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Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

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Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 4:32 am
by ITHertz
Hi Folks,

I've been mixing on-and-off for a little while now. At the start of each mix I like to "trim" the various tracks so that they all sound roughly the same loudness when my mixer's faders are at 0dB. I think most people can do this relatively easily by ear. Also, I know there's the "pink noise" method where you match the level of each track to a preset pink noise signal.

What I'm wondering about, is whether there's a meter (plug-in) that can do this, or at least measure this? As an example, take a snare and a bass guitar (or any transient vs. sustaining instruments). Obviously Peak/RMS meters will give wildly different results for the "loudness" (I know it's not really "loudness") of these two sources.

What about LUFS? My understanding is that there are three LUFS measurements - momentary, short term, and integrated. Is one of these suitable?

Other than that, is there anything else?

Cheers,

Chris

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:31 am
by Dennis J Wilkins
Hi Chris,
Just ran across your question by accident while checking on some of my old articles and suggest you check out my June 2018 article on automated faders-up use of the Klangfreund LUFS Meter. See https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/kl ... lufs-meter

And if you want to analyze your music or reference sings in more detail, Klangfreund has the Multimeter. I have a LUFS Meter in every audio track of my DAW templates (REAPER and Studio One) and use it to attain a rapid static balance -- just started a new project last night and it took less than ten minutes to load 44 audio tracks and complete a static balance.

See info at http://www.klangfreund.com

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:33 am
by ITHertz
Dennis J Wilkins wrote:Hi Chris,
Just ran across your question by accident while checking on some of my old articles and suggest you check out my June 2018 article on automated faders-up use of the Klangfreund LUFS Meter. See https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/kl ... lufs-meter

And if you want to analyze your music or reference sings in more detail, Klangfreund has the Multimeter. I have a LUFS Meter in every audio track of my DAW templates (REAPER and Studio One) and use it to attain a rapid static balance -- just started a new project last night and it took less than ten minutes to load 44 audio tracks and complete a static balance.

See info at http://www.klangfreund.com

Thanks, can't complain about the service here! :thumbup:

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:34 am
by Dennis J Wilkins
PS - a static balance is a great way to start, but is only the start. I spent another hour adjusting automation and adding a few FX to get the project to a first client version.

Have fun!

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:23 am
by Hugh Robjohns
ITHertz wrote:What about LUFS? My understanding is that there are three LUFS measurements - momentary, short term, and integrated. Is one of these suitable?

Yes, the momentary mode can provide some guidance but (a) it's really only putting a number on what your ears are telling you, and (b) it's not that dissimilar to a using a VU meter... The ears are quite good at judging relative loudness...

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:22 pm
by James Perrett
If you are using Reaper then download and install the SWS extensions (if you haven't already) and then go to loudness to open the loudness analyser window. Select all the items you want to analyse and then click on the Analyze selected items button. That will tell you all you want to know. If you really want to have everything at the same LUFS level then you can right click in the loudness window and select normalize... to normalise them to your preferred level.

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:21 pm
by Dennis J Wilkins
Hello again,

Hugh has a good point -- LUFS is currently the "best" analytical loudness measure we have, but what you hear is what counts in the end. I still find the Klangfreund meters to be very helpful to obtain a fast static balance, but as I described in my 2018 article, some sounds at the same LUFS level have different psychoacoustic effects ("I had a good rough mix balance from start to finish, with two exceptions; though audible, the vocals were low in the mix, while snare drums and cymbal crashes were crashing through.").

I regularly use three sync groups and set the general target LUFS level at -25, change the vocal tracks to about -18, and percussion to -30. As I mentioned in the article, one great feature is being able to change the target level of all synchronized LUFS meters at once, so all vocal tracks, if still to low, can be increased at once, while the mix is playing, and without moving a fader off zero.

And, of course, "matching the integrated loudness across all the tracks did not mean the project is automatically finished! There is still work to be had for a mix engineer!" Mixing is the further dynamic balancing of different instruments throughout the song to add variety and attain an aesthetically and emotionally powerful result. I've had a few projects with arrangements so well planned that a static mix was all that was needed, but that's a rare exception! At any rate, enjoy mixing!

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:31 pm
by desmond
Dennis J Wilkins wrote:And, of course, "matching the integrated loudness across all the tracks did not mean the project is automatically finished! There is still work to be had for a mix engineer!"

I've no idea why someone would think that a good mix starting point is having everything balanced equally loud, if I'm understanding you correctly.

Maybe this is genre dependent and works if you're recording purely acoustic music or something? I absolutely have subtle things that are intentionally quiet, adding flavour, depth or sonic interest. Balancing everything to an equal volume doesn't seem that productive really, especially as what we perceive is very much frequency and context dependent...

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:07 pm
by desmond
I guess if this is just about getting the channels on the faders at consistent levels to begin mixing, that seems eminently sensible, but if it's somehow to easily create an in-the ballpark mix directly, I'm not a fan...

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:07 pm
by ITHertz
desmond wrote:I guess if this is just about getting the channels on the faders at consistent levels to begin mixing, that seems eminently sensible...

That's my reasoning!

Cheers!

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:41 pm
by Aled Hughes
James Perrett wrote:If you are using Reaper then download and install the SWS extensions (if you haven't already) and then go to loudness to open the loudness analyser window. Select all the items you want to analyse and then click on the Analyze selected items button. That will tell you all you want to know. If you really want to have everything at the same LUFS level then you can right click in the loudness window and select normalize... to normalise them to your preferred level.

This is exactly what I do to create my ‘static’ mix.
You can do it with one keystroke straight after a take if you want, and have a half decent playback balance straight off.

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:48 pm
by Aled Hughes
desmond wrote:
Dennis J Wilkins wrote:And, of course, "matching the integrated loudness across all the tracks did not mean the project is automatically finished! There is still work to be had for a mix engineer!"

I've no idea why someone would think that a good mix starting point is having everything balanced equally loud, if I'm understanding you correctly.

Maybe this is genre dependent and works if you're recording purely acoustic music or something? I absolutely have subtle things that are intentionally quiet, adding flavour, depth or sonic interest. Balancing everything to an equal volume doesn't seem that productive really, especially as what we perceive is very much frequency and context dependent...

It’s about perceived loudness though. And I find it can also highlight frequency masking problems.

The old ‘pink noise mixing’ SOS article mentioned getting the sounds just about audible above the pink noise. If the sounds were suitably created/recorded/chosen to begin with, this would mean that they take their place within the frequency spectrum without causing too much trouble. The LUFS-based static mix is just a quicker way of doing the pink noise technique really.

I find that it really does help. It seems to put most things in a sensible place for further adjustment (though as mentioned, I always need to boost vocals)

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:41 am
by CS70
All useful techniques for sure, but my $.10 is that it's worth training your ears, so that you don't need all these plugin when you start, and the only pink you get is from a cocktail containing strawberry and orange juice :lol:

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:21 am
by Aled Hughes
CS70 wrote:All useful techniques for sure, but my $.10 is that it's worth training your ears, so that you don't need all these plugin when you start, and the only pink you get is from a cocktail containing strawberry and orange juice :lol:

Absolutely. But there’s no plugin involved the way I do it! Just select the items and press a button.

I don’t use it on everything, but it is useful.

Re: Matching the Loudness of Sounds - Is There a Meter That Does This?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:17 am
by CS70
Yeah, it was tongue in cheek. Whatever works is fine :)