Understanding Loudness, Why the Fuss about LUFS – RT14

In this session I take a look at measuring and normalising to a LUFS value in Reaper.
The first part of the episode covers what LUFS actually represents and how it is calculated. I start with discussing what Peak and RMS represent and how they are measured and the issues with normalising to each of these values when applied to Loudness.

In short LUFS is calculated by taking the RMS, through a EQ filter that approximates the bias of human hearing and gates out any quiet content, or non foreground content, from the calculation. It is an attempt to put a reproducible value or measure on Loudness, which is inherently subjective. At this time it is the best way of doing this.

I look at two dialogs available in Reaper thanks to the SWS Extension. The first is a tool to normalise either Items or Tracks to an LUFS value. This dialog is not currently bound in the OSARA key map and I have bound it to Shift+U. Normalize loudness of selected items/tracks.
The LUFS analysis dialog available in the Extensions menu or with an action I have bound to Command+Shift+U is also covered. I discuss the various data it provides including the Integrated, Range, True Peak, Short-term, and Momentary values.

I look at some White and Pink noise examples as well as some more real world values when analysing a track from a podcast. The potential issues of simply normalising a file without considering the overall dynamic range of the file is discussed. One limitation of using the analysis tool on a track is that it does not take into account any dynamic compression or effects placed on the track. However if you place the effects on an item and than measure the track, the impact of the effects will be calculated in the values.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Command+Shift+K SWS: Analyze and display item peak and RMS
  • Command+K Custom: Move to item peak and report the position
  • Shift+U SWS/BR: Normalize loudness of selected items/tracks…
  • Command+Shift+U SWS/BR: Analyze loudness…

ReaConsole – Get Geeky, Get Productive with Reaper – RT12

The SWS ReaConsole

Basic Usage

Use Option+C on Mac, or Alt+C on Windows to open the console. Type the command and press Enter to commit the command, leaving the console open for another command.
You can also press Command+Enter to commit and close the window, which is Control+Return on Windows.
Escape will close the console without performing the command.

A ReaConsole command can have up to three parts.

Firstly, the command, which is a letter that denotes what is to be done. eg M for mute or V to set the volume. ,

Than,, an optional text string to specify which tracks are to be adjusted. This can be the track numbers, and/or the track names where * is a wild card. Eg. 2,4–6, which would specify tracks 2, 4, 5, and 6. Or, voc* which would specify any tracks that started with the letters “Voc”.

The final part is the parameter value where relevant. Eg, dB of volume change or in the case of mute, not relevant.

If no tracks are specified in the command, the function will be performed on the currently selected tracks.

Additional Syntax

You can just use a space to separate the track selection from the parameter value, however if you need to be more specific, you can use a semicolon when necessary. One example is where you are renaming a track, you may have multiple words in the text to select the track and than need to use a semicolon to designate where the new track name is to start.

For the toggle commands, using lower case will toggle the current state, prefix with a dash will force to off, prefix with a plus to force on for the selected/specified tracks, leaving the other tracks at their current state.
An upper case command letter will force on for only the selected/specified tracks and off for all other tracks.
If you place an exclamation mark, after the command, the action will be performed on the unselected tracks, as though you have inverted the selection.

If you follow the track specifier with a slash, than the command will also be performed on any child tracks, that is tracks within the folder specified.

List of ReaConsole Commands

  • v Trim volume
  • V Set volume
  • p Trim pan
  • P Set pan
  • s Select
  • o Solo
  • a Arm
  • m Mute
  • h Phase
  • f Enable Effect (Bypass)
  • n* Name Selected Tracks to *
  • b* Name Selected Track with prefix *
  • z* Name Selected Track with suffix *
  • c Change colour on Selected Tracks
  • i Set input on Selected Tracks
  • l Set # channels on Selected Tracks
  • x Add effect to selected tracks
  • ! Add action marker at edit cursor
  • / Send local OSC message

Links

Official ReaConsole Documentation
Derek Lane
CAVI Audio Giveaway

additional Details and Examples

ReaConsole is a very quick way to adjust volume, panning, adding/renaming a track, the status of such things as the mute and solo state, and the input (if any) the track is to record from.

