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Targeting Mastering Loudness for Streaming (LUFS, Spotify, YouTube)-Why NOT to do it.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #451
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timgreen13 ➡️
I have a mastering job that is specifically for Spotify only and I'm wondering if it's worth following their -14 LUFS target.
Ok, let’s just game that out for a second.

Option A: you master to -14LUFS because the internet says you should for Spotify.

Option B: you master to -10LUFS because that’s where it sounds good.


Then...



Scenario 1: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘normal’ (-14LUFS).

Option A plays with no change, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.

Option B gets turned down 4dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



Scenario 2: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned off.

Option A plays with no change, sounds exactly the same. But is noticeably quieter than a lot of other commercial material on Spotify.

Option B plays with no change, sounds exactly the same and is in the same ballpark as most commercial material; maybe a touch quieter.



Scenario 3: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘loud’ (-11LUFS).

Option A gets turned up and incurs about 3dB of Spotify’s automatic limiter, changing the way the transients sound.

Option B gets turned down 1dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



There’s other scenarios, like the ‘quiet’ (-23LUFS) normalisation setting; or 12 months from now Spotify changes their normalisation target to -16LUFS and renders the previous -14LUFS ‘standard’ meaningless; and so on.

Just make it sound good and make the artist and their audience happy.

Last edited by SmoothTone; 23rd February 2021 at 07:44 PM.. Reason: Correction
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #452
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone ➡️
Ok, let’s just game that out for a second.

Option A: you master to -10LUFS because that’s where it sounds good.

Option B: you master to -14LUFS because the internet says you should for Spotify.


Then...



Scenario 1: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘normal’ (-14LUFS).

Option A plays with no changes, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.

Option B gets turned down 4dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



Scenario 2: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned off.

Option A plays with no change, sounds exactly the same. But is noticeably quieter than a lot of other commercial material on Spotify.

Option B plays with no change, sounds exactly the same and is in the same ballpark as most commercial material; maybe a touch quieter.



Scenario 3: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘loud’ (-11LUFS).

Option A gets turned up and incurs about 3dB of Spotify’s automatic limiter, changing the way the transients sound.

Option B gets turned down 1dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



There’s other scenarios, like the ‘quiet’ (-23LUFS) normalisation setting; or 12 months from now Spotify changes their normalisation target to -16LUFS and renders the previous -14LUFS ‘standard’ meaningless; and so on.

Just make it sound good and make the artist and their audience happy.
100% Correct, If you can get the loudness without sacrificing the audio quality and punch, you should totally go for it

Thought I think you meant Option A in all the Option B references later in your post?
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #453
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone ➡️
Ok, let’s just game that out for a second.

Option A: you master to -10LUFS because that’s where it sounds good.

Option B: you master to -14LUFS because the internet says you should for Spotify.


Then...



Scenario 1: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘normal’ (-14LUFS).

Option A plays with no changes, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.

Option B gets turned down 4dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



Scenario 2: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned off.

Option A plays with no change, sounds exactly the same. But is noticeably quieter than a lot of other commercial material on Spotify.

Option B plays with no change, sounds exactly the same and is in the same ballpark as most commercial material; maybe a touch quieter.



Scenario 3: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘loud’ (-11LUFS).

Option A gets turned up and incurs about 3dB of Spotify’s automatic limiter, changing the way the transients sound.

Option B gets turned down 1dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



There’s other scenarios, like the ‘quiet’ (-23LUFS) normalisation setting; or 12 months from now Spotify changes their normalisation target to -16LUFS and renders the previous -14LUFS ‘standard’ meaningless; and so on.

Just make it sound good and make the artist and their audience happy.
So I guess we know where you stand on the question. 😅 I do appreciate the elaboration though. I didn't know Spotify had so many playback "options." Furthermore, this was the answer I was hoping for cos I think - 14 lufs is a pretty stupid standard to impose.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #454
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There is a difference between the loudness of your track and then the idea of "loudness normalisation" applied later. if your loudness is over the "loudness normalisation standard" then the level is lowered to match the standard at the user end. They don't "uncompress" your track. So that is why you need to mix and master for the music and not worry about "loudness normalisation" which is nothing to do with the "loudness" of your track.

