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Hardware Peak Limiter
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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lu432's Avatar
 

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Hardware Peak Limiter

Hi Guys,

So I'm in deep debate whether a hardware limiter is warranted or not. Here are a couple of conundrums I have reached. First and foremost, masters that I get tend to have very sharp transients, which is great, but tend to clip the converter, which then leads to pretty nasty audible distortion on the transients when bouncing down. Next, I tend to get the levels where I need utilizing several compressors, tape saturators, and eq's and then tend to be in an area where the music sounds good, but again I find certain passages within the music to clip my converter. My converter (a Mytek) tends to be really transparent, but doesn't do well when clipping. Is a hardware converter really my best option? And if so which converter is going to be my best limiter?

I've been looking at several peak limiters including a Pendulum Peak Limiter, and L2, and a Maslec. I'm not sure about the Neve or the Bettermaker for this function. Will those units be fast enough and transparent enough for mastering? I've gone back and read some posts from earlier and Bob Katz talks about there being no "true" hardware peak limiter, and I'm assuming he's talking about the ability of the analog peak limiters capacity to react fast enough to capture very fast transients, which is exactly what I'm trying to do. I look forward for any insights, technical knowledge, and experiences with the mentioned above units. Of course audio comparisons are also welcomed!

Last edited by lu432; 1 week ago at 05:46 PM.. Reason: Sentence Structure
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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UnderTow's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by lu432 View Post
Hi Guys,

So I'm in deep debate whether a hardware limiter is warranted or not. Here are a couple of conundrums I have reached. First and foremost, masters that I get tend to have very sharp transients, which is great, but tend to clip the converter, which then leads to pretty nasty audible distortion on the transients when bouncing down. Next, I tend to get the levels where I need utilizing several compressors, tape saturators, and eq's and then tend to be in an area where the music sounds good, but again I find certain passages within the music to clip my converter. My converter (a Mytek) tends to be really transparent, but doesn't do well when clipping. Is a hardware converter really my best option? And if so which converter is going to be my best limiter?

I've been looking at several peak limiters including a Pendulum Peak Limiter, and L2, and a Maslec. I'm not sure about the Neve or the Bettermaker for this function. Will those units be fast enough and transparent enough for mastering? I've gone back and read some posts from earlier and Bob Katz talks about there being no "true" hardware peak limiter, and I'm assuming he's talking about the ability of the analog peak limiters capacity to react fast enough to capture very fast transients, which is exactly what I'm trying to do. I look forward for any insights, technical knowledge, and experiences with the mentioned above units. Of course audio comparisons are also welcomed!
Does it have to be a hardware limiter? Can't you capture at a slightly lower level (thus avoiding clipping the Mytek) and limiting in the digital domain with a plugin?

Alistair
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Most of the time I can do that. However, for some projects, I risk lifting the noise floor significantly. Especially when the material is already so loud, to lower the volume that much, and then bump it back up seems to add noise, and not in a pleasant manner. When I raise that noise level I also seem to loose definition in the material. At least as I have observed. However, Alistar, I am not discounting what your saying, by any means, and thank you for your feedback
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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It's seems to me that there is some gain stage issue.
The best solution would be to change the calibration of your converter so it doesn't clip anymore while keeping the analog level the same. (Digital level will be different tho)
How much clipping are we talking about ? Cause Mytek could handle a couple of dB of transient clipping without any audible side effect.

To answer your question, analog limiting is not transparent (the L2 is a digital unit) and you could use it for flavor or to shape enveloppe in some way but neither for loudness or to limit peak "in a transparent way".
No analog limiter will ever beat digital for this task. (complex algo, look-ahead....)
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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I agree with Saxnscratch: gain staging and calibration is what I'd look at first. Although unconventional, you may also consider putting a digital limiter BEFORE the analogue chain to shape these super sharp transients if they're really that bad. Nothing too heavy handed though.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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polybonk's Avatar
The Maselec MPL-2 will stop a transient to exactly wherever you want it to. I can have it stop everything at .2dB if I want.
Its good for a couple of dB of limiting depending on the material.

But the De-Esser is worth the buy price alone!

Bettermaker is not brickwall enough for dead stop protection. You still get over's.
But it pairs well with the MPL2 and the harmonics section is great.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Agree with the consensus, an analog peak limiter isn't going to do what you want. If you're going to spend a bunch of money on something analog, the Black Box HG-2 WILL do what you want, and used judiciously it'll do it in a very nice fashion.

Smoothtone's advice is also good....can't remember the last time I needed to do that, but those super sharp transients are what limiters are for.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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UnderTow's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lu432 View Post
Most of the time I can do that. However, for some projects, I risk lifting the noise floor significantly. Especially when the material is already so loud, to lower the volume that much, and then bump it back up seems to add noise, and not in a pleasant manner. When I raise that noise level I also seem to loose definition in the material. At least as I have observed. However, Alistar, I am not discounting what your saying, by any means, and thank you for your feedback
Well, as others have already pointed out, with proper gain staging there shouldn't be any increase in the noise floor from your converters (because the noise floor of your converters would be below the noise floor of your analogue chain).

Just in case I wasn't clear, you only need to reduce the incoming level enough not to clip. That should only be a few dB's. Regaining those few dB's ITB with a digital limiter should not audibly increase the noise floor of your converters at all. (It will raise the overall level of the noise floor of the recording but that happens regardless of whether you are limiting in the analogue or digital domain and frankly, even that shouldn't be audible).

