Welcome back. I'm Streaky. I'm a mastering engineer from London. And today I'm going to show you what levels you should be mastering in your music to in 2021. You will have heard a lot of people saying about - 14 lufs. I get a lot of questions about it. So I thought I'd address that in this video. By the end of this video, you'll know exactly what level you should mask to, and exactly why that is the case. I'll show you some examples at the end of the video, so you can totally hear for yourself the difference that I'm going to talk about. Now, when you're mastering music, the final thing you have in your chain, all of the time is a limiter. Now a limiter is essentially a compressor and what the limiters therefore is a brick wall limiter we've used them forever and you get the track to hit the brickwall limiter. So it doesn't go over. If it goes over and into the reds, that means you're going to get distortion and it might sound crushed and might sound weird on different systems.
So what we do to protect ourselves is put a brickwall limiter at the end. But before we get into all of that, please make sure you like this video. It helps the algorithm. It helps me, or do me a great favor and other people like you will then get to see videos like this from me. So please hit the like button now. And if you aren't new here, please subscribe. Okay. When I was cutting vinyl, people would always want their vinyl louder than someone else's vinyl. Howie Weinberg in America, who was a big cutting engineer would be known for making loud vinyl. So everyone went to Howie. Also, the fact is that even when you had stuff going to radio, rather than going to Spotify that you would now. Radio, you would want your track louder than somebody else's. So that basically you stood out to someone else.
This is exactly why Spotify bring things down to -14 lufs and all the other channels do too. It's exactly the same as they used to in radio. In radio, they used to have a brickwall limiter and all the tracks would either be brought up to level or brought down to level by this brick wall limiter. So everyone's tracks when they're on radio, you didn't have to keep turning it up and down all the time. So that's the history of how we got to this point in time with loudness. But the fact that this video is that I'm going to tell you what you should be doing when you're finishing your tracks in 2021. Now we used to master stuff to around -14 lufs, which is what you always hear.
We used limiters like this one. This is a younger d 01, for all you techie nerds out there. These have a great upward expander on like a compressor expander on them. So you can still use them. But we used to use these for the limiter and we'd add, say 1dB. And that was just basically just to trim the tops off to make sure we weren't going to distort. Now, when you're mastering for streaming services, I've just done loads of tests on this, and I'm going to play those tests to you at the end of this video, so that you can hear the difference of what I'm saying of how things sound when you master in a certain way. So if you know something is only going to a streaming service and it's not going anywhere else, it's only uploaded. So you're in charge of uploading it to a streaming service. That streaming service is -14 lufs like Spotify.
Basically you want to be mastering to -14 lufs the reason why I tell you that is because as soon as you start pushing into the limiter to get it to -8 lufs, which is what you most tracks are mastered to, it's not going to sound as good. So at the end of this video, I'm going to show you examples where I've leveled matched two tracks. So the same track runs mastered to -14 lufs and the other one's mastered to -8 lufs. And you'll hear the difference because they're both playing at the same level, which is exactly what Spotify do. They just bring the level down. So they balance them up to -14lufs. You’ll hear the difference. You'll hear that the one that hasn't got the limiter on is more open it's nicer sounding. And that's the sound that I always liked mastering to. My only problem is when I do that, is that if it's going out into the world, that's not just streaming services. So if it's going to CD, for example, or if it's going to land on the desk of an AR man, or it's going to land on the desk of somebody else in the world that doesn't understand about levels and what sounds good and what sounds bad.
The general… (Just come and help yourself son. Sorry, I got the dog with me today). So basically, if it's going to land on the desk of anyone and a lot of clients will listen to it and say, well, it's not as loud as the other track. And that's always the problem we're going to have, when you're making a record. So you have to do a version that's going out to the whole world at -8 lufs at the moment, because that is just the basic facts of the matter. Because it's just not going to be loud enough for everybody. It's not going to sound the same. This is why you need to know how to master well, because you can, I can get attract -2B lufs and still sound as good as the -14 lufs. Now, yes, it's going to be more compressed. There's no getting around that.
But the way that you EQ something the way you use dynamics and the way you gain stage things before you get to -8 lufs is how you get it to sound good. This channel tells you loads of tips and tricks on how to do that. But the fact of the matter is -14 lufs does sound better than -8 because you still EQ in the same way. You still use the dynamics in the same way. The only difference there is, is that you're going to be hitting a limiter and then pulling up a load again on the limiter to get it sounding loud. If you can get away from doing that brilliant. But most of the time you can't. If you're in charge of the project, you should master it to -14 lufs. But the problem is it's not going to sound as loud.
If somebody has their normalize off on it, if it gets played on another system, it's not going to sound as loud as everyone else's. If it goes out to a club and all those club tracks are played at -8 lufs, then it's not going to be as loud as those tracks. So that's why I say you need to just do a version at -8 lufs as your one standard version. Make sure it sounds as good as you possibly can get it whole point of mastery, unless you're just doing a streaming version. So when I, my mastering services, I always offer a streaming version and they need to say, okay, it's for Apple or it's for Spotify. And it's just going, and that's the streaming version. And then this version is the main version that goes out there to the rest of the world for all the other things like CDs and vinyl, and whatever.
So, that is my take on it. That is how it works. You're going to hear now the difference between the two. So you can see exactly the tests that I run so that I can see what does sound best and what doesn't sound best. And you'll understand if listened to the -4, the one that's master to -14 lufs. And I think you'll agree with me. It's a bit more open. It's got nicer sound. It's just not as crushed sounding. But that is just the way the ball rolls really. So I hope that's helped you out. If you've got any questions below, which I'm sure you have on this subject, then please hit me up in the comments. Make sure you like and subscribe. And after you've heard these two, there is a video on me mastering Ozone. So check that out. I'll see you on the next video. Thanks for watching. Bye.