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Sonnox Oxford Limiter - Favorite Settings?
Old 14th July 2019
  #1
Sonnox Oxford Limiter - Favorite Settings?

I recently started rediscovering this plugin, experimenting with some of the presets as starting points, and getting some surprisingly good results compared to my other go-to limiters. I mean in terms of preserving punch/attack in a "tastefully loud" master without distorting. Kinda scratching my head as to why I shelved this thing years ago... What was I thinking?

Anyone still using this plugin? Want to share any tips, tricks, favorite presets to start from? How you use it differently for different genres?

Anything really, I just feel like learning more about it.

I'll start: Yesterday using the "Harder limiting safe" preset and disabling Auto Gain I got a really nice aggressive punchy Rock sound. The song was distorting in Fabfilter and DMG which is why I reached for Sonnox. It saved the day. I noticed the high end was more prominent than what Pro-L 2 and Limitless were giving me, but a small tweak to my EQ settings and that was that.

Planning on reintroducing this to the old arsenal...
Old 14th July 2019
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
DBarbarulo's Avatar
the same happened here, took it out of the freezer recently with some good results. A bit brighter say than DMG, TDR etc. interesting.
Old 14th July 2019
  #3
Deleted 2ef94c5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Anyone still using this plugin? Want to share any tips, tricks, favorite presets to start from? How you use it differently for different genres?
Yep I still use it before the ProL2(s) and after the clipper (if its in).

I dont use it as a limiter though, but rather just a touch of safe mode enhancement (very little). I think thats the high end energy you guys are hearing and why I still use it.
Old 14th July 2019
  #4
Thanks for the replies.

Yeah, the added brightness is odd, especially as it's there even with Enhance at 0%. I'm going to drill down on that to see if the brightness varies with the amount of added Gain or if it's static. If static then no problem to compensate for it but if variable it would mess up some of my workflow...

I'll experiment with the Enhance slider too. Need to read up on exactly what it does again...
Old 14th July 2019 | Show parent
  #5
Deleted 2ef94c5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
I'll experiment with the Enhance slider too. Need to read up on exactly what it does again...
Just a gentle kiss of it
Old 14th July 2019
  #6
OK, I just looked in the manual for a minute and found that in Safe mode, which I was using, Enhance is automatically engaged even with the Enhance slider at 0%. That must be why it's brighter. Gonna read more before I post any more nonsense!
Old 14th July 2019 | Show parent
  #7
Deleted 2ef94c5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Enhance is automatically engaged even with the Enhance slider at 0%.
Interesting.

1-3 % usually works well over here.

I don't like digital exciters but this one sounds different to me.
Old 14th July 2019 | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpr View Post
Interesting.

1-3 % usually works well over here.

I don't like digital exciters but this one sounds different to me.
Are you running it in Safe mode or Normal mode?

Apparently Safe mode permanently sets Enhance at 100% and reassigns the function of the Enhance slider to become another loudness booster of sorts.

The manual is very illuminating. This is a different animal from other limiters.
Old 14th July 2019 | Show parent
  #9
Deleted 2ef94c5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Are you running it in Safe mode or Normal mode?

Apparently Safe mode permanently sets Enhance at 100% and reassigns the function of the Enhance slider to become another loudness booster of sorts.

The manual is very illuminating. This is a different animal from other limiters.
Here's my current setting which was first shared to me by fellow GSlut (Solid Mastering) over 3 years ago now. I hope he doesn't mind.

Over the years I've tried tweaking the other settings, but this is where I always end up. On certain rock records I may raise the enhance to 3.5 or add 0.25-0.75 dB to the input for a touch of limiting before my main limiter(s).

It is the longest surviving element of my current ITB mastering chain, and it obviously needs to be on from the start so you can EQ accordingly.


Last edited by Deleted 2ef94c5; 17th July 2019 at 07:52 PM.. Reason: SAFE MODE ON
Old 14th July 2019 | Show parent
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpr View Post
Here's my current setting which was first shared to me by fellow GSlut (Solid Mastering) over 3 years ago now. I hope he doesn't mind.

