Track preparation: the decidedly unsexy aspect of professional DJing that almost always pays off in the end. Yet your prep routine may be missing a step if you’re not using Platinum Notes. This software can fix audio clipping and set your music at consistent volume levels to make mixing songs from various sources a smoother experience. Continue on to hear it for yourself.
Reviewed: Mixed In Key Platinum Notes 4
Price: $98 (US)
Output Formats: AIFF (16-bit/44 kHz), Apple Lossless (16-bit/44 kHz), FLAC (16-bit/44 kHz), MP3 (320kbps CBR or 192kbps VBR), WAV (16-bit/44 kHz)
System Requirements: Mac OS 10.6 or higher / Windows XP or higher
The Good: High-grade processing using iZotope technology and proprietary algorithms. Several new output formats available, including lossless. Doesn’t overwrite original files. Fast and easy to use.
The Bad: High price compared to other Mixed In Key utilities.
The Bottom Line: Platinum Notes effectively cleans up clipped audio and adjusts the volume of your music collection to a standard level without altering the dynamics of the tracks. It’s not a magical, one-click solution to make everything suddenly sound way more awesome. Rather, it’s a utilitarian workflow tool that many professionals have found worthy of adding to their track-preparation routine.
After Mixed In Key helped make harmonic mixing accessible to DJs with its eponymous software, the small software company based in Miami introduced Platinum Notes in 2007 with the goal of making a DJ’s digital music collection a cohesive volume, where all the audio files will be better prepared to be played together, without clipping or distortion. It both boosts tracks that have been mastered at a low volume, and tames tracks that are mastered too hot.
Six years later, Platinum Notes 4 sticks with the original plan, with some new processing and options to make the software even more flexible and yield better results.
Like Mixed in Key, which detects and tags audio files for their tempo and musical key, Platinum Notes’ processes are fully automatic, with default settings that will work for many use cases, as well as some configurable options. Once you set your preferences, all you need to do is open the program, drag music into its window, and wait for the results.
Platinum Notes first analyzes track volume and uses multiband expansion and/or compression to achieve a consistent output volume, which you can configure if you don’t like the default template. Platinum Notes’ special multiband compression algorithm repairs any clipped peaks in the waveform. It also corrects pitch problems and can add a bit of vinyl-style analog warmth using an exciter processor. As a final step, the audio runs through a high-grade IRC limiter volume adjuster said to be much more professional than an auto-gain setting found in iTunes or in DJ software.
The final result, if Platinum Notes is doing what it’s purported to do, is music that sounds smoother and is loud without any clipping. The software never overwrites the original file, but rather creates a new one with an amended file name in the location of your choice; for example, “Studio Killers-In Tokyo.mp3” becomes “Studio Killers-In Tokyo_PN.mp3”.
NEW TO VERSION 4
Besides some proprietary algorithms, Platinum Notes uses audio processing technology from iZotope, makers of some very highly-regarded professional audio plug-ins and editing software, such as the Ozone 5 mastering suite, RX 2 spectral audio repair software, and the Alloy 2 mixing suite. Platinum Notes 4’s new “warmth”-adding exciter process comes from iZotope, as does its multiband compression, expansion, and finishing IRC Limiter volume adjuster.
Previous versions only output music files to WAV and MP3 formats, while version 4 lets you choose to process files as AIFF, Apple Lossless, FLAC, as well as WAV and MP3. Note that Platinum Notes reads .m4a audio files, the format iTunes sells, but does not write to .m4a format.
A new waveform display shows a more detailed look at your audio files before and after processing. Any clipped peaks show up in red in the Before view, and the After view shows the repaired waveform in blue. You can also easily see the results of audio that has beed boosted in volume (usually tracks that were mastered in the 20th century, before the volume wars really took hold).
Finally, Platinum Notes 4 has upgraded to Retina-ready graphics.
HEAR FOR YOURSELF
Many of us at DJ Tech Tools have been using Platinum Notes for years, but we wanted to let you hear the results against the originals in a blind comparison and see if you can notice or appreciate the difference.
Below are batches of clips of tracks from various sources, both before and after processing in Platinum Notes 4. We don’t say whether the A or B clip is the before or after. See if you can tell on your own, and then see the answer key at the bottom of the article.
In Platinum Notes, you can input and output to the same file format, or choose to up-convert or down-convert in audio quality. It’s not feasible to cover every possibility or audio source in our examples, but we chose batches of WAV files from Beatport, 320kbps MP3s from Amazon, 128kbps MP3s from various music blogs, and FLAC files that were ripped from CDs
SET 1: 16-bit WAV downloaded from Beatport to 16-bit WAV in Platinum Notes 4. For these 10 songs, Platinum Notes took these actions:
• Corrected 77 cents of pitch
• Applied expansion dynamics for all 10 files
• Adjusted volume by 28.8 db total
• Fixed 55,973 clipped peaks
SET 2: 16-bit AIFF from CDs to 16-bit AIFF in Platinum Notes 4. For these 10 songs, Platinum Notes:
• Corrected 98 cents of pitch
• Applied expansion dynamics to eight of 10 files
• Adjusted volume by 20.3 db total
• Fixed 26,493 clipped peaks
SET 3: 16-bit FLAC from CDs to 16-bit FLAC in Platinum Notes 4. For these five songs, Platinum Notes:
• Corrected 15 cents of pitch
• Applied expansion dynamics to one of five files
• Adjusted volume by 25.4 db total
• Fixed 419 clipped peaks
SET 4: 320kbps MP3 from Amazon to 320kbps MP3 in Platinum Notes 4. For these 10 songs, Platinum Notes:
• Corrected 0 cents of pitch
• Applied expansion dynamics for all 10 files
• Adjusted volume by 20 db total
• Fixed 5,986 clipped peaks
SET 5: 128kbps MP3 from blogs to 320kbps MP3 in Platinum Notes 4. For these five songs, Platinum Notes:
• Corrected 0 cents of pitch
• Applied expansion dynamics for all 5 files
• Adjusted volume by 6.5 db total
NOTES FOR THE UNDERGROUND
Whether you liked what you heard in the audio samples or not, the results from Platinum Notes most often sound subtle. You can adjust the settings of the compression, expansion, and warmth from the Configure Template screens if you want to. If you don’t, the most noticeable effect of Platinum Notes is the fixing of clipped peaks and the adjustment of volume, whether up or down.
