LUFS & Loudness…why they matter

If you are an audio content creator, someone who is possibly venturing out in to the world of uploading your podcast for the very first time then you need know all about LUFS in your production workflow, and that is what we are going to talk about in this weeks blog.

What are LUFS?

Have you ever listened to a podcast, then loaded up another one, and frustratingly, you have to reach for the volume knob to make it either louder or quieter; it is so annoying. Why is that happening? Well, probably because the creator has not paid attention to the LUF settings whilst exporting and mastering his podcast.

The good news is, this does not need to be a problem. Once you understand the way to implement LUFS, it really only takes moments set.

LUFS are the industry standard that are now used to measure loudness. Loudness Units Relative to Full Scale (LUFS) is an algorithm that measures perceived loudness. That is, rather than a decibel reading on your level meters, LUFS will set how the human ear actually hears the audio.

Every platform has its stipulated and preferred loudness in which content should be delivered to them. For Spotify & YouTube it is -14LUFS and for Apple Podcasts it is -16LUFS. If you deliver your content at the incorrect loudness, then these platforms have measures in place to adjust the amplitude, as best as possible, hit their loudness levels. This is done via compression.

Whilst it will sit well within their ecosystem for you, it will mean that your audio has been altered. The project you have worked so lovingly on for hours, days or weeks could end up sounding totally different, simply because you didn’t take a few moments in setting your loudness at the point of exporting your file.

So, how do you set your LUFS?

I recently made a whole tutorial on my channel talking exclusively about this, and within my favoured audio editor, Adobe Audition, it is super simple. It can be done either non-destructively in the multi-track or destructively in the WAV form editor. Both have a place in your workflow.

In the multi-track set-up, you’ll first need to set yourself up an effects rack. In the rack you’ll need a hard limiter, the loudness meter and the loudness radar, and in that order too. Run your audio, and by looking at the initial loudness on both the radar and the integrated loudness in the loudness meter, you can then start to make the required adjustments. So, lets say, on the initial pass your reading comes out at -23LUFS and you require -16 LUFS for Apple Podcasts, then in the hard limiter add 7db to the input boost on your hard limiter (notice I have a set the maximum amplitude to -3db to leave plenty of headroom. No matter what we do with the audio, it will never run hotter than -3db, so never clip). And that is pretty much it!

The final stage.

Once you have bounced, or exported your audio to the final WAV or MP3 ready to upload to your media host, I would typically carry out one last procedure.

Place your bounced file in the WAV form editor in Audition. Drag it in to the match loudness window. In the drop down, select the ITU-R BS1770-3 setting. In the first dialogue box adjust the loudness unit to your desired level. Hit run. One last procedure I carry out, once again, for peace of mind, I will run the amplitude statistics. And there, if you have carried out all the above correctly, then you will notice, bottom right, that you have hit your perfect loudness units.

Let me know what issues and problems you have come up against in setting loudness units and I will try to help.

Below is the video I mentioned that you can watch to learn even more more about using LUFS. Don’t forget, subscribe, like and turn on all notifications. I have loads more audio videos in mind to bring you, and you’ll not want to miss any of them.

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