Over the years I've tried tweaking the other settings, but this is where I always end up. On certain rock records I may raise the enhance to 3.5 or add 0.25-0.75 dB to the input for a touch of limiting before my main limiter(s).

It is the longest surviving element of my current ITB mastering chain, and it obviously needs to be on from the start so you can EQ accordingly.

Thanks for sharing!

So you are in Normal mode and have everything set neutral except for just a touch of Enhance. And then you follow it with 2 instances of Pro-L2 for the heavy loudness lifting. Interesting... May I ask what styles of music you mostly work on?

Edit: mpr has replaced the screenshot with a different setting - Safe Mode not Normal mode.

Last edited by Trakworx; 17th July 2019 at 09:58 PM..
Old 14th July 2019 | Show parent
  #11
Deleted 2ef94c5
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Thanks for sharing!

So you are in Normal mode and have everything set neutral except for just a touch of Enhance. And then you follow it with 2 instances of Pro-L2 for the heavy loudness lifting. Interesting... May I ask what styles of music you mostly work on?
Yep, but that would be my louder chain. For the majority of stuff one pro-l2 (doing less than 1-2dB of GR) after sonnox is usually enough. Once a month I try Limitless, Ozone or Elephant and I almost always come back to Sonnox -> Pro-L2(s).

As far as the type of music I get, I recently finished records for Jason Mraz and Greg Laswell. Mostly singer songwriter type stuff with a touch of indie pop / rock. This year seems to a turning point for me as more and more people aren't requesting stupid hot masters anymore. -8 to -10 lufs seems to work for LOUD nowadays.
Old 14th July 2019
  #12
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X-Pand Sound Mastering's Avatar
 

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1 Review written
It's my "main" limiter, for so long now. I've compared it over the years to pretty much everything else I believe, from Fabfilter to Voxengo to DMG to Ozone to...O well you know them all and it's still the "best" sounding limiter to my ears.
2 things though :

1 It can and WILL distort (!) if you hit it too hard, so in my experience you have to be carefull with the "attack" setting mainly. (I never hit more than 1 or 2 led of gain reduction anyway).
2 I never ever use the enhance option, as it mess with the dynamic of the song pretty bad.
The dithering on it is great too
Old 15th July 2019 | Show parent
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by X-Pand Sound Mastering View Post
1 It can and WILL distort (!) if you hit it too hard, so in my experience you have to be carefull with the "attack" setting mainly. (I never hit more than 1 or 2 led of gain reduction anyway).
Thanks. That's interesting because I usually only reach for Sonnox when Fabfilter and DMG distort - Sonnox usually doesn't distort on the same material. If I end up using Sonnox more frequently then I'm sure I'll run into situations where the opposite occurs...
Old 15th July 2019 | Show parent
  #14
Deleted 2ef94c5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Thanks. That's interesting because I usually only reach for Sonnox when Fabfilter and DMG distort - Sonnox usually doesn't distort on the same material.
Goes without saying, but you've flipped thru the modes in ProL2, played with the attack and lookahead times and still got distortion on ProL2 when Sonnox avoids it at identical degrees of limiting?

I do use some Sonnox limiting on louder projects but I usually hear its action working well before I hear ProL2's. Again, for me the secret to the Sonnox is to use it as a gentle exciter. Try the setting I posted (above) in front of a ProL2 (maybe try 'all around' mode - or anything but 'modern' imo) and let us know your thoughts. Increase enhance to 3.0 if the track allows it.
Old 15th July 2019 | Show parent
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 2ef94c5 View Post
Goes without saying, but you've flipped thru the modes in ProL2, played with the attack and lookahead times and still got distortion on ProL2 when Sonnox avoids it at identical degrees of limiting?
Yes. Usually Pro-L2 is distortion free but when it doesn't work it really doesn't work. And there are some modes I just don't like and would rather use a different limiter altogether. Usually it's a kick drum or some low mid resonance that distorts it. That's when Sonnox sometimes swoops in and saves the track.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 2ef94c5 View Post
I do use some Sonnox limiting on louder projects but I usually hear its action working well before I hear ProL2's. Again, for me the secret to the Sonnox is to use it as a gentle exciter. Try the setting I posted (above) in front of a ProL2 (maybe try 'all around' mode - or anything but 'modern' imo) and let us know your thoughts. Increase enhance to 3.0 if the track allows it.
Yes I'll give that a try.