This capability to quickly and automatically set your music files to a standard and consistent output level really defines what Platinum Notes is all about. It’s not too flashy or glamorous; it’s a simplified tool born of many complicated processes that — more than radically changing the sound of the music — can give you some peace of mind over the cohesiveness of your collection and maybe save you some of the hassle of adjusting gain, EQ, and/or channel level values when mixing from track to track. The software comes in particularly handy if you’re into grabbing bootleg remixes or mashups off the Internet, where the track may be mixed at a sub-professional level and rife with distorted clipping.
So far, all of this has been enough to make Platinum Notes a trusted tool on the laptops of many professional DJs. Will it make a true believer out of you?
SPOILER ALERT! Answer key for the 5 sets of Before & After clips.
SET 1: The As are the Platinum Notes-treated tracks.
SET 2: The Bs are the Platinum Notes-treated tracks.
SET 3: The As are the Platinum Notes-treated tracks.
SET 4: The As are the Platinum Notes-treated tracks.
SET 5: The Bs are the Platinum Notes-treated tracks.
iZotope Ozone Presets vs Platinum Notes?
Before anyone takes this the wrong way, let me say this:
I’ve been an owner of MIK for years, buying and upgrading from version to version. It’s been a game changer in live DJ situations, as well as preparing sets. I’ve got all the other products as well. I’m a big fan of the MIK brand. But, PN is the one piece of software I have been hesitant to pickup.
I’ve been wavering about buying PN, for years and years. I’m a producer/DJ, who’s already purchased iZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. I know that one of the primary benefits of PN vs Ozone is ‘batch processing’… but, I’m still not sure I wouldn’t prefer to process the new tracks I get with Ozone.
I’ve been toying with creating presets for Ozone, to accomplish ‘peak clipping repair’, subtle analog warming, and some analog model exciting. I’m not sure how they compare with PN, and I’m curious. Has anyone who owns both Ozone and PN made presets for Ozone, to try and match the same effect? Or, have you explored this idea and simply found PN worth it, even though you’ve already bought Ozone?
Also note that the MIK forums are locked and discontinued. What’s that all about?
Can you detail how Triumph can get the same results?
i just wanted to say thank you to Platinum notes 4 for ruining half of my music library.. i now have to go and find all those songs again. i know i shouldnt have committed but i did and now its just time.. what a HUGE waste of money platinum notes 4 was not to mention the incredibly HUGE waste of time its costing me. what i would give to have never purchased this junk program. i would give a lot more than it costed in the first place. horrible buy, and i do not recommend Platinum notes 4 to anyone. in fact i warn people against it. buyer beware!!!
I was interested in this.. but after listening to the samples.. and especially the comments.. no thanks. I feel it actually makes some of the tracks sound duller. I primarily use AIFF from professional websites that sell music – and 320 minimum elsewhere. Think I’ll skip this one.
[…] truth is, we already use specialist programs: Many of us use things like MP3Gain, Mixed in Key, and Platinum Notes to process our files, so it's not a massive leap to replace the "iTunes part" of our workflow […]
Wow, thanks tech tools for doing this review. Glad I listened to your tests before I plunked down $100. To my ears almost all of the non-treated files sounded better. I don’t know what the audio equivalent is, but in photography these files feel like they have lost contrast. Maybe they are more even, but sound more flat and less interesting.
I say we run Imagine Dragons – Radioactive through it and judge the results =) That song has so much forced distortion in it, I wonder what PN4 would do to it (if anything).
I’ve read every comment here and what I’ve taken away more than anything, is that DJTechTools should assume an “authority” role and be way more subjective in their reviews. Instead of being an overview, back of the box type article, this review should be way more definitive.
I’ve read every comment here and what I’ve taken away more than anything, is that DJTechTools should assume an “authority” role and be way more subjective in their reviews. Instead of being an overview, back of the box type article, this review should be way more definitive.
The reason for my comment above is because, clearly, people are still unsure whether or not they have a recommendation to purchase the software, which is the purpose of a REview, as opposed to an OVERview.
I just want to say I bought Platinum Notes 4 for Mac and it is for sure worthwhile. The price-tag is, I agree, a bit higher than I think the market is willing to pay, but for a professional, it’s a small price to pay for what it does.
The biggest thing for me was normalizing/limiting all my tracks to the same level so that I don’t need to mess with my gain settings on my mixer. Purists will argue this is no big deal, but it’s a huge deal. If you never need to check your levels, you are free to do amazing things with your mix. For me there is just no arguing this point. People who do argue it need to learn to grow and change with the technology.
One of the things I was looking for was bigger wave-forms in my Serato interface. Now, even the crustiest of old vinyl rips were effortlessly converted into something extremely useful. Thinking back, I canned a lot of tracks and even select tracks based on their viability in a mix. Now, I’m pretty sure 99% of tracks will be instantly useful.
Of course, you CAN do this yourself in Audition, Audacity, etc. with the right plugins. I already have iZotope Ozone, so all my tracks could be tweaked to my preferences. However, this would take hours and hours for the amount of tracks I have. So, it comes down to this: What is your time worth? For me, my time is worth a lot. This application can save you tons of time and thus make you money. It’s simple.
I should make it clear, I’m writing this post because after reading loads of comments and reviews on this plugin, what I saw was 50% of the people liked it, and 50% of the people said it wasn’t worth it. I now know that if you don’t like what this plugin does, you are just a stupid person.
I also really enjoy the vinyl warmth it adds to the tracks. The warm is really tuned well. What it does is cut down some of the sharp highs in overly-mastered tracks and it brings out tracks that have perhaps been under-mastered.
All said, great plugin. Did exactly what it said it would and more. I think they should work on some sort of a demo for people because the really problem with this app is that you are purchasing it on faith. Perhaps an online system that you could submit one track to and they would output the results at least visually. Something to make it a bit easier for people to make the choice. Hope this review helps somebody!
