How to get all songs in an album at same basic volume level

Hello. I’m done writing, recording, and mixing 10 songs for my album. I have set them all at 10 LUFS. Is that about right? Problem is, some still sound a lot louder than others. So what’s the trick to get them all about the same level for an album release? Thanks

LUFS has 3 sub-categories:

  1. Momentary
  2. Short-Term
  3. Integrated

Step one is specifying which one you mean. I find that getting all the songs to have the same Maximum Short-Term LUFS feels most natural when you’re talking about songs that all have a similar mix and arrangement.

Frequency response, mix quality, song arrangement, etc. can have an influence too.

An acoustic song or sparsely arranged song mastered to -10 LUFS Integrated can sound and feel louder than a rock song or very full/dense arrangement mastered to -10 LUFS.

Meters and measurements are a nice tool but your ears are the best tool.

There is no trick. Mastering is not complicated but it’s detailed enough that it takes time to really “master” the art of it. I don’t think anybody can really sum it up for you in one forum post.

Bob Katz’ book "Mastering Audio: The Art And Science" is good.

Jonathan Wyner did a nice series on mastering:

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Thanks. Yes I was referring to integrated LUFS

Integrated LUFS can be less than ideal if some or all of the songs have a large dynamic shift from soft to loud since it’s measuring the entire song.

As mentioned, your ears should guide you but you’d have a better chance by setting them all to the same Maximum Short-Term LUFS so that the loudest parts of each song are hitting the same level.

From there, you need to use your ears to account for any tonal differences, and intentional creative differences with different types of arrangements so they feel natural. Songs that are brighter can sound and feel louder than songs that are darker and more bass heavy.

The WaveLab Audio Montage has a good tool for experimenting with this concept:


Justin, this is so helpful. I really appreciate this. I’m going to do exactly what you said and I’m betting it is the key to what I’m trying to achieve. What you explain makes perfect sense about integrated versus short term. All my songs have those big dynamic changes. Thank you again.

No problem. There’s no magic number for mastering but generally speaking, I find that setting songs to the same LUFS makes the most sense if you use the Max Short-Term LUFS for each song, that gets you pretty close. Integrated can lead to varying results depending on the material.

WaveLab has an even slightly better and more musical option shown in my screen shot called “Top Of Loudness Range” which is similar to Max Short-Term LUFS but to my ears, even more human/musical.