Loudness metering in WLE

Steinberg should really include EBU-compliant loudness metering in WaveLab Elements aswell. It’s no longer the high-end feature it was, say, a year ago. Actually, it’s THE metering to use in the future. (As a matter of fact, WL/WLE may dispense with VU/Peak metering all together in a few years time.) The whole industry is moving away from Peak Normalized metering, towards Loudness Normalized metering. This doesn’t only concern professional users such as broadcastes and masteringhouses, but includes streaming services aswell, such as Sound Cloud (where I believe a lot of material mastered with WLE ends up).

Material mastered with Peak Normalized may, very well, on a Loudness Normalized delivery system. Therefore is strongly required that it is mastered with Loudness Normalization in mind, from the beginning.

Loudness Normalized mastering requires a complete change in mindset. Forget squashing your mixes, to make them sound louder than the next guy. This no longer works and will, most likely, make your masters sound quieter on a Loudness Normalized delivery system. Over-compression artifacts will also stand out like a sour thumb. Let’s bring some dynamics back into the the music!

The science behind Loudness Normalization can be quite complicated (especially considering the required change in mindset). However, there is (was) an excellent feature on the subject in the February 2014 issue of the SOS magazine.
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb14/articles/loudness-war.htm
It’s a 25 page in-depth article, and is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in learning about mastering for the future.

I prefer to read from the source. And if you don’t want to read the information or watch the hour long video I can give you a hint. The loudness metering has nothing to do with Bob Katz. Here is the page with the video from the guy who works for the people who created the whole design, just follow the link.
http://auphonic.com/blog/2012/08/loudness-measurement-and-normalization-ebu-r128-calm-act

My advice. Trust your ears now.

That’s a bit of an overstatement, ain’t it? Mr. Katz may not have invented the ITU-11 BS.1770-3 standard, but he has been instrumental for pushing for its adoption.

If you really want to go to the source, this is what you’re looking for:
http://www.itu.int/rec/R-REC-BS.1770
http://tech.ebu.ch/docs/r/r128.pdf
http://www.atsc.org/cms/standards/A_85-2013.pdf
http://tech.ebu.ch/docs/tech/tech3341.pdf
http://tech.ebu.ch/docs/tech/tech3342.pdf
However, I guess it’s a little bit too “dry” reading for most non-technicians.

That’s a very bad piece of advice. Achieving levels compliant with the ITU-11 BS.1770-3 (EBU R128 [Europe] / ATSC A185 [US]) standards is all about numbers. As a matter of fact, you’ve got a far better chance to get correct levels by mastering with your eyes (the audio turned off) than with your ears only. What sounds good in your studio, may sound very poor when the broadcaster/streaming service has shifted the levels. This is especially true, if you have become accustomed to the squashed masters, that has been the norm for more than a decade.

It’s not possible to go in to all the details here, but one important thing are the reference levels. The EBU R128 standard dictates a reference level of -23dB LUFS. Your “ear-trusted-only” mix may, very well, end up at, say, -13dB LUFS, and sound very good in your studio. What will happen later, however, is that the broadcaster/streaming service will drop the lever by 10 dB, to bring it in-line with the EBU R128 standard. Therefore it will sound much quieter than other mixes, that has been mastered to comply with the EBU R128 standard.