I can hear differences in tiny amounts of change in a limiters settings 0.2dBs can be the difference between your kick rocking out or not.

The reason I write this is that it seems some may try and mix and master to a loudness normalisation target not knowing that this is not the same as the loudness (dynamic range) of the actual music, the two things are totally different animals. I honestly think that is the root of the confusion some have about this.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #455
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamianL ➡️
I would just - Find a reference track you really like that sounds great.

Drag it into YouLean loudness meter, or MTM Expose, or just play through your metering plugin of choice.

Then just aim for somewhere near the loudness targets which are shown.
I think it's better to avoid any and all loudness targets, be they low or high.

Making a track match a ref on a meter vs making a track sound it's best. I'll take the latter every time.

The "loudness potential" of the track can be very different from that of the ref track.
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #456
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone ➡️
Ok, let’s just game that out for a second.

Option A: you master to -10LUFS because that’s where it sounds good.

Option B: you master to -14LUFS because the internet says you should for Spotify.


Then...



Scenario 1: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘normal’ (-14LUFS).

Option A plays with no changes, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.

Option B gets turned down 4dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



Scenario 2: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned off.

Option A plays with no change, sounds exactly the same. But is noticeably quieter than a lot of other commercial material on Spotify.

Option B plays with no change, sounds exactly the same and is in the same ballpark as most commercial material; maybe a touch quieter.



Scenario 3: The Spotify listener has volume normalisation turned on and set to ‘loud’ (-11LUFS).

Option A gets turned up and incurs about 3dB of Spotify’s automatic limiter, changing the way the transients sound.

Option B gets turned down 1dB, sounds exactly the same and plays at an even level with other material thanks to the normalisation.



There’s other scenarios, like the ‘quiet’ (-23LUFS) normalisation setting; or 12 months from now Spotify changes their normalisation target to -16LUFS and renders the previous -14LUFS ‘standard’ meaningless; and so on.

Just make it sound good and make the artist and their audience happy.
Great post! But A and B are reversed, which might confuse someone...
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #457
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkalex ➡️
I think you meant Option A in all the Option B references later in your post?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
Great post! But A and B are reversed, which might confuse someone...
Woops. Fixed it.

We definitely don't need more confusion around this topic!
Old 4th March 2021 | Show parent
  #458
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🎧 10 years
https://www.elysia.com/mastering-for...ming-services/

Nice blog post from Elysia that pretty much comes to the same conclusion

Quote:
The answer is obvious: create your master in a way that serves the song. Some styles of music (jazz, classical) require much more dynamics than others (heavy metal, hip-hop). The latter can certainly benefit from distortion, saturation, and clipping as a stylistic element. What sounds great is allowed. The supreme authority for a successful master is always the sound. If the song calls for a loud master, it is legitimate to put the appropriate tools in place for it. The limit of loudness maximization is reached when the sound quality suffers. Even in 2021, the master should sound better than the mix. The use of compression and limiting should always serve the result and not be based on the LUFS specifications of various streaming services. Loudness is a conscious artistic decision and should not end up in an attempt to achieve certain LFUS specifications.
Old 4th March 2021
  #459
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🎧 10 years
What normalization in Spotify does for me is bring the soft piano track really loud, and the bashing drummer track reaaaaally soft.
So yeah...
Old 8th March 2021
  #460
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Verified Member
So are you guys aiming at -14LUFS integrated, short term, or short term max?

Thank you
Old 8th March 2021 | Show parent
  #461
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfen ➡️
So are you guys aiming at -14LUFS integrated, short term, or short term max?

Thank you
No. Are you joking? Read the thread. The loudness of your track i.e its dynamics has nothing to do with loudness "normalisation standards" for streaming. Why are people so confused by this? Ignore what the SptyfyAppleDeez they are confusing people by making them think they have to mix and master to STREAMING NORMALISATION standards which is the most ridiculous idea ever.

Is it time to lock this thread?
Old 8th March 2021 | Show parent
  #462
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Freeland ➡️
No. Are you joking? Read the thread. The loudness of your track i.e its dynamics has nothing to do with loudness "normalisation standards" for streaming. Why are people so confused by this? Ignore what the SptyfyAppleDeez they are confusing people by making them think they have to mix and master to STREAMING NORMALISATION standards which is the most ridiculous idea ever.

