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Marcello

Is this Master Too Loud? (LUFS/Youleanmeter)

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Posted (edited)

Hi guys!

one question, I have done a master with those online mastering tool automatically.

Now I want to check if it's too loud or not, I'm using Youlean Meter but I'm not sure how to use it.

It seems that is clipping but when I compare it with an artist reference track I have downloaded online in .FLAC format (so I suppose it's how it should be)  that's also clipping.

So, I know when you upload the track on the online streaming platforms it turns down the volume most of the times, like on spotify, but I suppose there should be a kind of "standard volume" for proper Albums?

That's what I would like I mean, I understand this can work for spotify but I also listen albums from downloaded tracks mostly in local so what would be the correct volume threshold? are these too loud?

If yes, why then  all the tracks I have downloaded in High Definition from different artists are also clipping if I check them out in Youlean Meter??

Also if I just listen to the reference track I used on Spotify and compare it with the one I have downloaded in flac and analyzed with the youlean meter, it's exactly the same volume, so it seems that spotify didn't really turned the volume down, how come if in this analyzer is clipping? 

Only thing I notice is the Loudness range in my song is higher than the reference track, but if I just compare the tracks to my ears, mine is way more quite than the reference track.

These are the two songs mine and the reference track as you can see they both clips

image.thumb.png.cdfbb9b158ae2c9070971cb74eb1f2f3.png

REFERENCE:

image.thumb.png.ff184ad8b30524a0d3fc3ef5dfa08bad.png

Edited by Marcello

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Posted (edited)

Youlean loudness meter has pre sets to match format standards. The free version I don’t think you can change this. But with the paid version you can make custom or choose a preset. 
if you file goes over the pre set value then you get the clipping red marks. 
You can Google what the true peak and LUFS maximum amount is for different delivery systems. 
I’ll say that -8 LUFS is super loud. I use -12–14 LUFS. Possibly your reference tracks are suffering from the loudness wars. 
Either that or your feeding it through a system that has added gain. This is why the paid version is well worth the price. You drag and drop the files directly for analysis. It also has the presets 

Edited by John Vere

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, John Vere said:

Youlean loudness meter has pre sets to match format standards. The free version I don’t think you can change this. But with the paid version you can make custom or choose a preset. 
if you file goes over the pre set value then you get the clipping red marks. 
You can Google what the true peak and LUFS maximum amount is for different delivery systems. 
I’ll say that -8 LUFS is super loud. I use -12–14 LUFS. Possibly your reference tracks are suffering from the loudness wars. 
 

I know this thanks,

but the problem here is, should I make a different master version for each bloody online platform? Seriously? Since I'm paying for each master.

Anyway for regular album, like CD, Vinyl, WAV file, what would be the standard volume instead?

Also I have a reference Mogwai song I downloaded in flac format, so quite high definition.
When I analyze the song in the youlean meter it seems that is clipping, also if I upload the track on https://www.loudnesspenalty.com/
to see how much would be reduced in volume uploading the song in the different online streaming platfoms, it says it would be reduced like -8 for spotify and youtube.
So after that, I have listened to the song in the Mogwai spotify profile and compared it with the one I have in local in high definition by just listening to them and to my ears the volume is exactly the same!
So it seems that spotify didn't really turned down the volume.
Am I missing something here?
What should I do? of course I would like my song to sound higher in volume, like the Mogwai one, but then it would be turned down in spotify, even if would be, is that ok? Or should I have 2 master versions one for the CD, Vinyl and local WAV file and another for Spotify which would be lower?
Is there a standard volume I should refer to?

Edited by Marcello

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I edited my post to add something I thought of while you were posting 

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3 minutes ago, John Vere said:

I edited my post to add something I thought of while you were posting 

Ok I see but then let's do one thing at the time.

Let's suppose Online platforms don't exist and we are in the 90s, what would be the average standard volume for a track do you know?

Because if Mogwai ,which is a huge band, has their album song at -5 LUFS  then it should be ok for a standard album volume?

Then after that I would make another master with lower volume exclusively for the online platforms what do you think?

Or should I find a balance? If I should follow these Spotify rules it says that I should turn the volume of my track  down -3.3, too much!

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, John Vere said:

Thanks for the link i have a read.

