camsr wrote:Well, I know what I mean by normalizing based on integrated LUFS, it's just adjusting the gain to some predetermined amount to correspond with the reading on the meter. There's nothing non-linear about LUFS, so it should measure according to it's curves at any gain. We could use MLoudnessAnalyzer, a free Melda plugin which works great with the DAW. How far off could an integrated reading be?
Have you read my K-System v2 concept thread and how different the results actually were?
I can create a consistent loudness over a certain program (15minutes) with a LUFS (Integrated) of +/-1LUFS, 2LUFS at max. But individual tracks can vary drastically in terms of the ILk (integrated loudness in LUFS) value.
Why? Because this meter has a similar disadvantage like a plain VU meter. The VU meter takes the low frequency content into consideration. The EBU R-128 / ITU-R BS.1770 meter uses a pre-filter to trim the lowend frequency and has an emphasis on frequencies above 1kHz. So depending on the so called "program material", chances are that the analysis responds stronger to those streams that have more high frequency content compared to those that have a focus on low frequency.
Hard to describe really - but let the MLk (400ms ballistics) meter of the EBU R-128 metering standard and a regular VU at 400ms ballistics run side by side. Use the same reference level (if you have an EBU R-128 meter that can be setup, else use -23dBFS = 0VU on the VU meter). Then you see what i mean.
There is no ultimate measurement of a signal strength other than the digital meter maybe. And this one doesn't measure the average signal strength. Or rather what we call "loudness" these days.
camsr wrote:But this is a mix competition, most people I know mix by ear. That's subjective loudness. And on that point, I would also like to say that using limiters on the master bus should be prohibited, as it's really not beneficial. Maybe the only reason they are being used is because they want to conform to this level you have prescribed to us, which really doesn't connect well with how we hear. LUFS is much better at that, but not perfect.
What is there to conform? As with the other thread where you were looking for a digital meter, I think you are greatly misunderstanding something here.
Let me be clear once more:
The Mix Challenge average signal strength (what we commonly call "loudness") shall NOT exceed -15dBFS (on a RMS meter) or +3 VU (on a VU meter). The reference level of both the VU and the RMS meter would be -18dBFS in this case. So you can overdrive the "virtual console" by about 3dB if you feel like it.
This in turn can result in in a digital maximum peak of up to -6dBFS. Actually, if we assume that the dynamic range from average signal strength to maximum signal strength can be 12dB instead of "mere" 9dB (which can happen)... then in theory, an audio stream that has an average signal strength of -15dBFS (RMS) can peak up until -3dBFS digital peak!
There you have it - the values I was constantly talking about.
The same rule applies to a Quasi PPM btw - if we want to go technical, let's go all the way.
For example the PPM IEC 268-10 IIb EBU one has a reference level of -18dBFS (marked as "test") and a range up until 9 until the meters go into the red. See here
. These PPM's are called "Quasi Peak Program Meter", and here is why: they are using ballistics (5ms in this case), and they are setup so that a certain voltage (0,775V) results in 0dBu, or showing "test" at the meter markings. Depending on the country, the "0 reference point" can even be +4dBu (1,228V) or +6dBu (1,55V) - which is interesting if we take a look at an analog console (read below)
This was later ported into the digital realm. And I've yet to find out who came up with this, but funny enough this is now considered and widely accepted as -18dBFS digital peak. The level that is used up and down by software developers these days as well.
Depending on how well your ADC/DAC is set up - some show -20dBFS, some -15dBFS, some even -12dBFS if you connect a proper test device to your +4dBu set up ADC (use a voltage meter to check the output level of your test device, then compare with your digital meter readout! This results int the "theoretical" digital reference level). Else there is absolutely no connection to dBu in any form whatsoever.
Please also take note of this excellent homepage:
Then use the browser search function with this code: "dBFS - Digital recording level" - read from there which also show various "rough guides".
Anyway - if we would in theory up the voltage to 9dBu (the most maximum ideal limit until an analog device starts to distort too much, read: usually the headroom for signal peaks!) and measure the signal strength with a digital meter, we theoretically get -9dBFS (one signal source, not a sum!). And what do you know... meters with ballistics do not(!) recognize these peaks. So if you use, for example, a VU with the same reference level, you won't see peaks because it's responding too slow (300ms integration time, or 300ms rise/300ms fall of the needle). It's measuring the average signal strength.
Transients can however shoot way higher. Old QPPM's had the 9dB headroom just for this case (even 5ms show an offset!), VU's were calibrated lower right from the start to take this into consideration. And this is where these levels come from that I constantly mention. And how they (in theory) relate with each other.
