FCP 7: Normalizing Audio in Final Cut Pro

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the December, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

I’ve been a fan of normalizing audio for a long time, especially when the audio is really, really too soft.

Normalization means to raise the audio gain of an enitre clip such that the loudest portion of the clip does not exceed a level which you specify. As a note, I never normalize to 0 dB — it’s too loud. I tend to normalize audio between -4.5 and -6 dB.

With the release of Final Cut Pro 6, audio normalization is now a menu choice: Modify > Audio > Apply Normalization Gain.

Audio 1

However, this is not actually changing the audio itself. Rather, it is applying a Gain filter to each clip which raises it’s level such that the loudest portion of the clip does not exceed the level you specify.

Audio 2

One of the benefits of the Gain filter is that, unlike all other Final Cut controls, the Gain filter can raise, or lower, the level of a clip 96 dB. In contrast, dragging the red rubber bands in the Timeline only allows us to raise the gain of a clip by up to 12 dB; which is often not enough.

With that as background, Gordon Inglis asks if he can apply normalization to more than one clip in the Timeline at once. So I did some checking.

The answer is yes, but with a caution.

Yes, you can normalize more than one clip at a time; in fact, you can normalize as many clips as you have selected in your sequence. The Gain filter will be applied with a different level for each clip such that the loudest portion of each clip does not exceed the level you specify in the Normalization dialog.

Audio 1a

This is a very fast way to get all your clips to play at about the same level of loudness.

However, the Gain filter ignores any level changes you’ve made to your clip. So, in order to get the results you expect, you must make sure the audio levels for each clip are set to 0 dB.

The easiest way to do this is to select all the clips which you want to normalize, then choose Edit > Remove Attributes.

Audio 3

Select the Levels checkbox to reset all your clip audio levels to 0 dB.

At which point, normalization will work the way you expect.

UPDATE – Dec. 27, 2007

Wayne Kopping, from South Africa, writes:

I’ve automated the normalize audio process by simply creating a button for this by doing as follows:


Tools > Button List > Normalize.


Drag the Normalize Gain Button into a Button Bar on Time Line. Then it’s just one click to normalize a clip or clips!


In fact, I encourage people to look into mapping their filters, gain, external monitoring etc. to buttons – it’s a real time-saver!

Larry replies: Wayne, thanks for the tip.


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6 Responses to FCP 7: Normalizing Audio in Final Cut Pro

  1. Oh my god, how have I just discovered buttons in FCP now!? What a freakin’ time saver!
    Thanks LJ. Love it. (Found you via Google)

  2. Jonathan says:

    Thank you Larry, actually it was so helpfully to me!

  3. Gary Palmer says:

    Hi Larry
    I use Final Cut Pro for a fishing YouTube channel called http://Fishisgood.tv . Now I’m starting a podcast about managing facilities called facilitysuccess.com. This is an audio only podcast.
    I was wondering what you think about using Final Cut Pro to edit the audio files that I record on Skype or on-site with a camera?
    I started to do a little editing with garage band but I don’t even see how I can level the audio from two tracks.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      You can do it, but you would be MUCH better off using Soundtrack Pro or Adobe Audition.

      I’ve used both for my audio podcast – both are better when working audio only.


      • Gary Palmer says:

        Larry thank you very much for giving me that information. What do you think about using GarageBand for an audio podcast where I record interviews on Skype with call recorder? or would I be better off to use Adobe Audition which I can get for about $20 a month – looks like Soundtrack Pro is about $1000 to purchase.
        I am new to all this and I sure appreciate your advice.


  4. Bhuwan Chandra Dhaulakhandi says:

    Hi larry am working for a tv channel I want to know.if I will normalize
    My audio to 0 dv and then I will use peak limiter is it a
    Good for broadcast or not?””

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