The (new to me) R128 standard

Hey friends,
I haven’t been here in a while and just recently upgraded to Wavelab Pro 9.5. I also just found out about the new loudness standard R128 and am trying to understand this. First of all let me state that my son just had someone record a new album and mix and master it for him and when I downloaded the files, I thought they were hot according to my old way of checking levels with the K-12 system, peak RMS levels were hitting 4 or 5 above 0 (-12 RMS).
So doing some research brought me to learn about the R128 standard and using the loudness meter and the R128 setting this audio is hanging at around +11.5 although the engineer told my son that he mastered to -11.5 LUFS. Is he not understanding this, or am I missing something?

Thanks in advance,

Alright I figured it out, had to change the setting to custom full scale and it was reading -11.5 LUFS, after which checking the levels of the Grateful Dead’s Touch of Grey for a cross reference it measured at -16 LUFS. So as I suspected, he mixed/mastered this stuff way hot for my taste. Shame.

is your son happy with the mastering? I guess it’s normal to communicate with the mastering engineer about what you’re looking for in mastering. This is a generalization but I feel that most people that do mixing AND mastering tend to squash things too much. Instead of making a great mix, they skip ahead to the stereo buss processing and lean on that to achieve loudness (or too much loudness) and it can go bad quickly. Maybe not enough communication happened regarding the mastering or maybe they are happy with it like this.

That being said, -11.5 LUFS is not all that loud compared to the majority of modern pop/rock stuff coming out in the last 10 years. Loudness trends are slowly shifting downward again now that loudness normalization is more common on the music streaming services but we are still asked to produce a lot of really loud masters as of today.

Without hearing it or even knowing the genre of music, it’s hard to really comment more.

Whether it’s LUFS or RMS, we’re still working with the same digital loudness container so I don’t think the issue has anything to do with metering standards, it has more to do with the practices (good or bad) of whoever did the mastering.

Agree 100%. As Justin says an integrated loudness reading of -11.5LUFS is not that loud when compared to current trends (which can go up to -8LUFS or even higher) but it all depends upon the style of the music and your requirements / expectations. I personally don’t like things smashed in this way but most people want it mastered loud due to a fear that otherwise it may not ‘compete’ with other releases. Some commercially released stuff does get mastered between -16LUFS and -14LUFS.

One of the best articles I’ve come across is Hugh Robjohn’s “End of the loudness war?”. Just to note also, if the material is not intended for broadcast, you can happily ignore all of this!

It’s genre and taste specific but I usually prefer the sound of a more natural -14 LUFS master (for modern pop/rock etc) but we’re still at a point where if we did that, the client 9 of 10 times will come back saying: "It sounds great but can you make it louder?". The effects of loudness normalization on the streaming services hasn’t yet had a big impact on our clients loudness demands yet. It might take a few releasees for them to experience in real-life what happens to their master on streaming services so for now, they usually still insist we go for a super hot CD era master.

Without any direction ahead of time, or prior history working together, or other communication, I think most mastering engineers working on pop/rock/contemporary music today will deliver a master somewhere between -12 and -9 LUFS integrated and then go from there.

If we’re talking about traditional jazz, folk, classics, or sparse acoustic stuff that is a different story though. You can usually get away with at least starting from a more reasonable level around -16 LUFS and it often works well,

So his music is Space Jazz. I will agree that -11.5 isn’t as bad as it could be but yes, slightly hot for the natural dynamics of the music that I like to hear.

Good news is I was actually able to use Wavelab’s MultiExpander to brind the dynamics back out to almost -16 LUFS and then used my UAD Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor very slightly and ended up with an overall of -14.8 LUFS which sounds fantastic to my ears. I still don’t know whether my son will go with mine or the other one, but either way I have a copy that suits my tastes better!!! :slight_smile:

Yeah, I think for jazz, -11 can be pushing it too far aside from really modern/slick contemporary jazz. Naturally, I think jazz has a broader range of what can sound good compared to other genres of music.

I’ve gotten away with some really natural jazz projects that sit around -16 LUFS but some of the more modern/progressive jazz projects sometimes ask em to go closer to -10 LUFS before they are happy with it.

R128 is for broadcast. All bets are still off for CD. :slight_smile:

This I’m discovering!!! Sure wish there one for music!!!

There’s nothing specific for CD but there are already guidelines for music… such as that delivered to You Tube, Spotify and Tidal.

Yes, it’s critical that the LUFS level not be too hot for YouTube, iTunes, and other on-line playback sites. The reason is that they will adjust the volume on your track so that the LUFS peak is within their limits. So if your peak is LUFS -16 for example, on playback it should sound very much like what you uploaded. But if your LUFS is -11.5, they will turn down the volume till it matches theirs, and it will wind up potentially sounding less loud than competing tracks.

Each site has it’s own LUFS peak acceptable level, you can go there and find out. It’s generally around -14 LUFS, but I’ve noticed some of them have changed over time, so it’s worth checking before uploading.

As mentioned above, for entirely local playback (i.e., CD, USB stick,etc.), the only limit is the old-fashioned one, 0.0 dBFS.

(Hi, MandoBilly, now MandoBilly64, I remember you from the old days - welcome back!).

Yes, it’s me. Haven’t been on the forum in a long time. I completely understand this but alas what’s done is done. The good thing is the cd, although mastered at -11.5 LUFS Average, still does have a pretty good dynamic range within it, so even if turned down, it will sound good!!!


Alexis, you’re correct, except the streaming services do Loudness Normalization to a LUFS level that will be the integrated loudness of the whole song (or the whole album, but that’s quite a different subject). So we’re not talking peak levels here.
A very informative podcast about it can be found here:, episode 41 specifically.

Thanks for the correction!