Adjustable track values and the command needed to change them are as follows:

track volume:

type v, followed by a number that the volume should increase in DB. Add a – to subtract the value.
Example:
v10 increases the track volume by 10DB.
v–10 decreases it by 10 DB
Using an uppercase v sets the number entered to an absolute value.
So, lower case v will adjust the volume relative to the current value, but upper case V doesn’t care about what was, it just sets the track to the volume you specify.

Track Pan:

type p and a percentage to adjust the relative track pan from –100% (hard left) to 100% (Hard right)
A value of 0 = centre. Just as with volume upper case P makes the pan value you enter absolute; Again, it doesn’t care about what was, it just sets the value to what you want it to be.

set track input:

i followed by the number of the input
example: i2
sets the track input to the second input on your audio interface.
Upper case letters are ignored, so check your capsloc.

To select a stereo pair of channels, use the s after the channel number. For example:
i1s
This creates a stereo track containing the first 2 inputs of your interface.
Again, check capslock.
To cascade inputs, that is, to set track 1 to input 1, track 2 to input 2, etc. create and select the necessary amount of tracks, enter the reaconsole, type i followed by the first track you wish to use, followed by – (dash). So, lets say you created 10 tracks, you could select them with the reaconsole, said command written about in a bit, or use the reaper/osara interface to make the selection.
Cascading inputs would look like this:
i1-
what if you wanted tracks 1–10 to start from input 3, and go to input 13?
i3-

Selecting of 1 or more tracks:

Bring up reaconsole, and type an s followed by a single track, or a range of tracks to be armed such as:
a 1–10
Using 1–10 establishes the selection in this case.
To establish the selection of multiple tracks in various parts of the project, use a comma to ceparate the track names/numbers if they’re not contiguous and a – if they are.
Example:
s5,10,15
selects tracks 5 10 and 15.
s5,10–15
selects track 5 as well as tracks 10 through 15.

You can also use wild card characters at any point to establish your selection or a part of your selection.
Example if you have 2 tracks called “Piano left channel,” and “Piano Right Channel”
You could type:
spiano*
to select those tracks.
If the tracks are named something like “08, Piano left,” and “09 piano right,” the string above wouldn’t work because numbers exist before the word “Piano.”
This, however, would work:
sPiano
If no other tracks contained the letter p, you could even condense the command to something as small as:
sp

These selection commands will not work with upper case letters, so if nothing seems to work when you perform an action on your selection, check your capslock.

Remember that volume and pan commands are effected by the case of v and p.

Here are several ways which could be used to pan our piano tracks, going with the example that the track names start with 08 and 09:
s08*
P100
s09*
P100
This would work but not be the most efficient way of panning because track 8, all one would have to do is simply say
p8 –100
p9 100.

Entering a command such as
sp P–100
Would pan both tracks left, as any track containing the letter P would find itself hard left.

Adding Effects

To add effects to a track or selected tracks, type x, followed by the first part of a plugin which you’d like to add, then press either enter or Control+Enter as required.
Examples:
xreag
Adds the reagate to the selected track, or tracks.
x2–12 reag
Adds the reagate effect on tracks 2–12, which is much faster than manually adding a gate on each track.
unfortunately, this command acts like the “I’m feeling lucky,” button on google; that is, it adds the first result it finds in a search.
It also has the problem of not trying to find your typed string of text anywhere with in the name of your available plugins.
So,
xreav
would give you reaverb added to your selected tracks,
but
xverb
would not.

