who help me out with the loudness vs dynamic range

Hi guys,

maybe not the right place, but after so many hours of reading, looking you tube movies, I’m even more confussed :slight_smile:

what happens. I read about the EBU scale, loudness maddness etc…

to put it in very simply words…seems not so easy.

after 10 years inactivitiy the complete DAW scene changed a lot for my old brains.
so what do I make, modern music again, (club techno, commercial tracks to be added on movies and publicity tracks).

what I encounter is this : if for example we talk about club techno, we need ofcourse a good solid kick.
when we add this into a cubase track you can see the meter of that channel go red or green.

following what I saw on the internet, I set each meter like in file>perferences>metering>appearance.
the start of bottom green = -12db, the max level for green = -6db and then the red part is -3db.
so the goal is to have an avarage between -12db and not for sure go over the -6db (to have room left for mastering).
I think this is okey, if not, correct me please.

then i setup my mixer (F3) to see the meter master on EBU scale and the loudness at LUFS where we have to aim at 23.

now when I start to add a kick that for me sounds as i wanted it to sound, you see the normal channel meter is set to --6.89dB in order to not touch the red,
then when I look at my master meter, in order not to pass the 23 LUFS I must set teh master slider to -7.91.

but the moment I add the high hats, shakers etc… I first listen without looking at meters, and for what I think they must sound (in loudness) I set the sliders. ofcourse adding more and more channels, the overal total loudness increases.
so that the master slider must be put down again to a -8.99.
I use the UR22MKII to listen with my studio monitors or with my brand new AKG K712Pro headphone.
and there I start to encounter that i must set the volume of the headphone at max and still have the feeling the overal volume is so low.

is my way of working correct?
so to set the complete story above in short :

  • every individual meter I set to have a safe green zone between -12.3dB and -6 dB, the red danger zone is between -6dB and -3dB (So I try never to get into the red zone for each track).
  • I set my meter to LUFS and try not to go above the 23 LUFS, so to have the left green arrow always be green.

this gives me the consequence that my main stereo out slider must be slide down sometimes to -8.99 (that’s the number you see under the slider on your left (the channel volume) or -11.4 meter peak lvl. then I have much less volume into my headphones, where sometimes I wanted a bit louder for me in order to hear all the details very well.

well, I know I sound as a neewbe, but hey I am :slight_smile: I’m an old guy worked for years with analogue synths :slight_smile:
so working back to all vst’s seems sometime confussion.

And you hear so much different things that makes the complete path even more dificult :slight_smile:

If I start to know that my track sliders are good with the values I use, the meter loudness is correct as I try to aim. then I know that’s the first start to be good to start :slight_smile:.

well I thank anybody who has much more experience on this matter and can give me some clue or tip :slight_smile:
ps : don’t judge me on my English, it’s not my home language :slight_smile:

thx a lot in advance.

Sounds sensible.

I like to have Dynameter on my 2 buss when i’m mixing since it gives such an intuitive help to make sure I keep my dynamic range around what I want.

It’s handy as well as you can set the target to be optimised for popular platforms such as YouTube and iTunes if you are doing self masters. I much prefer this meter to seeing a number or bar jumping around.

Hornet make some handy plugins that automatically stop tracks from being too loud as well which can be handy for those prone to fader creep.

Thx barryfell,

But as long as I do not for sure if the mentioned methode I told here, is the correct one, then I can buy whatever I want, if the start is wrong, no plugin will help fixing that

Well I did some tests, and to be honest, I lost all sence of how to do it now :slight_smile:

who help me out.

I installed the K-meter plugin.
I dissabled all the EQ settings on all my channels.
I set the LUFS to 16 (bit the standard I see).

now the first meetering test :

You see in the Vox plugin that the rms = -17.3 / -18.5 (you see that at the left corner of the red plugin).
then when you look at the cubase meter, loudness that I come around 20 LUFS, so I could go louder on that to reach the 16.

but then if you look at this :

a complete other endresult (nothing has been changed between the picture above and this on from settings in cubase).

you see the K- meter (black one) that the RMS is peaking at +15.1 and the true peak is at +14, on the K-20 scale?
also if you look at the cubase meter, also set on K-20 there you see under the meters : RMS max 4.1 and peak max 19.9
so complete different levels…

So I’m so confussed right now that I don’t know what to do :confused:

I think that the LUFS 16 is okey.
then the question is, why the vox span plugin shows : RMS -17.7 -18.9

so seems no way to be logical.

who can help me out here, since I really lost it all :slight_smile:

for me the goal is to make the music, while i’m making it I put the meters on the stereo out.
and then if I mix each track with the ear, I look at the meters in order to have enough headroom for mastering but also to see that the LUFS is around -16 and the RMS is between the -10 ~-6.
then I know when I export the file to mastering it, it will be okey.

or is there something I do wrong ?

