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Ultimate Limiter/Clipper Community Shoot-Out Dynamics Plugins
Old 5th August 2015
  #1
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Ultimate Limiter/Clipper Community Shoot-Out

Hey guys, I was curious if any of you mastering guys would like to participate in a community shoot - out of all the limiters and clippers we can think of. Yes, I know that clippers and limiters hold the peaks down utilizing different processes, but I figure since people are using both in the mastering stage to 'maximize' volume (outside of compression and other techniques), we could lump everything together into one big shout - out. I don't have every clipper or limiter known to man in the audio world, so I was wondering if the community would help. Basically, someone could provide a free mixed (unmastered) track and users could download it and submit their limited/clipped version. We would have to establish a set of 'rules' for the clipping/limiting (I.E. 5 db of gain with output at -0.5 dB, or something like that) so that the tests are uniform and viable. I will then download and compile them all into the first post (this one). Then, the community can vote on which one sounds better. Each new plugin used will be added to the list.

If anyone is into this idea, let me know. If anyone can submit a track, maybe an extremely punchy, drum-heavy rock mix or something that would be difficult to limit cleanly? That'd be awesome. If no one is interested, delete the post.

I can test:

Massey L2007
Slate FGX
Kazrog KClip

Anyone else in?

PS - I realize that this has sorta been done before, but many new plugins have come out in the recent years that have improved this market. Also, I'm not sure if clipping/limiting has been lumped into one before or not.

Just a starting point of what we would need:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

Last edited by joe_04_04; 5th August 2015 at 05:17 AM..
Old 5th August 2015
  #2
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let's do it. I have waves L3-LL
Old 6th August 2015
  #3
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Sounds like a good idea but think hard about the protocol before you launch it.

Maybe two tests for each limiter, one at a lower GR and one at a higher GR. Different artists/tracks/albums/genres/mastering engineers call for different levels of GR, and some limiters may excel at one but not the other.

Maybe one at 3dB of limiting, and one at 6dB or more? Just a suggestion!
Old 6th August 2015
  #4
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Also, many limiters have a lot of controls, (thinking of Elephant and Limiter6 specifically), so a single test of a particular setting on a particular track may not really be very representative of what the limiter is capable of.

There's no replacing spending time with a certain limiter on many tracks, to get a good feel for it. This makes proposed shoot-outs like these somewhat redundant, I feel.

Having said that I would be happy to offer up my Elephant 4!
Old 6th August 2015
  #5
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Sounds like fun, I have a few limiters that aren't on the list though.
Old 6th August 2015
  #6
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I'm in. I have a few that aren't on the list too. One or two db's seems pointless,
makes more sense to push them all really far and see how they do.
Old 6th August 2015
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TS-12 View Post
let's do it. I have waves L3-LL
Awesome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
Sounds like a good idea but think hard about the protocol before you launch it.

Maybe two tests for each limiter, one at a lower GR and one at a higher GR. Different artists/tracks/albums/genres/mastering engineers call for different levels of GR, and some limiters may excel at one but not the other.

Maybe one at 3dB of limiting, and one at 6dB or more? Just a suggestion!
I'll definitely need some help with the protocol going into the testing. Group decisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
Also, many limiters have a lot of controls, (thinking of Elephant and Limiter6 specifically), so a single test of a particular setting on a particular track may not really be very representative of what the limiter is capable of.

There's no replacing spending time with a certain limiter on many tracks, to get a good feel for it. This makes proposed shoot-outs like these somewhat redundant, I feel.

Having said that I would be happy to offer up my Elephant 4!
It will be difficult to define how each should be used, we definitely gotta think about it

