I have used renoise to make many dozens of songs, and I have uploaded 44 to soundcloud over the past 7 years.
I made around 10 songs, in a period of two years in like 2016-2017, uploaded them to soundcloud.
Then more recently, I have uploaded I suppose like 30 songs in the past 2-3 years. In the more recent period of uploading, I feel that I am eternally struggling with an issue that the volume of the uploaded song is perhaps 30% lower than the volume of the renoise output or render of the wav file. I verify this by playing the wav file on vlc on my computer, and then concurrently the soundcloud version, and it is verifiably much quieter.
I asked this forum about this once before perhaps six months ago, and the replies were generally to the effect of, mastering is an artform, and someone recommended a specific plugin that somehow makes Renoise aware of the compression algorithms of specific platforms.
I have tried as a rule to keep all meters from never going above 0db in the meters in Renoise. That is my kind of one guiding principle to hope the volume doesn’t get obliterated when I upload the track.
Recently I am losing heart with making music simply because of the fact that when I make a song I think sounds great, I render it to .wav and the render sounds great, but when I upload it, it sounds very wimpy and underwhelming due to low volume.
I suppose I have these questions, if anyone would be kind enough to give their thoughts:
What does 0db even mean on Renoise? Is it a general principle to never go over zero, or have I imagined that in my head somehow.
Why could it be that it seems like the songs I uploaded in the 2016-2017 period had completely normal volume levels, whereas the more recent tracks I upload seem to have greatly reduced volume levels? I used renoise for all composition and renders.
Any broad comments about this issue? I feel like I spend half my time now trying to figure out how to not make my track ultimately end up really quiet, instead of focusing energy into composing and creativity.
Get a LUFS meter. DPmeter and MloudnessAnalyzer are both free. Peak db and loudness are very much not the same. Every streaming service has a recommendation for LUFS, use that as your target and it should translate well
Thank you. Can I ask another quick question, with all these LUF meters or loudness meters, they are neither an instrument effect, nor are they an instrument. Where does one load them into Renoise as a plugin if not an effect, nor an instrument? Do you apply it to the master track as an effect?
Yes. The signal passes through them as with an effect, but it doesn’t alter the sound.
FWIW, Ian Shepherd, a mastering engineer, talks a lot about “the loudness wars”, dynamic range, and how streaming services have been adopting standards to manage overly-loud music. One of the takeaways of his podcast and videos is that, if your track has a loud peak someplace, it can throw off the overall calculation of track loudness, such that the service (and Soundcloud might be doing this) will just lower the volume of the entire track.
As I said, just click the link above. There’s everything you need to know.
Put the LUFS meter at the end of the effect chain in your master track and measure your track from the very beginning until the end. You could also check YouTube, there are plenty of videos about that topic, especially if you’re asking for the difference of LU, LUFS, dB, TP aka ISP and so on. I would also recommend to put a TP limiter in your master track. Therefore just activate ISP and set the output to -1dB and you’re save in any case in terms of true peak.
I have had a couple of weeks to learn about this notion of LUFS, which as I have ascertained it, is some kind of dystopian 3rd party interference between your rendered .wav and standard mp3 compression. So the EU has created some kind of mystical formula so that all music is more or less of a similar volume? With no relation to the limits of speakers, subwoofers, hardware, etc. there is some kind of expert group deciding in what way the volume of your track should be increased or decreased so that it is not too different to other tracks? Sounds legit.
It is a lot less conspiratorial, dystopian, and evil than that, haha. There’s a group who got together, thought about loudness for a bit, came to a consensus, shared the findings and suggested its usage. Other people then decide to use this guideline as they see fit. Streaming services stick to them to try to ensure evenly formatted audio as best as possible, and if users want the best results in their platforms, the services suggest to adhere to the guidelines as best as possible. From that point on the decision is left to the creators.
This is similar to how I would invite friends to a nice dinner event and suggest they dress in formal attire. I really, really hope they do, but I can’t force them. I’ll welcome them, but I would be worried they may feel under dressed and uncomfortable - which is really on them, because they were made to know the guidelines ahead of time and they made their choice.
