case study 2020

A Study in Loudness Metering

Mastering Immersive Music

My interest in Mastering Engineering probably stems from the way it combines science and art. This fascinating discipline requires a thorough understanding of psychoacoustic principles, digital signal theory, sonic aesthetics in music, genre trends and the music industry as a whole. For my thesis project, I was particularly interested in studying a growing creative tool in sound and audio through the lens of mastering: immersive audio.

Challenge

Evaluate the Effectiveness of LUFS

Mastering engineers and professionals in all fields of music production need a way to meter binaural audio, a specific way of encoding music with spatial cues which is used for two-channel reproduction. A growing creative tool, binaural audio allows for a more immersive listening experience, but must have adequate metering tools before it can be circulated into more mainstream listening. Both a listener’s ears and the creative impact of the audio can be negatively impacted from the results of a poor loudness meter. By evaluating the LUFS metering software, we might be able to utilize a tool already widely known in the music industry so that creatives might experiment with binaural sound more confidently.

Discovery

Mastering Engineering

Mastering is the final stop in the music production process. It combines technical and creative consideration before circulating the final musical product. The mastering engineer prepares the project for distribution across many platforms, including but not limited to CD, vinyl, and streaming formats.

Loudness

So why is loudness a concern in mastering? Because the human ear processes sound differently across the frequency spectrum, it is also easy to create a thin or wide-sounding master and crush or emphasize certain portions of a song’s frequency content. Also, in the streaming format it is easy to ruin a file through inaccurate understanding of loudness normalization. For these reasons and many others, loudness is not only important to understand but important to meter correctly.

Results

Coming Soon, Experiment in Process

By designing and conducting an experiment that will evaluate the effectiveness of LUFS loudness metering for binaural audio, I will hopefully determine whether or not it might be useful to continue developing and researching its application in this context.

Impact

Mastering engineers, podcast mixing engineers, really anyone creatively exploring audio today will be able to utilize the results of this experiment to their advantage. If successful, this will allow creatives to either discard the software for binaural loudness metering or more confidently integrate it into their workflow. Researchers will also be able to reference this study for further exploring the effectiveness of LUFS or other metering tools.