When exporting my mixes with Ardour, the “analyse” function shows all red X’s, meaning my exports are not compliant with any format. I hare read that a red X means the signal is too loud, but I get the same result when lowering the output of the master bus. Is there something that I am doing wrong?
I think that ‘normalize’ is not the tool that you want to use. (afaik) ‘Normalize’ stretches the dynamics of a piece of audio such that the loudest part just hits the 0dB. If you have a very quiet track, and one loud ‘handclap’ in it, then normalize will ensure that the handclap reaches the 0dB without changing the level of the other (quiet) part.
I think what you need is some form of compression to keep de dynamic range (difference between soft and loud) under control; and then adjust the overal level of the tracks such that the are perceived ‘equally’ loud.
This is incorrect. Normalize boosts the level of everything so that the loudest part hits (just below) some threshold value (often 0dBFS, but not always). There are dynamics processors that could be used to “keep the quiet parts quiet and make the loud parts louder”, but they are not just simple compressors.
Thanks for your comment. Yet, there is normalization almost everywhere, e.g. in Ardour export or in Windows Media Player when burning a CD. Bandlab mastering (free!) did a good job on my files. They always sound better and louder when mastered with Bandlad. I tested the results using a Linux progam called normalize-audio and the adjustments done by this program are minimal. But yes, sometimes it is best to use a compressor or a hard limiter to maximize loudness.