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Perceived Loudness
Old 24th July 2019
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Perceived Loudness

I'm interested in getting information about what LUFS level and perceived loudness tell us about the spectral balance of the mix and what techniques ME's use to raise perceived loudness without raising LUFS.

I know this is a technical approach and I realise ME's are most likely not approaching it in this way at all, so feel free to tell me your methodology/philosophy on your approach. I get that using and training my ears is the way, but I am using these techniques to train my ears. At least it makes sense to me.

Recently I've started doing a mastering session after a session working on a track, purely to create a reference to work towards in the mix page. I've boosting stuff up to round about -10 LUFS and have my reference tracks at -10 LUFS also.

The first thing I learnt is that a LUFS meter is not a perfect representative of perceived loudness. If I have mixed something too bass heavy (which I am prone to do) a commercial track at the same LUFS level will sound louder.

In a way this imperfection is helpful because although I can hear my track is quieter and more muted tonally in comparison I can now calibrate the bass end until I have achieved a similar perceived loudness. (reducing bass end will reduce the LUFS reading and when brought back up will raise the mids and high end where our ear perceives loudness)

Aside from LUFS observations in that situation would ME's typically shelve the low end and make up gain or have a deep hi shelf and some mid boost and then gain down?

Are ME's typically calibrating each stage of their process so they can A/B accurately to check if the audio is improved or not?

Are there any other trick tips for raising perceived loudness aside from eq? Compression that reduces bass response I would have thought would contribute, would ME's use compression for that task or more for things like peak reduction?

I know it's a lot to ask, but I'd appreciate any help on these matters
Old 25th July 2019
  #2
Quote:
The first thing I learnt is that a LUFS meter is not a perfect representative of perceived loudness. If I have mixed something too bass heavy (which I am prone to do) a commercial track at the same LUFS level will sound louder.
That is because of the bass frequencies and how you treated the bass frequencies in the mixing stage. A mix that is mixed correctly will be able to be louder when mastered, because the mix is cleaner and doenst have a lot of garbage in the lower end
Quote:
Aside from LUFS observations in that situation would ME's typically shelve the low end and make up gain or have a deep hi shelf and some mid boost and then gain down?
In mastering and in every step of music production, there are no set things to do to get the song to sound the way you want it, tonally and volume wise. Each mix is unique and will need unique and different things done to it in order to master it correctly.

The first thing an ME odes is listen to the entire mix in a very controlled environment to get an overall feel and to get an overall tonal balance of that needs to be done. The the ME will proceed to do what ever needs to be done, If that means some subtle cuts and boost at a specific frequency range and some mid and side cuts, then that is what is done. To date, i have not done the same exact thing to any song that i mastered. Every mix is unique and that means every mastering process will be unique for every mix.
Old 25th July 2019
  #3
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

OP, your observations/instincts are good IMO.

LUFS metering uses a K-Weighting filter so that it is less sensitive to low frequency energy than standard RMS metering but IME the lows still have an impact. It is the closest we've come to a meter that 'hears' loudness the way our ears do, but it's still not perfect.



It is not unheard of for MEs to allow a little more energy in the upper midrange when their clients want to compete for loudness.
Old 28th July 2019
  #4
Gear Addict
 

Thanks for the replies!

@ CJ Mastering ; I get your point, and pretty much expected that to be a main reply. It's all about the engineer and the accuracy of their monitoring and room.

@ SmoothTone ; Thanks for the diagram, that's interesting. I usually make bass heavy music and it's pretty much a guessing game, I don't have a treated room as of yet. But I've found the LUFS trick quite a reliable way of getting something comparative to commercial masters, although I'm able to use it as a guide and rebalance my mix accordingly.
Old 4th August 2019
  #5
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jproc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by The 6th Beatle View Post
Are ME's typically calibrating each stage of their process so they can A/B accurately to check if the audio is improved or not?

Are there any other trick tips for raising perceived loudness aside from eq? Compression that reduces bass response I would have thought would contribute, would ME's use compression for that task or more for things like peak reduction?
Two things I think haven’t been addressed (or I just missed)
Yes, accurate A/B is very important - Eq boosts and cuts affect the overall volume, so proper gain staging is important to determine the the eq change is making a positive impact, and your ears aren’t just being fooled by a volume difference.

For compression, take a look at using a side-chain filter also (many compressors have one built in, but you can do it with any side-chain input)
Basically, you can use the side chain to prevent the compressor from kicking in on certain frequency ranges. Built in ones are typically a high pass filter somewhere between 60-200hz, so you end up compressing the low-end less. This allows you to raise the overall volume without overly compressing the low end.

Not sure i’m wording that well, so any other ME’s feel free to correct me (I haven’t had my coffee yet :p )
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