Understanding how loudness standards work can be crucial to mixing and mastering correctly for different target media. Shane Berry is here to guide you through the terminology.  
A loudness compliant meter reading

Long Answer

Target Levels for EDM

Gain Staging and Issues with RMS and Peak Measurements

Notes on Monitoring

Other Numbers

This dynamic track has sections that go above and below the target level, but the average loudness remains the same.

Meters, Presets and Hitting Target Levels

A free trial meter in EBU R 128 Mode
Two loudness meters in EBU Mode reading the same -23 dB signal. The second meter has 7 dB added via its gain function.

Sample Rates and Bit Depths

RoundTripAAC Showing peaks and intersample peaks



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Shane is an SAE certified audio engineer, sound designer, composer, and audio consultant. Working with Tokyo based media agency Ultrasupernew and creative game agency Playbrain, he creates audio for TV, music and sound for product launch events, and web audio content for major multinational firms such as Red Bull, SuperCell, Heineke... Read More


Wow, outstanding article, many thanks !!
This is exactly the information that I have been trying to find. Thanks so much for clearly providing these details.
The measurement (Youtube, Spotify) and recommendation are for integrated loudness?
What about momentary loudness?
Shane! I just spent the last few hours reading a bunch of articles you wrote regarding LUFS, loudness, RMS, etc. and then doing some extra research inspired by your articles to try and get this whole "future of the loudness wars" thing figured out! Thanks so much for the info it has really helped me out a bunch.

I was scratching my head for quite a while when reading about this whole thing about iTunes and -16 LUFS, because whenever I run mostly any modern super popular track out of iTunes and run it through IZ insight or ProL I have a LUFS or RMS level waaaay above -16. Then I realized its because I don't have soundcheck enabled. So I enabled sound check and sure enough the levels dropped much closer to -16 (actually more like -14 in the track I talk about below).

So my first question is, how many iTunes users actually have soundcheck enabled? I listen on a desktop computer. Perhaps maybe on mobile soundcheck is enabled by default?

But beyond that , I am wondering something a little bit more bigger in the philosophy of the loudness war.

I am writing this comment in March 2018. So I'm gonna take Taylor Swift as the example. Her recent single "Look what you made me do" has over 800 million views in 6 months on her youtube vevo channel. I don't care what anyone says, this track is undeniably in the realm of music that people find pleasurable to listen to in 2018. If anyone tries to argue with this, just stop you're wrong. Also, I have no idea who produced, who recorded, who mixed, or who mastered the album, but I think it is safe to say that each one of these individuals must be at the top of their game, and they know what they are doing.

With that disclaimer out of the way, if you play this track in iTunes with soundcheck disabled, Izotope Insight reports a integrated LUFs of -8.5, a short term LUFS as high as -6.0 at times (maybe higher), and the Loudness range at 6.0 LU. I should add that for the most part, the short term LUFs is closer to between -10 and -8 LUFS through the majority of the track

And before anyone STILL has the urge to say "yeah but that track sucks" or "yeah but Taylor Swift sucks", again, you are wrong. But still, okay then, so go find a modern pop artist you like (that is using a production team as high caliber as hers) and run their music through Insight with the sound check disabled. It will probably be at a similar LUFS. Im talking Pop music here people. If you like some listening to some weird stuff or old school stuff COOL YOU'RE SO COOL ooh wow you are better than me! I like weird stuff and old school stuff too but thats not what Im talking about here.

But this is really not my point, I am just trying to dissuade anyone who is thinking about chiming in with some stupid argument about how Taylor Swift isn't relevant music. She is arguably the most relevant music right now, for better or worse.

So after all this analysis, it got me thinking. If we are aiming to male a pop track in 2018, maybe we should aim for these Taylor Swift type levels and ignore all the recommended super low level standards and just make sure that we don't clip and that we have a decent dynamic range? Because basically why wouldn't we just try to make it as loud as possible with out clipping and also make sure it has a suitable dynamic range for the genre. That way, it will totally smack through iTunes when soundcheck is turned off, but if soundcheck gets turned on, then basically it just gets turned down right? If it has a good dynamic range and it doesn't clip, and then it gets turned down by soundcheck, then it would sound just as good as if it were mastered to a lower volume closer to the "recommended" levels.

So yeah, am I missing something here? Disclaimer, I am in no way a mastering engineer, I am simply trying to investigate all this stuff so I have a better understanding. Thanks so Much Shane if you read and reply to this, and thanks so much to anyone else who has any input on this subject

Taylor Swift rules haha!

p.s. Strobe is much louder on the 5 years of Mau5 greatest hits type album than it is on the original album. So even conservative Deadmau5 gave in to the loudness wars!
Also, to be clear, when I say that T swift is arguably the most relevant music right now for better or worse, I tend to lean to the "for better" side of things. Her last couple albums have been pretty dang good on all levels, songwriting, performance and production wise, do yourself a favor and check em out! Even if you only listen to weird stuff, if you are a fan of well produced inventive music her albums are good. And they sound pristine, which you must care about if you are reading this article

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