I'm producing an animation and I came to a frustrating dilemma with the sound normalization.

The recommended normalization for dialogue, on YouTube, is apparently between -6 db and -15 db. Due to many effects added to the voices of the characters, some dialogue lines endup being much louder than others, even after they are all normalized at -6 db peak amplitude.

To solve this problem I decided to normalize them at different peaks amplitude. Some at -8, some at -2, while most of them are at the recommended -6 db. I have to point out that none of the lines ever reach a level louder than -7 in real time. In other words, the actual volume level (to the ear) is never louder than -7, even those normalized at -2. My concern is that "YouTube will turn down the volume of the video if the audio is normalized lower than at -6" REGARDLESS if the actual volume levels of those normalized at lower than -6, are actually quieter to the ear. I'm worried that the system which corrects the audio on YouTube may not only be guided by the volume level, but by some other indicators, which may show that the normalization was lower than at -6.

Question: Should I normalize the lines at whichever peak amplitude i have to - to reach a level satisfactory for the animation and just make sure the actual loudness doesn't go over -6db, even if it means normalizing it at -2?

This issue is the last thing I have to solve before the animation is finally ready after months of work. Hand on my heart, I would be extremely grateful for any help. 

Best regards


My suggestion is to do three steps. Step one, using your EARS, adjust the volume of the various portions of your program so that they have the correct relative volume that you want. If you want them to all sound the same, adjust it until they do sound the same regardless of what your meters are telling you. An ordinary peak or even RMS meter will not be a correct measure of perceived loudness. STEP TWO, now take you overall program and adjust it so the loudest peaks are near Full scale. If they are very brief and infrequent, you may wantto even go a little above full scale. Now upload to YouTube. STEP 3 Right click on yourt video, and click "STATS for NERDS". YouTube will tell you if it adjusted your audio. YT will never make your audio louder but it will make it softer. If YT reports that it had to lower your audio or that your audio is close to 0 dB, then you are done. If your report is -10dB or less, then your audio is too low and you should turn it up and reload it. It may take several hours after you upload the video for the analysis to be available. Good luck, Mark

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