Probably not, but depends how serious you are with your music right. I would check at least at the mastering/limiting stage because imagine playing your music at some place and it’s much quieter than other music being played then it will sound dull, flat and boring no matter how good it is… Regarding LUFS for streaming though then these soft LUFS requirements should be a benefit as streaming services essentially levels all the music so you have an even loudness of the songs played.
Zensphere mentioned a few free plugins to measure your LUFS: “MLoudnessAnalyzer and DPMeter are good free plugs for LUFS metering”. I’ve just tried MLoudnessAnalyzer and it works as expected after adjusting the target LUFS I believe it was.
Don’t know specifically about Soundcloud but most streaming services simply turn the volume down to play the song at their required LUFS or if a song is too quiet apply dynamics processing and this you probably don’t want so make it louder than required I’d say. Just read that Amazon music doesn’t currently turn the “too” quiet tracks up so again make sure it’s loud enough.
I think the various streaming services LUFS recommendations/requirements are way too quiet for most of us electronic musicians as I believe the compressed sound is something we’ve come to expect or even like so if you can make -8 LUFS music sound good then great and your music will also compete better outside of the streaming world, few can make -8 LUFS sound great though so it’s a game where we level up in LUFS as we go
Yes, just put the free Youlean Loudness Meter 2 in your master track to measure the loudness. What matters is primariliy the measurement of “Integrated LUFS”, which is the average loudness of your whole song. Therefore you have to measure while playing the song from the beginning to the end.
According to my informations the loudness is getting adapted to the common loudness on Soundlcoud, which is -8 to -13 LUFS. The more your loudness differs from that the more likely your song will have distortions, artifacts or similar.
My submission for MBC14 has got -8 LUFS and I think it sounds good. I also didn’t receive negative feedback, it’s quite the contrary. That’s the first track ever that I checked in terms of LUFS (thanks to @lilith ). I guess all my tracks are louder than -14 LUFS.
Just think it might be important for some to note…
that if you are uploading to somewhere dj’s stream or download music from,
places like Hardtunes, or Beatport, etc… then the typical LUFS is from -8 to -4.
I just have checked, the music you can find in all DJ stores such like Beatport do have -6 to -9 LUFS, which is also the same amount of loudness for clubs and discotheques, and that’s what’s recommended. So the bottom line is that you only need -14 LUFS if you would like to use streaming services just like Spotify. Otherwise you can continue as usual.
So @lilith , obviously you’re wrong when you’re saying that many submissions for MBC14 are too loud. The loudness of my submission of -8 LUFS seems to be perfect. Maybe it’s your personal feeling that these songs are too loud, but in fact it’s not the case. Anyway, your hint is justified and I will check this in future tracks, but I probably won’t aim for -14 LUFS because my personal feeling about it is that the mixes are losing its energy if they’re too quiet.
First off, for all the info here. This has been extremely helpful and, while it all still hovers a bit above my head, the discussion here actually has helped more than more articles on understanding exactly what LUFS are all about.
I started paying attention to this more after @lilith’s comments about my track having too high LUFS for MBC. It sort of confused me a bit, because the actual WAV sounded great. Then I uploaded a track yesterday to Soundcloud and after a listen back later it sounded absolutely garbage. Lots of distortion/artifacts/etc. Again, the original WAV sounds great, no issues. I remembered the LUFS comment and did a sanity check - turns out it’s coming in around something like -6 integrated LUFS (thanks to @TNT et al for link to Loudness meter).
I rebounced the track to have it around -14 LUFS (probably overkill for SC). Because of this, the track ends up sounding considerably softer, but even cranking the volume all those distortion/artifacts/whatever seemed to have disappeared. I don’t know exactly what SC does - the info here sounds like maybe just some sort of volume lowering, but I feel like it must be some compression algorithm to introduce the sorts of issues I heard.
AnyWAY. An N of 1 is too small a sample size to say anything, but this has definitely made me think a little more deeply about paying attention to this moving forward (or, at the very least, starting to follow the rules about leaving headroom in the mix before mastering… I totally push that shit way to hard/still learning about proper mixing and mastering).
For reference here’s the two versions (legit not trying to push/promote, this is mainly for A/B comparison/if of interest).
If what you have uploaded sound garbage then I believe it’s because you didn’t leave enough headroom for their transcoding which can introduce distortion/clipping, did you leave about -1db headroom?
In your two examples I like the sound or tone of the loud one the most even though it’s too crunchy, the compression/limiting changes the sound but yeah it’s a little glitchy, would be interesting to hear the result if you leave -1db headroom on the first track.
You don’t hear distortion in your .WAV file because it has considerably bigger headroom, for bit depth reasons - being a lossless format. The headroom mainly depends on the bit depth (eg: 24 bits), while clipping detection rely on the sample rate (eg: 44khz). MP3s usually go for 16 bits, having smaller headroom.
When converting your .WAV file (eg 24 bits) to an mp3 (eg 16 bits), it WILL LOSE HEADROOM because of bit depth reduction! This means your maximum possible volume before digital/hard clipping is reduced during the conversion proccess (notice that I’m talking about digital clipping, not analog/soft).