Is it time to lock this thread?
the whole LUFS thing is new to me and as of late I've had a couple of clients asking for quick masters so this genuinely was a question as it relates to the "normalization" war.

When they are saying -14LUFS is that for integrated or just short term?

I get the whole thing of master to the level that sounds best but im learning the metering side and just wanted some help.
Old 8th March 2021 | Show parent
  #463
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfen ➡️
the whole LUFS thing is new to me and as of late I've had a couple of clients asking for quick masters so this genuinely was a question as it relates to the "normalization" war.

When they are saying -14LUFS is that for integrated or just short term?

I get the whole thing of master to the level that sounds best but im learning the metering side and just wanted some help.
They're saying -14 integrated. But don't target that. It's an arbitrary number and it can change in the future. We're not "aiming" at -14 at all, and neither should you or anyone.
Old 9th March 2021 | Show parent
  #464
Sky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
They're saying -14 integrated. But don't target that. It's an arbitrary number and it can change in the future. We're not "aiming" at -14 at all, and neither should you or anyone.
cfen, I'll add to what Trakworx said, having gone through a learning experience similar to yours a few years ago.

Mastering to the best sound is the correct answer, with the only caveat being that a streaming service may apply its own limiting to a song mastered quieter than their standard. Sound degradation caused by the limiting may be barely audible or more audible, depending on the mix. While arguably you'll have more control by doing the limiting yourself before submitting, it may or may not make a meaningful difference if limiting is nonetheless required.

Today's streaming services analyze integrated LUFS but it's arbitrary and subject to change as Trakworx has noted. Still, if you master a mix that sounds best at -11dB or -17dB or whatever integrated LUFS, you'll have some idea what will happen when the song is submitted to Spotify or others. A song mastered to say -11dB integrated LUFS will simply be potted down a few dB, while a song at -17dB will likely be peak-limited, depending on your True Peak levels, then potted up.

That's about all I can share at this point, until the rules change again.

Sky
Old 9th March 2021 | Show parent
  #465
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
They're saying -14 integrated. But don't target that. It's an arbitrary number and it can change in the future. We're not "aiming" at -14 at all, and neither should you or anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky ➡️
cfen, I'll add to what Trakworx said, having gone through a learning experience similar to yours a few years ago.

Mastering to the best sound is the correct answer, with the only caveat being that a streaming service may apply its own limiting to a song mastered quieter than their standard. Sound degradation caused by the limiting may be barely audible or more audible, depending on the mix. While arguably you'll have more control by doing the limiting yourself before submitting, it may or may not make a meaningful difference if limiting is nonetheless required.

Today's streaming services analyze integrated LUFS but it's arbitrary and subject to change as Trakworx has noted. Still, if you master a mix that sounds best at -11dB or -17dB or whatever integrated LUFS, you'll have some idea what will happen when the song is submitted to Spotify or others. A song mastered to say -11dB integrated LUFS will simply be potted down a few dB, while a song at -17dB will likely be peak-limited, depending on your True Peak levels, then potted up.

That's about all I can share at this point, until the rules change again.

Sky
Thank you both for answering that for me. This was my first stop in getting some clarity as I originally was focusing on the short term LUFS reading similar to how you’d read the peak vs rms levels.

I’ve definitely shifted away from being at a target level for a platform because as you guys said it’s all over the place right now.

Thanks again.
Old 10th March 2021 | Show parent
  #466
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Spotify has stopped the practice of turning tracks up when they're below the normalization target, and they've stopped applying their built-in limiter in normal mode and quiet mode. I'll take this as good news. Loud mode with the limiter is still a problem IMO, but incremental progress is better than nothing!

And this shows yet again how fluid all this normalization stuff is. Moving target.
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #467
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➡️
I think it's better to avoid any and all loudness targets, be they low or high.

