on Windows/Linux, or Command+, on Mac). Then select the “Audio” tab in Preferences.

Under the “Effects” section, check the box next to “Normalize volume”. This will enable volume normalization in VLC.

You’ll see a slider below the checkbox labeled “Normalize volume to:”. This controls the target volume level that VLC will normalize audio to. The default is around 89 dB SPL, but you can adjust it as needed. Many recommend normalizing to between 80-95 dB for consistent playback.[1]

The lower you set the target level, the more VLC will amplify quieter audio. Setting it too high may cause distortion on loud audio. Finding the right setting takes some experimentation based on your audio setup.

Once you’ve checked the box and set your target level, click Save to apply the volume normalization setting in VLC. Now when you play media, VLC will automatically normalize the volume.

Normalizing Volume on Files and Streams

VLC allows you to normalize the volume for both local media files as well as streamed online content. This ensures a consistent volume level whether you are playing media stored locally on your device or streaming from the internet.

To normalize the volume of local files, simply check the “Automatically normalize volume” box under Audio settings in VLC. This will analyze each file and adjust the volume to a consistent level. This is useful for media files you have downloaded or ripped yourself, which may have inconsistent volume levels.

For streaming content, the volume normalization process is a bit different. VLC analyzes the volume in real time as the content is buffering and adjusts it seamlessly in the background. Volume is normalized relative to the loudest part of the stream, not to absolute values. This prevents excessively loud sections from blasting at full volume.

The main difference between normalizing local files versus streams is when the analysis occurs. For local files, volume is normalized once at the time of playback. For streams, it is continuously analyzed and adjusted in real time. Both methods result in a normalized, consistent listening volume despite the original inconsistencies in the source material.

Advanced Audio Normalization Settings

VLC offers advanced audio normalization through its audio filters. Two key filters for volume normalization are the Compressor and Normalizer.

The Compressor filter helps normalize volume by compressing the dynamic range of the audio. This evens out loud and quiet parts so the volume level is more consistent. Compression can be adjusted from 1-10 with higher values causing more compression. A moderate value around 3-5 is recommended to avoid over-compression.

The Normalizer filter boosts quiet audio and limits peak loudness to a target level. This is enabled by default in VLC with a default target level of -12 dBFS, but advanced users can adjust the target level and tolerance to fine-tune normalization.

For consistent volume across files, the Normalizer filter target can be set to -23 LUFS according to the EBU R128 loudness standard. The tolerance can be reduced to 1 or 2 LU to tightly adhere to the target level. Using both Compressor and Normalizer filters together at moderate settings often produces the best normalization results.

The order filters are enabled can also impact effectiveness. Placing Compressor before Normalizer often works well. Custom presets with normalization filters can be saved for consistent settings across files.

Troubleshooting Volume Normalization

If you find that volume normalization is not working properly in VLC, there are a few things you can check:

First, make sure normalization is actually enabled. Go to Tools > Preferences > Audio and check that the “Volume normalizer” box is checked (Reference: VSG:Audio:Normalization – VideoLAN Wiki). If it’s not enabled, that could be why normalization is not working.

Also check your normalization settings under Audio > Filters. The default settings usually work well, but you may need to adjust the max amplification level if some files are still too quiet. A value between 8-12 dB is commonly recommended (Reference: How to Normalize Volume in VLC Media Player?).

One common problem is that normalization only works on local media files, not on network streams. So if you’re trying to normalize the volume of an online stream, it won’t work. Normalization also won’t work on the audio track of videos during playback – you have to normalize videos before watching them.

On some systems, there can be conflicts between VLC’s normalization and system-wide audio enhancements. Try disabling audio enhancers or equalizer software like Dolby to see if that fixes volume normalization issues.

As a last resort, you can try resetting VLC to default settings or reinstalling the player if normalization problems persist without explanation. But in most cases, checking the settings is enough to get smooth volume normalization in VLC.

Normalization on Mobile and Other Players

Volume normalization ensures a consistent listening volume across different media players. This is especially useful when switching between desktop apps like VLC and mobile devices.

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets handle normalization differently across operating systems. Android apps will generally respect the normalization settings in VLC files. However, volume can vary across iOS apps, with each one implementing normalization individually.

Other desktop media players also take unique approaches. Windows Media Player normalizes volume by default in Windows 10, while iTunes offers a Sound Check feature. Open-source options like MediaMonkey and Audacity provide normalization tools as well.

The volume leveling applied by VLC may not translate exactly when used with other players. But it still provides a closer baseline volume. Users may need to manually adjust levels slightly between apps.

Overall, VLC’s normalization gives you a consistent starting volume. But expect some variation across devices as other apps interpret the adjusted levels differently.1

Why Consistent Volume Matters

Having consistent volume while listening to audio makes the listening experience more enjoyable and comfortable in a few key ways:

First, inconsistent volume levels can lead to listener fatigue. When the volume spikes up and down dramatically over the course of a song or video, the constant adjustment forces the listener’s ears to work harder. This extra effort over time can cause ear strain and headaches. Normalizing the audio smooths out these peaks and valleys so the overall volume stays at a more constant, comfortable level without fatigue.1

Second, normalizing volume provides some protection against extremely loud sections that could potentially damage hearing. Songs sometimes have unexpectedly loud vocals, explosions, or other spikes in volume. Volume normalization identifies these parts and turns them down to be closer to the average level of the rest of the audio. While the loud sections may still be noticeable, normalizing prevents them from being so drastic that they could hurt the listener’s ears, especially with long-term listening.2

Having a more even volume level allows listeners to enjoy audio comfortably and safely.

Alternatives to Volume Normalization

While volume normalization in VLC is convenient, there are other ways to achieve a consistent volume level across media files and streams. Here are some alternatives:

Manual Volume Adjustment

The simplest alternative is to manually adjust the volume on each file or stream. This gives you precise control, but can be time consuming. You’ll need to listen to parts of each file to gauge the volume level and make tweaks.[1]


Compressors can boost quiet sounds and limit loud sounds. This evens out the volume, similar to normalization. However, compressors change the audio dynamics and may introduce distortion.[2]

Hardware Solutions

Using an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter) or AV receiver with volume leveling can normalize volume across devices. However, this only works for playback and requires extra equipment.

While normalization in software like VLC is convenient, manual adjustments, compression, and external audio hardware are alternatives worth considering.


Normalizing volume in VLC refers to the process of equalizing the volume levels across media files and streams to maintain a consistent sound level when switching between songs, videos, movies and more. We looked at how to enable automatic volume normalization in VLC under the Audio Effects area of the preferences menu. You can choose the normalization level based on your playback environment. Volume normalization can be applied on a per-file basis or globally across an entire playlist or stream. We explored the advanced audio settings to fine tune the normalization behavior if needed.

Remember that volume normalization only works in VLC media player and the effects are not saved back to the original file. Mobile and web versions of VLC may lack full normalization features. While normalization provides consistent volume, distortions can happen on extremely loud or quiet files when drastic adjustments are made. Overall, volume normalization is an invaluable accessibility feature to provide a smooth listening experience in VLC.

For more detailed VLC audio settings and troubleshooting, check the official VLC user documentation and community forums. You can also explore alternative volume leveling software like ReplayGain for system-wide effects.


This article was researched and written using the following sources:

  • VLC official documentation on audio normalization settings:

  • “Advanced Audio Settings” page on VLC user forum:

  • Wikipedia article on audio normalization:

  • “How to Normalize Volume When Listening to Music” by MakeUseOf:

  • “What Is Audio Normalization and Why Use It?” by Lifewire:

No direct quotes or content was taken from any of these sources. They provided background information and context.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *