The video above is a great, creative introduction by the popular “Snake Oil” YouTube channel, to my new plugin Loudness Penalty. It offers an excellent, entertaining overview of what the plugin does, and why you might want to use it. Meanwhile you can watch my video walking you through how I use the plugin myself here.
There have been a few common questions about there plugin that lots of people have been asking though, so I thought I’d collect some of them here. So, here we go !
Loudness Penalty – FAQ
Do I have to measure the whole song ?
Yes – streaming services calculate the level changes by measuring the whole song, so we need to as well, if we want accurate results. You can do this faster than realtime if you like, using applications like iZotope RX or Pro Tools Audiosuite.
Can’t I just use an LUFS meter ?
Yes, but TIDAL is the only streaming service using LUFS at the moment, so while LUFS estimates can get you in the right ballpark, in our experience they can be wrong by as much as 3 dB. The values reported by Loudness Penalty are typically within half a dB of the actual results, often within 0.1 dB
What does “Auto Gain” do ?
The Auto Gain function smoothly adjusts the Preview level to automatically follow the latest result for the currently selected streaming service, once per second.
For example if you’ve selected Spotify and the reported penalty changes rapidly, you’ll hear the Preview level adjust to reflect this. You should always disable this function once you have an overall value for a song, and want to compare the way it sounds with reference material.
It’s not really a “penalty”, is it ?
That’s a great question 🙂
It’s true that if you’re happy with the way your song sounds in comparison to similar reference material after normalisation, it doesn’t really matter if it’s turned down by a few dB or not. And in fact personally I’m quite comfortable with a “penalty” of 0 to -2 on YouTube, for loud songs. So in that case No, it’s only a “penalty” in theory.
However whenever I see score of -3, -4 or lower, personally I can’t help wondering how things might sound with less limiting, and a less aggressive reduction as a result. And in fact in my opinion and experience, a few dB less peak limiting almost always sounds just as good, if not better.
But if you try the same experiment and find you prefer the sound of your music with more limiting and a more aggressive penalty, then of course that’s the sound you should go for ! We certainly don’t ever suggest people should master towards LUFS “targets” – quite the opposite. You can read more about this subject here, and suggestions for a method we do recommend for achieving optional loudness and dynamics here.
So the honest answer is, we deliberately chose the name to be a little provocative and thought-provoking. We could have gone with Loudness Adjustment, Loudness Offset or Loudness Preview, but they just weren’t as “hooky”!
We have the best intentions, though. Our hope is that the name will make people curious about this issue, and encourage them to find out more and try their own experiments – and make it quick and easy.
Ultimately it’s what sounds best that should be the deciding factor, not the numbers. That’s why the Preview function is so important – Loudness Penalty is a tool intended to help you hear past the “loudness deception”, and make the best musical decisions for your songs – whatever they might be.