I would appreciate something that got my tracks to a bit of a more consistent volume, but this program seems a little extensive.
all the technical things you guys talk aboutis great.. but the reason i like platinum notes is i get mp3 from everywhere ripped by different people sotfware and speeds fromgod know what..it hepls the tracks to sound the same.
I’ve used PN prior here’s the things I’ve noticed:
Mastering engineers and mixing engineers spend alot of time preparing these mixes for their ‘real’ purpose. By this I mean 1. for the club 2. radio/CD
Platinum notes IS a useful tool but there can be issues with the above mention.
By smoothing out the ‘clips and using expansion dynamics. an engineer is smoothing out the original master making the track not ‘hit’ as hard in a club situation. This IS however a very useful tool when DJing straight to CD or internet radio where people are already just going to listen. If you want the impacts to stay the same for a large system where your dynamics are essential, (I’m not sure if PN4 has made this an option) one would want to keep the original Mastering engineers decisions for the CLUB master, not to be confused with CD/Radio master. Most things you find on Beatport by guys who know what they are doing are club ready.
Obviously check your songs on a large system before deciding to use this on every file on your computer.
turn off the dynamics part and just repair your clips. I hope there is an option for this as it’s the main reason I don’t use PN in the club.
I use Platinum Notes 3 and I must say I get a very different result- a much less noticeable one. I assume what I am mostly hearing is the “warmth” setting, which is new in this version, idk if I like it, but anyway it definitely does make songs sound slightly different- is it better? That’s a matter of opinion, even if it decreases the quality slightly, no one will notice, and most importantly, it makes all songs sound similar, which is mainly why I use it, I think it adds to the mix being more coherent.
As a buyer of Mixed in Key, I can say it does a great job. Only have about 25K of my library analyzed so far, but I enjoy the freedom of turning it on and walking away for a day at a time lol.
I declined to purchase the Mashup Editor, as it just didn’t seem to offer much to me, and as stated by Lewis, below, the clip factor should not be a selling point.
The fact that it can normalize other tracks, is somewhat pointless to me as well. I know the bitrate, I can visually see the difference is velocity of each track and will adjust manually each track I load, based on how it sounds in the club at the time as well.
Let me know if I’m missing some features that are worth the money, but to me it seems to be nothing more than a digital sound maximizer, which I currently run in my rack anyways.
sigh…. here we go again. A while ago a question was asked on this forum…”How do headliners get such a punchy sound??” This is one way. If you have these “Big Peaks” in the track then the mixer will clip sooner forcing you to turn down the track a little bit. But if you can reduce the peaks then you can turn up the overall track MUCH louder. Don’t fight it though, some people have their opinions. Personally i use PN and i think it works. I have noticed the difference and I’ve tested it on a “Funktion One” System.
Article states Platinum Notes “adjusts the volume of your music collection to a standard level WITHOUT altering the dynamics of the tracks”.
Then later states “uses multiband expansion and/or compression to achieve a consistent output volume”.
Fact: You cannot use expansion or compression and NOT alter the dynamics of a track.
Is this Platinum Note’s claim? Or the writer’s interpretation?
My experience with PN is that all your tracks processed with it sound monotonous in the club after 30 minutes, like the songs are adjusted to output the same frequency shape constantly. BORING 🙂 But that is just my experience.
I don’t think this is the best blind listening test. The volume levels haven’t been normalized to reduce any bias, and it’s all streaming from soundcloud at some bitrate of MP3 (probably 128 kpbs) so there’s no hope of anyone hearing subtle differences in the uncompressed format comparisons.
Also unless you’ve been ear trained to pick out the subtle differences between different processing algorithms, have an exceptional listening environment and high quality playback equipment, how can you comment that one’s better than the other objectively?
From a brief listen to the soundcloud samples, ignoring the obvious level differences, I don’t think some of the Platinum Notes processed files sound as good as the original, while I agree others sound better. The problem is, as a one-click solution do you really want to run this over your whole collection? It might actually be making some of your tracks sound worse, but how would you know unless you go through them all and do comparison tests? I for one don’t have time for that.
Yes, I think some tracks sound worse, and makes some sound flat and uninspiring. Fixing pitch seems a dodgy thing to do on a whole mix. Adding more DSP invariably makes stuff sound worse
So Todd Terje and Goldfrapp release their tunes with lots of clipping with incorrect pitch and quite uncompressed…..maybe because they save on mastering engineers and you can fix that automatically with a 98 bucks software…..capitalism is funny….you never stop learning.
Honestly.. and this just might be my “uneducated” ears, but i feel like the PN treated tracks are flat and lifeless compared to their original counterparts.
I understand wanting a more uniform volume across songs, and of course rounding out those harsh clipping parts.. but these just seem flatten it out too far.
Of course i suppose i could tweak the settings and get what i want out of it..
Well one problem that might be is the misconception between Sound quality, dynamic range and volume.
I personally take a track that have the dynamic range and quality any day over volume. because if theres headroom left i can adjust it myself, as on a track that allready at clipping range or have artifacts, theres not much really you can do than just to try to filter it out, platinum notes can make it better but not 100%
Soundquality – The ranges in freqency that youre hearing will perceive it, its the clarity and solid foundation of the instrument or vocal. so a pure hidef recording will therefor sound much better and more alive then a compressed mp3 as the mp3 is the chopped down in size, quality and dynamic range.
Volume – How high you can go before the clip or when artifacts are introduced in the sound. in some cases when neighbours complain *lol*
Dynamic Range – Volume and gradual changes in the music
Many people think that if you have enough volume / soundpreassure its the same as soundquality, especially in mastering and soundprocessing situations.
Many call this the loudness war
One other thing that is quite funny is people that compress a 128kbps mp3 to 320, really think that the quality will improve.
Another thing that is degrading the quality in music. Before the record companies put several million dollars into a recording before released to the public, thats why music was expensive cause you had expenses for mastering, storage, packaging and so on
Well i buy that, but today, the cost have been cut radically
and so have the soundengineering and masteringquality behind many tacks.