Again, in short form (which also works for proper gain staging both ITB and OTB), and taking into account that there really is no relation between dBu / VU / dBFS (again , a "guideline"):
- Mix with a VU and a digital meter
- level in your signal so that the average signal strength doesn't exceed -18dBFS / 0VU or...
- level in your signal so that the maximum signal strength (transients) don't exceed 9dBFS (or if you feel like it, then -6dBFS)
- mix your tracks so that you won't exceed -15dBFS / +3VU (Reference Level -18dBFS)
If you stick to that, your peaks will barely ever touch -3dBFS digital peak!
Now look at your typical consumer analog mixing console, or whatever analog console might rest on your desk. Take a look at the meters - they go into a positive range, do they not? What does that tell us? It must use a certain reference level - which in turn tells us "this is the 'unity level' ". What do the specs say about this one piece of gear? Ooooh... a headroom of +20dBU?! Good for you, but what is the reference level? What is the maximum level that you can run through?
The reference level is usually still 0,775V = 0dBu = 0 on the meter. Sometimes 1,228V = +4dBu = 0 on the meter (Behringer for example is very vague on this!), and the ideal "upper limit" can be +12dB (if it's a really clean console, and if we only talk about transients!). If it is a console that has a headroom of +20dBu and the reference level resides at +4dBu (0 point on the meter) - there you have your 12dB headroom. So how do you level in stuff there? The same way as before: Average signal (bass intensive material) around 0dB on the meter, transient heavy signal up to +9dB on the meter.
Heck, years ago I was basically harassed by my teacher not to even GO into the amber tone (yellow LEDs) of the mix console with either signal, because it is wrong. What they never told me however (and they couldn't even properly describe it), was the relation between an average meter, a quasi peak program meter and a digital meter. And why going up to the red LED (read: full yellow/amber zone) is okay. Yet they insisted on leveling in a signal as high as possible in the digital realm - but scolded us if the signal clipped because there were unexpected transients.
This is missing knowledge that I had to scratch together myself - and I just summed it up in a couple of paragraphs again.
Was that clear enough now?
Because those that follow my posts for years now, shouldn't know why I insist on mentioning the reference level, and the type of metering.
The mix challenge shall not exceed an average signal strength of:
-15dBFS (RMS meter) or +3 VU (VU meter with a reference level of -18dBFS)
The maximum peak can automatically be -3dBFS if we consider a dynamic range for transients of up to 12dB.
I do not see where this is confusing in any way.
Neither do I see why people might think they need to use a limiter. In this scenario, you don't need one. The VU meter and the RMS meter are both meters that measure the "average signal strength". There doesn't need to be a standard - it can't get any simpler than that.
And if we talk about -14LUFS avg (EBU R-128) or even -16LUFS avg (EBU R-128, or K-System v2 concept) during mastering at a later state, you barely even touch a brickwall limiter off the signal peaks! Which is why this metering standard/recommendation is considered a holy grail for mastering music.
If you know and understand how to handle all these meters. And I do emphasize on that!
Yes exactly and I can't help but think things are getting a bit over complicated. I have my own reference points and they work for me.
But at the same time I know I can learn a lot from Compy
Again nothing at all complicated:
I use a digital reference level of -18dBFS = 0VU in my DAW. I barely use outboard FX, so I'm not running into that much trouble. But I will re-measure my gear in the next weeks. Just to be sure (last time I did that, I got a level of -15dBFS to -12dBFS)
I do not allow myself to have transient heavy material peak higher than -6dBFS digital peak (12dB dynamic range!), and bass intensive material won't reach higher than +1 VU.
I then mix as I'm used to and try to not overshoot +3 VU (master bus) on very busy parts. I barely ever reach -3dBFS digital peak on the master bus. The same rules would apply, if I'd work with -20dBFS = 0VU in the digital realm.
My main advantages:
- no need for a savety brickwall limiter
- plenty of headroom for digital peaks
- I do not touch the master fader at all
- way better fader resolution, since mine are not constantly glued to the lower third section
And yes, I also do mix by ear. I'm used to these levels now.
And no, I don't care about he negative vibes with not using the so called "forbidden zone" in the digital realm. My material will never clip - unless I want it to.
Sorry for the lengthy post.
But I hope it was educational in any way and clears why I went for these values.
Reading about the metronome track, I also thought it wasn't part of the song. But well... I'll play around with it for a while. The only track I didn't level in properly.