A question about setting the Kick and Bass volumes using a VU Meter please?

Hello again,

I have just finished a garage track in Cubase, and I am about to start setting the levels and balancing prior to mastering. I thought I’d check YouTube for advice first, and two content providers recommended using a VU Meter to balance the kick and bass before anything else, not relying on peak volume levels, ensuring that the kick reaches -3, and then both kick and bass reach 0.

But, the thing is, I finished a previous track of this type without using a VU Meter, and when I loaded up that track and put a VU Meter on the Master channel, the kick and bass sent the levels way into the red maxing out scarily. However this previous track also registered below 0 peak volume, -11 LUFS, sounds really balanced in headphones, and works well on Soundcloud + YouTube.

That being said, why do I need to use a VU Meter on my new track to set the kick and bass as a starting point as recommended by several individuals, when not using one didn’t harm the finish of my previous garage track? I am a bit confused by this??

Could anyone possibly offer me some advice or instruction please?

Thanks very much as always for reading,


Well, you don’t have to do that, don’t you? I’ve tried this “trick”, too, and while it may work on some scenarios, it might not work in others.
It’s a technique that can be helpful to get the relative levels of kick and bass right, especially for beginners If you can do without, fine :slight_smile:
I think it is best to ignore all those “top 10 mixing tips” from them YouTubers anyway, or at least take them with a grain of salt, most of them just copy from each other anyway to get more views…

(-3dBVU for the kick though seems a bit too high, imho, if I’d use VU for leveling percussive material, I’d probably aim for -7 to -5 VU.)

Not everything published on the internet is helpful.

VU meters made sense in the analog days in big desks. Now with multiple level meters and analyzers available, it could be one tool. But it is not a must.

I didn’t use one since years. I use peak meters, always.
Get used to the tool that fits your workflow best. Learn it to master.

If it sounds good, it is right.

fese and st10ss

Thank you both very much for your feedback and your advice. To be honest, it’s kind of what I was hoping you might say, as the previous track I wrote does seem well balanced, even though the kick maxes out the VU Meter plug-in.

That’s funny what you say about YouTube also, and I will definitely keep it in the back of my mind in future, especially in regards to music production.

I am a beginner at this for sure, but it did occur to me today that since the previous track somehow works in terms of balance and output and the level of the kick and bass, I might go into the DAW I used and export the kick and bass as WAV files separately. That way I can load them into Cubase and use them as level references for velocity and slider settings. I won’t forget to take all the effects and plug-ins off the master channel before exporting them as I know this can affect the output levels too.

Thanks again guys, I really appreciate your help,

All the best,