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another question about perceived loudness and Spotify normalling
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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another question about perceived loudness and Spotify normalling

Hi all -

First time posting here, and I know my question has been asked in many ways, but I'm really wanting to learn something specific.

I recently finished the second EP I've done for a band I work with and it's now out on Spotify. Despite my perception that EP#2 sounds better in all ways than EP#1 (at least to my taste), reflecting better gear and techniques learned in between, I've noticed that it has a lower loudness level as compared to the first when played on Spotify with normal default normalization settings. Turning off normalization, it's the opposite. Now I know that louder doesn't necessarily mean better, but I still wasn't expecting this loudness difference.

I used the same mastering engineer for both. EP 1 was mastered lower with tracks coming in around the 9.5-11.5 dB LUFS range, and EP 2 has a hotter profile, coming in between 7.5-9 dB LUFS. I understand the way normalization works; with Spotify's current algorithms, both are turned down - EP2 even more so. But I'm struggling to understand why the 2nd one appears to be attenuated to an overall lower level than the first.

Here's a few ideas I have floating in my head: the first record was recorded really quickly and for the most part I had to do heavy sample replacement on kick and snare. The 2nd I spent more time and got natural drum sounds I was happy with. Could it be something about the way the drum samples hit that causes a perceived increase in loudness? The other thought is that I immediately felt EP2 sounded a little bright when I got it back from mastering, but I know that I'm prejudiced in favor of dark sounds, so I second guess myself. The band was happy with the sound, and I let it go. Could it be that the high-mid/high end energy hits the normalization harder and tells it to attenuate earlier? On the other end of the spectrum, EP1 has more bass energy...could this be contributing to the perception?

Mostly I just want to learn what to expect. I brought up my concern with my ME re: the hotter levels on EP2 in relation to EP1 and asked if he thought that it would sound lower in Spotify. He said he thought if anything, the 2nd would appear louder than the first.

This didn't happen. I'm not upset or overly bothered, really mostly curious to learn more. Thanks for any insight!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
Are you able to post links to the records? It will be much easier to give a good answer if we can listen to them.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by zwolf View Post
Could it be that the high-mid/high end energy hits the normalization harder and tells it to attenuate earlier?
This is a logical explanation. Spotify uses ReplayGain for normalisation which employs an inverse equal loudness curve to accommodate to ear's sensitivity to high mids.
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Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering View Post
Are you able to post links to the records? It will be much easier to give a good answer if we can listen to them.
Sure: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3HHC...SiG9RJ-P_FJDoA

You'll obviously need to make sure Spotify's setting are set to the default of normalization "on" and "medium" level...

Affirmation is EP1 and Fast Cars is EP2. I can't seem any moment on Fast Cars that gets close loudness wise to the chorus of "Lonely Mess", for instance. Given there's a crunchy guitar and bass thing happening there that's largely absent in EP2, but still, as per the OP, I was surprised by this...
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