Mixing & Mastering
Electronic Music
lufs meter
The Optimum volume on Spotify.

LUFS: WHAT VOLUME TO MASTER TO

Table Of Contents

HOW MUCH LUFS WHEN MASTERING?

How loud to master for Spotify? Perfect LUFS mastering volume for streaming on Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Beatport, Apple Music, and more.

How do you master a song with perfect loudness for streaming providers? Because all popular music streaming services have different loudness standards.

What are LUFS?
LUFS stands for "Loudness Units Full Scale" and measures the loudness of audio signals. It is an international standard for assessing loudness independently of the playback equipment. LUFS ensures consistent playback quality in music production, broadcasting and audio production for film and television. It also enables loudness normalisation of music tracks.

Many streaming services have loudness normalization targets between -13 and -16 LUFS. If your uploaded music is louder, the volume will be reduced to reach the target level. This ensures that every song is streamed at a nearly consistent loudness level.

Mastering your songs aims to achieve the best possible sound quality. The objective is to maximise loudness but focus on transparent and dynamic sound. To take your sound to the next level, find the right balance between a loud and dynamic master.

My preferred LUFS loudness targets for Techno, House, and Hip-Hop genres usually range between -7 LUFS and -10 LUFS. You can also check the LUFS short-term measurement and set your target between -6 LUFS and -9 LUFS. For mastering Ambient or Singer-Songwriter productions, LUFS values between -10 and -14 LUFS are also acceptable as dynamics take precedence.

Creative Vision?

It is important to note that the choice of LUFS value also depends on personal preferences and artistic decisions. Every artist has their own sonic vision, and there is no "right" or "wrong" LUFS value.

Mastering is a creative process, and while it is essential to consider the loudness targets set by streaming services, it is equally important to prioritize the artistic integrity and desired sound of the music. Some artists prefer a louder and more aggressive sound, while others prioritize a more dynamic and natural sound.

Ultimately, the LUFS value should be determined based on the specific genre, artistic intent, and the overall sound aesthetic you aim to achieve. It is always a good idea to reference other commercially released tracks in your genre to understand the typical loudness levels.

Remember, mastering aims to enhance the overall sound quality and ensure a cohesive listening experience across different playback systems. It is a balance between technical requirements and artistic expression.

 

THE BEST REFERENCE TOOLS FOR MIXING AND MASTERING

To compare your songs with other productions, you should use various tools that help you analyse volume, dynamics and tonal balance.

 The most useful VST reference plugins in my opinion are the following:

SHOULD I MASTER TO -14 LUFS FOR SPOTIFY?

The idea of mastering at 14 LUFS is often misunderstood and considered a myth. Many musicians who release their songs at such a low level tend to face issues, as seen with this particular artist. I would advise against mastering at -14 LUFS, despite it being a topic of much debate. It's worth testing the loudness of other songs in your genre by disabling the automatic loudness adjustment in Spotify settings.

Next, download the demo version of Sidify Music Converter, save the song to your hard drive, and check the loudness of other songs. You will notice that hardly any artist masters their songs at -14 LUFS.

Here's the reason why people don't do it:

  • It's important to note that not all users have loudness normalization enabled. For instance, while YouTube is normalized, "YouTube Music" is not. Similarly, the web player of Apple Music and Spotify apps integrated into third-party devices may not always have loudness normalization. This means that if normalization is turned off, a track that measures -14 LUFS may sound much quieter than other tracks.

  • Although loudness normalization has been enabled, many users have reported that their -14 LUFS masters seem to be quieter compared to other tracks in their playlists.

  • It's worth noting that various streaming services follow distinct loudness standards, and the likelihood of these standards remaining constant is uncertain. For instance, Spotify reduced its loudness target by 3 dB in 2017 and transitioned from ReplayGain to LUFS measurement in 2021. Moreover, Spotify Premium app users can choose from three different volume settings: "Quiet, Normal, and Loud." Presently, the AES suggests that all music streaming platforms adopt -16 LUFS as the preferred standard. As a result, the ideal loudness has been fluctuating frequently in recent times.

  • There is a suggestion from some people to create separate masters for streaming and download shops. However, it is worth noting that digital aggregators such as Distrokid and Tunecore typically do not permit multiple versions of a song. Therefore, if you choose to release different versions, they would need to be released separately.

 

When it comes to audio mastering, many recommend aiming for a loudness level of -14 LUFS. However, I advise focusing on achieving a sound that is comparable in loudness to other successful artists. This approach will serve you well until loudness normalization becomes more standardized.

My current recommendation is to create a digital master that sounds exceptional without being overly loud. You can then use this master for all download shops and streaming services. Trust the various streaming providers to handle volume normalization, as it usually doesn't compromise the quality of your sound. LUFS normalization simply adjusts the playback volume, so if your master sounds great, it will sound incredible on streaming platforms as well.

Why was LUFS introduced

The music industry has undergone a significant transformation with the introduction of Loudness Units Full Scale (LUFS) as a standardized measurement of loudness for audio content. This measurement unit has played a vital role in addressing the issue of inconsistent loudness levels in audio content. Before its introduction, different broadcasting systems and platforms had varying loudness standards, leading to a poor listening experience for the audience. Excessive loudness processing in music productions was a common practice in an attempt to stand out, but this compromised audio quality and led to listener fatigue.

