I’m producing my first podcast episode, and I have a quick qs as i’m new to cubase and DAW in general.
Podcast standard is - 16 LUFS and I understand how to measure loudness in Cubase.
What I’m not sure of is how to control the volume and the loudness so that my final export mixdown is at the desired level.
I checked in Cubase export option, there is nothing where i can ask cubase to make the export at a specific LUFS (think Nuendo has this feature).
So this LUFS thing, is it about adjusting the volume levels in the mix and the stereo out (mix bus), as well as setting up brickwall limiter, to make sure my project will be exported at the level I want?
Just put a good mastering limiter as the last plugin on the out bus. Most of these will show you the LUFS so it’s just a matter of adjusting the input gain on the limiter until you are at the desired LUFS level.
Because there isn’t a direct relationship between LUFS and gain, it’s hard to mix to a specific LUFS level. You generally have to measure it, then go back and make adjustments, usually to master bus compression, and measure the LUFS again.
I don’t think you want to normalize. If that’s all you want, the streaming service will already do that for you automatically after you submit your track. So don’t bother to normalize. Instead, the goal here is to retain the full dynamic range while meeting the LUFS goal. For that you need to revisit your mixing and mastering and change things like compression.
LUFS is like already stated here loudness over time and can’t be set by a limiter. It is fairly easy to hit a target for LUFS, obtaining the optimal mix in a LUFS perspective is an art form in itself, especially in post production or music mixing.
however, podcasts should be an easy task to mix if it is just dialogue. Compress and EQ properly and you should have pretty good control of the volume, if you have jingles or music featured that is where you would notice the LUFS changes the most.
I suggest you check out something like Youlean Loudness Meter, it is very precise and very easy to read which should do your job fairly easy for a podcas.
I think the whole DAW industry has missed the boat here. It is far too tedious (Wavelab or no Wavelab) to achieve a target LUFS. Seriously, we ought to be able to say the LUFS we want and the computer should figure it out.
I understand that if the algorithm has to make large adjustments in volume, this can significantly impact how the various upstream plug-ins behave. But if the LUFS adjustment were fast and seamless, then we could dial in the mix incrementally.
See Glenn’s comment above. Using normalization to achieve a LUFS target misses the point of using LUFS instead of dB. Compression and EQ are the right tools for this job, not normalization. Normalization of the mix is done by the streaming service after you deliver your track to fix the LUFS level in case you were unable to achieve the target level when mixing. In other words don’t bother normalizing.
Agree we could even compare it to mastering. What is next, Computer should be able to master for us, and mix and compose?
A automatic loudness, will never be as good as a human carefully mixing and using dynamics to get an optimal result.
Not necessarily automatic, but computer-assisted. Why do we use computers in the first place? To save time. To get better results.
For example, the DAW could have a background process that calculates the LUFS and displays it on a meter. There would be a question of context. Are we talking the LUFS of the entire project, of all tracks? One idea would be to calculate it for the selected range and all tracks that feed the master bus.
That would imply a kind of dual mode where all the plug-ins would need to respond to what the user is doing, but also be driven to measure the LUFS, so that might be technically difficult and disruptive, making it a bad idea. I bet some of the smart minds in this industry could find a way to really help us in getting our songs to the right LUFS level quickly and accurately.
In my opinion this depends what you mean by normalisation and might be a bit misleading. If the balance and dynamics of the audio already sound right, there’s nothing wrong with using simple volume adjustments to achieve the correct integrated loudness, especially when delivery of the audio is set to a specific required integrated loudness such as -23LUFS or -16LUFS. I would say that normalising to specific integrated loudness levels is quite common.
I think Glenn’s original comment was a comment about using a limiter in the context of achieving the target integrated loudness.
Also compression and EQ do of course affect loudness but personally I’d shy away from suggesting they should be used as direct tools to achieve the required target integrated loudness.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with it, but my point is any streaming service will automatically do normalization for you. There’s no point to to using wavelab to perform a step that will be automatically done for you anyway.
If you want to mix to a target LUFS, that involves more than normalization if you want to preserve dynamic range.
Love reading all this, I’m learning so much.
I am personally also all for controlling myself and not give all the power to the computer to give me the desired output. And also of course we want to keep the dynamic of a track / podcast.
After doing quite a lot in cubase in terms of mixing, when imported to Wavelab and processing it, I really noticed a big difference using wavelab Loudness normalisation, the sound at 16 LUFS being really louder than my original wave export from cubase.
So I’m not really using this feature to cut and tame down an already loud track, quite the opposite.
I guess it’s all about gain staging, my vocal tracks not being really at the level they should.
By the way, do you guys use the PRE stage of the Cubase equalizer to give a bit more gain to your tracks, when needed?
If not what do you use?
The whole track needs to be rendered, to establish the LUFs of a particular mix/arrangement over time.
Whilst a computer program could iteratively render/measure/adjust to arrive at a target LUFS value - this is effectively how many of us are doing it by hand with Cubase right now.
Also, part of the skill/luck/frustration arises because of the need to keep a close eye on momentary peak levels. Often you’ll get the LUFS almost right, and suddenly you’re going too close to 0dB or maybe over.
Re-rendering is particularly relevant if there are external/analog effects loops or external inputs in play - even more so if their sonic performance is program-dependent, non-linear or non-repeatable. Hence why real-time render/export is necessary for these situations.
LUFS is a messy and complicated scenario, and sometimes further confused by measuring with SLM128, as it sometimes gives different measurements on successive exports even though the source mix/arrangement hasn’t changed. Sometimes I find that there are small discrepancies between uncompressed WAV exports and compressed/lossy MP3 versions.
There should be a button in Cubase to calculate the LUFS for the whole mix in one simple step. It won’t be instantaneous, it will take as long as a non-realtime export, but the point is to this should be convenient and not force the user to do an export or full play-through.