Dont forget to ad the compression into several formats, that even worsen the
overall experience. If you as a producer dont know squat about sound and mastering, it dont matter if you have the best tune in the world, then you upload your music to beatport, that does nothing more then act as a storage for the potential customers, a wave or aiff files is then compressed to mp3 and transported to the customers. that either put in on their phone, pad or use it professionally as DJ’s (Digital Jockeys) . . . Imagine how it would sound if it was original and mastered by a pro soundtechnician
I see that PN creates CD quality versions of songs, no matter what the source quality is. That means users may be using 128Kbps MP3’s (1MB), and making WAV files (30+MB). There should be a very clear warning about working with low quality files. There is none.
“Up-convert audio quality” That’s not supposed to be possible. Are you meaning “change it to a better format? You still wouldn’t get better sound quality.
I actually have the BEST software for getting mix levels consistent, my ears. Additionally, if a track sounds crappy, I just won’t play it. There’s tons of stuff out there I could play. If a track doesn’t pass sonic muster, I’m not going to give it a pass…That part of production is non-negotiable. If you’re going to put the effort into making a banging track, put as much effort into mixing it right or pay a professional to do it for you. mixed in key…lowering the bar for DJ’s since 2007…
For someone playing only new EDM tracks, Wave from Beatport, there is no purpose of using this right?
“SET 1: 16-bit WAV downloaded from Beatport to 16-bit WAV in Platinum Notes 4. For these 10 songs, Platinum Notes took these actions:
• Corrected 77 cents of pitch
• Applied expansion dynamics for all 10 files
• Adjusted volume by 28.8 db total
• Fixed 55,973 clipped peaks”
So yes, there is an excellent reason to use PN on Beatport files.
Acctually the processed Sound, sound to me bad the commpressed ones can be easaly detect also on pc speaker of my lenovo. The uncompressed is little bit harder need headphones but the result going flat (modified at bass and high).
A question to the reviewer: Do you think it’s worth upgrading from version 3 to 4? From what I can tell as far as the results go.. the only difference is the “warmth” in this version. The algorithm is apparently the same.
I believe also that now with 4, you can ONLY use it while you’re on-line – which sucks. What happens if you’re not able to go online but still need to process some tracks?!
That’s a pretty bizarre move. Probably an anti-piracy thing.
why doesn’t beat port just use PN so we don’t have to? 🙂
Why on earth would anybody want to add expanders/dynamic processing and so on to already (professionally) mastered tracks…
Also if said masters have clipped peaks then they are meant to be there and rounding/processing them will alter the sound of the track from what the mastering engineer and artist intended.
And if you have low quality files, sure this might make them sound a little better but why not get the proper good quality version instead…
The only actually useful thing is the volume adjuster but for serato/traktor users that’s already taken care of (i use auto-gain in serato and sometimes fine-tune the result manually if it’s not to my satisfaction). Besides are dj’s so lazy these days that they can’t be bothered to tweak the gain knob a little from time to time?
No auto-gain function is 100% accurate anyway and many times the perceived loudness of a track can differ from the absolute peak or rms measurement depending on the frequence content…
So all in all pretty much bullshit and/or totally unnecessary piece of software imo!
google mp3 gain. Stops clipping you can make all files the same volume easy. And it does it for free!
– MP3-gain does not stop clipping if the file is already clipped from the production-side of things.
– Much software has trouble with actual gain values used by MP3-gain. iTunes, for example, likes to replace it with it’s own gain values (you have to resort to some odd trick to make it work), although media players like WinAmp makes good use of it.
– Typical gain is limited to a maximum of +6/-6 dB or +12/-12 dB. If you have old tracks that were mastered in the 60-90’s and have a very low dBFS, even +12 dB is far from enough to bring them up to modern tracks who are typically mastered at -7 to -11 dBFS.
– Not supported on all players or smartphones.
Beyond that, MP3-gain is definitely great. I used it back when i was still using WinAmp before switching to iTunes.
Will it make a true believer out of you?
Why?, Well today its not about soundquality anymore, and this sk tool just ups the volume and get rid of the clipping, i can do that for $5 so this is a big screwup, just as the mashupprogram, mixed in key works as advertized, but the rest, no way!
Your comment shows that you’ve never used this software. I’ll forgive you for your assumption that all it does is boost the volume, it’s one that a lot of people make. If you’d used the software or bothered to listen to the examples you would see that in most cases it actually lowers the volume so that the dynamic range can be expanded.
Never used it?
If im to call myself a professional dj / producer / musician
I have to use the gear or program and het me an understanding of the works, bells and whistles before making an input.
So YES, i have used it, and i dont think its that good, thats all, if you love it, fine then use it, but dont try to push it or “spam” it to others that dont have a clue!
You can do all this with several programs, sure it takes some effort, but in my case i say the result is better, as i supervice the process all the way, not just a buttonpush and say bye bye to your original trackl.
but i guess you would say that the mash program is a good product as well?
Not everything that mixed in key or any other company produces are a good product, there always be glitches, or function defects.
I dont say anything about Mixed in key as a program, it works really well, but there are several points that can be improved on all levels!
You obviously never used the software nor read this article when you wrote this because PN creates a new file after making its changes and leaves the original file unchanged.
I COULD NOT AGREE MORE Blackbeard!!
If they would just quit pushing it as a professional tool AND charging professional prices…I would have nothing to say!
Uhm my Mediamonkey levels all my tracks to a consistent output. Goldwave can do it as well and can batch process the levelling as well, so buying a $99 tool only for ‘fixing’ clipping is a bit expansive I think.
Thanks for the alternative suggestions.
Adjusting volumes in the middle of a set can be a nightmare, especially if the club mixer doesn’t have level meters or there’s static with the older models, so this seems like a nice tool of convenience. My only issue is that I have my collection already tagged up with traktor cue points and notes, is there any way to transfer that info into the new PN file? If not, it seems like huge upfront workload for very little gains, pun not intended.
Excellent point. I would love if you could transfer the Traktor data over to the newly created files. Actually, my utopia would include a standardized track file that you could use with any DJ software, but I think I’ll have to keep dreaming on that one.
i do thing that too much tools like this , transform day after day the way your mind and it’s ears and it’s fingers are inside the music thing , and get you finaly far of the art .
