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What do you use your limiters for in a mix?
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blackcom
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24th July 2006
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What do you use your limiters for in a mix?

People tend to use moore compressors in a mix rather then limiters...

I run the bass into a compressor and then into a limiter for whatever peaks thats left....

What do you use your limiter for in a mix?
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Acoustic gtr, tamborine.... sometimes if I have a clean electric guitar that is really "spikey", I'll shave off the peaks and then compress and eq to taste.

But you are definitely right that compression is a much more common tool in a mix.

-Aaron
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Limiters in a mix. Hmm.

Reminds me of a song by War.

"What is it good for? Absolutely NOTHIN'!"
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I frequently use two hardware 1176's strapped across my drum buss at a 12:1 ratio.

I guess it depends on what ratio and above you consider limiting...
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Limiters are limited in a mix situation because a lot of that king work can be taken care of by Automation without the obvious artifacts a limiter can impose on a sound ! A gentle limiter might come in hand on inconsistent snr hits, kicks , bass just to even them out a bit(if needed) , or a vocal in a song that jumps around a bit but doesn't really need too because the song itself doesn't require much dynamics , like anything it is a tool that you call when you need it , and is specific to a task , but not a tool that i think you can say 'When i start a mix i always have limiters on X,Y and Z ' , at least in my approach to limiting .
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I don't really use limiters in a mix.

Not the of the digital 'brickwall' type anyway.

Maybe like 5% as some kind of problem solver, like if the snare drum has too much swing in it's dynamic range & I want to pull it back a bit more then regular compression is allowing or to put an absolute ceiling on other some poorly recorded source...

But that's more like applying a band-aid to a gaping wound...
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occasionally on a drum buss on a rock song. on the 2-buss if i'm "pseudo-mastering" it.

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I don't use anything ON the mix, well sometimes a G SSL comp - but no limiter.

I use something IN the mix though. 1176 or for software L1's, or sometimes bitcrushing/clipping is a better choice if done right.

Be very careful of using a limiter on certain sounds, such as an already compressed kick drum or bass. Limiters certainly have their place in a mix, the danger is over-use or in-correct use.
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Very rarely use digital peak limiting in a mix; only if something needs fixing. For example when there are too many all-over-the-place snare peaks.

Greetings,
Dirk
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No limiters in the mix,

Lots of automation rides to tame the peaks,
]




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like wise, no limiters in the mix, much rather automate , avoid the artifacts . although having said that , it's useful in disaster recovery mix mode.

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Quote:
Bird . it's useful in disaster recovery mix mode.







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Very little compression here, mostly peak limiting via VCA analog boxes. I rather pull the dynamic tops off than push the bottom up, less blaring and more natural.

Compressors are the vampires of audio, they suck the life out of music.

Remember dynamic range? Some of us do. Some of us like it. We will be back, someday.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
Very little compression here, mostly peak limiting via VCA analog boxes.
What is "VCA analog box" ?
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These are analog compressor/limiters using a voltage controlled amplifier for gain reduction. Modified Aphex, dbx units, mostly. All outboard, no plugs. No artifacts with these puppies.

It's sort of like the arcade game, "Wack-a-Mole" when you pound down peaks rather than bring the whole thing up. This applies to tracks, never used on the mix buss, I save that for mastering.

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I guess you could crush lots of tracks in the mix (with L1) if you were going for that "vintage" NIN/ trent reznor sound. Unfortunately, this will probably be fashionable in about 3-4 years again.
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I find limiting useful for edgy, "mix within a mix" sorta sounds. Like a bandpassed radio-type effect with lots of bite. Treat it sort of like a mini, shi**y mastering session going on in your mix
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la-2a in limit mode for acoustic guitars, bass, vocals, kick... gorgeous.

i love a little bit of extremely fast analog limiting on the drum buss, neves if ya got 'em, distressors if ya don't. not even enough to move the meters, but the tippy top of the transients are still getting shaved, very subtle but markedly different, makes for a very consistent feel and adds a lot of character and energy.

and it goes without saying, there is copious tape limiting on most of my tracks, and a smidgen on the mix as well.

i can understand how for lots of guys and lots of styles, limiting is unnecessary in a mix. for me, and the sounds i gravitate towards, i find it invaluable. in particular, hiphop loves limiting on the drums.


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Lately I've been using plugin limiters on Bkg Vox for a more consistent level underneath the lead. This is more for subtle bkg vox. Sometimes on a parallel bass track. Once or twice on lead vox that I wanted to dirty up, I hit the limiter hard and put it in the mix.

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Just out of curiosity, what about the people that use 1176s/1178s all through tracking/mixing ?

I'm confused :/
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nut
Just out of curiosity, what about the people that use 1176s/1178s all through tracking/mixing ?

I'm confused :/
what's the confusion about? it's possible to make an 1176 behave... especially if it's a blue stripe (or a purple).

--jon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nut
Just out of curiosity, what about the people that use 1176s/1178s all through tracking/mixing ?

I'm confused :/
If you use the 4/1 ratios and medium attack/release, it will compress well.
The peak limiting comes with faster attacks and the 20/1 ratio.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nut
Just out of curiosity, what about the people that use 1176s/1178s all through tracking/mixing ?

I'm confused :/

Is an 1176 really a limiter though?

It sorta can be at 20:1, but that all-button thing is just SOOOO bizarre that it's not really like compression at all...

More like an implosion or something.

It's rad whatever it is.

But when I think of "limiting" my mind goes towards that of the digital 'brick-wall' type. Something like an L2 or whatever similar plug-in or hardware tool that does that job.

That's a WHOLE other thing then an 1176 or "compression/limting"
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
Is an 1176 really a limiter though?

It sorta can be at 20:1,
i'm with ya, jay... that when someone says "limiter" i first think of L1, L2, T.C electronic boxes, etc. etc. but if you think about what's going on at ratios like 20:1... for the output signal to go up by one dB, the input has to go up by 20 dB. 3dB of output change has to have had 30dB of input change--more than a third the entire dynamic range of tape (just for example). i think 20:1 is certainly putting the smack on whatever you run through it., i.e. "limiting".

in my classes @ school (for what they were worth), the textbook definition of where "compressing" turns into "limiting" is 10:1. i have no idea what they base that on, other than some guy's opinion 30 years ago.

fwiw, when i use 1176's (rarely), they're on 4:1. and that's a *really* high ratio for me. i'm one of those "really small ratio, really low threshold" kinda guys. last night the renncomp on the lead vocal had a ratio of 1.75:1 or so. with a really low threshold--low enough that it was still doing between 3-5 dB of compression. to my ears, the compression sounds more natural that way, you don't hear the knee of the comp.

i've babbled enough now. good thread!

--jon
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