Loudness comparison of the exported file

Hi all,

to deliver a piece of music (EDM style) to a digital distributor, I thought it best to create it with a integrate loudness set to -14 LUFS, since it is the typical value (with a tolerance ±1, I think) that is imposed on platforms such as Spotify and Youtube Music (and other).
[I thought it was senseless to deliver the piece to -9 LUFS if it is then converted to -14 LUFS with consequent worsening].
These are the export parameters:

EDIT: Above I actually set -13 LUFS to then gain something.

The exported file has this analysis:

The problem is that when I listen to the exported file, I have to turn the volume wheel on my headphones all the way to max. Particularly in the middle part, where it should play quite loud, I have to keep the volume on my headphones all the way up. Instead, listening to the same kind of music on Spotify and Youtube Music the wheel remains halfway (if I put it to the maximum my ears break).
I don’t understand why my song plays so much lower than the others: loudness should be similar to the others. Having to turn the headphone volume wheel all the way to max doesn’t seem normal to me.
How can this fact be explained?
Any advice on what to do?

Thank you,

Maybe it’s as simple as turning up the volume on your media player program?

The Ardour export page has built-in profiles for Spotify/Soundcloud and YouTube/Deezer in the “Format” drop-down.
If you select the Spotify one it sets the loudness to -11 LUFS whereas the YouTube one has it at -14.
So if it’s not the media player then it may be that you’re just going a bit low.

If you select the Spotify one it sets the loudness to -11 LUFS

Yes, but on Spotify only Premium subscribers can set -11 LUFS, I think. So a normal listener like me even on Spotify should hear everything at about -14 LUFS.
But in my opinion it is not true.

For example, picking a random piece of electronic music on Spotify:
(If the link doesn’t work, choose an EDM/Techno/House music at random)

on listening (from my computer with headphones) I’d say it’s not set at -14 LUFS at all, but in my opinion it’s close to -7 LUFS. Certainly between -9 and -7 Integrated LUFS.
If someone can measure this parameter online, they could confirm that. And this also applies to other pieces of the same genre, both on Spotify and on YT and YT Music. Also pieces by D. Guetta, for example, on YT or Spotify, sound close to -7 LUFS in my opinion.
If I listen to music in the same style exported from Ardour at -14 Integrated LUFS, it sounds much much lower in comparison.

How can this fact be explained?

This would be relatively easy to check with the audio data stored in a file. The easiest way would probably be using JACK to send the output of the Spotify player to an application which can record the audio. Care would be needed to make sure that there was no level adjustment along the way (i.e. Spotify player at 100%, no gain or attenuation in the recording program).

Again, what’s the volume setting on the media player where you’re playing the exported Ardour file?
If that’s very low and the volume on the Spotify app is very high then you will hear a big difference, for obvious reasons.

Also, converting down to a lower LUFS doesn’t worsen the audio. Why should it?
The Loudness normalization page on Spotify states that “Negative gain is applied to louder masters so the loudness level is -14 dB LUFS. This lowers the volume in comparison to the master - no additional distortion occurs.”

It also states that Premium listeners can set the normalization level to -11, but that setting has a peak limiter which in a sense does worsen the audio.

If the tracks you’re hearing are -7 LUFS I suppose you’re a Premium Deluxe MVP listener or something.


The easiest way would probably be using JACK to send the output […]

Yes. From Firefox straight to Ardour. Loudness Analysis, Integrated Loudness: -8.8 LUFS.


@peder : the problem is not low volume of my media player. I don’t have a Premium account.

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