Same for piloting cars or air planes , our brain need to be really acting to be realy working ; and then happen the music ” your music ” …
the mix-table and your headphones and your ears are made for this work .
if it’s used as a momentary help , just the time to understand , to learn : ok .
but it don’t have to become systematic .
just an opinion …
I can’t argue with your opinion. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I play a lot of new music mixed in with stuff from the ’80s and ’90s. The output levels are often radically different. Using the mixer to adjust for the difference live is certainly an option, and I did it for years. However, after using this kind of process to smooth out the differences, I was happier. And it doesn’t disengage the brain; there’s always plenty more you can occupy your creative energies with beside the repetitive tasks of compensating for different output levels. Thanks for your feedback!
In the examples it seems to both ‘fix’ clipping and adjust the levels, so is it not just adding compression? And is ‘expansion dynamics’ like the 3D/stero effect you used to get on Walkmans, (adding a slight frequency-dependent phase difference on stereo channels)? I can see the use of it on home-recorded audio, and maybe equalizing the compression on tracks is better than blindly used auto-gain, but playing the tracks as they have been mastered, and matching levels by ear and trim, is bound to be better.
Different tracks have different mastering engineers (and may come from different time periods where different mastering standards were used). PN is good in equalizing many of those aspects to be more consistent since you yourself are just one person and might have your own mastering preferences (volume being the most important – I’m personally very impressed with the PN gain adjustments).
As a DJ, you will typically still be matching levels by ear and trim if you know your stuff because a common DJ technique is to overgain the track your mixing somewhat which makes it easier to drown out the previous track.
As for the clipped peak repair, this is by far one of the best features of the software. It really does work wonders on badly mishandled tracks.
Sounds like you and many others have more direct experience of it than me, and are impressed. Makes sense given the quality of iZotope’s filters. Thanks for correcting me.
Dynamic expansion is the opposite of compression. The volume is lowered slightly, and the difference between the loud and quiet parts is expanded. It makes for a more pleasurable listening experience over time, preventing ear fatigue.
Thanks Chad, I assumed it was something else because they also adjust the levels and re-apply limiting. I can’t stand over-compressed sound, but original MP3s are generally OK in that respect, (unless you play furious electro, in which case blood coming from your ears is presumably a sign of a good set, or tracks ripped from radio transmitters’ sledgehammer compressors).
Thanks Chad, I assumed it was something else because they also adjust
the levels and re-apply limiting. I can’t stand over-compressed sound,
but original MP3s are generally OK in that respect, (unless you play
furious electro, in which case blood coming from your ears is presumably
a sign of a good set).
I wouldn’t use it.
It seems to be taking the upper-mid presence away from some of the tracks. Yes, it does make many of them sound less squashed and does a good job at setting the level, but I would not put my collection through this.
anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of audio mastering will know that this product is snake oil – phony bs marketing crap made up to trick the uneducated into thinking 1 magic program can make all their tracks sound better. yakov should be ashamed of himself for pushing these lies.
Also id like my mixed in key money back, Its pretty much fail.
keyfinder is way better, and free.
I’ll just point out that I specifically said this program is not magic. Also, I think a rudimentary understanding of audio mastering, which you can acquire quite quickly, is the most dangerous kind of understanding. If that’s the extent of your knowledge, leave it to the pros, who by the way, never agree on everything in the first place.
There is no Audio Mastering Police who make sure only the right people are putting music into the world. That’s why software such as this and its competitors have at least some value to at least some people. See FlowTech’s comment below about acquiring music from bedroom producers.
I’ve owned/used PN since it’s start. It has it’s uses, but I agree in that it’s no-where a magical, fix-all program. Yakov and his people like to tell you it’s a “professional” product for ‘professionals’ but not really.
If anything, it’s an easy time-saving program for DJs. Any software that offers ‘one button’ solutions is by no means professional. There are many programs out there which are ‘professional’ – some costing less than PN – that will do the same if not a better job. You just have to learn how to use them.
Specify those programs please
I think you should look up ‘Snake Oil’, because it doesn’t mean what you think it means.
PN has it’s limits, and it isn’t a magical fix-all program (even if the advertising wants you to believe so) and has a high price tag attached (which is great if you can afford it) – but speaking as someone with personal experience and who has done comparisons on the results, I’ll just say it shortly: It works! The results aren’t even close to be near as world-breaking or game-changing as their front page would have you believe (in fact, on most processed files, the only thing that you will notice is the volume changes), but it definitely works.
Nerd I COMPLETELY agree with you and Lewis! The *ONLY* thing this software is even partially useful for is bringing up the db level in a pinch when you run across an older track that has not been normalized! That can also easily be done by MANY MUCH LESS expensive software!
While nowhere near as advanced as the izotope powered tricks of PN, I regularly use MP3Gain to even out the volume levels between the tracks in my collection. It’s slightly more advanced than the standard auto gain you get in iTunes/Traktor, which only looks at the peak levels. Also important is that it’s non destructive, as it’s information added into the metadata and then read by your player. It’s free and it works, but it’s only for MP3’s. Worth a look though:
if you use itunes with itunes Match, you want to stay away from this
If you have tracks bought via iTunes, Amazon or any site that only provides 256kbps, then PN is a worthless waste of money. Why? Because PN does not offer 256kbps; only 192, 320 or lossless. This means you either have to ‘downgrade’ to 192 or UPSAMPLE to the higher resolutions – nonsensical because your files are no better, just larger…
I output .wav from PN and then reconvert using the Nero AAC codec anyway and then copy the ID3-tags using the MP3tag software, so for me this is not an issue. But i can definitely see why some people would be upset about it 🙂
I used to have the same issue with Apple too btw. For iPod listening (before my iPod was stolen), in order to fit more music i would ask iTunes to downsize the music to 128 kbps AAC before transferring it to my iPod, but i missed the option of 64 kbps HE-AAC. Now that i use an Android-phone for music listening i just to it myself, same method as above. My 64 GB microSD can hold 20000 tracks in that format, although i don’t have that many by any stretch or mile.