LUFS provides a unified loudness measurement and guidelines for audio content producers, broadcasters, and streaming platforms. This ensures consistent loudness levels across different content, resulting in a more balanced and enjoyable listening experience for the audience. LUFS-based loudness normalization helps avoid extreme loudness variations between different songs and ensures that content is played back at a consistent perceived loudness level, regardless of the playback system or platform.

The music industry has experienced the Loudness War, which involved heavily compressed music productions resulting in less dynamic range. However, major streaming platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music have implemented LUFS normalization and other methods to ensure fair and balanced sound quality. It is generally considered unnecessary to over-compress mastered songs with a limit of over 3dB, as it may result in quieter and less dynamic sound on streaming platforms. Nowadays, mastering for vinyl and streaming platforms alike focus on transparency and dynamic range preservation to provide an optimal listening experience.

In conclusion, LUFS has revolutionized the music industry by providing a standardized measurement of loudness for audio content. This has ensured consistent loudness levels across different content, resulting in a more balanced and enjoyable listening experience for the audience. As the music industry continues to evolve, it is essential to focus on transparency and dynamic range preservation to provide an optimal listening experience for the audience.

 

WHAT IS SPOTIFY AUDIO NORMALISATION?

Audio files are sent from various music distributors to streaming platforms. Since the delivered music has been mastered at different volume levels, Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music want to ensure the best listening experience when playing the songs.

Imagine how inconvenient it would be if you had to manually adjust the volume of each track when playing playlists. That's where volume normalization comes into play, ensuring that all songs are perceived equally.

However, you can disable this setting in Spotify to hear if songs have been mastered at different loudness levels.

To do this, go to Settings / Music Quality / Normalize Volume and toggle the function on or off.

 

SPOTIFY & APPLE MUSIC AND YOUTUBE LUFS LEVELS

Youtube LUFS - They use -13 LUFS as a loudness target

Youtube LUFS

They use 13 LUFS as a loudness target

Spotify's loudness streaming target is -14 LUFS

Spotify's

loudness streaming target is 14 LUFS

Soundcloud

has no specific LUFS target

Mastering for Bandcamp

They don't have a loudness target

On Beatport

many Songs are mastered around -8 & -10 LUFS

Apple Music / Itunes Radio

use a -16 LUFS target

Hier ist meine Übersicht über die LUFS-Lautheitsziele von Streaming-Anbietern (LUFS = Loudness Units relative to Full Scale). Wie ich bereits erwähnt habe, bedeutet dies nicht, dass du deine Songs auf dem -14 LUFS mastern sollst.

Hier ist meine Übersicht über LUFS-Lautstärkestandards von Streaming-Anbietern (LUFS = Loudness Units relative to Full Scale):

  1. Spotify: -14 LUFS (kann vom Benutzer auf -11 oder -23 geändert werden).

  2. YouTube: -14 LUFS

  3. Apple Music: -16 LUFS (wenn iTunes Sound Check aktiviert ist).

  4. SoundCloud: Keine Normalisierung

  5. Amazon Music: -14 LUFS

  6. Tidal: -14 LUFS

  7. Pandora: -14 LUFS

  8. Bandcamp: Keine Normalisierung

  9. Deezer: -14 LUFS

  10. Napster: -14 LUFS

FREE LUFS METERING PLUGIN

There are several free VST metering plugins and LUFS analyzers available for measuring LUFS, RMS, and True Peaks. You can download them from various sources. Simply add them as effect plugins to your DAW and visualize the true loudness of your tracks, comparing them with other reference songs.

 

I am Marcus, a music enthusiast who runs a mixing and mastering business. Additionally, I compose insightful articles for my blog and produce music as a member of the techno duo Agravik.
Marcus
Mixing & Mastering - Mastrng.com
The #1 Reason
Why Record Labels Reject Talented Musicians = Bad Sound Quality
Book your Pro Mixing & Mastering Service Online Today
mastering

HQ Mastering

Stereo Music Mastering: Give your music production punch and power
  • Save time and money
    & Get a warm analogue sound for your final mix.
  • Optimized for Streaming and Download Shops
  • Adds punch, optimises track detail and enhances stereo width.
  • Balanced and Dynamic Results: Great sound on small speakers and club sound systems
  • Prepare your song for distribution and get valuable feedback

Stem Mastering

Online Stem Mastering is a Advanced mastering with editing of 6 group tracks
  • More detailed, in-depth Mastering
  • Each stem is individually edited to get the maximum out of your music.
  • The best solution for perfecting your mixing results
  • Send up to 6 stems/musical elements for stem mastering, such as drums, bass, synth, vocals and FX.
  • Everything described in the HQ Mastering Service is included.

Pro Mix & Mastering

Mixing and Mastering: Detailed optimization for every part of your song
  • Balanced and Powerful Mix
  • Optimize Kick & Bass: Heavy Drums for Maximum Impact!
  • Professional Vocal Mixing for Rich and Clear Sound.
  • Depth, 3D sound with individual instrument processing
  • Compression, Warmth, and Saturation for a Better Sound Experience
  • Free HQ Mastering Service Included: Turn Your Song into a Record!

© Mastrng.com Tonstudio Leipzig - Probsteistr. 7 04229 Leipzig - Deutschland

by Leipzig Webdesign
Your invitation
Learn the secrets of music production and beat the competition.