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Digital Limiter Quality Test Dynamics Plugins
Old 16th February 2019
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Digital Limiter Quality Test

Want to participate? Download the .wav file in the attachments, run it through your limiter(s) at +10 dB gain and post the resulting WAV file.

In this thread, I want to find out which digital limiters can actually limit the signal in a clean way. I created a simple file that consists of three sine waves (100 Hz, 1 kHz, 10 kHz) at -10 dBFS and 0 dBFS each. I then applied +10 dB of gain, hoping to see a flat line. Without any clipping.

Next, I create a spectrum to visualize distortion.

This is what the output should look like:



Here are the limiters that I have so far:

Jünger d02 (with gain and limiter)



Fuzz box. Clean without the compressor gain and limiter.

LoudMax



Not bad for free, but introduces short-term squashing, traces of aliasing, slow release.

Sonic Anomaly Unlimited



Didn't really bring the signal up to 0 dBFS, short-term squashing, slow attack and release, slight 3rd harmonic.

SPL Loudness Maximizer



Soft/Hard -9 is clean, anything else not so much. Reduces the volume of the wave prior to the jump in volume. Distortion mostly 3rd harmonic. Do not use the "Boost" button. +10 dB is not +10 dB

Limiter No.6



Also introduces short-term squashing. Very fast release however.

Acon Digital Limiter



Super clean. Also reduces the volume of the wave prior to the jump in volume, but better than the SPL.

Waves L2



Does some very subtle rounding of the waveform at 100 Hz, introducing odd harmonics. Decreases the volume prior to the volume jump in the 1 kHz and 10 kHz steps. Not bad for something that's around 20 years old.

ToneBoosters Barricade 4



Not sure I understand what's going on here. This was in Auto: Clean mode. There is a DC filter somewhere. The waveform itself looks very good though.

eaReckon FR-LIMIT 87



Squares the waveform off quite a bit. 500 ms release is rather slow. Does not increase the volume so a gain after it is required (weird). Download at eaReckon - FREEBIES.

iZotope Ozone 8

Ozone 8's Maximizer is a bit more complicated so here is a quick summary of my findings:
  • The Maximizer tries to reduce the volume of the audio prior to the jump, except that it does that for a bit too long.
  • The "character" control should really be called "distortion" and the range inverted. It has something to do with the limiter release but any value other than 10 allows for distortion. At 0, you basically allow a lot of distortion. I wouldn't use any value below 8.
  • The IRC IV "transient" mode is absolute garbage and can't be made to not distort.
  • The "classic" and "modern" settings of IRC IV are good.
  • Stay the **** away from IRC III, it's horrible.
  • IRC I and II are useable, for what it's worth.



IRC IV "transient" mode with character at 0.



IRC IV "transient" mode with character at 10. Better but not clean.







IRC IV "classic" mode with character at 10. You should be using this mode or the modern mode if you want a jumpier release.

NUGEN Audio ISL2

Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_nugen-audio-isl2_take_1.jpg

NUGEN ISL2 is either very clean in "Auto" mode, but with a horribly long (> 1 s) release or...

Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_nugen-audio-isl2_take_3.jpg

...distorting.
Attached Thumbnails
Digital Limiter Quality Test-original.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_junger-d02-preset-4-gain-10-compressor-2.0-limiter-on_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_loudmax_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_sonic-anomaly-unlimited-character-0.0-response-1.0_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_spl-loudness-maximizer-10-9-10_take_1.jpg  

Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_track-limiter-6-brickwall_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-acon_digital_limit.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_waves-l2_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_toneboosters-barricade-auto-clean_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_eareckon-fr-limit-87_take_1.jpg  

Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_ozone-8-maximizer-irc-iv-classic-character-10_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_ozone-8-maximizer-irc-iv-transient-character-10_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_ozone-8-maximizer-irc-iv-transient-character-10_take_1-waveform.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_ozone-8-maximizer-irc-iv-transient-character-0_take_1.jpg   Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_nugen-audio-isl2_take_1.jpg  

Digital Limiter Quality Test-limiter-test-edit-1_nugen-audio-isl2_take_3.jpg  
Attached Files

limiter-test-24bit.wav (775.4 KB, 285 views)


Last edited by johannburkard; 17th February 2019 at 12:52 PM.. Reason: Making the obvious more obvious.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Nobody on Gearslutz uses digital limiters?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Addict
 
saagedal's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by johannburkard View Post
Nobody on Gearslutz uses digital limiters?
Attached is the result from Acon Digital Limit (part of our Mastering Suite and Acoustica) on that test file.

Best,
Stian
Attached Files

acon_digital_limit.wav (775.4 KB, 216 views)

Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Thank you @saagedal, I added it. Very well done.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 
saagedal's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by johannburkard View Post
Thank you @saagedal, I added it. Very well done.
Thanks! It's actually possible to pass your test with close to perfect results if you use the so called analytic signal. Unfortunately, that method only works well for sine waves and fails miserably e.g. a square wave test signal. That's why we use the look-ahead to smoothly change the gain in advance (you can control this using the look-ahead time). The variable gain signal should only contain low frequency content to avoid distortion.

Best,
Stian
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by saagedal View Post
Thanks! It's actually possible to pass your test with close to perfect results if you use the so called analytic signal.
I started to think that what I did was not "surprising" enough. But looking at the waveform immediately showed me how limiters react to jumps in the signal ("transients").
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Added Waves L2 and ToneBoosters Barricade 4.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Added iZotope Ozone 8 and eaReckon FR-LIMIT 87.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Great work, thank for this!

Daniel.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Added NUGEN Audio ISL2.
Old 1 day ago
  #11
Gear Head
 
Ted brenn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by johannburkard View Post
Added NUGEN Audio ISL2.
Thanks for the test,

It's very difficult to choose a limiter to get the max loudness.

I have lot's of limiter, nearly all those you tested.

Actually I have a very powerful result with the new VELO 2 (Soundspot)

Could you test it ?
Old 1 day ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
johannburkard's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted brenn View Post
Actually I have a very powerful result with the new VELO 2 (Soundspot)

Could you test it ?
How about you test it? It's totally easy. Just download the .wav file linked above, add 10 dB of gain on the limiter and post the result.
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