That’s Cool IF you start with a Lossless format, otherwise you’re actually corrupting the files each time you convert them. The idea is covert files only once (preferable) or twice and always start with the highest resolution. Never try to get a higher resolution file from a lower one…
The audio corruption of transcoding is heavily overestimated (assuming you’re transcoding using high bitrates).
A few years ago, someone once posted an experiment in which he had converted a song from 320 MP3 -> 320 MP3 300 times, and posted all 300 audio files + the original for download in a zip folder.
Of course at 300 conversions, there were devastating artifacts all over the track, but you could still clearly tell which track it was. Also, the degredation in audio quality wasn’t really clearly audible until around the 12-15th conversion or so. Unfortunately i cannot find (and therefore can’t post) the experiment, despite having searched Google all over for it again 🙁
So transcoding isn’t that bad. Just don’t do it more than a few times (2-3 max). Also, going from a lossy format to a lossless format doesn’t degrade quality. Converting from MP3 -> Wav -> FLAC -> MP3 is the same as MP3 -> MP3. The degradation happens when you convert to MP3, but not from MP3.
I don’t have the links to some of the studies done by audiophiles, but there is always degradation each time you convert albeit small. They analyzed waveforms and find there is indeed a degradation. You may not ‘hear’ it, but it’s there. The resultant file is never “exactly” identical – even when you use the same format/bit-rate. It gets worse when go from lower resolution to a higher, and even worse if you go from one format to another.
I’m a purest at heart, so the less conversion steps the better IMO.
My big problem with PN is that doesn’t offer AAC as an output option – specifically 256kbps – so I won’t use it on the thousands of 256kbps AAC files I have in iTunes…
This is simply incorrect. There is NEVER a degredation when you convert TO a lossless format.
This has been tested by audiophiles as well (i believe it was on HydrogenAudio). What they did was that they took a FLAC file (which is lossless, but compressed), converted it to a WAV file, and then back to a FLAC file again. They then used a tool called metaflac to compute the hash sums of the audio streams of the two files, and the result was that the audio streams was absolutely 100% equivalent (exactly the same) despite two conversions.
Unless there is a flaw in the software encoder somewhere, there is never any quality loss when you encode to a lossless format. There is only quality loss when you encode to a lossy format, meaning converting to MP3, AAC, WMA or other formats that throws data away. The source format doesn’t matter, only the destination format does.
Also, as i mentioned, the loss is negligible if you only do it once or twice.
I’m thinking of buying PA to correct the volume variations that use to happens in my old recorded DJ Sets and the new DJ Sets that I will record with traktor…
Can you guys test PA on some 30 mins or 1 hour DJ Sets so we can know the result?
No one replied to me? I think its a question that most DJs would have…
While some DJs do use PN for this type of thing it is recommended to process the audio files first, before you make the mix. It should help you a little bit though, if you want me to demo one of your mixes upload it to speedyshare.com and send the download link to firstname.lastname@example.org with “PN Demo Request” as the subject and I’ll process it for you.
It’s pretty easy to hear where Platinum Notes have been but please post the answer keys since I’m anxious to know if I still have my ears with me!
They’re at the very end of the article : )
if you wanna do this for the whole library. For me, i thin k the sympliest way is to do this with automator (Mac or Hackintosh) and create a clean new library.
Agreed, while I am less worried about my content from record pools and beatport I do love having a consistent volume level. My true reason for getting Platinum notes would be the content I receive from free (but still legitimate) sources IE soundcloud, reddit, artist websites etc. I would like to be able to confidently play those songs/samples and not worry that some bed-room producer ability to master his music. It is also very tempting as all my music is in back-ups rdy for the transition to my new computer so this program seems like a step I should go ahead and take.
The loudness difference in Beatport tracks is massive – it’s actually the #1 source that needs fixing. It’s not their fault, they just sell the music that labels provide to them. But the labels release music that tries to be louder than everyone else, thus causing a huge “loudness war” where some tracks are mastered 7 dB louder than others. The latest version of Platinum Notes was made for Beatport tracks.
As the loudness wars have proven, laymen (& most humans for that matter) will always prefer the louder version in the short run.
This is like the Pepsi Challenge trick where most people prefer the sweeter sip, but let them drink the whole glass & you get different results.
So, normalizing the tracks to make them as loud as can be will make them sound ‘better’. But expansion? warmth? no thanks, I’d rather control that on my mixer AT THE ROOM I’M PLAYING IN cause that has as much an effect on the sound than the wires, speaker placement etc.
BTW crappy MP3 repaired will sound like a repaired crappy mp3. most pirated mp3s I get are usually 128k reencoded to 320k. Get the real deal.
But what intrigues me about this review is this statement:
” As a final step, the audio runs through a high-grade IRC limiter volume adjuster SAID TO BE much more professional than an auto-gain setting found in iTunes or in DJ software.”
Has the author tested this or is he going by the marketing spiel? Which “DJ software”?
psht: only good vibes are a good sound.
Yes, I tested it against Traktor Pro’s auto gain, and iTunes. We took a different tack with this article than with most other reviews, because we wanted to encourage you to listen to the audio samples and decide for yourself. I really didn’t hear much difference between Platinum Notes 4 and Traktor’s auto-gain. I’ve never been a fan of iTunes’ Sound Check though. All that said, I’m well aware of the high quality of iZotope’s plug-ins. No marketing spiel is needed for that. The vagaries of pitting one auto-gain against another, however, are such that I’d find it arrogant to make a definitive statement as to one being better than the other. If you disagree, I respect that, and I appreciate your vigilance either way. But like I said, we thought it best to let you decide for yourself.
I guess I don’t like the idea of some software making permanent changes to my files.
Not 4 me i guess
The original files are never overwritten.
I disagree with that assertment about preferring the loud version. I think that’s certainly the PERCEPTION (which is why the loudness war exists in the first place), and back in the days when tracks were often mastered in drastically different volumes and played on jukeboxes, the difference was noticeable. Today I’m not so sure.
