got you! Orchestral compression (noticed).
About LUFS in general: as you might know, LUFS was created to equal loudness of audio for different media types. The first one, which was the most important, was the TV & Radio stuff, as people hated it to turn down the volume during the break & adverts. There are different LUFS guides for different media types. For example in Europe TV is going for -23 LUFS on average. That means, that if something will be -21 LUFS, which is actually louder for our ears, will be heard quieter, as it will be turned down.
The same goes for Youtube, Spotify, etc. all of the streaming sites have their own LUFS. If you want to be super exact, you should be mastering/aiming your track for every platform differently. This takes more time of course, it sucks, there is no unity. When you combine the LUFS of all of them, you get something between -13 / -14 LUFS. You can aim your tracks for these numbers, however, there is one thing to look for: in most cases, your tracks will be louder than that. Sometimes -12, sometimes -10, or if you take trailer music, you could easily end up at -8 LUFS. The less negative LUFS the track has, the louder it appears to our ears, so we have fewer dynamics, almost no natural peaks. The one part is due to compression, the other part is the general sound vision of the track.
Let’s say your target is -14 LUFS, but your track has -10, due to your personal sound vision, compression, saturation, instrumentation, etc. print the track with your master fader gain at -4. That’s it. LUFS is the combination of RMS and Peak over TIME. Always look out for “Integrated”, which is the average of the whole track.
I am honest with you, sometimes I think we are treated as clowns. Why? Because the industry is going for a standard first, but then some super smart people decide how to set their company apart (being louder again), by choosing numbers they like most. The same on TV. Ever wondered why one channel is louder than the other? This is the reason.
I think like this: If someone tells me the rules…library, company, clients,…“We need this and that”…I play the rules and don’t ask why. Just do it and forget it. If I don’t have any rules, I master the best possible version, best means the loudest, and print it with -0.3dBfs with my limiter on. That’s it. If someone finds my track is too loud, he has “fader” so he will turn it down. It shouldn’t be hard right?
I really like your approach to dynamic mixes & tracks. You should always find the best possible compromise between the track’s dynamics and the dynamics of your speaker systems. This will be another topic for later, but this is a good starting point: aim for -6 till -10dB of dynamic range in your tracks. It depends on the genre, yes, but this “window” is a really good starting point. Play your most busiest part of your track. If you have -3dB dynamic range (RMS/PEAK) relation, you most like are over-compressing your mix. If you have -12dB you most like have too many dynamics, so you lose potentially gain over the whole track.
Hope that helps