Mixing with LUFS?

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Mixing with LUFS?

Post by siderealxxx »

So I've always mixed by ear. My mixes are ok but I know could be better.

I also tend to mix in the project rather than exporting multi-tracks/stems because there's often a lot of sequence dependent automation etc. I will have more control to solve problems that aren't just EQ/compression/balance based.

Whilst I think I can get everything sounding good on its own and sitting in its own space (something that is strongly considered in the composition/arrangement stage), the thing I struggle with most is simply balancing instruments relative to each other.

I once explored the pink noise method of mixing and didn't enjoy it. It also seemed to have a tendency of making instruments in the high end (espeically hi-hats/cymbals) etc ridiculously loud. I appreciate it's only a starting point.

I only recently thought about the idea of using LUFS and loudness as a starting point for mixing/balancing. Is this a credible/worthwhile approach? Is there an established technique to it? Curious.

Happy weekend :thumbup:
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by The Elf »

I don't think this idea will fly.

IMHO aiming for a loudness target is something that is best undertaken at the end of the mix (and really into mastering) process, not at the start - in fact I wouldn't even think about looking at LUFS figures until my mix was sounding as it should.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by Wonks »

siderealxxx wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:13 pm I once explored the pink noise method of mixing and didn't enjoy it. It also seemed to have a tendency of making instruments in the high end (espeically hi-hats/cymbals) etc ridiculously loud. I appreciate it's only a starting point.

I also found this but put it down to my ears' limited frequency response due to hearing damage. I just wasn't hearing all the high frequency energy so was leaving the faders too high.

I ended up mixing the cymbals and high-hat by ear, whilst getting the main instrument balance done using pink noise.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

siderealxxx wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:13 pmI once explored the pink noise method of mixing and didn't enjoy it. It also seemed to have a tendency of making instruments in the high end (espeically hi-hats/cymbals) etc ridiculously loud.

Are you sure you were using pink noise? Sounds like you might have been using white noise!

I only recently thought about the idea of using LUFS and loudness as a starting point for mixing/balancing. Is this a credible/worthwhile approach?

No. Loudness normalisation is about perceived loudness of the overall mix. It has nothing whatever to do with the skill and art of balancing a mix. And the LUFS numbers will tell you nothing about your mix's internal balance, just whether it is too loud or quiet overall.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by siderealxxx »

Just found this, it is a thing:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/kl ... lufs-meter

Essentially sets all targets to equal loudness and you can go from there.

Will have to try this out, curious...
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by siderealxxx »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:40 pm Are you sure you were using pink noise? Sounds like you might have been using white noise!

Only when I'm doing the canine mix!

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:40 pm No. Loudness normalisation is about perceived loudness of the overall mix. It has nothing whatever to do with the skill and art of balancing a mix. And the LUFS numbers will tell you nothing about your mix's internal balance, just whether it is too loud or quiet overall.

Oh definitely not seeking to undermine that art/science of mixing! That's not going out of fashion.

Just that by the time I've finished a track I've heard it 6 million times and find it quite hard to get an objective view of the mix!
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by RichardT »

siderealxxx wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:13 pm So I've always mixed by ear. My mixes are ok but I know could be better.

I also tend to mix in the project rather than exporting multi-tracks/stems because there's often a lot of sequence dependent automation etc. I will have more control to solve problems that aren't just EQ/compression/balance based.

Whilst I think I can get everything sounding good on its own and sitting in its own space (something that is strongly considered in the composition/arrangement stage), the thing I struggle with most is simply balancing instruments relative to each other.

I once explored the pink noise method of mixing and didn't enjoy it. It also seemed to have a tendency of making instruments in the high end (espeically hi-hats/cymbals) etc ridiculously loud. I appreciate it's only a starting point.

I only recently thought about the idea of using LUFS and loudness as a starting point for mixing/balancing. Is this a credible/worthwhile approach? Is there an established technique to it? Curious.

