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Adjusting integrated LUFs for distribution

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Adjusting integrated LUFs for distribution

Postby AMusicPlayerPlus » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:58 pm

I'd like to distribute my track to different services: iTunes, Youtube, Spotify, etc. Every service has its own standards for integrated LUFs. I distribute it via distribution company, submitting it once. So my question is if every music service willl adjust the integrated LUFs of my track to its specific value? Or it will use the exact LUFs that I have in my mix? If so, what will be universal-generic integrated LUFs that I should target?
Thank you.
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Re: Adjusting integrated LUFs for distribution

Postby CS70 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:23 pm

Have a read to my blog post here for my take on the subject.
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Re: Adjusting integrated LUFs for distribution

Postby James Perrett » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:30 pm

The music usually tells you how loud it needs to be. I find most things end up between -15 and -9 LUFS naturally (I deal with quite a bit of loud punk rock at the louder end). I know that the loud albums will be turned down when heard as part of a playlist but, as they don't rely on volume to give a powerful sound, it doesn't really matter.

You need to listen to your material at low volume before submitting - if it still sounds fine then you're OK. If it sounds weak at low volume then you need to do something about it.
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Re: Adjusting integrated LUFs for distribution

Postby RichardT » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:44 pm

Traditionally, the advice is to target roughly -14 LUFS. But don’t make everything -14. What I do is to find a LUFS value for the track that works musically. For me, that is usually below -14 LUFS, but for some people, their music sounds best at values above -14.

The main thing is to understand what the streaming services will do if you deviate from their targets (they are all different and not all of them actually use LUFS). Then you can decide whether to use the LUFS that sounds best to you or make some adjustment to fit with the streaming services. Basically, very loud tracks will be reduced in volume, and quiet tracks will be increased in volume, with some limiting applied.

Spotify say:

Target the loudness level of your master at -14 dB integrated LUFS and keep it below -1 dB TP (True Peak) max. This is best for the lossy formats we use (Ogg/Vorbis and AAC) and will ensure no extra distortion is introduced in the transcoding process.

If your master is louder than -14 dB integrated LUFS, make sure it stays below -2 dB TP (True Peak) max to avoid extra distortion. This is because louder tracks are more susceptible to extra distortion in the transcoding process


This is what they say about loudness normalisation on playback:

Playback levels are not adjusted when transcoding tracks. Tracks are delivered to the app with their original volume levels, and positive/negative gain compensation is only applied to a track while it’s playing. This gives users the option to adjust the Loudness Normalization if they want to.

Negative gain is applied to louder masters so the loudness level is at ca - 14 dB LUFS. This process only decreases the volume in comparison to the master; no additional distortion occurs.

Positive gain is applied to softer masters so that the loudness level is at ca - 14 dB LUFS. A limiter is also applied, set to engage at -1 dB (sample values), with a 5 ms attack time and a 100 ms decay time. This will prevent any distortion or clipping from soft but dynamic tracks.

The gain is constant throughout the whole track, and calculated to match our desired output loudness level.
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Re: Adjusting integrated LUFs for distribution

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:58 pm

AMusicPlayerPlus wrote:I'd like to distribute my track to different services: iTunes, Youtube, Spotify, etc. Every service has its own standards for integrated LUFs.

True, but they are pretty similar -- there's only a couple of dB between them -- so it's not too difficult to find a reasonable compromise that works acceptably on all of them.

So my question is if every music service willl adjust the integrated LUFs of my track to its specific value? Or it will use the exact LUFs that I have in my mix?

They will adjust your track to comply with their target.

If so, what will be universal-generic integrated LUFs that I should target?

My advice would be to aim for a maximum short-term loudness measurement of -10LUFS -- it gives a pretty good indication of the peak loudness -- with an Integrated loudness across the whole track of -13 or -14 LUFS, and keep the True Peak value at or below -2 or -3dBTP.

That way, if the streaming service runs at -14 LUFS your track won't be changed, and if it runs at -15 or -16LUFS it will only be turned down 1 or 2dB which is barely noticeable.

On the other hand, if the streamer runs at -12LUFS either the track won't get turned up at all -- in which case it's only a dB or two low which is not going to be that noticeable -- or if it does get turned up it wont get mashed by a peak limiter because you held the true peaks back enough not to be affected.

And by holding the true peak level to -2 or -3dBTP you've only lost a couple of decibels of dynamic range on transient peaks which really isn't noticeable either...

Meterplugs have several really useful,and good value tools and apps to help when mixing in a normalised loudness regime, and you might find their 'Loudness Penalty' comparison tool particularly useful for assessing exactly how your mix will sound on different streaming platforms.

https://www.meterplugs.com/
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