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I have been always using FooBar2000 to add ReplayGain tags to my music library (consisting of .mp3 or .ogg files). On my new computer I would like to avoid installing Wine for just this task.

Are there any native tools that I can use for the same purpose?

I don't mind if they are command-line only, or to use two different programs for mp3 and ogg, but I want to be absolutely certain that they only write a tag and do not mess with the original file otherwise, e.g. by actually reencoding at a different volume.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Instead of being "a bit scared" or following unrelated links, why not simply read the manual?

From man mp3gain:

   mp3gain optionally writes gain adjustments directly into the encoded data.  In  this
   case,  the  adjustment works with all mp3 players, i.e. no support for a special tag
   is required.  This mode is activated by any of the options -r, -a, -g, or -l.

   If none of the above options are given, the recommended gain change is instead writ‐
   ten  to  a special tag in the mp3 file. In this case, the adjustment only works with
   mp3 players that support this tag.  Some mp3 players refer to  this  as  ReplayGain.
   The  tag is written either in APEv2 format (default) or in ID3v2 format (with -s i).
   If you only want to print the recommended gain change (and not modify  the  file  at
   all) you may use the -s s (skip tag) option.

So it only modifies the audio stream if you tell it to, otherwise it writes to tags only.

Side note: many of the URLs posted in comments are not related to current mp3gain found in Ubuntu: they are either terribly outdated or they refer to the windows version.

Whenever in doubt as how a given command works, always try man first. If that is not enough (or no man page available), use the correct upstream website, which can be checked in Ubuntu's package page.

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There are command line tools for calculating ReplayGain values and adding ReplayGain tags. To install the tools for mp3, ogg and FLAC do the following:

sudo apt-get install mp3gain vorbisgain flac

Then to add ReplayGain tags to an album that consists of all files in a directory do the following for mp3:

mp3gain -a *.mp3

For the same task when the album is in ogg vorbis do the following:

vorbisgain -a *.ogg

For the same task when the album is in FLAC files do the following:

metaflac --add-replay-gain *.flac

If you want to add ReplayGain tags to files that are not albums instead use the -r option for mp3gain and vorbisgain (there is no corresponding option for metaflac):

mp3gain -r *.mp3
vorbisgain -r *.ogg

All tools can also be used to remove ReplayGain tags.

As always, make sure you have backups before proceed with any file modification. I have never had problems with these tools but I cannot guarantee they are failsafe (also, your computer could crash or you might have a power outage halfway through the process).

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Thank you for the information, but I am a bit scared by mp3gain. According to and is seems that it can actually change the file itself, not only its tags. Is it really safe to use? – Andrea Feb 23 '12 at 9:29
@Andrea I have used mp3gain for at least five years without any trouble. That does of course not rule out that such a problem exist but note that in those link it is indicated as very rare. I may want to study the -w option of mp3gain as indicated in Finally, you should always keep backups of important files such as media and, thus, if do not like the result of applying ReplayGain you can revert. – N.N. Feb 23 '12 at 9:42
Thank you, I feel a little safer now :-) – Andrea Feb 23 '12 at 11:46
Uhm... I still have a doubt. Following your link, I see that the audio file is changed anyway. So I cannot just disable replaygain from the player and have the original file play without changes. I think Foobar just writes a metatag at the beginning, and then it is up to the player to increase the gain according to this tag. Am I missing something? – Andrea Feb 23 '12 at 11:56
@Andrea As I have understood ReplayGain and mp3gain it is only active is its enabled in the player but I am no export. Perhaps you should ask a new question about this. – N.N. Feb 23 '12 at 12:11

I just wanted to add a little more information. I will reinforce that mp3gain will only modify the file if you tell it to; otherwise it will merely add a tag. Also, SoundKonverter will provide a GUI interface to mp3gain and several other tools to calculate gain for other files. There is an option in SoundKonverter to modify the file, but it is off by default, only adding a tag.

One other point that I wanted to make clear is that even if you modify the file directly with mp3gain, it does not re-encode the file. One of the features of the mp3 format is the ability to change the gain (or "volume") of a file nondestructively, i.e. without re-encoding.

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UPDATE: mp3gain should not alter your audio stream unless you use one of the -r, -a, -g, or -l options. On my (vanilla) Ubuntu 12.04 installation it appeared to do so at first, but now I am unable to reproduce that. I might have been tricked by Audacity into thinking the audio stream changed when comparing my before/after files, e.g. by an Audacity plug-in applying replaygain tags as an input gain stage before opening mp3-files in its mixer.

If you're in doubt about whether your audio streams change, you may want to compare them by doing as follows:

  1. Make a copy of a not-yet-tagged mp3 file
  2. Use mp3gain on one of the copies
  3. Line up both versions of the file in a DAW (such as Audacity, Cubase, Garageband, ProTools, Audition, or equivalent). Make sure they're sample-accurately lined up, and that no other application is playing audio on your computer
  4. Flip the phase on one of the copies (a.k.a. "invert phase", etc) and play back the mix
  5. If you cannot hear sound, the audio streams are 100% identical, and thus unaffected by mp3-/vorbisgain. If you hear something, they're different.
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+1 for the suggestion on how to check whether the audio stream has changed – Andrea Apr 13 '12 at 15:54
-1: wrong. mp3gain only changes the audio stream if -r, -a, -g, or -l. options are used. – MestreLion Nov 22 '12 at 13:21

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