The right volume of streaming services with Loudness Penalty

By | April 4, 2021


Loudness Penalty is a useful website with a clear purpose: To check that your new music is not processed unnecessarily when it is uploaded to streaming services such as Spotify, iTunes, Youtube, Tidal and Pandora. This is done by uploading a song which is then read through more or less advanced algorithms, regarding how much or how little the volume will change of each service. Good to know is that Loudness Penalty does not store your music anywhere, but this is removed immediately when the calculation is done.

Example: You upload a song and get the following results:


The results reveal that Youtube, Spotify and TIDAL lower your song by -1.4 dB and iTunes -1 dB. This is clearly within reason – but you can also in good conscience pull down your mix or master -1 dB for even less “volume penalty” and thus possibly be rewarded with more dynamics. A volume penalty of -1 to -3 dB is perfectly ok as long as the music sounds good, but more is not recommended.

And it’s actually not that difficult. If you have questions regarding volume or anything else related to this particular topic, just throw away a message to Studio writer @Jon Rinneby

The Volume War, or Loudness War, refers to the volume increase trend that began as early as the 1940s and reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s with the CD. In short, the volume war is thus about the development of increased sound levels in commercial music, at the expense of dynamics and sound quality.

A clear and well-used example is Metallica’s album “Death Magnetic” which made both listeners and critics react to the lousy and odynamic sound quality. This album was also in many ways the starting point for a clear backlash led by, among others, the mastering technician Bob Katz, who together with iTunes developed a new automated volume standard, which was later applied to other streaming services.

In short, this meant that strongly mastered music with reduced dynamics was reduced in volume, while more dynamic music emerged victorious from the war. The volume war is ongoing to some extent, but to a much more limited extent.

Read more about the Volume War on Wikipedia.

Feel free to ask questions or comment on the article in the comment field below, and we will spin the topic together. Or if you prefer to discuss mixing in the “Mixing and mastering” section of the Studios forum here!

Fredagstipset is a recurring series where Studio writer Jon Rinneby shares tips every Friday in, among other things, recording and mixing. Here you will find all Friday tips.