The thing is that  if I would follow this rule my song would sound much much less higher in volume if I compare it with other artists songs

Edited by Marcello

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How can your song sound quite if it it -14 or louder?  I think your using the meter somehow wrong. It should be the last thing in your master buss effects bin 

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in listening to Ian Shepard and other master folks - it's ok to have the LUFS higher than the online service suggests they're normalizing too - but it depends on the dynamic range and frequency content which will determine if it remains competitive or potentially is negatively impacted by the service (hence the reason for the loudness penalty app by Ian). i don't think you have to master for every service, but then again if you have a budget for it...

as a note, in the 90's, LUFS didn't exist 😉 that said, using mainstream material from the late 90's and early 00's is likely not a great reference in terms of levels for online as much of it is damaged goods from the loudness wars... i'd suggest that 8-10LUFS for a CD with a dynamic range of 5-6 would be loud and probably still decent to listen to... for online targets - 12-14 LUFS and 6-8 dynamic range would the be good where service is targeting 16 LUFS.

of course its really material dependent. 

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18 minutes ago, John Vere said:

How can your song sound quite if it it -14 or louder?  I think your using the meter somehow wrong. It should be the last thing in your master buss effects bin 

This is my song, how it looks to you?  Loudnesspenalty.com says I should turn it down  by 2.2, to me it seems already quite low, to my ears at least.

Capture.PNG

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1 minute ago, Glenn Stanton said:

in listening to Ian Shepard and other master folks - it's ok to have the LUFS higher than the online service suggests they're normalizing too - but it depends on the dynamic range and frequency content which will determine if it remains competitive or potentially is negatively impacted by the service (hence the reason for the loudness penalty app by Ian). i don't think you have to master for every service, but then again if you have a budget for it...

as a note, in the 90's, LUFS didn't exist 😉 that said, using mainstream material from the late 90's and early 00's is likely not a great reference in terms of levels for online as much of it is damaged goods from the loudness wars... i'd suggest that 8-10LUFS for a CD with a dynamic range of 5-6 would be loud and probably still decent to listen to... for online targets - 12-14 LUFS and 6-8 dynamic range would the be good where service is targeting 16 LUFS.

of course its really material dependent. 

Ok great thanks for your suggestions!

Even though to my ears -14 it sounds very low.

I have compared a downloaded version of a Mogwai song in high definition (flac) with the one on their Spotify, and to my ears the volume is the same!

Even if the flac version if analyzed in youlean meter is at about -5 LUFS! How is it possible? very strange

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Posted (edited)

I too use the Youlean Meter.

Those read you see is not clipping - thats the reduction of -0.1dB and 0.3dB.

The reference track is obviously translating more fuller and thicker in body - that's why you see a "red line" in reduction at the top. With the other one, the limiter of the online service you use was only catching peaks here and there, because it lacks in body. 

The only difference between the images: The 1st images is -3dB softer than the reference. This isn't a bad thing as Youtube require a -3dB in volume reduction so does few other popular streaming services too. Infact the 1st image LUFS reading seems spot on for "CD" which is - 9dB. 

Also never rely too much on LUFS readings. I often flip between 3 just to make sure they're readings are the same. I rely 60% - 70% of the time on my ears than any meter reading on plugins, although one is permanently on the master track. 

Edited by Will_Kaydo

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"Too loud" is really a subjective thing, and somewhat dependent on the genre. Many popular releases are far louder than -8.3 LUFS. But streaming services and YouTube will automatically turn them down, so for them yes, it's too loud. For a CD, no problem.

For me personally, that would be too loud. I usually shoot for -14 for my own stuff. I'll go as high as -12 (integrated, -10 short-term) for aggressive rock that I'm mastering for someone else.

If -14 sounds too quiet,  turn up your monitors. Seriously, that's how it's done. Google the K-system and speaker calibration, it'll be a game-changer for you.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, bitflipper said:

If -14 sounds too quiet,  turn up your monitors. Seriously, that's how it's done. Google the K-system and speaker calibration, it'll be a game-changer for you.

What an idea! 😱

Edited by bdickens

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, bitflipper said:

"Too loud" is really a subjective thing, and somewhat dependent on the genre. Many popular releases are far louder than -8.3 LUFS. But streaming services and YouTube will automatically turn them down, so for them yes, it's too loud. For a CD, no problem.

For me personally, that would be too loud. I usually shoot for -14 for my own stuff. I'll go as high as -12 (integrated, -10 short-term) for aggressive rock that I'm mastering for someone else.

If -14 sounds too quiet,  turn up your monitors. Seriously, that's how it's done. Google the K-system and speaker calibration, it'll be a game-changer for you.

That's good I turn up the monitor, but when I listen to my song on my iPhone for instance (loaded in local WAV), as I suppose in all smartphones,  there's a maximum volume level which is not that high, so if I listen to the master I did at -14 or -12 on my iphone at maximum volume is not that high, or at least much lower than the songs I have on my iphone in local, if I use normal earphones and I'm in the middle of the traffic jam I will barely hear it.

Different story for home speakers or car speakers, you can turn up the volume as much as you want more or less so -14 won't be that much of an issue.

That's the problem for me, but I suppose that's how it should be.