Alistair
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Slug1's Avatar
The Bettermaker is worth a demo. It’s a clipper and a Limiter and you can create a ratio between the two. Great release as well. It’s good for a couple db off of transients. If you’re going to demo a few this one should be on your list.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
I use Clip Sat + the L2 in the chain
I got a BML for sale if you like to try,
that's the close you can find to a
digital control in a analog hardware.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Try NTP 179-400s, trust me
Old 1 week ago
  #12
The Aphex Expressors have a 50 us attack time, very fast as it will grab a 20k waveform. A 50/1 ratio makes sure it doesn't get through. .002% THD makes sure it doesn't distort.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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robobob's Avatar
 

Not a mastering engineer but here is a suggestion out of right field.

The Safe Sound Audio Dynamics Toolbox, no longer produced, has a limiter which is a unique and very transparent design. The designer wrote a white paper on the compressor limiter in which he stated that he "went on a mission" to create a better analog limiter.

I have only used it in mixing but it easily allowed me to get within a db or two of FS, without artifacts which I could hear.

For the cost of a used one, might be worth a try:
Safe Sound Audio Dynamics Toolbox

Genuinely trying to be helpful in your quest, as I have the highest respect for what the designer achieved and at a reasonable original price too.

Unable to hold on to this rare gem, but would like to see it put to good use.

Best wishes in your quest!



Quote:
Originally Posted by lu432 View Post
Hi Guys,

So I'm in deep debate whether a hardware limiter is warranted or not. Here are a couple of conundrums I have reached. First and foremost, masters that I get tend to have very sharp transients, which is great, but tend to clip the converter, which then leads to pretty nasty audible distortion on the transients when bouncing down. Next, I tend to get the levels where I need utilizing several compressors, tape saturators, and eq's and then tend to be in an area where the music sounds good, but again I find certain passages within the music to clip my converter. My converter (a Mytek) tends to be really transparent, but doesn't do well when clipping. Is a hardware converter really my best option? And if so which converter is going to be my best limiter?

I've been looking at several peak limiters including a Pendulum Peak Limiter, and L2, and a Maslec. I'm not sure about the Neve or the Bettermaker for this function. Will those units be fast enough and transparent enough for mastering? I've gone back and read some posts from earlier and Bob Katz talks about there being no "true" hardware peak limiter, and I'm assuming he's talking about the ability of the analog peak limiters capacity to react fast enough to capture very fast transients, which is exactly what I'm trying to do. I look forward for any insights, technical knowledge, and experiences with the mentioned above units. Of course audio comparisons are also welcomed!

Last edited by robobob; 1 week ago at 08:45 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by JVFM View Post
I use Clip Sat + the L2 in the chain
I got a BML for sale if you like to try,
that's the close you can find to a
digital control in a analog hardware.
+1 on the bettermaker! Great machine, ive got one and it can do stuff no single plug-in can do.
Old 6 days ago
  #15
I also use the Foote ClipSat to soak up transients. Used just right it can sound almost tape-like.
Old 4 days ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mozumbo View Post
I also use the Foote ClipSat to soak up transients. Used just right it can sound almost tape-like.
I got one of the first batch as well Michael at Nomatic we agree that the ClipSat on knee 1 it sound real close to analog tape.

I try all the Germanium positions and some not fit the material the way the BML fit some commercial track with that digital polish that I don't like but fit the material better for 2019.

There are two class of Me's the ones they like the sound they apply and the others they cheat the ears to fit the client expectation as well the ones they like transparent metric stuff or the ones love the beefy character sound.

Either way the audience out there not appreciate details.
Old 4 days ago
  #17
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you're strictly into analog? digital limiters can work much faster and offer true brickwall limiting by applying a small amount of delay ('look forward') - i'm using all digital gear here: tc, drawmer, weiss, waves, jünger, spl, orban (in no particular order)...
Old 4 days ago
  #18
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ionian's Avatar
No personal experience but I've heard good things about the Bereich03 Limiter so it's been on my radar.

http://bereich03-audio.de/mastering_limiter.html
Old 3 days ago
  #19
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Miles Flint's Avatar
 

I had a Maselec MPL-2 here for repair... the perfect moment for A/Bing with my Pendulum PL-2. When the repair-work was done I got interested in its de-essing capabilities because I found it to do that in a very pleasant way. Regarding the limiting the Pendulum was the clear winner for me, still... didn't like the Maselec there, not really " a wall"... Anyway, I ended up sending it back to the owner and ordered the MDS-2. Still use my Pendulum PL-2 on daily work. Unfortunately I never heard the Rockruepel.
Old 2 days ago
  #20
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lu432's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
No personal experience but I've heard good things about the Bereich03 Limiter so it's been on my radar.

http://bereich03-audio.de/mastering_limiter.html

Ummm yes pls. I think my wallet is going to be lighter this week!

Last edited by lu432; 2 days ago at 05:57 AM..
Old 2 days ago
  #21
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X-Pand Sound Mastering's Avatar
 

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As other stated you may have some gain staging issues, and pulling down the recording levels will help regarding distortion. In a 24 bits world we are hardly concerned with noise anymore (in the digital realm at least) so there's no problem turning the volume down. Now, concerning peaks, one of the best tool available, in the sense that it's totally transparent (as long as you don't go too far) is the ELYSIA ALPHA SOFT SAT SECTION. It's easy, engage it, dial the amount of soft sat SLOWLY, until the yellow LEDS on top just "start" to light up. (I use the mouse scrolling while pressing ctrl key for a finer adjustment). Those yellow LEDS should be fully lighted up for less than a second on BIG transients, and that's it. If you go too far, it will distort, so in a sense it's great because you can hear when you went to far. But if you go in SLOWLY, you can eradicate up to 5 DB of peaks easily with this thing, and completely transparently.
Try it it's quite unbelivable.
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