How Loud Should Your Songs Be? | MASTERING BASICS

Every beginner mixing and mastering engineer has this question. How loud should my songs be? Should it be peaking at 0dbs? Or should I reduce the volume? And, what is LUFS?


Good News! There are answers!


There are some audio standards that every streaming service follows to enhance the experience of the listeners without making them deaf. Yes, your MAX VOLUME song with HARD CLIPPING is not what the world wants! There are some standards that you should follow that make your song sound more professional and helps you compete with the rest of the music industry!


We're going to discuss how sound loudness is calculated across different streaming platforms.



Introduction To LUFS/LKFS


Loudness, K-weighted, relative to full scale (LKFS) is a standard loudness measurement unit used for audio normalization in streaming services and broadcast television systems. It is was standardized by Internation Telecommunications Union (ITU).


LUFS or Loudness Units relative to Full Scale is the same thing as LKFS. It's just that some countries use LUFS while others use LKFS while describing the same thing.


If you want to know more about how LKFS is measured and go into the technical and mathematical details, you can read the ITU-R BS 1770-4 here.


If you want to know more about LUFS/LKFS you can refer to this article.



How Loud Should Your Songs Be?


There are different standards for different use cases. For example, Spotify recommends the max integrated loudness of -14 LUFS. On the other hand, TV broadcasts in the US should have the max integrated loudness of -24 LKFS (LUFS).


You can use any free Loudness meter to determine the loudness of your song.


Here is a brief list of recommended loudness in different case scenarios:

If you want to read more about different standards, you can refer to this article here.


Conclusion


If you're making music for online streaming, you should be fine with max integrated loudness of -14 (±1) LKFS/LUFS. However, if you're making some music for TV broadcasts or movies, you should leave mastering to professional mastering engineers as they know a lot more than anyone else!😅

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