Podcasting: Podcast loudness– What are LUFS and why should a podcaster care?
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The problem with recorded or broadcast media is that unlike live media, the person who edits or mixes the audio has no control over how loud the final product is. You can put a signal through a set of earbuds several feet from your ears and hear virtually nothing or put the same signal through a large amplifier and speaker array and get literally ear-deafening audio.
In practice, this isn’t much of an issue in a single production because the dynamic range is likely to be such that you won’t go from barely audible to ear-deafening in one piece. At least it shouldn’t be if the engineer has done his/her job.
The problem comes in when you go from one piece of media to another. Imagine one was recorded loud enough, but not so loud that you don’t have to turn up the audio to hear some of the quieter parts. The next piece is recorded much louder. If you don’t know to expect that, the audio can get a lot louder really quickly.
The solution is a standard measure for the average volume of a piece of media. So, if everyone abides by the standard, moving from one podcast to another (for example), won’t require you to adjust the volume on your playback device.
One of my favorite podcasts has two issues. It’s got no album art and it’s too loud. All the rest of the podcasts I listen to are a bit quieter.
To define terms, podcast loudness is measured in LUFS or Loudness Units Relative to Full Scale. It’s not exactly the same as RMS, but close enough that if you’re an audio person, thinking of LUFS as dB of RMS may help you.
In podcasting, you want to master you podcast at 19 or 23 LUFS (one for mono and one for stereo).
Doing this means that you won’t annoy the audience and you’ll likely have more listeners.
For more information on LUFS, here are some resources to check out:
For tools to help you check your levels or fix shows that are too quiet or too loud, check out these links:
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