When you’re recording, mixing, or mastering audio, terms like LUFS and RMS may be unclear. But once you know how they differ from one another, you may utilize these tools to have more control over the dynamics of your audio. Two instruments that may be used to determine the average audio level are LUFS and RMS. The main distinction between both is that although RMS is better suited to shorter bursts of audio, often up to 300ms maximum, LUFS may be used to obtain the level of an entire recording.
Although it may seem challenging at first, understanding LUFS and RMS gets lot simpler as you become more familiar with their applications. These two tools will probably become a crucial component of your workflow if you want to become a better audio engineer.
Table of Contents
What is LUFS?
“Loudness Units references to Full Scale” is what LUFS stands for. In an effort to guarantee that TV shows have constant volume levels, the EBU (European Broadcast Union) established it as an audio standard in 2011.
To increase uniformity in the volume of audio used on TV, the EBU established LUFS in 2011. This is established by a procedure called “K-weighting.” With K-weighting, audio is filtered in a manner akin to how the human ear perceives sounds at various volumes. Equalization simulates the irregularities in how human ears perceive the various frequency bands that make up a sound.
Without going into too much detail, LUFS creates a new version of an audio file that has been equalized (EQ) to match how the human ear perceives it and can then be measured with a maximum digital ceiling of 0dBFS. LUFS is a fantastic tool for mastering music since it can be used to determine the average level of a whole song.
Streaming services that are widely used automatically lower the volume of any music that goes beyond their maximum average level. They calculate the average using LUFS, with -14LUFS being the ideal value. To guarantee that it is in tune with the other music on streaming services, master your music or other audio to -14LUFS.
What is RMS?
The acronym RMS, on the other hand, stands for “Root Mean Square”. Technically, it is a measurement of electrical signal voltage levels, and it’s frequently used to show how much power can be continuously delivered into an amplifier.
RMS is often measured at 300ms rather than being used to determine the average level of an entire song or piece of music. However, it can be helpful for determining the average audio loudness, just like LUFS.
The continuous power handling capacities of a speaker or subwoofer are expressed in RMS. Additionally, it can provide you access to an amp’s maximum continuous power output. However, it is a useful tool that may be used with LUFS in music production and mastering to provide an even more precise average loudness measurement.
The measurements you obtain for RMS and LUFS are probably quite comparable. When there is a significant disparity between them, the audio has a broad dynamic range. The RMS and LUFS averages of substantially compressed and restricted audio will be very similar.
LUFS vs RMS – What is the difference?
RMS is more likely to be familiar to you if you aren’t very skilled in the field of audio engineering because it is utilized in speaker system specifications. There are several audio mixing boards available on Amazon, however LUFS is more limited to individuals in the professional audio mixing sector.
As they appear to serve the same function, these two tools are frequently combined. LUFS has no maximum duration restriction and can give you the average loudness of an entire audio file. RMS is used to represent the average loudness of a brief audio clip, often up to 300ms.
There is no reason to pick one over the other while mixing or mastering audio. The best outcomes are obtained when RMS and LUFS are combined, as this provides the greatest indicator of dynamic consistency.