Quote:
Originally Posted by OpusOfTrolls View Post
Sounds like fun, I have a few limiters that aren't on the list though.
Post the ones you have, I'll add them to the list.. The list isn't comprehensive, just what I could think of, I was hoping others would suggest some I missed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marchhare View Post
I'm in. I have a few that aren't on the list too. One or two db's seems pointless,
makes more sense to push them all really far and see how they do.
Let me know which ones, and definitely, pushing them will be what sets them apart.. None will be dramatically different at just a few dB.
Old 6th August 2015
  #8
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Yes, but if you are like me and a lot of other MEs, then only pushing the limiter 1.5-3.0dB will be a far more realistic real world test. I hardly ever push mine beyond that. I can usually hear limiters working from about a dB on, so I think it's a very valid test.
Old 6th August 2015
  #9
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I've added some more. Throw more at me. Is anyone able to submit a punchy rock mix? Drum-heavy? Mixes with prominent transients usually suffer the most from limiting in my experience (not so much with Clipping - they shine here).
Old 6th August 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering View Post
Yes, but if you are like me and a lot of other MEs, then only pushing the limiter 1.5-3.0dB will be a far more realistic real world test. I hardly ever push mine beyond that. I can usually hear limiters working from about a dB on, so I think it's a very valid test.
Fair enough. What do you guys think about just using a 4-8 bar passage of the chorus of the user-submitted track? If we do decide to process the tracks twice with each processor, we could be getting into the range of 60-100 versions of the same song. It would be madness to listen to that many takes of the full song. So maybe a 10-15 second chunk of 4 or 8 bars from the chorus, or loudest part of the song? The part that would be hitting the limiter the hardest anyway?

Also, I'm able to push my clipper (KClip) much further than my go-to limiter (Massey L2007). Pushing the limiter anywhere near as far as the clipper results in the drums losing all transient punch. So that's something else to consider.. Clipper rules vs Limiter rules? Idk, this will definitely be complex. I hope more people hop onto the thread and join up.
Old 6th August 2015
  #11
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Just in case anyone has troubles viewing the google doc, here's a list of what I've got:

AOM Invisible Limiter
Audio Assault - KlipFreak
Avid/Digidesign - Maxim
Brainworx - BX_Limiter
Fabfilter - Pro-L
Flux - Elixir
Flux - Pure Limiter
Goodhertz - Faraday Limiter
GVST - G-Clip
HOFA - IQ-Limiter
IK Multimedia - Stealth Limiter
IK Multimedia - T-Racks Clipper
JST Tones - Clip
Kazrog - KClip
LVC Audio - ClipShifter
LVC Audio - Limited-MAX
Massey - L2007
McDSP - 4040 Retro Limiter
Melda Productions - MLimiter
Nugen - ISL 2
Ozone - Limiter
PSP - Xenon
Slate Digital - FG-X
Sonnox Oxford - Limiter
ToneBoosters - Barricade
VladG - Limiter No 6
Voxengo - Elephant
Waves - L1
Waves - L2
Waves - L3
Waves - L3-LL
Old 6th August 2015
  #12
maybe go -4db GR...slightly over the norm just to see in case...there is the occasional track surely that has to be squeezed a bit harder...
Old 6th August 2015
  #13
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How about tests at two settings, one at more everyday / reasonable levels and one slamming it more to see what holds up the longest?

I agree with Hermetech, I usually go for 1.5 to 2db GR max on final limiting so could be more useful to have two tests..

Cheers

Conundra
Old 6th August 2015
  #14
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We can definitely do the 2 pass thing if everyone else plays along and does the same. So maybe:

2 dB practical test
8 dB push it to its 'limit' test' (too much)?
Old 6th August 2015
  #15
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I'd also suggest you use 3 very different pieces of audio for a more complete comparison. Otherwise all we learn is what people think sounds best on this particular track.

The test should also be blind (e.g. numbered files) to eliminate bias.
Old 6th August 2015
  #16
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Yeah I agree!

Some EDM with a strong and dominant kick, Some radio friendly Rock/Pop and perhaps something softer such as Classic/Jazz/Acoustic.

After all, this is the "ULTIMATE" limiter/clipper shootout!

Conundra
Old 6th August 2015
  #17
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Understandable. I get wanting to do multiple songs, but I am concerned with test counts. 3 genres at 2 different processing amounts is 6 passes for each plugin. If we do 30 plugins, that's 180 takes in all. I don't think anyone could acurately test 180 takes back to back. Well, I guess they'd be tested in 6 categories (genre, amount of reduction - every combination). But even so, it's 6 test categories and each one having 30 files.

Anyway, I'll let others chime in and 'vote' in. I do think it's an important aspect, just trying to figure out how to do this viably without so many files that we can't properly test them.
Old 6th August 2015
  #18
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Round 1: votes to determine top 10 preferred plugins.

