Podcast help with Loudness Normalization

Howdy. I am beginning a new podcast but concerned about getting my levels right for Spotify. I am using Audacity 3.4.2. After editing, I use Loudness Normalization to get to -16 lufs. However, this blasts up my audio to the clipping level. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need to record softer or is there another method I can use to meet this audio standard without blowing out my audio? Thanks for you help!

You’re not doing anything wrong.

You can use the limiter to bring-down the peaks after adjusting the loudness.

Do that before you export. When you boost the volume Audacity may “show red” but it’s not really clipped yet. Run the limiter before exporting because most formats can’t go over 0dB without clipping but internally, Audacity uses floating point which virtually has no limits.

…When you adjust the volume linearly (with a regular volume adjustment or normalization, etc.) everything is changed by the same dB amount. If you boost by 3dB, the peaks, the loudness, the RMS, and the noise floor all go up by 3dB. Limiting is a non-linear effect that only affects the peaks.


Free “Broadcast” plugin, works in Audacity, (can also de-ess at the same time).

Free old standalone software … Levelator - Wikipedia (simple to use: no controls, drag’n’drop).


So would I use the limiter, select hard limit, and then select limit to -3db before exporting, or do I need a different db number? Thank you for your patience!

That will work. I’m not really sure about the difference between soft & hard settings. DO NOT choose a “clipping” option.

-3dB is the ACX audiobook maximum, but in general there’s nothing wrong with hitting 0dB as long as you don’t “try” to go over and clip at 0dB. (1)

From my (limited) experiments (no pun intended) Audacity’s limiter is very good (if you don’t use “clipping”) I has “look-ahead” so it doesn’t distort the waveform like most limiters that just “push down” the peaks.

(1) If you are making an MP3 (or using other lossy compression) the MP3 compression makes some peaks a little higher and some lower. So some people making MP3s try to keep the peaks around -1dB, before exporting-as MP3.

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Spotify specify -1dB (not -3dB) headroom, (and -14LUFS integrated loudness).

If you’re making “foo fighters” style rock, multi-band compression is the way to go, then limiting. The free TB Broadcast plugin I mentioned above is ideal : it has a limiter built-in.

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