Even if, as I said, I compared a Mogwai song in flac (High Def), which in youleanmeter shows at -5 LUFS, with the one on their Spotify profile and the volume is the same!

So it seems that spotify didn't really turned down the volume, I'm sure if you try with other artists songs, downloaded one with the same song on Spotify, to your ears the volume will be the same, maybe they pay Spotify for a louder version? no idea.

So this thing that Spotify turns down the volume if too high it doesn't seem to apply for major artists, to me the downloaded versions with the one on their spotify are exactly the same volume, even if on the meter it shows -5 LUFS!

So the thing that I still don't understand is, Why major artists songs are mastered at -5 LUFS??  I'm not speaking about thos on their spotify but those downloaded in the original format.

And why they sound much higher than my track if that is at -14?  If -14 is the suggested volume balance, why major artists songs are all breaking the rule?

 

Edited by Marcello

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Interesting observation re Spotify. I'm not a Spotify user, so I can't confirm, but I've heard that they don't treat all artists the same. Could be something to that, I don't know. 

Spotify, however, is not a big moneymaker for most artists. I can tell you that major artists don't break the rules if they want their music heard on radio, TV or motion pictures. Well, first let's be clear that artists themselves rarely have any say in the matter. There will often be separate masters for different applications. For example, the movie soundtrack will typically have a wider dynamic range than what's broadcast on radio/TV.

A point that should be made here is that it's not just about average levels (integrated LUFS), but also dynamic range. You could, in theory, have a master at -6dB loudness but still be sufficiently dynamic that even if playback is automatically adjusted downward, the mix will still sound good. Oh yeh, and those adjustments can go both ways; if your master is quiet the streaming services will turn it up - and it'll sound better than one that was turned down to match.

Yeh, it's complicated. There's a reason folks pay specialists (MEs) to handle this stuff.

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58 minutes ago, bitflipper said:

Interesting observation re Spotify. I'm not a Spotify user, so I can't confirm, but I've heard that they don't treat all artists the same. Could be something to that, I don't know. 

Spotify, however, is not a big moneymaker for most artists. I can tell you that major artists don't break the rules if they want their music heard on radio, TV or motion pictures. Well, first let's be clear that artists themselves rarely have any say in the matter. There will often be separate masters for different applications. For example, the movie soundtrack will typically have a wider dynamic range than what's broadcast on radio/TV.

A point that should be made here is that it's not just about average levels (integrated LUFS), but also dynamic range. You could, in theory, have a master at -6dB loudness but still be sufficiently dynamic that even if playback is automatically adjusted downward, the mix will still sound good. Oh yeh, and those adjustments can go both ways; if your master is quiet the streaming services will turn it up - and it'll sound better than one that was turned down to match.

Yeh, it's complicated. There's a reason folks pay specialists (MEs) to handle this stuff.

Thanks! I agree with you on the dynamic, I have firstly tried to make my track quite dynamic, having some parts very quiet and then some distorted ones, then I made it listen to a friend who doesn't know anything about recording and he said that he didn't like it because he doesn't need to stand up to turn down the volume of the stereo when the explosive part starts, so it was maybe too dynamic and I reduced it, in the way that there is not a huge difference between clean and distorted parts.

ANyway I will play with it a bit and see.

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Yes, it is entirely possible to create a mix that's too dynamic. We just don't talk about it as much because it's not nearly as big a problem as over-compressed music is.

But you do have to think about where the listener will listen to your music. In the car barreling down the freeway, on an airplane or a train, running on a treadmill - all way more likely than someone sitting in a quiet room listening on a high-end hi-fi.

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Posted (edited)

Maybe you should post the song or part of it so some of us can analyze it for you. It might just be the mix making it somehow quieter. Possibly you have to many sub frequencies pushing your levels but not sounding loud on most playback equipment. 

Example a kick drum can be almost peaking at -0.1 true peak but the LUFS are only -28. A kick is a very transient instruments. But a bass  which is more of a sustained sound, might be peaking at -3.0 and the luffs are -16.  In the mix  through smaller studio monitor or headphones these two instruments together sound correct to your ears. Your not hearing everything they are producing. 

Low frequencies can push your readings to the max and on a cell phone which doesn't play those sounds, the mix will end up quiet. 

 I use SPAN  and a sub woofer to check my low end. Its a common mistake to have too much low end in a mix and be unaware that this is why your mixes "sound" quiet. All that low end energy is pushing the meters and the readings. Slap a hi pass filter on your master buss and start moving it up towards 100hz and watch those levels drop. 

Edited by John Vere

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^^^ Excellent point, Cactus. Excessive sub-bass can make mastering difficult. I wouldn't expect an automated mastering tool to be able to handle it.

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