Round 2: blind audio tests of these 10.
Old 6th August 2015
  #19
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Like I said, protocol is extremely important if you want a meaningful result. Limiting (haha) the test to ten or less plugs, with short sections from two different genres, at two different limiting levels (so only 40 short files total), would be great, I reckon. Could split into two main sections, light limiting and heavy limiting, to make it a bit more easy to handle.
Old 6th August 2015
  #20
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Might want to add this one to the lineup (TB ProAudio LA xLimit):

Professional Audio Tools

Just read in the IK Stealth Limiter thread that bManic favours it over anything else right now and there's not many people more obsessed when it comes to limiters and dynamics processing!

Cheers

Conundra

Last edited by Conundra; 6th August 2015 at 12:27 PM.. Reason: Added plugin name and corrected typo
Old 6th August 2015
  #21
I have to admit I think there are some plugins in this comparison Im not sure are needed...does anyone really use a clipper in place of the good limiters? McDSP Retro - is that a mastering limiter and one uses?
Old 6th August 2015
  #22
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I would consider testing the Sonnox Oxford Inflator as well. The "Clip 0dB" option is still my favorite ITB clipping method.
Old 6th August 2015
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_04_04 View Post
We can definitely do the 2 pass thing if everyone else plays along and does the same. So maybe:

2 dB practical test
8 dB push it to its 'limit' test' (too much)?
I'd recommend to have a third file showing what damage it imposed at zero GR. This can be quite relevant for multi-band and oversampled processors, and is an often overlooked factor.

As for the material itself, make sure to add examples having a very narrow band and others having a wide-band (e.g. vocals vs mix). Accordingly, make sure to add some with a huge dynamic range and another with only a small one (e.g. freq drum recording vs compressed bass recording). Another interesting aspect the stereo behaviour, especially with material having strong LR difference content. Finally, it's worth comparing the harmonic integrity, I recommend a good piano recording.

Also, it would be useful to have an feature overview as well. Some limiters reliably limit the PCM level, others nicely limit the true waveform, but only very few do both properly. Some are useless at low rates and shine at SR's >88.2kHz, while other sound and act properly at any rate.

In any way, this sounds like a mountain of work!
Old 6th August 2015
  #24
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What sort of music do you plan to try it with? Ideal would be to try it with different genres as well. Will be a big test seems like. A few different genres and a few different amounts of gain reduction!
Old 6th August 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
I'd recommend to have a third file showing what damage it imposed at zero GR...
You would bring THAT up!

Old 6th August 2015
  #26
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Mania's Avatar
 

Id like to add audiod3ck o-clip and audiod3ck KRUCKZ
Old 6th August 2015
  #27
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The files list should be randomized.
Acoustic guitar plus female voice with sustained notes are for me the definitive test for a limiter.

My 2 cents.
Old 6th August 2015
  #28
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What if instead of a maximum gain reduction limit, a target RMS average? The running average in SPAN could be used over the course of the material to define how much limiting to apply. It could be a scenario where the running average is increased by +3dBFS (or a vaule suitable for the material), and depending on the maximization method allow each device to work independently of signal amplitude.

I have a few old VST limiters, I also have built a few in Reaktor core, and I would like to see how they stack up on more contemporary devices.

Here's a couple I didn't see on the list. Some oversample, some don't, some would not know an ISP if it hit them on the head:
TSClip
Kjaerhus Classic Limiter
FL Limiter (daw bundled)
ReaComp (can be set to act as a limiter)
Melda MLimiter
Korvpressor
ToneBoosters Barricade
Old 6th August 2015
  #29
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I propose that both threshold and target RMS are fixed. Attack and release settings should be adjusted so that target RMS is met within 0.03 dB or so.
Old 7th August 2015
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexey Lukin View Post
I propose that both threshold and target RMS are fixed. Attack and release settings should be adjusted so that target RMS is met within 0.03 dB or so.
A threshold of -3dBFS is safe for ISPs and still allows comparison versus limiters that accounted for them.

What RMS are you thinking about? There's at least 3 different kinds of simple RMS metering, integrated, windowed, and running (windowed).
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