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I use my laptop for all my media, either Netflix (Chrome browser) or in the form of digital video files (VLC). I have a problematic situation in that the sound fluctuates waaaaay too much. I am outputting through a digital optical cable, into my receiver.


I'm sure it's a very common gripe. You are watching a movie, and the dialogue is so low you have to crank it, then a soundtrack or explosion/scream kicks in and you are waking the neighbors. That's a very literal problem for me because my neighbors often complain when I watch anything after 9pm. My "solution" is to constantly have my hand on the volume remote, and conduct an arcane waltz where I have to try to guess and time volume changes... it's extremely annoying.


Does anyone know if there is a mac OsX software solution that would act as a compressor or limiter of sorts, dropping the hottest volume bursts and raising the quiet ones?


If not, is there some other manner in which someone has tackled this issue with a separate limiter unit? I saw a device on Amazon that claims to do this, but it was stereo in/out, and I don't want to lose the surround channels.


I guess specifically, if there isn't a software solution... is there a recommended stand alone unit that is digi-optical in/digi-optical out, and acts as a pretty good compressor/limiter device?


Thanks for any tips.
 

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There's plenty of stand-alone devices that do this, most of them accept analog audio only. A lot of AV receivers have features along these lines - they may go under various names including Dolby Volume, Audyssey Dynamic Volume, DR Compressor, Night Mode, or Dialog Lift. Some computer audio interfaces have this feature, for example Creative cards offer Smart Volume Management. And finally, VLC appears to offer this feature within its audio settings as Volume Normalization.


Many of these features only work or work best with certain kinds of input files, for example most "DR Compressor" or "Night" features on AVRs are Dolby Digital specific. Most stand-alone boxes will only process a stereo signal. The VLC feature should work fairly universally, just as most other audio interface features work.
 

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Nice answer, Walbert (was going to answer out of boredom, but couldn't improve on what you said



I have spent much time thinking about getting an outboard comp/limiter, and didn't do it for the reason you give...and that there's no pre/main loop even if you did accept only two channels of compression, limiting it to use with external amps or only one source device.)


I wish Yamaha would put a compressor/limiter DSP feature into their higher models, so I could control volume how I want. Never been a big fan of their other options.
 
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