Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels
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Old 16-03-2017, 01:13 AM   #1
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Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

So I am trying to get my dB true peak and LUFS levels right for two projects I am working on, I read a few articles about current trends in mastering, and I see a few general problems:

1) traditional loudness war is still going on, so sounding very very quite may be bad, especially if you are aiming at a specific genre (as in the case of my second project)
2) streaming services like iTunes or spotify seem to adjust volume levels if LUFS are above a specific level (like 11-16 LUFS), so aiming for maximum loudness may be very bad when uploading to these services - also, since the target levels differ, different versions for different services would be best
3) inter-sample peaks may lead to clipping not visible with standard DAW meters, but if you adjust volume according to dB true peak levels, you might have to reduce it by up to 3dB

Do you have specific dB true peak and LUFS levels you aim for? Or do you measure something completely different? Do you master different versions for different services?

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Old 16-03-2017, 06:23 AM   #2
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

I just try not to clip and have a decent amount of dynamic (or loudness) range in the project. The dynamic range varies with genre, I typically like to be at the upper end, and I almost never go below 3 db of dynamic range. I usually enjoy a song the best around 6-8 db of range, and I can pull off up to around 15, but that really pushes the low level detail into the background or has large variations in volume between say, a drop and a breakdown. Most people aren't going to be hearing the detail with that much dynamic range because it will be below the noise floor of their listening environment (at least, that's the problem I have when I go that high, I have to turn up the music uncomfortably loud to hear everything).

I use the Ozone limiter specifically because it has true peak limiting, though I still pull down my final output by 1 db to be extra sure I have headroom. As far as different masters for different services, I only adjust with a lo-pass brickwall or steep, flat filter just over 16 khz for my mp3/streaming masters to avoid aliasing. Sometimes I get lazy and I don't even bother with that.

EDIT: Since the title is metering, I'll explain my setup there.
I use a fruity loudness meter at the start of my master channel, any master processing, then another fruity loudness meter right next to the first, so I can compare volume pre/post master processing (part of my master process is just straight gain, so I watch for clipping, but also for different behavior, like if peaks take longer to subside), then a Youlean loudness meter as the very last thing. Comes after the fruity loudness meter and my dither even.
EDITII:Accidentally thanked myself when I went to edit, I swear I'm not that pompous.

Last edited by White Noise; 16-03-2017 at 06:31 AM..

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Old 16-03-2017, 08:38 AM   #3
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

I always have the [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
from MeterPlugs as the last thing on my master bus. It's really easy to use and is very effective at what it does.

I think the thing is not so much that your tracks will sound "very very quit", but more a case of your goal being to keep as much dynamics in the mix as possible and compress the shit out of them before you bounce the final mix.

It's like any other part of mixing really..something you have to get your head around and learn how to use for it to work.

The video below is linked on the MeterPlugs website and it worth checking out..


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Old 16-03-2017, 12:08 PM   #4
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

OK, thank you very much for the input, guys. Any comments on the specific questions, though, especially with regard to LUFS and different streaming services?

Quote:
Do you have specific dB true peak and LUFS levels you aim for? Or do you measure something completely different? Do you master different versions for different services?

Last edited by Metaside; 16-03-2017 at 12:27 PM..

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Old 16-03-2017, 12:46 PM   #5
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

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Originally Posted by Metaside View Post
OK, thank you very much for the input, guys. Any comments on the specific questions, though, especially with regard to LUFS and different streaming services?
Personally, I just keep an eye on the K-Meter and don't worry too much about anything else, as long as the mix isn't tripping the meter. Same goes for streaming services..though I think this is something I should be keeping a little more in mind, given they do adjust things on their end..which I think they shouldn't, even though I get why they do.

Sorry I can't offer you than this, but I seem to remember somebody really went into this in a thread on here before..but I haven't a clue what the title of it was or where it is even. Hopefully somebody else who knows can point you in the right direction.

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Old 16-03-2017, 07:39 PM   #6
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Anything below 0dB. If something's clipping @ 0db, I will bring it down in increments of -3db, to taste.

Don't take my word for it, it's not like listeners can turn their volume up and down or anything.

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reduce it by up to 3dB
-3dB.

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Old 17-03-2017, 12:35 PM   #7
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Thanks, guys!

Regarding LUFS and dB true peak levels, I went with around -1.1 dB true peak (since this seems to be recommended for some streaming services) and around -14 LUFS (which seems to be a good compromise between the different target levels for different streaming services ranging between -11 and -16 LUFS) for a current release for all services - since I used only Distrokid for all distribution apart from Bandcamp, I did not see any option to use different master versions for the multiple streaming services, anyways.

