Tidal, the Jay Z owned subscription music streaming service has added support for loudness normalization in the latest release of their iOS and Android apps. It joins Apple Music Radio, Spotify and YouTube in doing so. But Tidal has gone a step further, using the ITU-R BS.1770-4 loudness standard for measuring loudness.
I reached out to Tidal to get some details about how their normalization works…
I was told that loudness normalization is available in the latest iOS and Android apps as well as in the desktop and web players. In the mobile apps, loudness normalization can be toggled on or off in the settings. I was unable to find a similar toggle in the desktop and web players. Perhaps loudness normalization is enabled by default in those players.
Tidal’s normalization level is -14 LUFS, compared to approximately -16 LUFS for Apple’s SoundCheck, -13 LUFS for Spotify and -12 LUFS for YouTube. Again, the other platforms don’t use ITU-R BS.1770-4, so their levels are approximate. While it’s great that Tidal is using an open standard, it would have been even better if Tidal’s normalization level was -16 LUFS, the AES recommendation (AES TD1004.1.15-10).
Tidal does not raise the level of music whose loudness is less than -14 LUFS. This has implications when targeting Tidal. First, you do not need to worry about your dynamic music being limited or compressed by Tidal like you do for other platforms. However, be aware that if your music is too dynamic, it might be hard to hear on mobile devices and devices with lower gains.
If you want your music to play back as loud as other music in Tidal, make sure your music’s Peak to Loudness Ratio is 13 or less. In other words, assuming your peak levels reach -1 dBTP, your music should have a loudness measurement of -14 LUFS or greater (e.g., -13 LUFS, -12 LUFS, etc.). However, it’s OK if your music measures less than -14 LUFS since not all music is meant to be played back at maximum loudness.
Have you used Tidal? What do you like / dislike?