That's funny - I almost exclusively use Pro-L2 in Modern mode Because it's so punchy. No other mode lets the kick/snare punch through like Modern does. I have a favorite setting that's a combination of what I had come up with on my own plus hints I got from a screenshot taken by a friend of Ted Jensen's Pro-L2 settings using Modern mode.

Interesting how we each use the same gear so differently!
Old 15th July 2019 | Show parent
  #16
Deleted 2ef94c5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
That's funny - I almost exclusively use Pro-L2 in Modern mode
Funny indeed. I did use modern for the first year it came out because it is very shiny and wide, but then I realized it was softening the power of the lower mids and also introducing some slight phasing (probably from all its bands vs the single band of the others).

I now cycle thru punchy, transparent, dynamic and all around until I get the release shape right for the tune. And after a few years of not using modern, when I flip back into modern Im taken aback by how much it changes things compared to the others. This is obviously just a preference of what our ears like / don't like.

btw I usually only hit a single limiter 0.5 to 1.5dB max so perhaps that is why our results vary so much? I know that if I were to go beyond 2dB that modern seems to hold together best.

But for the tone preservation alone, I would rather use 2 ProL2s not in modern VS one in modern.
Old 17th July 2019
  #17
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huejahfink's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Still use it a lot, and sometimes first in series with another limiter.
For me, nothing else out there is as reliable at compressing kick/bass and keeping it as punchy and thick sounding. The combination of the saturation and the knee control just works for me.
There is a massive colour to it, which isn't always appropriate. As someone else pointed out, the enhance (+safe) modes can really change the sound. Certain mid range sounds have caused that to sound awful in the past, it's rare but I try to stay mindful of it. I don't think the limiter as a whole behaves well at handling material with lot of fast, clinical sounding transients either.

However when I need to pull in some bass peaks but keep them sounding fat it's a go-to move.

Typically using safe mode with fully open attack, and adjusting knee to taste. The knee control helps me dial in how much 'kick' grabbing etc.
Attached Thumbnails
Sonnox Oxford Limiter - Favorite Settings?-screen-shot-2019-07-17-11.10.13.png  
Old 17th July 2019
  #18
I use a lot of outboard on my stereo bus so I only add tiny amounts of digital limiters as they always degrade the sound a little. The attack and release is always groove/dynamic dependent. I add enhance somewhere around 50% or less.
Old 17th July 2019
  #19
Good tips all - thanks!

I'm finding it's necessary to start with this limiter on and near final loudness in order to work with it's coloration. If I switch to Sonnox from Pro-L2 midstream then sometimes I have to start over from scratch with all of my other settings.

Yesterday just one song on a 13 song album had something about the kick and bass that caused intractable distortion in both Pro-L2 and Limitless, so I brought up Sonnox and sure enough it was magically clean on the lows, but it made the snare sound annoyingly harsh. It took a good bit of extra work to make that track fit in with the others on the album, but it was worth it just to get rid of the distortion on the low end. That's twice in a week that Sonnox saved the day.
Old 17th July 2019 | Show parent
  #20
Deleted e461f65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Good tips all - thanks!

I'm finding it's necessary to start with this limiter on and near final loudness in order to work with it's coloration.
I find this true for every limiter (or clipper) especially when heavy lifting is needed.
Old 17th July 2019
  #21
Deleted 2ef94c5
Guest
Hi guys, I caught a mistake on my preset I posted earlier in the thread. I fixed it.