Making a track match a ref on a meter vs making a track sound it's best. I'll take the latter every time.
cool in theory but if you are mastering a whole album you will be trying to match the songs to be more or less the same or at least be correlated by loudness. so you will deviate from „the perfect loudness for a track“ when adjusting for a whole album ...
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #468
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinzin ➡️
cool in theory but if you are mastering a whole album you will be trying to match the songs to be more or less the same or at least be correlated by loudness. so you will deviate from „the perfect loudness for a track“ when adjusting for a whole album ...
Well yeah, of course. It becomes the best loudness for the album at that point.

Mastering singles vs mastering albums. Lots of differences but the basic principle underneath remains the same. Don't let the meters and numbers make the decisions for you. The sound is all that matters.
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #469
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinzin ➡️
cool in theory but if you are mastering a whole album you will be trying to match the songs to be more or less the same or at least be correlated by loudness. so you will deviate from „the perfect loudness for a track“ when adjusting for a whole album ...
only a problem if your artist is inconsistent and each track is totally different style etc usually an album has a sound and style and the middle ground is quite narrow, I personally do not compromise the product by matching each track just because of the difference between them. If you average out the loudness of all the tracks to match and go with that then I think you have just messed up the whole album.
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #470
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Freeland ➡️
only a problem if your artist is inconsistent and each track is totally different style etc usually an album has a sound and style and the middle ground is quite narrow, I personally do not compromise the product by matching each track just because of the difference between them. If you average out the loudness of all the tracks to match and go with that then I think you have just messed up the whole album.
well, depending on the style. hip hop „artists“ often have different producers and mixers so mixes often do not sound the same or consistant. lets take „bedroom artists“ into account too ...
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #471
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Freeland ➡️
only a problem if your artist is inconsistent and each track is totally different style etc usually an album has a sound and style and the middle ground is quite narrow, I personally do not compromise the product by matching each track just because of the difference between them. If you average out the loudness of all the tracks to match and go with that then I think you have just messed up the whole album.
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinzin ➡️
well, depending on the style. hip hop „artists“ often have different producers and mixers so mixes often do not sound the same or consistant. lets take „bedroom artists“ into account too ...
An R&B or Rock album might also have ballads and dance tracks. Wouldn't the perceived loudness of those be very different?
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #472
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All the more reason to set tracks relative levels by ear and not by meters.
Old 24th March 2021 | Show parent
  #473
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BezowinZ ➡️
An R&B or Rock album might also have ballads and dance tracks. Wouldn't the perceived loudness of those be very different?
Usually. The slower the music the less loud it is naturally but there are always exceptions.
That said I think the whole matching the loudness of each track on an album is overplayed and ignores other aspects that give consistency like the style of frequency response and musical intent. So a little difference in loudness is OK to me. It's all the other differences that stick out. A dry track followed by a space verb track, a track mixed by a mixer who loves loads of rich low box tones followed by one who scoops them out. I try to avoid these situations. I have a band I master for from NYC and every track is totally different recorded in different spaces by different people with different players even. You could torture yourself and the recordings to try and match them but I get better results if I just master each track as best I can.

Anyway nobody listens to albums anymore. lol
Old 25th March 2021 | Show parent
  #474
Sky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Freeland ➡️
Usually. The slower the music the less loud it is naturally but there are always exceptions.
That said I think the whole matching the loudness of each track on an album is overplayed and ignores other aspects that give consistency like the style of frequency response and musical intent. So a little difference in loudness is OK to me. It's all the other differences that stick out. A dry track followed by a space verb track, a track mixed by a mixer who loves loads of rich low box tones followed by one who scoops them out. I try to avoid these situations. I have a band I master for from NYC and every track is totally different recorded in different spaces by different people with different players even. You could torture yourself and the recordings to try and match them but I get better results if I just master each track as best I can.

Anyway nobody listens to albums anymore. lol
Great insights Carl. I'm wrestling a bit with this, starting to release a few singles to get them out in the world, while knowing they may need to glue well if eventually part of an album. I'm open to remixing and remastering album-only versions if a project benefits by doing so.

But in general, I think we're saying that it all comes back to aesthetics - what sounds best for each track. I'll trust my ears to reasonably comply with the genre, and if track levels shift a bit, it's fine as long as I've done this consciously.

Sky
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