Loudness vs. Peak Normalization: What You Need to Know

On this video, our colleague photographer and videographer Curtis Judd, look at a very important aspect of sound for video – normalization and how it is different than loudness (as well as which of those you might want to use and when).

On this video, Judd is asked the simple question – what is audio normalization and what does it actually do to your sound clip? He looks at two main ways to normalize audio and why you should use loudness normalization rather than peak normalization to get consistently loud videos.

Peak normalization is pretty straightforward – it is the process that takes the peak sound in your clip and brings it (along with the rest of the clip in a completely proportional way) to a chosen level (say -1.5db). That means that the peaks in your clip will reach at most -1.5db.

This can be useful of course but it can create a clip where you have a small number of -1.5db peaks but the rest of the clip is still pretty low in terms of perceived loudness.

To combat this newer loudness normalization techniques and standards take into consideration things such as silence between words and sentences and in general bring more of the audio closer to -1.5db (again, just as an example).

By the way, if loudness normalization sounds awfully similar to compression – you might want to check out this article (geek alert).

You can check out more of Judd’s videos which focus mostly on audio and video here on LensVid. Finally ,if you are into sound recording for video productions check out this link which covers both equipment and techniques here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of LensVid.com. He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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