LUFS is a unit of measurement which was developed round about 13-15 years ago to ensure a normalized volume in television, based on how human hearing works. Back in the days the fucking commercial breaks were twice as loud as the tv program for human ears, even though the dB value was the same as a result of compression. Nowadays it’s not only about television, but also about radio, internet and also music releases in general. As you have read in the LUFS thread linked above, different streaming services use different LUFS levels. So there is no uniform value in general, but there is a specific value for each streaming service. It has absolutely nothing to do with compression between wav and mp3. Your mp3 will always be as loud as your wav. Imagine you want to release an album. How do you ensure that all your songs have the same volume? Normalization!
I think it is a simple psychoaccoustic model - it is an analyzer that will spit out a normalized averaged loudness measure. The louder you push your sound, the higher it will be. Sound loudness is very complex, and the model takes different things into account that can’t be averaged by simple meters. To go for it, just put the meter on the output, view it as magic box that you can read the value from, then crank your mix, push the limiter/maximizer until you get the desired loudness. If you want to go fancy, learn about proper mastering in general, it is an art in itself to get well-formed sound. If you need it quick and dirty, just use a maximizer and boost your sound into it until it is loud enough. For soundcloud -14 is their optimum, but you can also go higher and then soundcloud will reduce your levels, and you have a sound with less dynamics…which might sound suboptimal, but is actually what some people want for when having it played back loud. I think you should just playback/monitor your song through the meter plugin, and see what the average is during the louder passages of the song. That is the value you want to master for the target.
That’s strange, I usually boost up to -10, but didn’t realize a reduction of volume. Maybe I have to compare it more accurately. What I am surely know is that it doesn’t really work on SoundCloud, very likely that the next played Song will be super loud. Their calculations obviously suck. So I wouldn’t care at all Also if the goal is that all songs have have kind of equal loudness, why care at all? If it is too quiet, it should be boosted, if it is too loud, it should be reduced. In any case, you should upload a wav / raw file.
Their calculations are probably fine. More likely that what you’re hearing is a difference in the mixes. The distribution of energy, if you will.
For example, if you have a lot of excessive low end rumbling around in your track you’ll be surpassing the -14LUFS threshold quite easily. It may not be something you can hear but it does eat up energy and headroom nonetheless. But once you clean that up, make it tight, suddenly you can push your entire mix up by a couple of dB before you hit that -14LUFS standard.
The -14LUFS doesn’t prevent you from making something very loud sounding. You just need to take good care of in what frequency range you put that energy. Loudness starts with the composition and arrangement.
Yes sure, but my point was this: The goal of the algorithm on Soundcloud is to match the perceived volume of the tracks. Yet it completely fails, you still are getting very loud and then quiet songs in your song queue. As long as those algorithms do not also look into “density” of a song, so the instruments in a song which hide behind th eloudest peaking instrument, it will fail. So I personally do not care about it, at least on soundcloud.
Thank you all for the perspectives I do appreciate the replies from people intimately familiar with this topic. My main issue is just for example on New Years Eve at my friends place I wanted to play a few of my songs at a party, and they sounded weirdly quiet compared to the rest of the music played at the party even when we put my friends speaker system to max, and for sure it’s a result of normalization on soundcloud due to this LUFS system.
It is true as above posted by Eretsua that I do have a lot of excessive low end bass or rumbling at times in some of my tracks and that may be related. Honestly speaking I bought a CD burner recently and I am more inclined to just burn music onto CDs where it doesn’t get interfered with with this LUFS or EBU R 128 shenanigans.
Of course another option is that I ‘git gud’ but my forte has always been music composition and so forth (have a classical music background), and I am weak on the ‘sound production’ side.
I will also investigate the notion of ‘headroom’ raised above. I have been experimenting with these LUFS meters but they are a little above my paygrade, I guess I have to struggle to figure it out if I want to keep using soundcloud. I do fully appreciate that mastering is an artform in itself, just this particular problem causes me great consternation.
Thank you once again for all the informative replies above.