-14 LUFS

Everything I’ve read on forums and YouTube says mixes/masters should hit about -14 LUFS. Anything louder than that will get crunched when played over different sources (YouTube, Spotify, etc.) I master at -14 but my mixes sound quite a bit quieter than pro songs. My Izotope Ozone settings are -1.0 true peak and LUFS threshold target at -14. I’m using Waves WLM analyzer and the long term volume hits at -14.
I would like to hear some thoughts about other’s mastering levels.


This is art of mixing. First you have to mix it well to get a loud sound. Its not about compression only. Its mostly about making a space for every single sound. Then at the end you can go for the right compression.

You can use Your favorite songs to compare their mastering levels if You play them trought this metering plugin. use of reference tracks is highly recomended. Generaly I think that levels for master or mix are different. For me, mis is about most transparent way how to reproduce sounds as sum of content and master is how to polish it for different reproducing platform - You dont want to have one master for Spotify and for CD. Its hihgly dependend on music gengre and other stuff. Anyway you can check some sound on sound articles about mixing, also Mike Senior has some books about it. And Bob Katz has similar about mastering.

I know it’s hard these days, but stay away from numbers!

I got a solo harpsicord track at -6dbRMS. How could I get that?

You want louder? Make your track all bass with some kicks. Dont forget to toss in the flute for the chorus line.

Want to go to -0dbRMS? Try a pipe organ solo, then crank your limiter.

As Martin suggested, song composition…making space will bring much more pleasure than abusing a limiter. Good mix engineers set up their mixes knowing this, and deliver them fairly hot to the ME. And even then, you will often find the ME gets a little more via EQ/mid side/compression/good gain staging/maybe series compression before the signal even kisses any limiter or manifests soft overs.

And that -14 thing…you only going to worry about YouTube? The numbers are different for others. One recently changed. And they change what you throw at them anyway.

-14 is OK. I use that for stuff that is going on line.
Having said i used VUMT on commercial recordings and they differed.
The obvious chart fodder was up at -6
I asked different guys in TV and Film who said that they usually work with levels -14, -12 or -9.
So, i know it’s not much help but if people want it louder they can turn it up. if it’s too loud you’ll scare people !

The problem is that only spotify, youtube, amazon, pandora, tidal, and deezer are normalising.

Pretty much all the other online vendors aren’t, so on those platforms, your -14 lufs master will potentially be 6 to 8db quiter than other artist’s masters.

To get around this problem, I offer masters at 2 levels for my clients: a “dynamic” master at roughly -14 lufs and a “loud” master at roughly -8 lufs (I say “roughly” because on an album, some songs will need to be quieter/louder than others - some of the normalising vendors measure the whole album to keep the relative volumes intact).

Using the 2 sets of masters means the artist has to pay their aggregator (cdbaby, tunecore etc) for 2 releases.

So, they’d upload the -14 lufs “dynamic” masters then choose only spotify, youtube, amazon, pandora, tidal, and deezer as their distribution partners.

Then they’d do another release, uploading the -8 lufs “loud” masters, and choose all the other distribution partners.

Depends on the genre too. If it’s sparsely arranged music with loud vocals, the -14 lufs master will compete with a busy/dense/buried-vocal -8 lufs master. In that case, the client won’t need the -8 lufs master (besides, a quiet acoustic track squashed to -8 lufs would usually sound terrible!).

To my ears, the -14 lufs master will generally sound superior to the -8 lufs master when volume matched. The extra 5 to 6db of headroom over -8 lufs translates to extra punch especially for kick and snare. Why not encourage our clients to take advantage of it on platforms that enforce it via normalising!

Great post :+1:

Lots of good info, thank you.
For anyone wondering what this thread is about, this guys explains it very well. I use a different loudness meter, so NO I am not promoting this one. The video just made me understand it better.