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Youlean Loudness Meter 2 – A Real-World Review

Many free plug-ins only get half the job done, but reviewer Rob Tavaglione discovers the Youlean Loudness Meter 2 plug-in hits the target.

 Youlean Loudness Meter 2
Youlean Loudness Meter 2 Plug-In.
“There’s no need to bring a knife to a gunfight; arm yourself with Youlean Loudness Meter 2, get the info you need to be competitive.”
PRODUCT: Youlean Loudness Meter 2 Plug-In
• Free!
• Presets for specific loudness targets are included.
• Could use RMS measurements.

I’m no fan of the volume wars that have perpetuated, even in this age of streaming with all its volume normalizing/leveling, but I pay the bills as an audio mercenary, so I need to enter such a fray with the right weaponry—namely, precise and widely informative level metering that lets me know where my masters sit in a number of different ways.

Your DAW likely doesn’t contain metering as extensive as required, and the market isn’t exactly loaded with such tools. Some meters don’t offer the full range of measurements (integrated LUFS, momentary and short term LUFS, loudness range, true peak, etc.), and I’ve even found some meters that don’t null-out when compared to the original audio. Some metering plugs are quite expensive, which drove me to software developer Youlean and its Loudness Meter 2 plug-in.

YLM2 offers a wealth of information in an easy-to-read (dual-axis resizable) window, including: short term LUFS (useful for sectional comparisons), integrated LUFS (useful for top-to-tail complete file measurements), loudness range (in LUFS), real-time dynamics (in LUFS), average dynamics (an update on the PSR algorithm), momentary maximum LUFS, short-term maximum LUFS (over a longer duration than momentary), and true peak (the measurement of what a conversion of the material will be— to analog or to a codec; with adjacent peaks at 0 dBFS, there are inter-sample peaks which will exceed zero after conversion). YLM2 measures mono, stereo and 5.1 audio.

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There is also graphical information to be seen in real time, including a LUFS meter that can show your target zone and a loudness distribution graph with a color-shift in your target zone. There’s a mini-mode that omits the graphs, ideal for super-crowded video monitors.

If you’re making audio for broadcast, you may want to hit specific loudness targets, and YLM2 has presets to easily accomplish this for film, TV and games. A number of foreign and domestic broadcast standards are included (too many to list here, but know that you have ITU, EBU, ATSC, etc.).

Unbelievably, YLM2 is offered free, but there is a pro version for $47 that provides a few more advanced features: streaming target level presets, a dark mode, room to store your own custom presets, A-B states for comparing two readings, the ability to export graphical images for verification/compliance (PDF, PNG and SVG), and a brilliant drag-and-drop mode that allows instant measurements of entire files.

The only thing missing here are RMS measurements, which differ only slightly from LUFS measurements (LUFS uses filters before measurement that allow more relevance and is closer to what our ears actually hear).

There’s no need to bring a knife to a gunfight; arm yourself with Youlean Loudness Meter 2, get the info you need to be competitive, and upgrade to the Pro version once you see how well this plug-in works and the peace of mind it brings.