Hello.
I mostly do video game OSTs that aren't meant to be listened to without being mixed with sound effects and voices and explosions, I usually mix stuff at around -16, -17 Integrated LUFS (average across track).

However, two recent chiptune OSTs I did are good enough that I think they merit a public release. -16 LUFS leaves a lot of headroom in comparison to other albums. I did a early mix at -10.5 Integrated LUFS with about 4.5 loudness range. But my orchestral-minded colleague insists its FAR too loud (take into account orchestra tracks are usually like -27).

Anyone have any insights of what is normal? I'm running some recent albums through Nugen VisLM to see what is normal, seems like -10 or -9 is normal, leaving very little or no headroom.

I don't have any more info than you do on what's normal, but I think it's more important to have a mix you like than to do what's normal. People don't mind turning their stereo up/down as much as the major labels would have us believe.

You're gonna get a million different answers here, but I think it's honestly extremely material dependent.

-10.5 seems pretty conservative for an electronic album actually; i mean i've seen some rock albums squeezed harder(NIN, Evanescence, etc...).

I think, especially with chip, the best answer is to squeeze it until you can hear the compression, then back off a little and leave it. There's so little dynamic in the material itself, especially with VGM'y classic chiptune stuff that you can get away with mixing it pretty loud with very few perceptible compression side effects.

My last release ran at around -9 LUFS with almost no headroom, and it was a bit more dynamic than some of the standard fare originally.

tl;dr -10.5 seems fine, people are gonna go louder and softer, but I definitely wouldn't call it too loud. classical engineers are gonna think everything's too loud. chipmusic sounds pretty junky without compression anyways imo

Thanks guys. That's kind of my mindset too. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going off with my own opinion too much. This is a sort of fusion album, it is raw chip sounds backed with some synth pads and live/sampled drums.

Im against throwing out a number, its whatever suits the material. I guess 100% authentic chiptune should be as close to 0DB as sane, but depending on the mixing and use of real instruments you should listen to your ears, and not your meter.

This book is pretty interesting take from a number of mastering pros on how they master and is worth checking out:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Mastering-Eng … 1598634496

I used to mix to -6 to make sure the square waves don't overpower the samples and other instruments, and roll off highs to prevent harshness, but that only means anything if you're mixing stuff that sounds like me.