Is it correct to look allready at the rms and the LUFS when making music (so before the mastering process?)

now I try to set my track meters to be green between -10 and -6 and are red on -3 (no headroom left per channel).
and then just mix it on the earfeeling.
of do I also have to take care of the rms and LUFS before the mastering process?
a bit confussing for me.

hope some good soul can give me an idea :slight_smile:


You are right. Understanding meters and how to use them is not easy.

At least some of the confusion is probably due to reading max RMS levels or average RMS levels. For example, the RMS value shown on the Cubase master meter is the maximum recorded RMS level whereas the RMS level shown on the plug-in is probably the average RMS level. Also, with regard to peak metering, true peak is not the same as digital peak.

There’s also the question of what scale you have chosen in the master meters. Each scale is going to result in different values. The K20 scale will give completely different values to a standard digital scale meter.

Try switching your Cubase master meter to the digital scale, and then see how this matches with your other metering. This should help you clarify the differences you are seeing.

And with regard to loudness, the loudness meter uses yet another very different approach to metering with another scale measured not in dBFS but in LUFS. So this, once again, will not correspond to values found on other kinds of meters.

Try doing a search for metering on the internet for more information (but maybe don’t believe everything you read since some of it is misinformation).

Sorry if this is not helpful, but if you are not mastering for TV or video those EBU meters are utterly useless.
Dont worry to much about the levels, unless you are running your mix into a maximizer or other tool to pump up the volume. Then there should be plenty of dynamics for a mastering engineer to work with.

At some point you may want to learn more about metering, but as you noted, it can be very confusing.

It appears to me that your real problem is getting a volume level that sounds good to you in your speakers or headphones. I would consider investing in something to amplify the UR22mkII output to a suitable level.

FWIW, I use a Mackie Big Knob for my listening. Most hardware mixers, even small ones, would work just as well.
My AKG 240 headphones plugged into it are more than loud enough. I also have a set of small JBL powered speakers, and a larger non-powered set running through a 200 watt amp. It’s not that important WHAT you use as long as it does the job for you. If you can’t hear it, you won’t know if it sounds good or not.

As for setting your levels, which meter you use isn’t that big of a deal. Just pick one and learn to use it. You are dealing with digital audio, so the old rule of getting the signal as loud as possible, doesn’t matter.

I set my track input levels so they average around “-12 to -15 dbs” to leave some headroom, so I don’t have to adjust the main outs every time I add a new track. Once the audio is recorded, you can increase the Gain.
Go to “Menu → Audio → Process → Gain”

Usually I set drum levels first, since they’ve got the most peaks. Normally, I have to adjust the existing track faders as I add new tracks.

Anyway, I wouldn’t agonize too much over the type of meters. Just set your input levels low enough that you don’t lose a good take because it was too hot and distorted.


DidierG, in my opinion you are over-thinking all this. Really, Loudness is mainly the concern of Mastering engineers.

For mixing, you can largely ignore the meters, as long as the final output doesn’t peak above 0dB, and be aware that some plug-ins can be overdriven.

If you are concerned about loudness (and we should all be concerned, now) just don’t overdo the compression on any of the elements in the mix (but it’s OK to do this for particular effects) and definitely don’t compress the output. Very light limiting to avoid peak overs but better to lower the output gain so that the highest peak is below 0dB.

Then approach the loudness issue as a mastering technique, or take your mixes to a mastering engineer who understands it. It IS complex, there ARE several standards to be aware of (-23LUFS for broadcast, -16LUFS for iTunes etc) but if your mix has good, sensible dynamic range - which by the way will sound great - because you didn’t over compress the mix, it will translate well to any standard.

I highly recommend Ian Shepherd’s blogs, and the Dynameter mentioned above, but as I say it’s mainly of relevance to mastering. It’s all good to read and understand though.