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Old 17-03-2017, 01:01 PM   #8
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by PROton42 View Post
Anything below 0dB. If something's clipping @ 0db, I will bring it down in increments of -3db, to taste.

Don't take my word for it, it's not like listeners can turn their volume up and down or anything.
That's a cool way to think about it; would I rather have a potential listener turn my music up or down?

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Old 18-03-2017, 08:32 PM   #9
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Back in my day it was called RMS.

I used to shoot for -9dBfs in much of the mastering I did from 2013-15 but I started going for -10dBfs and using a few reference albums that were close to that to a/b it.
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Old 24-03-2017, 08:08 PM   #10
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

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Back in my day it was called RMS.

I used to shoot for -9dBfs in much of the mastering I did from 2013-15 but I started going for -10dBfs and using a few reference albums that were close to that to a/b it.
Thanks for this!

With regard to RMS and LUFS, as far as I understand it, two tracks with similar RMS levels could still differ in perceived loudness as measured by LUFS and therefore be turned up or down in volume in a different way on streaming services.

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Old 03-10-2017, 12:39 PM   #11
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

In case other people are still thinking about this, here is some additional information:

Youtube introduced additional stats showing the level of normalization applied:
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Comparing CD masters on different platforms:
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Some simple guidelines:
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Old 04-10-2017, 03:30 AM   #12
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Icon2 Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Measure the average rms levels of all your favorite hit tunes of the past decades back to about 1989. Use that to guide you. Also run the output of a high quality fm receiver into a peak meter to get an idea of minimum crest factor. Personally, i have found about -13 dbfs average rms of the entire tune to be excellent and competitive both. Good luck.

EDIT: What I meant to say was listen to the radio and meter the output to get a good idea of conventional crest factor and what the healthy minimum could be. Typically there's about 8-12 dB vu of activity on a peak meter for typical clearchannel radio hits unless it's loudness war crap. 8 dB vu is not a lot at all, but that's what most radio is like or worse. It's similar to crest factor and you can eyeball it.

Last edited by Daggit; 06-10-2017 at 06:56 PM..

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Old 04-10-2017, 08:47 PM   #13
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Klanghelm for me on the master and even groups.
-18db mjuc, acustica etc and VMUT for metering.
Keep it low and clear...as he says at the end of the video...cook the shit out of it once done.
Personally all I need to do know is get understanding EQ better.

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Old 05-10-2017, 03:53 AM   #14
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

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Personally all I need to do know is get understanding EQ better.
Just accustica red eq free man. It works 90% of the time by itself.

And still doing the same things as far as leveling is concerned, though I have better ways of handling high dynamic range now. A buttload of parallel compression with the dry mix turned down a bit extra. Do that many times in a row until it sounds the goodest or your computer can't make it more gooder anymore. Kotelnikov works wonders in this regard.

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Old 06-10-2017, 11:01 PM   #15
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

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Originally Posted by White Noise View Post
Just accustica red eq free man. It works 90% of the time by itself.

And still doing the same things as far as leveling is concerned, though I have better ways of handling high dynamic range now. A buttload of parallel compression with the dry mix turned down a bit extra. Do that many times in a row until it sounds the goodest or your computer can't make it more gooder anymore. Kotelnikov works wonders in this regard.
Hmm had it in the tool box since release, never use it funny enough.Will check it out.

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Old 07-10-2017, 02:30 AM   #16
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

Yeah..Accustica seem to get some flack from time to time online about their stuff, but their free Red EQ is pretty good..it's one of my "go-to" EQs.

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Old 07-10-2017, 03:32 AM   #17
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

I think it's that little Mixcraft accident that has their name associated with garbage

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Old 07-10-2017, 03:39 AM   #18
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

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Originally Posted by Vault O))) View Post
I think it's that little Mixcraft accident that has their name associated with garbage

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Old 07-10-2017, 03:43 AM   #19
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

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Originally Posted by Vault O))) View Post
I think it's that little Mixcraft accident that has their name associated with garbage

I've never tried it myself, so I can't say first hand how naff it really is..or even if it is. What exactly do you find that sucks about it? It looks pretty decent on paper, when you see everything that comes bundled with it.

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Old 07-10-2017, 03:48 AM   #20
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Re: Mastering post-loudness-war LUFS and dB true peak levels

I just found out they're different brands, so I'm wrong. Acustica / Acoustica - my life finally makes sense

Mixcraft wasn't all that bad, I just figured they weren't capable of good plugins that were worth mentioning

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