Side Chain Compression, Ducking for Voice Overs in Reaper – RT08

Setting up a side chain in reaper is relatively straight forward. First what is a side chain? There’s many situations in which a side chain could be useful, and I will show one example today. In essence, a side chain is where you use the output of one track to control the effects on another track.
The example I’ll go through is where you want to have your background music on one track automatically lowered in volume, or ducked, when there is speech on another track. So for example your podcast intro music is ducked when you start speaking.
As usual I’ll demo this on the Mac, however you can follow the same process on windows.
Before we start there’s a couple of other concepts to cover, and the first part of the tutorial is some revision of concepts already covered in this series. This includes a little on recording, editing with items, and the impact of your ripple setting.
The tutorial also briefly introduces a couple of the available ways to normalise audio within reaper.
So let’s look at the basic way audio flows through reaper in a simple default setup. Whether the source is your Microphone or a file you’ve inserted on a track, the source will have an inherent volume as it comes in and goes on to the track. You can adjust the volume of the file or add input effects as it comes in and goes on the track. Once it hits the track you can also add effects and adjust the volume/pan of the track. The audio is then routed on to the Master track along with other tracks in the project. Once again you can adjust volume/pan, and add effects at this stage. It is the output of the master track that you then hear through your hardware outputs and what is printed to any file that your render.
You can set up sends or receives which are basically just sending the audio from one track to another track before it reaches the master track. So for example, audio from a number of vocal tracks could be sent to a track that has a reverb instantiated on it. In this way, rather than setting up multiple copies of a reverb on multiple tracks, one copy of the reverb can be set up and the audio of a number of tracks can be affected by it. The audio that is on the original track can be optionally sent to the master track or not, depending on the specific requirements.
In the side chain we will be setting up in this tutorial, we will be sending the audio from our vocal track to the music track. We will still want the vocal track to go straight to the master track so we can hear it. The copy that is sent to the music track will not be heard in the master however it will be used to compress the volume of the music, or in other words, to duck the music.
We have a track with music, and a track with a voice over. To set up the side chain, go to the music track and press “I”. This will bring up the routing for the track. First step is to change the music track from a standard 2 channel stereo track to a 4 channel track. Next setup a receive from the vocal track to the music track. Next, set the destination of the send from the vocal track to the third and fourth tracks of the music tracks. You will then have a copy of the audio from the vocal track being sent to the music track, however instead of being mixed with the first and second channels, it will be received on the third and fourth channels, and won’t be actually heard in the output of the track. In this way it can influence effects that are applied to the music track even though it won’t be heard there.
Now, we can add a compressor to our music track. In this tutorial, we are using the included compressor, Reacomp. Set the detector input of Reacomp to aux 3/4. This means that it will compress the audio on the music track, but instead of being triggered by the music, it will be triggered by the audio on the aux channels, that is the vocal we sent to channels three and four.
Finally, we need to set up the compressor suitably to compress the music enough to hear the voice over. Set the ratio to a suitable value, at least 4/1 or higher, in the demo I set it to 6/1. You can use the precomp and attack parameters to affect how quickly the audio is ducked and the release parameter to affect how quickly the audio returns to it’s original volume once the voice over stops. The lower you set the threshold, the quieter the music will be while it is being compressed.
We have now set up a side chain to duck our music while speaking. This may seem fairly complex at first, however understanding the concepts covered will help with lots of task you might want to undertake in Reaper, or any professional DAW

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Shift+PageUp/PageDown SWS: Nudge active take volume up/Down
  • Shift+N Item properties: Normalize multiple items to common gain
  • Command+Shift+N Item properties: Normalize items
  • I Track: View I/O for current track

Adding Effects in Reaper – RT07

This tutorial looks at adding effects to tracks or items. It briefly covers the very capable EQ and Compressor included with Reaper.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • F Track: View FX chain for current track
  • Shift+F Track: View FX chain for master track
  • Shift+E Item: Show FX chain for item take
  • B Track: Toggle FX bypass for current track
  • Command+Option+M View: Toggle master track visible