Playing around with A3 I saw the CD export presets all normalize by default. Why is that? I didn't think normalizing masters was such a mandatory thing, am I wrong?
If it's a FINISHED master that will need no more post processing I would say it's safe to go, it just makes it louder keeping the original dynamic range in the work. If the project is still to be mastered I would be against it, since it would take up the rest of the headroom and not leave space for the mastering process (EQing, Compression, and other plugins will always add a little extra db's which are needed during mastering).
This is my personal opinion though, a lot of people will try to always go for the loudest possible, especially these days that everything has turned louder.
Thanks for your answer! everytime I read about normalization there were always lots of discordant opinions, but what you said makes sense to me..
imo it doesn't really mather, what normalizing really just do (im no expert, correct me if I'm wrong) is that it moves the volume range where your mix lives, eg if your quitest point in the mix is -60dB and the loudest is -10dB, Normilizing to 0dB moves the quietest point to -50 and loudest to 0dB. So actually, if you have a very noisy amplifier/soundcard it might actually be a good idea to normilze everything soon as you can. Instead of cranking the the volume on your amp.
I suggest reading through this thread for a nice in depth discussion of normalization and the pros and cons of it as it relates to Ardour specifically.
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