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LUFS vs DBFS – Differences Explained

The distinction between LUFS and DBFS is not the simplest to understand, but it is unquestionably an important one. There is constant uncertainty over metering, and consequently loudness, in the age of limitless streaming platforms and varying loudness requirements for distribution types.

What is LUFS?

The measurement that most closely approximates how people hear sounds is called LUFS, or loudness units referred to full scale. Humans do not perceive sound linearly. Decibels are a rigorous depiction of the physics of sound rather than the anatomical understanding of sound perception, despite the fact that they are well suited to expressing sound because they are based on a logarithmic function. Four methods exist for measuring LUFS:

Momentary Loudness
Short Term Loudness
Integrated Loudness
Loudness Range

Integrated loudness and loudness range are measurements that take into account the loudness over the course of the mix, whereas instantaneous loudness and short-term loudness measure the loudness of the previous 400 ms and 3 s, respectively.

By measuring and calculating the change in short-term loudness during the program, Loudness Range (LRA) determines the change in dynamic range across the mix.

But the key is integrated loudness. The material’s overall average volume is determined by integrated LUFS. Target levels are most frequently discussed using integrated loudness.

What is DBFS?

A full-scale peak meter, which measures the largest peaks in a signal in dBFS units, is typically provided on almost all channels and busses within a DAW.

The maximum value is 0 dBFS, and dBFS is the unit of measurement for amplitude levels or peaks in a digital system. Decibels relative to full scale, or dBFS, is the most fundamental, widely used, and essential unit of measurement to comprehend.

Full scale is referred to as the highest voltage that can be present before an A/D converter or D/A converter overloads. Full-scale voltage is determined by the internal converter design and can take on a wide range of values, making full-scale itself a variable.

Your mix’s greatest peak shouldn’t be 0dBFS; rather, it should be below 0dBFS to prevent clipping. Between -6dBFS and -3dBFS are thought to be the ideal peak levels. The headroom is the distance between the maximum peak volume and 0 dBFS.

LUFS vs DBFS: What’s The Difference?

Nothing besides the abbreviation. Loudness, K-weighted, relative to full scale is referred to as LKFS.

While dBFS is a precise measurement of amplitude peaks in a digital stream, LUFS measures subjective loudness. dBFS does not account for human perception; it only measures electrical level. Each type of metering has a distinct function and has historically been regarded as being the most significant. Since dBFS is a peak measurement and LUFS is a loudness measurement, peak and loudness meters will be used in this article.

dBFS offers a straightforward electrical level measurement, however LUFS gives us a more powerful tool: consistency. Contrary to what the Loudness Wars said (louder = better), this is actually the secret to all successful mixes and albums.

It will take some getting used to using this new tool, so be patient. The most obvious and challenging change is the meter, therefore use this article as a roadmap. You’ll soon LUFS loudness meters as much as your mastering engineer, and they’ll LUFS you back for having balanced, properly leveled mixes.