It does play a part in blind listening tests (ABX tests) though, where a slightly louder track is perceived to be of better quality. Mostly, people just want music loud enough to drown out background noise. If you use a portable music player with a low output DAC (or a set of headphones with low output), loader and more compressed tracks are certainly preferable, but in my experience most headphones and DAC’s on, say, smartphones or iPods can play really loud.
In terms of the volume adjuster, I actually find it to be really great. While i haven’t tried the auto-gains in Serato or Virtual DJ, the auto-gain in Traktor is – in my honest opinion – not very good. Platinum Notes definitely has the thumbs up from me on that point, their autogain is great and precise, and when mixing on standard (non-digital) equipment with standard trim/gain knobs, i can typically put PN fixed files at the same level of gain and have them play equally loud.
perhaps upsampling is advantageous. surely wringing a wav file through pitch shift algorithm of serato is going to result in a nicer sound than an mp3 being mangled through pitch shift and re-tune. anyone any thoughts on that?
mp3s come from all different sources. the final studio master might not be the last line of modulation- tracks ripped from vinyl being one such example where the sound is altered further.
i don’t see how treatment in PN can’t be used as a general measure to smooth the way for creating a balanced mix that’s completed by tweaking of the mixer’s gains to fit the sound system and acoustics of the venue.
the bottom line is that you can’t talk about professional this or professional that if you are spinning 256/320kbps tracks off itunes or beatport. No matter what people say, there’s a clear difference between these and a flac or wav file ripped from a cd or vinyl. the bass is muddy and the trebles are lacking in the transients that give recorded percussive sounds their upfront in-the-room realism (not to mention the nasty metallic swoosh in hats and rides that is clearly evident even in 320kbps mp3s)
it’s not possible to make a credible mixtape off tracks in mp3 format that are then mangled through a pitchshift, re-recorded and then coded once more into mp3 format for the purpose of posting on the internet. it just sounds like trash.
@ one eyed badger: Upsamling is not advantageous. Before an MP3 can be listened to, it is converted (in memory of the playing device or software) to a pure uncompressed audio stream (PCM stream). So an MP3-file essentially ends up as a Wav-file (or rather, a Wav audio stream) every time you play it, including in DJ software.
Also, saying that there is a ‘clear difference’ between 256/320 tracks and WAV-files ripped from CD is also bollocks. I have a decently good hearing, and in ABX blind testing, the highest I’ve ever been able to reliably discern the compressed lossy version from the original WAV is 256 kbps MP3 file and a 224 kbps AAC file. I’ve NEVER been able to discern a 320 file from a WAV file.
I should mention that these tests were performed using modern and updated encoders, which are very good. Most people seem to forget that the MP3 format is only 20 years old (1993), and that the first experience most people had with MP3 was 128 kbps during the Napster and KaZaA periods (1999-2000) when the format was only 6-7 years. Encoders have improved massively since then. In fact, in blind listening tests on Country music, i was able to find files i couldn’t discern from a Wav file in a listening test as low as 128 bits MP3. That’s how good encoders have become, the point being that a 128 kpbs MP3 file encoded with a modern encoder sounds miles better than a 128 kbps MP3-file encoded 13 years ago, and the same is true for higher bitrates.
The amount of people in the world who would be able to tell a 320 MP3 file apart from an original WAV-file in this day and age is probably less than 0.1%. I’d like to see you take a listening test and reliably discern between a WAV and a 320 MP3, and I’ll be happy to provide you with the samples 🙂
+1 on using this for the bedroom-produced tracks you find online. I’d hate to reject some of the brilliant bootleg remixes out there just because they’re not mastered quite so brilliantly.
Or use your headphones and gain knob..
Once digital audio has clipped you cannot ‘unclip’ it, all it will do is lower the gain of the audio with the square waved signal still intact. If audio has been mixed and (more importantly in the case of this) mastered properly it would render this software pointless.
Why would you as an amateur (I imagine most people on this forum aren’t professional audio engineers) process audio further, especially an MP3, that has already had so much processing applied to it? E.g most dance music.
Most people on this blog/forum use laptops as a base for their setup. I have relied on making my Traktor output -6dB with auto gain enabled. This way I wont add any clipping to the signal and I wont have to spend extra money on gimmicky software.
Do you know, why most Djs prefer Allen & Heath?
All Studios have different devices and
You said what I had to say…I also use -6 dB but no auto gain …
Its a little more than that.
Check out http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/rx/?gclid=CMzC0b_KtrgCFQo5pgoddSAAQQ to see what the Izotope tech thats under the hood is capable of.
The clipped peak repair is actually proprietary tech that Mixed In Key developed. iZotope is used for the tube preamp filter, multiband expansion, and the final limiting to set the volume.
It can be “unclipped”, the software reads and rounds off the peaks, through expansion.
You bring up several good questions:
1) “Why would an amateur process audio further?” All you’re doing is adding the file to the software. There’s no way to mess up the processing because it’s automatic. I consider Platinum Notes to be a “post-processing” app that evens out your entire music collection and makes it equal.
Lewis, how do you explain that Beatport has tracks that are 7 dB louder than others?
Why do many tracks have 50,000 clipped peaks if they were mastered by a professional engineer?
“Lewis, how do you explain that Beatport has tracks that are 7 dB louder than others?” because some people know how to master there tracks…there all the same volume but the rms is different
Maybe they’re aren’t 50,000 clipped peaks. Maybe the software company just want you to believe there are so they can gain another sale.
Also the poster below (above?) me answered the question about beatport audio levels.
Having processed well over 2000 files by PN, i can definitely tell that the estimate by the software is accurate.
Reason is that one of the places from where i get my music (a danish music portal) has never – not even once – given me a track that had a single clipped peak. Apparently that music portal uses something similar to round them off. Since PN doesn’t find a single clipped peak in their tracks, it doesn’t repair any either, leading me to believe the numbers the software provide is truthful.
The record for highest amounts of clipped peaks repaired in a track I’ve ever seen is around 176000. I can’t remember which one it was, but i did do a comparison in Traktor. Noticeable improvement.
You might have uncovered a huge conspiracy between Adobe, Sony, and Apple.
My highest clipped peak count to date was about 200+k clipped peaks. That was real fun to find!