Safe Mode is ON

Ive been staring at that red button for years and yet my brain couldn't recall it until I got in the studio...
Old 18th July 2019 | Show parent
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e461f65 View Post
I find this true for every limiter (or clipper) especially when heavy lifting is needed.
Yes, to an extent. But there are lots of times when I can audition different limiters after EQing tracks and not have to start over. Switching between Fabfilter and DMG, or between different modes within Fabfilter is possible in many cases. But don't you think Sonnox really stands more apart from the others?
Old 18th July 2019 | Show parent
  #23
Deleted e461f65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
But there are lots of times when I can audition different limiters after EQing tracks and not have to start over.
I may be OCD but every time I tried this, as I was changing limiter(s) or settings I have always felt the urge to change the eq as well, even for a little bit, in order to audition the limiter's reaction to EQ...I realised that I am basically chasing my tail

Quote:
Switching between Fabfilter and DMG, or between different modes within Fabfilter is possible in many cases
absolutely, and this is what I am doing ...only difference is that nowadays I do this before any other processing in order to avoid the issue above (but I have worked otherwise and I know that it is probably a matter of personal preference)

Quote:
don't you think Sonnox really stands more apart from the others?
Can't really help as I havent tried it...I will certainly give it a go when I find my bloody ilok
Old 18th July 2019 | Show parent
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apostolos Siopis View Post
nowadays I do this before any other processing in order to avoid the issue above
If I know a track is going to be EQ'd heavily then I'll often EQ before auditioning and tweaking limiters, but if the track is already well balanced then I do it the way you do. Either way requires listening and adjusting to some extent.

Where it gets complicated is after choosing a limiter for an album, then one song won't play nice with that limiter.
Old 18th July 2019
  #25
I did a null test comparing Safe mode vs Normal mode. The difference in the null sounds like a near-perfect copy of the original audio but 20dB or so lower, except that the snare drum attack is enhanced in the upper mids/highs. That explains why it made that snare sound annoyingly harsh the other day. There's some frequency dependent transient boosting going on in Safe mode and/or the Enhance slider. Need to test further to see if it also alters the EQ beyond just the transients.
Old 18th July 2019 | Show parent
  #26
Deleted 2ef94c5
Guest
One limiter chain for an entire album for me, and it has to be on from the start, especially this Sonnox with its soft clip or whatever its doing thats adding transient energy up high. Slapping it on at the end of a session hoping it pushes you across the finish line isnt smart IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
There's some frequency dependent transient boosting going on in Safe mode and/or the Enhance slider.
Yes and this is why it doesn't need much. Honestly you should be able to hear a blatant difference between 2 and 4% (on the enhance slider) on a louder master where the transients are hitting close to the ceiling, and it is independent of the apparent volume increase.

The fact that it isn't a static process makes it more attractive to me, and probably why its survived 100s of ABs tests over the last few years across many genres. I turn it off on some mixes for sure, but it makes the cut on a majority.
Old 19th July 2019 | Show parent
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 2ef94c5 View Post
Honestly you should be able to hear a blatant difference between 2 and 4% (on the enhance slider)
Oh I hear all kinds of things with that slider. It changes what it does as you move through it's range. For example, up in the 50% area it no longer boosts transients but fattens the sound instead. This is in Safe mode.

Strange beast.
Old 24th July 2019
  #28
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
im a Track and Mix engineer, not an ME specialist, and i often use oxford Limiter for ITB mix Dubs .

the Enhance slider is the reason. i like what it does.

also the soft knee, usually set so i am getting about 2 db G/R on peaks.

also for those ITB dubs i usually run UAD NEVE-88RS, before Oxford, as a band pass filter and EQ.

those 2 go together well and for Dubs do a great job.

if i spin the mix out on a Desk/Analog, sometimes i still use Oxford on Stereo Groups, just as a general stereo compressor.

Buddha
Old 25th July 2019
  #29
I'm finding it harder to use the Oxford limiter after the release of the Weiss Softube pack. It's so much more 3D and transparent, where I can't get away from the distortion on the Oxford limiter. I used to love it on almost everything though.
Old 25th July 2019 | Show parent
  #30
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_G View Post
I'm finding it harder to use the Oxford limiter after the release of the Weiss Softube pack. It's so much more 3D and transparent, where I can't get away from the distortion on the Oxford limiter. I used to love it on almost everything though.
Gentle Master Safe works great for me, and Enlarge are on individual tracks.
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