Batch process for -18 dBFS = 0 dB VU

Hello everyone and happy new year!
Is there any way to achieve the -18 dBFS = 0 dB VU for my audio tracks other than to use a VU-METER plugin one by one?
I’ve tried batch processing with the Loudness normaliser at-23 LUFS value, but always it gives me different results than my VU meter plugins.
I thought it was a good idea before start mixing on my DAW, to have gain stage, adding tape and console emu, my audio files through Wavelab’s batch processor. However I cannot get there, whatever I’ve tried. Any idea or suggestion?

Thanks in advance,


What VU meter are you using, and what are the settings? Also have you tried normalizing to -18 LUFS rather than -23 LUFS? That seems more appropriate in this case to me.

I’ve tried this with the TB Audio mvMeter, which with the default VU setting shows 0 VU for a -18 dbfs 1KHz tone I’ve applied to the input. There is a Pre-Gain control beneath the meter for calibration, but it’s spot on -18 = 0 VU with the default setting.

With that setting, program material normalized to -18 LUFS looks about right, program material normalized to -23 LUFS looks low, down about 5 db, which I would expect. How far off are the levels you’re seeing?

If this normalization is for the individual tracks, will that give you enough headroom for the stereo mix? I would think the normalization basically performs the function of the VU meter anyway, lessening the need for a VU meter on every track, so it would matter less whether you choose -23 LUFS or -18 LUFS as long as they’re all initially equal, and whatever works best into the stereo buss.

This may be stating the obvious and I may have misunderstood what you are trying to do, but isn’t the issue because normalising to LUFS is not normalising to digital peak or dB VU values?

In other words, tracks normalised to -23LUFS will have different digital peak values and different dB VU readings but will still show -23LUFS on an LU meter. If you’re using the batch processor, the result is also going to depend on how you set up the limiter (Max. Peak Level and Authorised Peak Compression values).

As suggested by Bob, I would think normalising to -18LUFS should get you into the right ballpark.

Well… thank you guys for replying.
Perhaps my poor english didn’t let me express exactly what I have in my mind.
When I’m gain staging the tracks at my DAW I usually set the Klanghelm VU meter and I adjust manually the level at the trim button to have 0 db at the loudest peaks on each track(tuned at -18dbfs). The problem is that I’ve decided to change my workflow, so before start mixing I want to process all my audio tracks via Wavelab’s batch processor, by adding this chain: normalise to -18 dBFS = 0 dB VU the loudest rms peaks --> tape —> console.
I’m doing this to save time and recourses instead of doing it inside my daw one track by one.
What I’ve seen is that the loudness normaliser, whatever function I choose, I don’t take the same results that I take with the VU meter plugin.
So I’ve been confused…
Is there any ideal “safe” setting at the loudness normaliser where I could set to batch process my audio tracks for a proper gain staging?

Do you think by setting up the limiter could harm the audio performance? Any safe suggestion for all kind of tracks? (vocal, bass, guitar, drums etc)

I couldn’t really suggest a ‘safe’ setting for all kinds of material. And, of course, there’s always a compromise when using a limiter.

I think you might benefit by taking a very close look at what you are trying to achieve and the theory behind it. The channel meters on a DAW are normally digital peak meters (which DON’T show RMS values at all!) so there’s really no direct correlation with loudness meters. For example,the digital peak response for a snare drum track would be radically different from that of a strings track and yet both tracks might read the same LUFS integrated value. And there’d be a similar lack of parity when compared to a VU meter. I don’t think you benefit from setting the peak to the same level for every track at all. The channel meters on a DAW can only be used as a rough guide when it comes to matching average levels.

So what you might be dealing with is making a compromise. As mentioned before (as suggested by Bob), -18LUFS might be a good compromise. I’d suggest you try that as a starting point.

If this is the way you’ve been doing it manually, and it works well for you, and you’re defininitely in VU mode (average, RMS, LUFS type metering) on the Klanghelm meters, the Wavelab normalize equivalent would be to loudness normalize to -18 LUFS with Reference:Top of Loudness Range or Reference:Maximum Short Term Loudness. Try those and see if it gets you closer.

Maybe there’s a Klanhelm document that outlines gain staging with their meter, because they do mention gain staging on their product page.

However, looking at the following discussion, setting all instruments with VU meters requires knowing where each type of instrument “should” fall on a VU meter. And that can’t be reproduced by loudness normalization to all the same LUFS value.

So I think it’s a sticky subject.

But if your manual method with VU has worked for you, the LUFS normalization with Reference:Top or Reference:Maximum should get close I think.

If you mean the limiter in the Loudness Normalizer, I don’t think the peak limiter there (Peak Master) will ever come into play if you’re normalizing to -18 LUFS and the max peak level is left at 0.00db. Peaking that high above rms would be near impossible I think.

Understandable! You guys are real gentlemen.
I will experiment with -18 LUFS and I will try to separate the process in two categories: One for general instruments with med-slow attack characteristics and one with instruments like drums, percs, Then I will probably choose a different LUFS value for the 2nd category.
Thanks again and Happy New Year!

The idea is that LUFS, unlike digital peak or VU measurements, should work with a range of different material types.


If that works, using fixed LUFS, whether Integrated, Top of Range, or Maximum, it would certainly simplify things, rather than relying on old style knowledge of how VU was used for balancing instruments in the past. Worth testing against VU I think.

I would guess Integrated wouldn’t be the best choice? judging from observations about some album track balancing not seeming right using Integrated?

However, as an afterthought to all this, if you have your VU meter calibrated to -18 you might find loudness normalisation at -23LUFS a good solution for your particular purpose and for a wide range of material. IMO this translates quite well and you could excpect the VU readings to hover between -10VU and 0VU with transient peaks occasionally reaching around -6dBFS. It’s worth remembering that a lot of mix engineers mix with their multitrack channels too loud.

Anyway, to be honest, if it were me I’d be reluctant to actually process the audio tracks in this way for gain staging. Instead I’d maybe use the Meta Normalizer in the Audio Montage in Show Log / Test Only mode and then manually enter the Gain Change values into the DAW channel input gains.

Or just apply the Meta Normalizer directly in the Wavelab Montage and mix in Wavelab. :slight_smile:

Seriously, do any programs have loudness/peak normalization as powerful as the Meta Normalizer, that can be used non-destructively across all or selected clips in the entire Session, before or after processing?

Maybe it’s common and I’ve just missed it in product literature. Or maybe it’s not.

Hi Bob, I don’t think there are too many programs out there that have the equivalent of the Meta Normalizer. IMO it’s one of the seriously powerful features of Wavelab.