Getting the Right Audio Level

I was wondering what a good audio level would be for uploading my video to YouTube. I see a bunch of other videos that have the audio be about the same volume. For example, one video would have the same loudness as a another from a different channel. So what exactly would be a good loudness/softness for YouTube?

The YouTube reference level is -14 LUFS. But whether you need to target that loud will depend on the content of your video.

EDIT: For clarification on reference level… any video submitted louder than -14 LUFS will get turned down to -14 LUFS. But videos that are submitted at less than -14 LUFS will not get turned up.


Thanks @Austin, I dindn’t knew that!

Of course, if you submit louder, you lose the x dB dynamic range when it gets lowered.

I prefer to use the EBU method of measuring LUFS (but with a different target)

The dynamic range would have already been lost when the program was mastered hotter than -14 LUFS. Lowering the volume affects the waveform uniformly and doesn’t affect dynamic range in terms of internal relationships between high and low peaks. Although to your point, the audio would lose X dB of loudness potential if YouTube normalized it.

YouTube and EBU both use LUFS over the integrated program (as opposed to a dialog anchor favored by A/85 and Netflix), so I’m curious what difference you found between the two. When you publish to YouTube at -23 LUFS (EBU standard), do your videos sound noticeably quieter than everybody else’s videos since yours would be 9 LU lower?

I get that YouTube is trying to appeal to the mobile crowd, and AES recommended -16 LUFS minimum loudness to reproduce “clean” audio on weak cell phone speakers and ear buds. So YouTube plays it safe and goes slightly louder to guarantee intelligibility for mobile. But I agree with you, mastering at -14 is a pain. Much prefer the headroom of -23. Targeting the dialog rather than the integrated program has really grown on me too.

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