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Thread: Youtube normalization vs album master

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    Youtube normalization vs album master

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    Hi everyone!

    So I've "finished" mastering my album, I'm happy with the results (as happy as one can be without going completely insane hehe), it's an experimental instrumental album which has a fairly wide dynamic range, but all in all it's leveled except one track which has a progressive build up to a point where it is louder than the rest, but within the context of the track (and the entire album) this is intentional, and when I hear the whole album in one take I never have to reach for the volume knob. It gets loud, yes, but in the sense that it's sonically more intense, filled with stuff going on, and as I said when I listen to the whole album in one take it feels just fine to me, and even if I scroll through the album and jump to that part, it doesn't sound incoherent from the rest, just more in your face because of the nature of the track itself.

    OK, so I want to publish this album on YouTube, and when I try this it lowers the volume of the entire album by about 5.4db! I know that it normalizes it in order not to force users to dial down the volume, in relation to a standard in other music, but my perception is that the volume I ended up with is basically the same as from commercial albums of different genres, give or take a db.

    I listen to a ton of music on youtube, and all I want is for people who are watching it a certain volume normally, to experience the album precisely at that same volume, so in effect youtube is achieving the exact opposite of what the normalization is supposed to do, because now in order to keep the same perceived volume I have to turn the volume UP! Since I'm the composer I know how it should sound, so I can just turn the volume up, but the idea is for people to get this volume by default... If you don't know how the music should sound, you might just leave it as it is, because it is still an acceptable listening level, it's just that the auditory experience is very different.

    So I read somewhere that the trick to fixing this change in volume from Youtube is making sure that the loudest part in the audio is -9db short term lufs, and I've checked and the very loudest peak in my album (not surprisingly on that track I referred to) is -3.8 (using izotope insight 2 loudness tracking).

    The thing is, no matter what I try to do, eq, compress, true peak limit, dynamic eq, saturation this number is only changed by a bit before starting to completely deform the sound... At most I can reach -5 for this peak. Whatever I try it sounds overcompressed, or I lose air, presence, too much frequency content, every detail I worked on production-wise starts getting ruined...

    The only thing I can do is lower the gain on the entire album, which defeats the purpose and all the work I put in the mixing process in order to get that loud volume in the first place.

    I've listened to it on speakers, monitors and multiple headphones, and for me the sound is good as it is. Yes it is loud, yes it might be a bit too loud, but in any case it's 1 or 2db too loud, but youtube is lowering it by waaaay more.

    So I guess my question is, how can I "tell" youtube's algorithms that the volume is just fine so it doesn't drastically change it? how can I keep more or less the same perceived loudness, but change the loudest peak short term LUFS by several db without sounding squashed or ruining the texture of the sound? Is there a specific plugin that can help with this?

    Another question would be: Does anyone know how and why this happens? If I listen to the entire album from beginning to end, at the exact same volume level as other music on Youtube, and the experience is totally fine, then why does Youtube consider this to be so different? Could my ears be deceiving me this badly?

    Thanks a lot for your help!!!

    PS: I'd appreciate any advice you can give me without needing to listen to the album... I understand though if this isn't possible.

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    If you "glue" all your tracks together and normalize to -14dB LUFS with no peaks above 0dB, then post the album as a single video it will play as you want.

    If you post individual tracks, YouTube is going to do their thing - there's really no way around it AFAIK. Why would you expect people to listen to your entire album as single YouTube videos? Post your tracks as a playlist on SoundCloud - they don't mess with the loudness (unless they've changed recently).
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    If you "glue" all your tracks together and normalize to -14dB LUFS with no peaks above 0dB, then post the album as a single video it will play as you want.
    That's the part that's throwing me a little. Are you uploading the whole album as a single track? If it's individual tracks, the loudest one shouldn't affect the rest. (Altho, YT compressing each song differently will defeat much of your mastering.)
    Ultimately, YT is not an audiophile platform. Stressing yourself out to get it to sound good on a platform that is never going to give you that level of control over their playback is really not worth the effort. The only reason to game the YT algorithms is to get more views and more ad revenue. But an album stream is never gonna put up very good numbers no matter how much you tweak it. That's just not what YT is for.
    I hate to be the guy who says "your premise is flawed you should do it differently", but I don't know an actual answer for you, and I highly doubt there is one. I'd cut my losses and let YT turn the volume down.

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    Hi guys!

    I'm already posting the album as one video! That's the whole point hehe. My question is whether you know how to reduce these peaks without altering the sound material. I precisely don't want to alter the dynamic range, I don't want to sacrifice any musicality, I would just like to find a way so that listeners can listen to the album just as they are normally listening to just about anything else. And again, in this case Youtube's normalization isn't doing that because it is taking those really high peaks as a reference and turning down the whole thing down as a result.

    The mistake is from my end, the problem is I don't know how to fix it, and I thought perhaps some of you have an idea what can be done.

    Thanks

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    So, what did the entire album's (i.e., the single audio file soundtrack for video) integrated LUFS measure?

    If it actually measured -14dB, then I'd guess YouTube looked at the loudest "single" and whatever it had to do to that it applied to everything.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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