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So what's up with those ancient L2 hardware?! Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

So what's up with those ancient L2 hardware?!

I have lately noticed some people in mastering still use those old hardware L2s I remember from ages ago. (Ludwig has like 6 of them, Streaky use it, I could go on and on)

In the early 2000s, in one studio I was assisting in, we use to have it patched on the master out of the Yamaha 02 and before the DAT machine, just next to the fax machine and floppy disc organizer.

It's interesting to me, as it boggles the mind to see old digital tech still holding its place in people's workflow. I get it with old Lexicons for example but limiting seem kind of a more modern era processing you would presume really developes and gets better and better in order to match the ever growing demands of the bloody loudness war.
I myself still like using the god 'ol L1 and L3 multiband for mixing sometimes but limiter wise I much prefer Limitless for example.

I was wondering why people still find them appealing and even better then current tech from 20 years later. Do you use them in conjunction with other types of limiting processes or on their own? Do you use them as a final piece or something goes on after?
I guess you would bypass their converter right?
Really curious about this.

Many thanks!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Addict
 
loji's Avatar
The L2 has a very specific sound.

At certain settings, there's a mid forward thing it does very well. I use one (hardware)

That said I also use a ITB limiter if something needs to sound more modern (ie: faster timing) ...


the L2 is part of the sound, it's not the whole sound, nor is it responsible for doing all the limiting needed to reach modern loudness levels
Old 1 week ago
  #3
I sold mine (hardware) a month ago.
I tried to keep using it (never really did since I bought it because I saw it on so many studio pics and ended up not being so much into it)

I guess people keep it for the mid thing that Tim explained but I'm pretty sure you won't find people using it as a "go to" or strap in chain as a main loudness processor.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 
12th & Vine's Avatar
 

I still got one too. Nothing to add to what loji outlined.

If it broke I probably wouldn't fix it.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Slug1's Avatar
Mainly doing all gain and loudness OTB these days with BM Mastering limiter, Dangerous AD+, L2, HEDD. The L2 is there for its sound and to provide a digital ceiling of -0.1 dbfs before going back to DAW. I don't use it for actual loudness so the threshold is set to 0. I'm rolling this way for now.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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S_mask's Avatar
 

Threw mine in the bin when I saw the distortion, since it looks unnatural - presenting minusculely fractional partials, above and below the fundamental. See attachment of the L2 doing gain reduction, displayed in SpectraFoo's FFT spectrum analyzer.

Although these unusual partials are down around - 85 dBFSD, we can supposedly hear into 16 bit dither in some cases (although probably not when L2 is in GR mode), yet it's there whenever the L2 (hardware and most likely software, as well) does _any_ gain reduction.

This exact distortion artifact is also seen with Xeon's Types A and B modes (though not at all in its Type C mode), so it's probably true of most delayed-output, brick wall limiter plugins. Of course, these limiters can't actually 'look ahead'. (;
Attached Thumbnails
So what's up with those ancient L2 hardware?!-l2_fractional_partials.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Verified Member
i had one until it got trashed on a tour...

...and replaced it with a maxx bcl: basically the same plus some more, so much more clever for live sound!

hard to beat for it's speed of use and simplicity. lives along with drawmer, jünger, tc and weiss gear in a dynamics processing rack and get's occasional use, both live and in the studio.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Head
 

Thanks all for chiming in...
So no one seems particularly in love with them, from the comments they seem more a residue people just keep lying around ...
Old 1 week ago
  #9
What I noticed that software L2 has a sound even when its gain reduction meter doesn't move slightest bit at all. This "sound" is especially prominent at lower frequencies, almost like multi band limiter. I use software L2 for that. Subtle thing but it really helps. I assume that hardware L2 has much more character for that.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Head
 

A CLA thing (don't know if he still does this) was to put L1 on every single vocal track before going to his Sony recorder or stemming on the board. Just for the sound more then for the limiting, apparently.... Ther's more then just dynamics going on here for sure.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

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We got in early on the whole Waves limiter scenario.

L1 - bought v.1.0 the day it became available in 1994.

L2 Hardware - bought two of the units asap, amazing upgrade in sound from the L1. ca.2000?

it was an amazing godsend actually, we used em for most of a decade.

L2 plugin - more convenient to use in many itb situations.

