Mixing/Mastering Loudness Equalizing Tool (anyone interested?) - calling all engineers!

So, I’m working on an excel tool that I’ve had for while and periodically revise with improvements.

I’m not ready to open a topic on it just yet, but before I go through doing all of that, I’m kind of wondering if anyone is interested in this sort of tool.

Now, obviously many users might find it interesting, but I’m actually more curious if more technically minded individuals would find the project novel enough to help field-test?

I need engineer style minds here. Folks who are decently comfortable at the mixing board.

I won’t go into all of the technical details here (as it is quite involved), but here’s a screenshot of what the tool looks like.

What the hell does that do??!

OK, so, basically it tells you how to balance your music in level by comparison to a baseline that you select. The purpose of this is that you can then (in theory…and so far successful in my own personal tests) balance two (or more) songs so that they aren’t vastly different in perceived volume from each other.

The process of using this tool is currently not on the “super user friendly” level and requires downloading additional tools to use (Orban Loudness Meter, Audacity, a sample volume file), and manually adjusting your computer’s volume to the right setting (which would be explained on how to do that) and then using the tools to capture some data regarding your song(s) and then loading that data into the excel tool to get going.

After you get your results, you then load up your song in your mixing software (or regular DAW) and adjust the level according to the results from this tool.

Again, because the tool is currently at a rather advanced level of user interaction, and because it’s still in the trial-by-fire stage, I’m more interested in whether or not there’s any folks around here who are more on the technical and mixing/mastering side of things who would be actively willing to take this for a spin and produce feedback.

So…if I take the time to put this nicely together with instructions…anyone interested in jumping in?

Cheers,
Jayson

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I am stunted when it comes to audio design. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I would love to try something like this and be a the sacricial lamb of you need one. Awesome stuff

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Definitely good to have guinee pigs! :slight_smile:

I’m hoping, also, that some folks around here who are comfy during the mixing stage will jump in. It’s all fine to say that it works, but it’s always good to check.

Maybe @relic knows some folks who might be interested?

Cheers,
Jayson

@White_Noise this seems up your alley maybe? @chasedobson?

edit: I’ll give this a 30 day pin as well.

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Ooooo, Nice! Thank you!!

Cheers,
Jayson

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I can give it a look. PM me what you need to and I’ll start getting it set up tonight. I have a pretty good grasp on loudness measures, but I assume you’re going to have to take me through how this works. I have a working knowledge LUFS/LKFS more or less, and peak and RMS measures. I use LUFS readings from Youlean Loudness Meter in my day to day operations, so I can compare to that.

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Outstanding!

I won’t have anything ready by tonight. I’ve still got some tweaks and cleaning up here and there to do (so that it’s easier to look at).

And yes, I will absolutely walk you (and others) through this thing because otherwise it won’t be worth testing.

The primary difference between this tool and other loudness tools is that I developed my own loudness equation and this employs that. The difference in my equation vs. others is basically that my equation also accounts for frequency bandwidth into the equalization output. And, yeah, I’ll explain all of that as we go along.

The one thing you’ll need, which you can/might as well get now is the Orban Loudness Meter (make sure it’s 2.9 or later), because this excel sheet uses that tool’s logged data.

First thing is flip to the SETTINGS tab:

  1. I suggest having Autostart under STARTUP set to OFF just because it’s safer.
  2. Make sure your audio device shows up, and is selected (usually speakers/headphones is sufficient).
  3. Ensure DISPLAY has METER SCALE set to ABSOLUTE and METER RANGE set to EBU +18 Scale.
  4. CBS Loudness is not used, so it doesn’t matter.
  5. Ensure that ITU BS.1770 has the TYPE set to BS.1770-2+ (this is the current standard), and that INTEGRATION TIME is set to 1.0 SEC (lowest setting), and LRA Integration Time is set to 30 SEC (lowest setting).
  6. PPM and VU aren’t important for what we’re using this for.
  7. Set the AUDIO MONITOR LOG FILE to 1 sec (lowest setting).
  8. Expand the ANALYSIS section and make sure the FOLDER points to where you want the logs to dump.
  9. The Loudness Alarm Level and Peak Alarm Level don’t matter.
  10. Your choice on whether to have FOLDER WATCH on/off (mine’s set to off).

Second is to CALIBRATE.
Here’s a sample test tone at 1khz -12 LKFS. You’ll need that to calibrate your audio output (not your PC’s master audio level, but whatever you’re playing audio out of that you want to monitor…windows media player, itunes, etc…).

The way you do the calibration is:

  1. Note: you do NOT need to hear this playing. The safest way for doing this is to plug headphones in and NOT put them on your head (the tone may be piercing at times as you balance).
  2. Play the test tone in your choice of playback software.
  3. Move the level (either in the software, or in the MS Windows mixer) until the Orban’s LKFS meter (roughly mid-way down on the right on the METERS tab) reads -12…ish (don’t worry if it’s off by 0.X too much.
  4. Take that same test tone and load it into the ANALYSIS tab and wait for it to analyze the tone’s BS. 1770 Integrated Loudness.
  5. Note the difference between that value and the value that you achieved with your manual level balancing. Write it down somewhere because that will be used to maintain a balance of this rather manual method to the more automated tools (because you fiddling with dials will never exactly hit dead-on with automated scanners).

