How Loud Should My Song Be?

A Look at Reference Data from 10+ Classic Electronic Albums

Do you ever wonder, “how loud should my master be?” Or, “how compressed is my track compared to the pros?” 
 
Well, I have news for you. There is no right answer. 
 
But you already knew that. So let me tell you something you don’t already know. And it’ll be up to you to use it wisely. 
 
The overall loudness of ROYGBIV is -13.4 LUFS and it’s loudness range is 10.7 LU.
 
What?… That didn’t answer your question?
 
Reference tracks are everything. They are the answer key. You just have to do a little reverse engineering. But you’re right, looking at a couple stats from one song isn’t going to help you much. Even if it is one of the best sounding songs out there. Love you ROYGBIV.
 
Every song has a unique purpose and context within it’s album as a whole. Looking at data from one random song is insufficient. No, worse. It’s misleading. Because then you’ll be trying to model every song you make to that one reference, whether it is a relevant comparison or not. What a disaster!
 
But what if we looked at data for an entire album? Or a bunch of albums? Wouldn’t that be more informative?
 

So check it out: here’s a couple EPs worth of data just to start. Notice the Integrated LUFS, that’s how loud the song is overall. The closer the value is to zero, the louder it is. Then look at Dynamic Range. A lower value here indicates more compression. Lastly, the Loudness Range is the difference between the loudest parts of the song and the softest.

 See you on the other side.


Trickfinger

She Smiles Because She Presses the Button

Aphex Twin

Collapse

01 AMB
 
Integrated LUFS: -14.6 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -11.6 LUFS
True Peak: -0.1 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 11.4 DR
Loudness Range: 5.2 LU
 
 
02 BRISE
 
Integrated LUFS: -12.2 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -10.1 LUFS
True Peak: -0.2 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 9.9 DR
Loudness Range: 4.0 LU
 
 
03 NOICE
 
Integrated LUFS: -14.8 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -11.3 LUFS
True Peak: -0.2 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 11.1 DR
Loudness Range: 17.1 LU
 
 
04 PLANE
 
Integrated LUFS: -15.6 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -13.8 LUFS
True Peak: -0.2 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 13.6 DR
Loudness Range: 2.0 LU
 
 
05 RHYME FOUR
 
Integrated LUFS: -13.4 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -10.2 LUFS
True Peak: -0.2 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 9.6 DR
Loudness Range: 18.7 LU
 
 
06 SEA YXS
 
Integrated LUFS: -13.0 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -9.7 LUFS
True Peak: 0.1 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 9.5 DR
Loudness Range: 6.3 LU
1 – T69 COLLAPSE
 
Integrated LUFS: -9.6 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -6.9 LUFS
True Peak: 0.7 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 6.7 DR
Loudness Range: 4.3 LU
 
 
2 – 1ST 44
 
Integrated LUFS: -10.4 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -8.3 LUFS
True Peak: 1.5 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 8.1 DR
Loudness Range: 5.4 LU
 
3 – MT1 T29R2
 
Integrated LUFS: -11.0 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -7.9 LUFS
True Peak: 1.2 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 7.7 DR
Loudness Range: 5.6 LU
 
 
4 – ABUNDANCE10EDIT[2 R8’S, FZ20M & A 909]
 
Integrated LUFS: -10.8 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -7.3 LUFS
True Peak: 1.0 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 7.1 DR
Loudness Range: 7.0 LU
 
 
5 – PTHEX
 
Integrated LUFS: -11.7 LUFS
Short Term LUFS: -9.2 LUFS
True Peak: 0.8 dBTP
Peak: -0.2 dB
Dynamic Range: 9.0 DR
Loudness Range: 7.9 LU


Hello again. So, as you saw, T69 Collapse is the loudest song out of the 11 listed. It also has the smallest Dynamic Range. These tend to go hand in hand. But Brise has the smallest Loudness Range. Meaning that once the song starts, it’s pretty much the same volume until it ends. Not much volume variation between the sections. Conversely, you can expect some parts in Rhyme Four to be dramatically louder than others. 

Now that you know how to read the tables, I have even more for you. Click here for data from 10+ more albums by

Aphex Twin
Boards of Canada
Four Tet
John Frusciante
Trickfinger
Skee Mask
Ochre

But don’t forget my warning. This is still a very small sample size. Ten albums out of, well, all albums in existence. I picked these albums because I like them. I like the way they sound. And they are a similar style to the music I make. So it’s good reference material for my purposes. It may not have the same value to you. Take what I’ve started here and tailor it to your own pursuits. That’s where the real value begins.