The same WAV → MP3 conversion implies in a quantization proccess (or “rounding”). In short, this means that a “more precise” file is converted to a “simpler” one, w/ smaller file size. This can result in artifacts appearing in your audio, which may be inaudible, but can also screw up your mix if the original WAV is too loud for fit in a MP3 bit depth. If you’re interested in knowing more, search for "quantization distortion vs dithering". It’s a game changing knowledge, seriously.
In short: When your .WAV file (lossless) is converted to MP3 (which is lossy), it loses headroom due to bit depth reduction (usually 24 → 16 bits). If you had many ISPs (which were inaudible before) these will still be present in the MP3, but may now become audible (due to the headroom reduction), making your meters go red.
The LUFs metering is important, but it’s no the only thing to check if you wanna avoid distortion when sending your stuff for streaming services. You should also consider the conversion proccess and bit depth reduction. If you’re aiming at MP3s and streaming, aim down to -14 LUFs, regardless of your bit depth, and pay attention to True Peak/ISPs. If you want loud masters (eg -8 LUFs), please consider using a bigger bit depth (such as 24 bits). If you plan to convert these loud masters to MP3s, you should also keep in mind that this will make clipping noticeable - unless you pay attention to True Peak metering (if you don’t plan to go for MP3, you can completely ignore True Peak)
Also, even if you don’t agree with her method, it’s worth checking what Baphometrix has to say about ISPs and clipping:
Finally, notice how the headroom is different between 16 bits and 24 bits:
True peak? Which TP value shows the LUFS meter? If you’re not using bx_masterdeck true peak you could also add a TP limiter to your chain to ensure that’s -1dB headroom. If it’s not true peak it can happen that in reality it’s for example -0,4dB instead of -1dB. Maybe that’s the “problem” in terms of SC.
I prefer the first mix, it has more “power”. The second mix is a little bit cleaner, but there’s no pressure. I would say something in between the first and the second mix would be the best. But that’s just a matter of taste.
Yes, that’s right. But I always render my songs in 16bit ever since. And I never uploaded anything else than MP3. I never had clipping, artifacts or whatever as long as the mix is good enough and there’s any kind of limiter in your master track.
Bro, THANK YOU. Really appreciate this extremely thorough overview. Lots to learn here, and this is extremely useful in helping light the way (like I said, this thread has been more overly helpful than any individual article).
Very interesting. Everything these days is 24 bit WAV, and I had no idea that the conversion to lower bitrate reduces headroom. That’s fascinating… and very useful to know. Will dig into those resources, thank you for sharing!
@TNT Yeah, yeah. Didn’t want to take over the thread too much, but: Was thinking about this (at work so can’t be sure … but I’m 99/9% sure) the original mix is not TP limiter and was actually reduced to -.1 db NOT -1db. Which is probably contributing, as @Garf mentioned, to distortion, etc.
Sadly, I only realized after buying the regular masterdesk that they have a TP version. After reading this thread, my plan was to put an Ozone Maximizer / Limiter post and use that to get to TP -1db.
Sooo: next step will be to take something closer to the first mix, but bump down the output limiter to -1db using something w/ TP.
BTW, this is all sort of a bit PITA but also weirdly fun. Like, it’s all end stage of production stuff I used to hate but am (finally) realizing really is important to getting something sounding good (and good in multiple formats/distribution sources/etc.)
Not my songs and not any song on CD.
The reason why I always render in 16bit is that back in the days I also wanted to bring my stuff on CD, and a CD always only has got 16bit. Back then I’ve also heard that converting 24bit songs into 16bit can result in artifacts and other unwanted sounds. But I’ll never be a professional, so correct me if my informations are wrong. I just simply never changed my procedure. Would it be the better choice to render in 24bit nowadays? Even if the samples do have 16bit? This won’t result in sound issues?
You could also measure your whole song again and adjust the loudness without a TP limiter. The LUFS meter shows the TP value of your song. But it’s inconvenient, I prefer a TP limiter.
Yeah, I would always aim for around -8 LUFS. At least -12 LUFS. I think -14 LUFS is too soft in general.
Holy crap I finally figured out how to quote on here! Sry, I meant “I always render my songs at 24 bit these days” not that it was some general standard I was aware of. Honestly, I think that started because I read somewhere that it allowed for more headroom - but, not necessarily understanding what that truly meant.
The idea of bouncing down to 16 bit because that puts it in a native format for CD’s, streaming etc. is … yeah, that makes sense right? I guess if you’re not going to pass this along to some third party mastering, then you might as well bounce down to 16 and then avoid some of the issues @untilde mentioned above right?
RE: TP vs LUFS. Yeah, definitely going to use this whole experience as an opportunity to try a few different things. I would guess if you mix down to something like -7 or -8 integrated LUFS then (barring some element which is mixed wildly hot) you’d mostly avoid any huge DB issues. Don’t know. Gonna Fuck Around and Find OUT.
I think what I’ve heard back then about converting 24bit into 16bit only causes issues in trerms of sound IF your mix and master sucks, just like @untilde wrote because of the lack of headroom. But if your mix and master is good enough it shouldn’t cause any problems. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s the only logical answer for a non technician like me.
When I think about it there was one time in my life that I’ve been asked for a 24bit render. That was because of an official release on a Electro label. The studio owner only worked with 24bit songs. But that was the only time in my whole life and honestly I think 16bit sounds as good as 24bit if not better. But maybe that’s only me and my impressions…