So, if you want, you can do those things for now while I get this thing a bit more set up and ready for testing.

Cheers,
Jayson

What would be really nice about this is it seems it would be fairly easy to use this to generate a detailed list and graphs of reference tracks.

I did something much simpler for myself years ago, with just LUFS and Loudness range. I analyzed all my reference tracks, and a few from Bob Katz’s list. It has been helpful for me to get a target, but I like that youve tried to better incorporate frequency. Interested in how that differs.

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I think Izotope has something similar now in Ozone 8 ( think they call it tone balance), but they’re working more from a historical perspective of hits from various genres from each decade. If I have this right, we could construct our own dataset of tracks that WE like and WE want to sound like. Or, I could even just take my favorite or the best received songs I’ve done and make those my target, knowing that I have the equipment and ability to hit my mark at the outset. Or use a specific album that a client requests as a reference.

And who knows what else I could learn with this. I taught myself musical intervals with sine waves in an oscilloscope, so I have a history of getting musical information from not inherently musical audio equipment.

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I’ll have to check it next month when I am back at home. My touring setup doesn’t call for this type of thing and I’m on limited time whole traveling.

Thanks for the heads up tho!

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Wow! Such a wonderful engagement! Woohoo!

Alright, well. I should have the file ready by tomorrow night-ish (Alaska time).

Things are progressing pretty well. The only part I’m not really certain on is walking folks through using it.
It’s not hard per say, but it’s involved with lots of little steps here and there to do (@chasedobson, yes, this is definitely designed with the idea of being “at the studio” and working on the final mixing adjustments of a series of songs).

So…what does everyone think?
Should I take the time to write up a PDF instruction manual, or just toss it up here and walk it through step by step? I would do a video, but I have nothing currently to do that with unfortunately.

@White_Noise, I’ll have to look into Ozone 8 a bit and see if they show under the hood so I can compare how it’s being done (it might be close enough-ish). For now, I’ll continue on just for GP. :slight_smile:

@Multicellular, indeed! You can. That is one of the things that I first did actually. I used it to balance out one of my own tracks, a NIN track, and a Nirvana track. It was pretty interesting seeing the difference between NIN and Nirvana when you gut them open. Very different profiles under the hood, and what Trent was doing was actually very fascinating. But primarily, if you like the way a given song sounds, you could use this to “level” your songs mix levels so that they match that sound (you might also find that you’re missing a range of sound that the song you like has).

Cheers,
Jayson

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I wish I had saved one of the sets I’d done with mine. I did some of similar genres over a span of years. Not reference recordings, just popular songs.

It was a great graph of the Loudness Wars.

I really just did that for my own learning after reading about from a mastering book.

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I’d say a PDF would be good so that you can toss it on a file storage site with the program. Then, if anybody needs instructions in the future and you’re not available, we have at least a somewhat competent set available.

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Kicked off the PDF writing…the hardest and slowest part, annotating the math, is completed…

p.s. Because I’m not sure what everyone’s math levels are, I just went with a very simplified representation with things drawn out, rather than the way I would typically write math which summarizes with typical symbols (for example: equation (1) isn’t how I would normally note an average: that would normally be with a Sigma indicating a sum of a series).

Now on to the user instructions!

Cheers,
Jayson

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Work continues. I’m still aiming for a completion tonight (might be tomorrow if the night keeps interrupting me, lol).

In the mean time, something to laugh at.

Cheers,
Jayson

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I got really close to finishing, but I didn’t actually get done. I will finish it tomorrow. There’s so very little left, but I’m just too terribly tired atm.

Cheers,
Jayson

Alright, @White_Noise @Multicellular @Brogner @chasedobson

I have everything sufficient enough. I’m sure there’s something that’s not well explained, or missing somewhere…hopefully it’s good enough to not lose folks too much.

If you need help, just let me know. One thing I didn’t put into the document explicitly is that this calculator is at its best when you have EACH SONG in a SEPARATE COPY of the excel loudness calculator.

Typically, once I load a song into the loudness calculator, I SAVE AS and add the name of the song as a suffix.

This is because, though the equations involved are intended to be used by comparing multiple songs against each other, the limitations of the scope of the excel workbook limits the ability down to one song PER workbook (at least so far…I may eventually expand this, but it seems safer and easier to just open two workbooks; one for each song, or more…).

So, here you go.
Link to the Excel File: Dropbox

Link to the Manual: Dropbox

Hope it goes well! :slight_smile:

Cheers,
Jayson

p.s. The manual is long, but I swear that once you go through the process a bit, it gets easier. There’s just lots of parts because we’re using two external tools, a capturing session, and an excel file. In an ideal world, I would be working with a python programmer to make this all into one application that only has a few steps…but, I don’t know any and my python chops are no where near capable.

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Excellent, I believe I have everything ready to go. I’ll start reading and see if I can run a test or two tonight.

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Went to test it, calibrated Orban, played the tune, found out nothing was written into the log file, tried it again just in case, again nothing.

Gonna try it for the 3rd time…

EDIT: worked now

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