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How to Normalize Audio Loudness Levels For YouTube in DaVinci Resolve (Fairlight)

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Streaming video platforms have certain audio requirements. YouTube’s preference is for your audio to be no louder than -14 LUFS, and they will normalize the audio, which can lead to undesired wonkiness. In this tutorial we will go over the step-by step ways to set your target loudness, monitor your loudness using the meter in Fairlight, and take a quick look into how the automation tool can give you insight to your loudness!

Let’s get some technical language out of the way. What on earth is a LUFS, and how is it different than a dB? LUFS stands for Loudness Unit Full Scale and, practically speaking, they are same thing, as they describe the same phenomenon of measuring loudness, but  LUFS is a newer standard that provides more accuracy. It’s a pretty interesting topic and there are tons great articles discussing all the fun technical details and differences between them. For us however, we're just going to go the practical route.

Setting Your Target Loudness

The first thing you’ll want to do is to set your Target Loudness. Head over to your Project Settings and go to Fairlight menu. Under Target Loudness Level you’ll set it to -14 LUFS (Fig 1), since we are creating a project for YouTube. From here you’ll want to go ahead and edit your project (video and audio), you don’t need to worry about loudness until later. Just make sure you are happy with the mix between the dialogue, sound effects, and music.

FIGURE 1

Managing Your Loudness (Fig 2)

You’ve done your edit and have a great mix balance between your audio. You’re now ready to tweak the loudness levels to get them just right for YouTube. You’ll see right next to your preview window on the top right of the Fairlight page there is a meter with the heading Loudness (if you don’t see this, simply click on the Meters tab on the top). 

Figure 2

Note: The Loudness meter measures LUFS not dB.

Reading the Meter

As you play your clip you’ll see a bunch of numbers changing just to the right of the loudness meter. Let’s get familiar with what these mean.

  • Short: This number measures how far above or below you are from the target loudness level you’re at that given time. This is constantly changing number.
  • Short Max: This will tell you how far above or below you are from your target loudness level.
  • Range: This measures the level between your quietest peak to your loudest peak.
  • Integrated:This is the overall loudness of your audio. This is in relation to your target loudness level. 

Use Integrated as your reference to measure your signal.

Since you’ve already mixed your audio, you can simply adjust your Main/Bus channel to manage the overall volume of your project until you hit your target loudness. A good thing to know is that 0 represents the target loudness level that we set at the beginning, which is -14 in this instance. Our goal is to make sure the loudness get as close to zero without going over (this will result in clipping). YouTube suggests around the -3 LUFS, so it’s safe to say that’s a good number to aim for.

Automation (Fig 3)

If you’re having trouble getting your levels just right, try using the automation tool to help you monitor your levels. This is how to do it:

  1. Click the Automation icon 
  2. Click Index from the top panel
  3. Select Tracks as your view
  4. Make sure visibility for Bus is On
  5. Go to you timeline and you will see Bus is now visible, drag bus down to expose options
  6. Turn Loudness on
  7. Set to Integrated
Figure 3

Under the loudness meter you will see a start and reset button. Select start and you’ll be able to to monitor your loudness. Make adjustments needed and you are ready to upload your video to YouTube!

That's It!

Thanks for following along this tutorial. Make sure to check out more top notch tutorials and video templates for Resolve. Here are few suggestions to get you going!

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