L3 plugin - interesting multiband “enhancement” that tends to mess with the mix

we still have all the above, numerous repairs to the static sensitive L2 units.

but we haven’t used them since comparing to the PSP Xenon 10 years ago.

one is still in my rack, powered down, so noone thinks i’m using it.

much prefer the smoother sound and better math of the Xenon.

cheers, jt
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

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but in a pinch, i wouldn’t hesitate to use it, if needed.

still sounds good if not driven too hard.

best, jt
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Giuseppe Zaccaria's Avatar
 

I still like it and its always on, not for loud but for its sound, if broke I'd miss it.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioloud View Post
A CLA thing (don't know if he still does this) was to put L1 on every single vocal track before going to his Sony recorder or stemming on the board. Just for the sound more then for the limiting, apparently.... Ther's more then just dynamics going on here for sure.
or possibly for the look-ahead delay compensation, at the time (1.5ms, IIRC).
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Giuseppe Zaccaria View Post
I still like it and its always on, not for loud but for its sound, if broke I'd miss it.
yes, to each his own.

“one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

here’s my L2 in the rack but powered off.

jt
Attached Thumbnails
So what's up with those ancient L2 hardware?!-177e4a7a-3928-469c-bbc3-b15e3a4a76d4.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioloud View Post
A CLA thing (don't know if he still does this) was to put L1 on every single vocal track before going to his Sony recorder or stemming on the board. Just for the sound more then for the limiting, apparently.... Ther's more then just dynamics going on here for sure.
The L1 is a way to dither the output of a Pro Tools rig. I doubt that he limits with it.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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SASMastering's Avatar
Does the L2 software sound similar to the hardware or are they essentially 2 different results ?
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The L1 is a way to dither the output of a Pro Tools rig. I doubt that he limits with it.
I think there is an SOS interview where he IS talking about the actual sound that L1 imparts. I don't know how much limiting, if any he would have set them to actually do.

As for the dithering part, if you are going directly to analog no dithering should be necessary, so maybe the dithering process you mention could be needed if you have a 24 bit PT session going into those old Sony digital recorders which were 16bit? Is that what you mean?
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
valeot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
Does the L2 software sound similar to the hardware or are they essentially 2 different results ?
To my ears in linked mode it sounds very close to the plugin, maybe a tad more „analog“ or airy.

In unlinked Mode it sounds great and is better than the plugin but also for 50% of the time better or more right than other modern ITB limiters.

The L2 has a Sound, and I wouldn’t describe it as a modern one(less bright than ozone for example) but I do a lot Indie stuff and like to use it quite often.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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That's right, he went from PT digitally to the Sony which was 16 or 20 bit. The Sony locked to the console automation. He also probably reduced the track count.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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24-96 Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
Does the L2 software sound similar to the hardware or are they essentially 2 different results ?
The L2 software and L2 hardware have the same algorithms underneath, they should sound identical (when used with digital I/O, and not using the L2's AD/DA conversion)

It has been many years, but back when I had both the L2 hardware and plugin I ran a null test with perfect result (down to dithering). Others ran the test too, and came up with the same result.

Back when the L2 was new, there was a lot of hype around tit, and naturally many hardware owners thought it had a magic over the software. I believe it did, but that was "only" based on functionality/real world use (more on that below), not in the actual processing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roberto Alvarez View Post
What I noticed that software L2 has a sound even when its gain reduction meter doesn't move slightest bit at all. This "sound" is especially prominent at lower frequencies, almost like multi band limiter. I use software L2 for that. Subtle thing but it really helps. I assume that hardware L2 has much more character for that.
I don't believe that's the case (assuming the digital I/O is used, i.e. when not using the unit's AD/DA conversion).

When I ran the tests, the L2 stayed transparent to the source as long as the audio stays below threshold. It adds dither and does a slight total level adjustment through its dither module (-0.01dB IIRC) but otherwise doesn't work on the signal.

But again, that's only when the digital IO is used. Its ADDA will likely be nonlinear towards 0dBfs, as most converters are.


Quote:
Originally Posted by valeot View Post
To my ears in linked mode it sounds very close to the plugin, maybe a tad more „analog“ or airy.

In unlinked Mode it sounds great and is better than the plugin but also for 50% of the time better or more right than other modern ITB limiters.
Exactly, therein lies the rub! The hardware L2 has a linked/unlinked switch, the plugin version does not. And running the L2 unlinked often sounds significantly less intrusive than running it stereo linked.

So in the early 2000s, the young aspiring L2 plugin user would wonder why Bob Ludwig's masters sounded less squashed this his/her own, and conclude that the hardware L2 must be better... when the difference was only in user interface with the unlink option.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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the unik's Avatar
But I think the BIG difference is that you can run the Hardware Unlinked.
Personnaly, I never ever run my Compressors linked, never liked what it does to the signal. It sounds unatural to my ears. It depends on how the link mode is designed internally, but getting rid of that part of the process could imply quite a big difference to the signal.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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the unik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by valeot View Post
To my ears in linked mode it sounds very close to the plugin, maybe a tad more „analog“ or airy.

