Loudness Analyzer

Sorry for such basic question, but I was curious about how the Loudness Analyzer works. (It shows I really do not understand the concept behind it at all.)

When I started learning about mixing and mastering, I read somewhere that when you are mastering you set a limiter to a little below 0dB (I usually go -1dB) and push the volume until the limiter starts working without affecting the sound too much. So that’s what I’ve been doing…

When I heard about the Loudness Analyzer in Ardour, I gave it a try and it suggested over 11dB of gain reduction after the lmiter. So, I suppose my master was way too loud.

Was the advice I had before incorrect? Can you recommend any reading on how to proper set up the volume/gain for a mastered track?

It’s because you have the Loudness Analyzer set to normalize to -23 LUFS integrated which is the EBU R 128 standard for broadcast. While there are arguments that -23 LUFS int should become the de facto standard in the future, the reality is that streaming services average around -16 LUFS int. Choose a different preset or manually set the integrated to -16 LUFS and you’ll see volume more in keeping with what you are expecting.

True peak should be set to -1 dBTP for streaming in general but know that some standards ask for -2 dBTP. Also note that with the current version of this loudness analyzer/normalizer you might need to use a custom gain position and push into a limiter in order for it to reach desired loudness. If you don’t use custom gain position and the material reaches the peak before the loudness target, the normalizer stops at that point. Version 2 of LAN should address this in a more user-friendly manner.

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This approach only takes the medium into account: don’t introduce digital clipping. It completely neglects the message: loudness as perceived by humans.

The broadcast industry settled on using an average Loudness of -23LUFS (this leaves ~23dB headroom for high dynamic range music). Various streaming services are less conservative and aim for -16 or -14 LUFS. Normalizing to LUFS provides a consistent listening experience.

Some further reading:


It really depends on your target audience (and means of distribution).

Also back in the analog days it was common to drive the gain up. Tape doesn’t have hard clipping, and the dynamic range of the medium was significantly lower. So if you leaned mixing in the 70s - mid 90s (or use books from that era), getting near or even above 0dB was normal.

Thanks for the very helpful and instructive replies! I will do some reading now. :slight_smile: