Feature for ardour regarding gain staging

I like to mix at -18 0VU. It helps me to have better mixes as I do use analog modeled plugins etc. I’m ardour I really like the loudness assistance. I would like to see a feature where if I select regions of audio and have a feature where I can select a VU level to gain stage the audio regions to that level. On my windows setup I do have a plugin that does this via a plugin. It listens to the track snd gets the levels just at the right level.

I think this is the one but I may have a older version

You can select a bunch or regions (or ctrl+a to select them ALL) and choose “Region->Gain->Normalize” in the main menu (or right-click on any region or use the provided keyboard shortcut)

There is an option to normalize to peak, RMS, or LFS.

There’s also an option to normalize each region separately, or to calculate the gain correction for all regions and apply only the max value calculated across all the regions. This is important if, for example, you have a pair of tracks representing a stereo source and you want to have the same gain applied to both tracks so the stereo balance doesn’t shift.

It’s also much faster than using a plugin :slight_smile:


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No way, lol I’ll try this out when I can

But when doing it, is it the same as using a plugin or does it change the way the volume to gain staged. For example if I have a kick snd I can want it to be -18db, does the normalization make sure that the loudest section or kick hit is just under or right at -18 0VU etc

It makes the sound before any processor -18dBFS. It really adjusts the output of the disk reader IIRC which is typically before any plugin. Anything you do with plugins comes in after that point, which is how you gain stage for the input of your first plugin, make sure the signal range is reasonable for that plugin (Typically under 0dBFS and the settings of the plugin are appropriate).

It is very similar to setting gain on a mixer, you set the gain so that you are just hitting the yellow, which is typically around -18 to -22 dBFS for that mixer input channel, then any plugin or process (Be it analog or digital mixer) happens after the preamp settings. Note there were some mixers that people liked the sound of the distortion made by overdriving the gain slightly, but that can’t be emulated without a plugin itself anyways so this is pretty dang close.

TLDR; this is probably the most ‘correct’ way to do what you are looking for and is exactly what I teach my students, gain stage the region source first before you start mixing, and then typically adjust that gain staging for a good basic mix as needed.


Unfortunately I don’t see a option other then dbfs I’m in latest ardour abd I tried mixbus version 5 and same thing. Is it a mixbus feature only

You need Ardour 6.8-186, or upcoming Mixbus 7.1 for options including LUFS, dBTP.

There is no VU (IEC 60268-17) option, but using RMS is equivalent to how a VU meter works (particularly since needle meter ballistics play no role here).

see also 0008777: LUFS normalisation for audio regions - Ardour Bug Tracker

I have 6.8 on Linux, but I don’t see it

6.8.0 ? Check Menu > Help > About.

As mentioned above Feature for ardour regarding gain staging - #7 by x42 you need 6.8.186 (or later, ie current git, available from https://nightly.ardour.org/)

Maybe a feature request for VU a should be considered. I’ll see how the rms thing works out

Could you elaborate why would you want to normalize a region (prior to any FX or mix) to a given maximum VU level when mixing in the box?

Keep in mind that VU meters react very slowly (they average out peaks), and were more or less defined to “look good” for speech. They also have a linear scale because in 1939 a logarithmic amp was the size of a small laboratory.

Not to mention, there are also various regional and broadcast variants regarding alignment.

As far as I can tell, the only reason to use a VU meter today is because you learned how to read a VU needle meter over 15 years ago and got used to it. You also don’t have to take it from me, there’s an excellent article from Bob-Katz (the K in K-meter) on the subject:

There may well be a good reason for allowing to normalize to VU, but before offering it, I’d like to know how to motivate it in case someone asks why that feature exists and how and when to use it.

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Im fairly new to mixing and gain staging was a thing that really helped me to get better mixes, I’ve been gain staging my sounds to -18 or 0VU because I used a lot of analog plugins and it’s best to be in that range. But even so it does still help with my workflow etc. But I was thinking for the ardour normalize. Can’t I just set it to -18 db from the selection snd get similar results.

Perhaps you missed the implication of Robin’s question. The term “VU” has specific technical meaning, it is not a generic term for level meter. Read the link.

A meter that strictly conforms to the VU standard is not particularly useful, especially with digital recording. It worked OK for analog tape which had a relatively gentle overload characteristic, but digital conversion has a much sharper transition from good quality to annoyingly distorted, so you need to worry about instantaneous peak levels, which a VU meter cannot display.

If you have the version to normalize RMS, yes, set it to -18 dB RMS and it should be roughly the same.
If you don’t have that version yet then normalize the peaks to around -10 dBFS and it should be in the ballpark. You can always use the channel trim to boost or cut levels a little if it isn’t close enough to your liking.

Thanks for your response

Or modify the region gain further with CTLR+6 and CTRL+7 depending on your preference, end result will be pretty similar, just one will affect the entire track, one will affect independent regions that are selected. (Region normalization as discussed here actually utilizes the region gain as well)


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