Happy weekend :thumbup:

If getting a static channel balance is a struggle then it's a sign that something else needs to be done (a key insight from Mike Senior's wonderful mixing book!).

LUFS is not relevant here - there's no value at all in even looking at the LUFS of each channel, and personally I mix without paying any attention to LUFS even at the stereo bus level. I look at LUFS only when I have a mix I'm happy with.

What you probably need to do is apply subtractive EQ to stop channels getting into competition with each other, make full use of the stereo field, and possibly add compression or volume automation to adjust the relative balances throughout the track.

Also you may need to reduce the level of the effects on individual tracks - particularly reverb and any synth effects. When tracks are put together, they need to be much drier than you might think when you solo them.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by Drew Stephenson »

siderealxxx wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:42 pm Just found this, it is a thing:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/kl ... lufs-meter

Essentially sets all targets to equal loudness and you can go from there.

Will have to try this out, curious...

But which LUFS are you going to use? Programme would be next to useless, momentary isn't telling you much that your normal meters aren't, maybe short-term could work?
An experiment would be interesting but you may find it works better at a stem or bus level.
If you think about the different amounts of energy in, say, a snare vs a cymbal, if you mix them to the same loudness I think you're going to have a very imbalanced mix.
Whereas matching your drum bus and synth bus might give you something more workable.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by siderealxxx »

RichardT wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 7:27 pm What you probably need to do is apply subtractive EQ to stop channels getting into competition with each other, make full use of the stereo field, and possibly add compression or volume automation to adjust the relative balances throughout the track.

Also you may need to reduce the level of the effects on individual tracks - particularly reverb and any synth effects. When tracks are put together, they need to be much drier than you might think when you solo them.

I'm pretty confident with my general mixing, I'm mainly talking about the final 'balancing' where there's a lot of subjectivity involved. Having the confidence to say something is as good as it can be.

Having that perspective when working on your own music is very difficult. Sometimes I hear earlier versions and it's obvious with hindsight but at the time it's hard to tell.

Also as the mix evolves and compression and/or saturation comes into play more, the energy of sounds changes (as oppoesd to meter readings). I wondered if LUFS might account for this.

I'm probably over-thinking it as usual...
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by ManFromGlass »

I’d be curious to know whether you run Lufs Meter before you make any automation moves on your tracks? Or if it get’s you in the Faders Up ballpark by averaging out any volume/eq etc automation one already has in place?

I mix as I write the music as I’m the composer and engineer but if there is a more efficient way then I’m curious. Unless this is primarily a tool for people who mix other peoples music? Which I may have missed in the article.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by James Perrett »

siderealxxx wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 6:46 pm Just that by the time I've finished a track I've heard it 6 million times and find it quite hard to get an objective view of the mix!

That's why I often work on a mix for no more than an hour or two at a time, then go and work on something else and come back to the mix a day or two later.

It also helps to have a reference track to work to.
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Re: Mixing with LUFS?

Post by RichardT »

siderealxxx wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 8:27 pm
RichardT wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 7:27 pm What you probably need to do is apply subtractive EQ to stop channels getting into competition with each other, make full use of the stereo field, and possibly add compression or volume automation to adjust the relative balances throughout the track.

Also you may need to reduce the level of the effects on individual tracks - particularly reverb and any synth effects. When tracks are put together, they need to be much drier than you might think when you solo them.

I'm pretty confident with my general mixing, I'm mainly talking about the final 'balancing' where there's a lot of subjectivity involved. Having the confidence to say something is as good as it can be.

Having that perspective when working on your own music is very difficult. Sometimes I hear earlier versions and it's obvious with hindsight but at the time it's hard to tell.

Also as the mix evolves and compression and/or saturation comes into play more, the energy of sounds changes (as oppoesd to meter readings). I wondered if LUFS might account for this.

I'm probably over-thinking it as usual...

Understood. I don’t think LUFS is going to help you unfortunately.
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