SIMPLE Question about loudness meter

Does changing the setting change “zero” ? like if I set it to k-12 for instance- is that the new zero? or is it always set to digital zero.?" I can see that different loudness settings change where the “Bar” turns red. so I didn’t know if my zero was still digital zero or not

It changes the your reference level, but not your absolute level. Digital 0dbfs will still be exactly the same. If you’re hovering at 0 on the K-Scale, you are at -12 on the dbFS scale.

It’s exactly as @Dunk79 said, I just may add that 0 dBFS digital is at the top of the K meters, that is, +20, +14 or +12. It only clips when the meter is full.

Isn’t the K-metering system based on RMS or some similar average measurements? So not useful for digital peak measurement anyway?
Apart from: Who uses that anymore now that LUFS has become the de-facto standard?

Normally the audio system has to be calibrated so that 0 on the K scale is 85 dB of pink noise.
IMO that’s more for movie production, where the low levels like dialogue are around 0 and music/SFX can go up to +12, 14 or 20, that just sets the dynamic range. People seem to use it for commercial music but I don’t find this really adapted.

Yes, I know, but my question was whether it was RMS or peak measurements, but I checked, and the master meter does display both RMS and peak values (tbh I never use the master meter and I don’t care much about metering… imho, ff you don’t have to comply to some standard, don’t fret too much about it :grin: )

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Easiest thing to do to understand what’s happening is load an instance of Supervision into your Stereo Out or Control Room. It will open with a digital full scale meter on (same as Stereo Out) but you can add another Level meter and change the settings for it to K-12.

You’ll see the same level going through them both, but the numbers are different. -0.1 on your digital scale will read as +11.9 on your K12 meter.

As others have said, the K-System was developed as a way to observe loudness, albeit LUFS is the thing these days.

Love it! I will try that and maybe it will finally click for me- thank you! the only thing im not fully getting is what you mean by reference vs absolute- would the reference be the RMS/peak read out? If im talking directly about the stereo out meter in the mix console- the bars don’t seem to change value when I loop a short section of a song and change the scale- so that must be the absolute levels you refer to? Thanks again Dunk !

I was just using the k system as an example - Ive never had a reason to use anything other than digital really- Lufs has been useful in mastering for sure just to see if I can get the perceived loudness any higher - in the end if it doesn’t seem significantly quieter in a playlist with other songs of the genre Im generally happy. More or less Im just trying to be sure Im understanding how cubase works as I switched over from pro tools not too long ago.

so…I may have to make some screenshots tomorrow and upload them so I can show you were some of my confusion is coming from- Maybe something isn’t calibrated right or I just can’t wrap my head around it because i loaded supervision - its set to the stereo bus -digital scale- and then loaded the VU module and set it to digital as well and for some reason my VU meter is reading about 5/6 db quieter. I also have a meter on my cranborne 500r8 and none of them match. Im trying not to overthink this but at this point IDK what im doing wrong or not understanding. Obviously different settings should give me different values but the same settings giving different values makes no sense to me.

There’s at least one thread about the VU meter in Supervision. If you’re trying to wrap your head around the basics of metering I highly suggest you skip that for now. It’ll only confuse matters more.

In my opinion the best way to think about this is that you have one “absolute” of importance in this context; fixed point digital signal values. That’s what your converter eventually sees and converts to analog. The maximum level is 0dBFS. So if you have a meter that is showing for example sample peak values then it’s showing absolute values.

“Reference” on the other hand has to do with how you like to work which depends on what is convenient for you. I think in many or most cases on meters that are not ‘absolute’ meters you will see a “zero” and values above that. When this is the case “zero” will indicate where your average should be, and the values above will often indicate headroom before your signal distorts.

If you take the K-system as an example the whole idea is that you pick a scale, K-20, K-14 or K-12, and then you mix so that your average ends up at “zero” on the chosen scale. The number after “K” refers to how much headroom you have above “zero” before you start clipping. Because of that you can think of the K-system as dealing with a reference level. The one you choose is your reference you’re aiming for. If you hit the zero target you end up with a different amount of headroom in your mix, and as a result your mixes will have different loudness.

However, the K-system is tied to your monitor levels. So your “zero” on the meter should equal a specific SPL in your room, regardless of which K-reference you’re choosing. In other words you shouldn’t just change that meter without changing the playback level of your monitors.

So the result of changing both from “K-20” to “K-14” and lowering your monitor level by 6dB is that you effectively ‘lose’ 6dB of headroom. And the result of that when you’re mixing by ear is that you are forced to use more dynamics control like compression in order to ‘fit’ everything without clipping… resulting in a louder mix… at K-14… Why? Because using your ears you’re aiming for roughly the same SPL in your room when you’re mixing. You’ll typically want lead vocals at a certain SPL for a certain type of music, so if you monitors are turned down you have to turn vocals up in the mix, resulting in less headroom and a mix that is ‘absolutely’ louder.

So really the trick with reference levels on meters is that it relies either on industry standards (broadcast audio to picture basically) and/or on your monitor levels. So monitor calibration to create a reference is really the trick here…

(sorry for all the text… I just had coffee)