As you might know in case you’re reading this blog once in a while, my DAW (digital audio workstation) of choice is the free and open source tool called ‘Ardour‘. And almost 2 weeks ago, the project announced its latest release 6.3, with the list of changes here.
And today I finally found the time to download (I’m a supporter, otherwise that would cost you at least 1$) and to try this version, which I did on Windows (I normally use it on Linux, but on that platform I always wait for new software being added to the repositories – too much to explain here and now). And I tested this new feature, the new Loudness Analyser, with a cool song from a few friends from Wikiloops which I had downloaded but not worked on yet (so it doesn’t have a bass) – hear Marc’s original remix and keyboard add here if you wish:
Ok; so I’ve put this track in a shared drive which the machine can “see” both from Windows and Linux, so first of course I started Ardour 6.3:
Then I added the track above (“Sunny Garden”), and checked the tracks loudness with right-clicking on it. Result:
As you can see, the integrated loudness is -15LUFS, and the True Peaks are +0.9dB – so integrated is perfectly fine depending on what you’re about to do with it, but the peaks are a bit hot and even distorted.
You’ll find the new Loudness Analyser tool in the master channel/bus of the DAW, on the right hand in the following screenshot, above the master fader where it says ‘LAN’ and ‘0.00dB’:
If you click on that LAN tool, a dialog with an explanation opens:
And if you further click on ‘Analyze’ it will show you its default setting which is EBU R 128:
Now EBU R 128 is for the European TV standard loudness which as you can see is -23 LUFS (integrated), with True Peaks of -1dB. And while that is perfectly fine and always recommendable in case you want to send something to a broadcasting station, most of us don’t do this, but rather use some streaming services to upload to – all of which have different settings to which they’ll reduce your track in case it’s too loud for them. Here’s a list of choices you have:
You see that for instance Youtube which is currently selected would (and will) reduce such a track to -14 LUFS and to -1dBTP – and under the ‘Measured’ column you can also see that for Youtube the integrated (average) loudness could even be higher, but since the true peaks aren’t -1 but +0.9 it will reduce the total gain by an amount of -1.93dB. If we do that ourselves here we can at least check the result *before* uploading it elsewhere…
I always use -16 LUFS and -1dBTP as my target, which is what the choice of the ‘Apple Music’ streaming service would also do. So all of the tracks of all of my albums in Wikiloops (which *I* remixed last) have that same loudness, and to you, dear listener that means that you won’t have to always look for the volume knob in case you’ll hear one of those in the car or elsewhere… and note that the loudness reduction for *this* track would be absolutely the same as when deciding on Youtube as the ‘target’ – because of that peak of +0.9dB somewhere (and note that peak also shown in both the channel and master strips in this screenshot:
So the reduction in this case is also -1.93dB. So, ok – I applied this as my setting for this song and export, which leads to this changed part in the master channel:
So during exporting of the song, I checked that I want another analysis *after* that export (to see the result), with setting the checkmark here:
And after the exporting is done, I see the new analysis:
So now the track is at -16.9LUFS and -1dBTP which is fine, unless of course you even care for that last 0.9 dB of integrated loudness – in that case you’d have to go back to the channel and find that peak marked in yellow in the left channel of the above screenshot, correct that a bit (like with an automated fader down of a dB or so over it), and repeat – it’s an iterative process if you really want to be the ‘master’ engineer of your track(s).
Anyway, I’ve listened to that normalised track with my calibrated headphones again, and be assured that Marc’s (and Oliv’s and Martin’s) track still sounds wonderful.
And what I also find wonderful is that even in a no cost (or low cost with the 1$ for the download as minimal selectable amount) environment we now have tools like these which really make life a lot easier even for us non-technicians. So for today, thank you for reading, and I’ll let Zuleikha (an older photo of her) greet you from the background of my Windows partition:
Such a nice track from Cantaloopo and from Pewi, just had to grab my upright bass and play along a bit:
As always, thanks to my friends for all the fun, thanks to Richard and to the Wikiloops supporters for making it all possible, and thanks to you for listening.
Edit, from Saturday Sept. 12th, 2020:
Got an awesome remix of this one by Offfocus (Pat) in his track #198183 which he later had remastered automatically by the Landr service in his new upload #198206). His own one had more dynamics, so I remastered that one again to include it onto my next album like this:
What a lovely track from Oliv, Frankie, Peter, and Olivia – couldn’t resist to take Oliv’s lead sheet (merci mon ami!) on a stand, and to play along with my double bass:
Thanks to my friends for all the fun, and thanks to you for listening, as always.
Edit, from August 23rd, 2020: Got a nice remix of this track from our master mixer Oliv, merci beaucoup mon ami! So listen to this version rather than mine, it’s really better:
Thanks for listening 🙂
2nd edit, from August 24th, 2020: You probably saw it from the waveform already, and also probably heard it: Oliv’s mix is louder than mine. So I wanted to know how much louder, and I reimported his mix and measured it. Looks like this:
About -13LUFS (average loudness units full scale), and peaks are even above 0dB. I’m going for a mix target of -16LUFS and -1dBTP, which means that his mix is double as loud as mine (3dB difference means doubling the output). Interesting.
So to include the track into an album, I’d have to still take mine, or to reexport his with my target loudness… albums should have a consistent loudness in my opinion.
Again, thanks for reading. And again, merci Oliv for the nice remix 🙂
3rd edit, from August 24th, 2020: after discussing some technical things with Oliv and Richard, Oliv gave me his .wav file of his remix (above), which I then remastered to my usual loudness of -16 LUFS and -1 dBTP – so here is my final version of that track (in case no one adds anything):
And this is how the waveform looks after exporting it to the track above:
Thanks again to everyone involved, thanks to you for listening 🙂
I found that lovely and dreamy track from Stephan and Mark, and I wanted to bow my bass on that a bit – but the strings I have on the instrument aren’t really the right ones for that, so I ended up just trying to stay in tune (was a bit flat on one fifth towards the end…):
Thanks to Trommelkloppe and to Fishinmissio for all the fun, thanks to you for listening to my after-work practising 🙂