In unlinked Mode it sounds great and is better than the plugin but also for 50% of the time better or more right than other modern ITB limiters.

The L2 has a Sound, and I wouldn’t describe it as a modern one(less bright than ozone for example) but I do a lot Indie stuff and like to use it quite often.
That "analog" or "airy" sound was exactly the same thing I heard with my Spl red Series (digital 40bit). I truly miss them...They sounded a lot classier then most Plugins I heard today.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by the unik View Post
But I think the BIG difference is that you can run the Hardware Unlinked.
Personnaly, I never ever run my Compressors linked, never liked what it does to the signal. It sounds unatural to my ears. It depends on how the link mode is designed internally, but getting rid of that part of the process could imply quite a big difference to the signal.
if you want your mix to retain the same stereo image upon using a dynanic processor, you better use the link function - and imo there is not much of a difference (if any) in the 'design' of any link mode: it's nothing but ganging parameters of two channels...
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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the unik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
if you want your mix to retain the same stereo image upon using a dynanic processor, you better use the link function
That's exactly why I don't use the link function, as I don't want the mix to be compressed the same way on both side.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
- and imo there is not much of a difference (if any) in the 'design' of any link mode: it's nothing but ganging parameters of two channels...
Linking is not just ganging parmeters. If you link the sidechain then the detector will work as one, in effect reducing the amount on both sides.
So for exemple a "too loud" guitar on the left channel would deeply affect the Snare on the right channel, because it would trigger the compression on both side.
So in effect reducing the entire song without controlling that special "too loud" guitar.
That's the last thing I would like to do in a Mastering situation.
Also compression is known in certain design to "reduce" the sense of stereo fields, (ok if you compress a lot) and I found this to be true and even more when stereo linked.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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Giuseppe Zaccaria's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
Does the L2 software sound similar to the hardware or are they essentially 2 different results ?
They should have the same code, but they DO NOT sounds the same at all!
The plugin is very harsh compared to HW, at least IMHO
The HW has that nice little pop in the mid-range when not pushed, otherwise will sound like s**t...
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giuseppe Zaccaria View Post
They should have the same code, but they DO NOT sounds the same at all!
The plugin is very harsh compared to HW, at least IMHO
The HW has that nice little pop in the mid-range when not pushed, otherwise will sound like s**t...
It's a bit confusing to read people who state there is a massive difference with the hardware and other stating it's exactly the same, especially having tested it scientifically with a null test...

Could be interesting to hear something from Mr. Waves himself (well from developers) about this.
Also, as they don't have any more interest in selling the hardware as it's out of production, they could be objectively objective (no pun intended)
Old 1 week ago
  #28
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by the unik View Post
...Linking is not just ganging parmeters...
what else do you think is getting linked/ganged/going on then? no black magic afaik...

i'm not talking about the effect one might notice: of course there's good reason to either use or not use a link function of a dynamic device, depending on the source/mix and what one is trying to achieve/maintain.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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the unik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
what else do you think is getting linked/ganged/going on then? no black magic afaik...

i'm not talking about the effect one might notice: of course there's good reason to either use or not use a link function of a dynamic device, depending on the source/mix and what one is trying to achieve/maintain.
Yes, you are talking about GANGING parameters (Attack / release etc) so you can control both side with one channel. Here I talked about LINKING function, wich linked the compressor detector together in the sidechain (I design gear myself, electronically) and that's the reason why the compressor will compress both side equally (ie same amount of gain reduction on both sides). No black magic indeed.
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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Giuseppe Zaccaria's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by audioloud View Post
It's a bit confusing to read people who state there is a massive difference with the hardware and other stating it's exactly the same, especially having tested it scientifically with a null test...

Could be interesting to hear something from Mr. Waves himself (well from developers) about this.
Also, as they don't have any more interest in selling the hardware as it's out of production, they could be objectively objective (no pun intended)

No worries...
I believe they sounds different because I have both since ages and I did a lot of comparisons between the two in the time.
I think its no a matter of the same code, which could be exactly the same, but a matter of CPU implementation, which must be different, therefore sounds different. Modern CPUs handle the whole system plus various apps, they are not dedicated to do only one thing. That's the main reason why digital HW still rocks IMO
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