This is an old discussion but no one seems to point out a rather important point regarding clipped peaks and this software. That is: what does this software define as a clipped peak? By default it “fixes” clips that are above 99.7%. However, many musician master their music at 99.8 or 99.9%. So platinum notes considers these clipped peaks even though they aren’t. The software isnt completely lying to you. You just have to realize it’s built in “clip” is not an actual clip. Over 99.9% is clipping. Anyway, I still use platinum notes for getting levels in my tracks but I find the other features (pitch, warmth, clipped peaks) are all hot air. I’m surprised DJ tech tools just breezes through the software without passing a critical eye on anything! I’m guessing they are either getting paid or have some arrangement. This to me looks like sponsored content more than a real review.
You mean over 100% is clipping, right?
Lewis, you are right on point!
ALL of Yankov’s software is gimmicky and WAAAY over priced!
PERIOD and END OF STORY!
Lewis, you are right on point!
ALL of Yankov’s software is gimmicky and WAAAY over priced!
PERIOD and END OF STORY!
I’ve been a Platinum Notes user for around 1 year now.
First of all, you’re wrong. While it’s true you can’t restore the original audio signal after it’s been clipped, you can still round off the clipping, making the noise less distorted. On most tracks, it won’t be noticeable, but as a DJ, I’ve got plenty of musical tracks where clipped peak repair has done very well to improve the audio quality of the track.
Second of all, a very good reason to use PN is volume equalization. This works way better than auto-gain in softwares like iTunes etc. and it does it directly to the audio signal, and it’s absolutely wonderful for MP3-player listening to have all your tracks at the same volume. I’m very impressed with the work the PN team and the Izotope-tech they have licensed have done in this regards. Even when I’m DJ’ing with Traktor, I’ve disabled auto-gain because i find Traktors auto-gain to be – frankly – very inaccurate.
I don’t use key-correction in PN because i find it ruins more tracks than it helps. Tracks sound like they sound in that regard, and i recommend disabling it (useful if you record old vinyls to digital though). I use Dynamics Expansion, but have yet to notice any improvements in audio quality. Maybe the difference is too subtle for me.
My only problems with PN is still this though:
1) Price tag. If i could go back and reconsider my purchase, i might do it, but now i own it what’s bought is bought.
2) Even in version 4 it still can’t output to AAC (.m4a). I still output to WAV and convert to AAC using Foobar2000 and Nero’s AAC converter, and then copy the ID3 tags with the MP3TAG software.
If that is what you believe then great, you have already wasted your money anyway. You clearly have little understanding (according to your reply) of how digital audio works. You can not ’round off’ a clipped signal. Once it is clipped it is clipped.
I have not used this software (evidently) so I do not know how well it represents digital audio graphically, but from the pictures it seems like it doesn’t (cant) ‘zoom in’ enough to actually show you what it is doing.
I didn’t mention the tuning capabilities in my OP but that part scares me the most. The fact that consumers are led to believe that they have to ‘re-tune’ entire audio files.
I personally believe that mastering completed by a professional mastering engineer should be the last creative step in processing a piece of audio for playback on all systems. Not a $98 piece of consumer software that processes on what seems to be a preset and generic basis.
I actually do have great understanding of how digital audio work, and more importantly how an audio signal is converted into movements in the speaker.
Distortion from clipped peaks happens when the clipping causes the audio signal to remain in a fixed position (except for the center of the spectrum, where a fixed position is the equivalent of complete silence). When a fixed position signal is translated into a speaker (which, as we all know, uses magnetism) and it isn’t in the center position, the speaker fails to maintain the position set by the audio signal, and the distortion occurs.
This picture is an example of the clipped peak repair caused by Platinum Notes. It should be noted that this is an example of excessive damage, and that even PN fails to completely repair the damage here. But the duration that the signal is held in a fixed position is reduced, and so is the distortion.
As for what the consumer is ‘led’ to believe: i personally don’t believe the consumer is led to believe anything for the simple reason that you can listen to and test the results yourself. I’ve done several comparisons of audio tracks with and without PN by loading up both versions in Traktor, playing them in sync at the same volume and then instantly crossfading between each track. And I’m very satisfied with the result on some tracks (particularly tracks that are vastly overcompressed and suffers from heavy use of Brickwall-limiting). And on that note, I never said that I ‘wasted’ my money – I’ve gotten good use of the software, and i particularly like the volume equalization for listening on my phone. I just think the price tag is too steep – the software itself is well enough made.
The fact that my personal listening tests show improvements in many audio files proves to me that your approach to ‘Audio engineer should be the last step’ doesn’t cut it – at least not always. We all have different preferences about how music should sound, and I believe the audio engineers in this day and age are mastering in a way that is focused on sales rather than enjoyment.
A year later, are you still using PN and enjoying it? I know you were iffy about paying for it had you not done so in the first place… has anything changed in the last year that would push you one way or the other on recommending the $100 purchase?
Only that my income is higher than it was a year ago, so a $100 investment seems less taxing than it did back then. Beyond that, not really 🙂
With that said, I’ve used it for a long time now and have gotten used to the benefits that i perceive them as standard. The ‘You only miss something after you lose it’ effect would probably annoy me a lot if i were to stop using it you know….
You can bring the level down and apply interpolation to fill in the curve where the clipping made it square.
Yes you can unclip it. Here’s proof. Arrows are pointing to the clipped peaks and the bottom shows the same portion of audio after it has been repaired with PN.
Holy crap. That doesn’t even look like it’s the same song. A lot of audio data has been changed!
Yes you can “unclip” audio – wikipedia has a good article explaining how you can do it.
Clipped audio can easily be repaired (Not unclipped, don’t think that’s where this is going) using any algorithm capable of finding and modifying square waves that are above a certain threshold. You might want to look into how something works before you blindly state that it doesn’t work at all.
Lewis “Once digital audio has clipped you cannot ‘unclip’ it” You mean how you can’t speed a song up without changing it’s pitch?
Oh wait. You can. You can make artificial data based on the original data, it’s essentially the same way you can change the tempo of a track without altering the pitch even though the program will be making up the new data.
That’s not the same principal, but you’re right about declipping.