Seasons Greetings

hmm, I have still a 12 channel analogue mixing table from behringer.
I wonder if I put this between the UR22MKII and the signal I put inside the mixing table,
then I put my monitors on the mixing table and then my headhphone also, if I can power up this volume of the headphones…
maybe possible.

a bit sad to see that the UR22MKII has this problem, seems a lot of guys have the same remarks…

So you’re complaining the headphone output isn’t loud enough on your audio interface!

hi Mitchiemasha,

yes and no, the first thing I noticed it that while doing a mixdown, the output indeed is quit low in the headphone, today we did some tests in our studio, with monitors, etc… we did a master session and the end result is what we wanted.

so the only thing we can say is that the amp of the headphone out on the UR22MKII is a bit low, a bit sad, but now we will not get hearing problems :slight_smile:

I know what you mean but it might be worth considering the following:

Some would say that loudness should be the concern of everyone, not just mastering engineers. As an example, one track in a multitrack recording could sound a lot louder than another and yet have its peaks at a lower level on the channel peak meters. So in this case, and many others like it, loudness perception becomes a fundamental aspect of recording and mixing, especially when you are using your ears and not looking at the meters. Among other things loudness perception varies according to frequency and distortion.

Contrary to what somebody above mentioned, that it doesn’t matter what meter you use, it’s worth considering how different meters register the same signal in different ways and how what you see may, or may not, correspond with perceived loudness. For example, a loudness meter will give you a good measurement of loudness whereas a digital peak meter will not, and a VU meter is useful for estimating the average level but is not good for registering peaks. A loudness meter can be helpful at any stage in the recording process.

It could be said that loudness, dynamic range and peak levels are all of concern for every stage in the recording process. As is the concept of headroom. Each type of meter helps you look at these different characteristics with more or less precision. What you hear is of primary importance but different kinds of meters are there for a purpose and understanding them can certainly help you.

  • the less instruments you have playing at the same time, the louder you can get it.
  • there is no loudness if there is no quietness
  • if you play things one at a time, you can get them percievably louder, like what skrillex does (listen to skrillex- bangarang)
  • as you go up in frequency you need less energy to make it louder, there is a sweet spot between 500Hz-5kHz(Knife party-BossMode)

Imagine I play a Siren at 2kHz= sounds loud and attracts ear attention
Imagine I play a Siren + Guitar=now the siren doesn’t sound as loud anymore
Imagine I play a Siren + Guitar + Drum loop= siren sounds normal now

You get the pattern?


I also share some of the OPs confusion about metering correctly in Cubase. The subject has been discussed in other threads, but I thought reviewing it would be useful. I don’t have time to post a lot now, but I’ll watch the thread and perhaps some others will discuss how they meter in cubase. The meters have a lot of flexibility in terms of Scales and color choices, meter “ballistics” (fall back speed, peak hold times) and so it is a lot to work with and, frankly, the User Manual is inadequate in its discussion of the metering, and, sadly, I think there’s a lot of misinformation floating around on youtube about the subjects of metering, gain staging, and related topics.

As a first off suggestion to the Op, if you have a smart phone get a Sound Level meter application and check your listening level. Keep the level low. Monitoring at no more than 90dB SPL and even less will help your ears perceive the relationships between the loudness levels – -10 dB, -3dB, +2dB – of sounds in the different frequency ranges – sub-bass, lows, low-mids, high-mids, highs. You’re dealing with the Equal-Loudness contour. David Gibson’s book “The Art of Mixing” (pretty dated at this point but still generally valid) suggests learning to hear three, then six, then more levels of loudness of the components of the mix. None of this, however, really has anything to do with how Cubase implements metering, but it seemed to me that some of what you’re dealing with is more related to sound perception than it is to actual metering. In other words, I think that if you work on this aspect of things, the metering issues will become clearer to you and may more or less be resolved to at least some degree.

Let’s hope there will be some more discussion and suggestions about good metering practices in Cubase. I certainly need to understand it better myself. For example, what’s “best” for your Sound Cloud posts? I hear some great music from people here. Take care for now.

Span has a nice max crest factor meter that shows the loudest and quietest levels difference, quite handy. And then the cubase rms- all you really need for music.

See this post from a few years ago which might help.

Final Mix has too narrow dynamic rage: Final mix has far too narrow dynamic range. - #12 by Split - Cubase - Steinberg Forums

Excellent article:

Part II: How To Make Better Recordings in the 21st Century - An Integrated Approach to Metering, Monitoring, and Leveling Practices. – Level Practices (Part 2) - Digido.com

This is a “must read”
Monitor Wizard: Establishing Project Studio Reference Monitoring Levels


I finally feel that I’m understanding how to establish the correct, what I call, “line-up” – some call this, incorrectly, “gain staging.” After using the techniques outlined in this and the other article I mentioned above, I finally feel certain about what I’m actually hearing. Eighteen months of hard work starting to pay off. :slight_smile: