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Mixing with a Limiter on the Mix Bus Dynamics Plugins
Old 28th November 2006
  #1
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Thread Starter
Mixing with a Limiter on the Mix Bus

I am considering mixing with a peak limiter strapped across the mix bus of my DAW to periodically check how my mix is going to sound when it's volume maximized.

First off let me say I am not a fan of crushing dynamics and creating flat lined mixes. I produce and mix using the K-System and want to try to keep at least 14 DB of dynamic range after mastering.

The reason I am considering this, is that after working on a track, then listening to the track after passing it through Logic's limiter, I noticed (at the louder levels) details I wanted to change. I just did not pick these details up at the softer levels as I keep my peaks at about +4 on the K-20 system.

Obviously, anything that gets sent to for mastering is going to be bounced without the limiting.

Does anybody else do this? Any suggestions?
Old 28th November 2006
  #2
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jdjustice's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
I am considering mixing with a peak limiter strapped across the mix bus of my DAW to periodically check how my mix is going to sound when it's volume maximized.

First off let me say I am not a fan of crushing dynamics and creating flat lined mixes. I produce and mix using the K-System and want to try to keep at least 14 DB of dynamic range after mastering.

The reason I am considering this, is that after working on a track, then listening to the track after passing it through Logic's limiter, I noticed (at the louder levels) details I wanted to change. I just did not pick these details up at the softer levels as I keep my peaks at about +4 on the K-20 system.

Obviously, anything that gets sent to for mastering is going to be bounced without the limiting.

Does anybody else do this? Any suggestions?


yes. i do this all the time. sometimes you want to hear a version of your mix that sounds pre-mastered or you need to play your demo for a friend. obviously if that mix doesn't sound at least a little 'hot' then it will be perceived as inadequate by many unexperienced listeners.

when people first hear your work, you want it to stand out. louder is perceived as better-sounding to the untrained ear, yada yada.

i have experience with and use three peak limiters on different occasions on the 2buss: IMO the best ones out there, in the order in which i prefer them, are:
  • Sony Oxford
  • Massey L2007
  • Waves L2

the Massey gets used the most because usually i want to just do a 2.5dB or less GR. however, i think the Sony Oxford sounds a bit better, its GUI is just more complicated and i don't always feel like fiddling with it....

i am now demo-ing the McDSP ML4000 mastering limiter and it sounds good so far; i will report back when i am more familiar with it.


hope some of that was useful,
~j.d.
Old 28th November 2006
  #3
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I do this all the time. I think it really helps with the drums. You get to hear how mushy they'll get after being limited.

But the Logic limiter sucks. Get something better. Even the Waves L1, L2, L3's are better. I use the UA Precision Limiter.
Old 28th November 2006
  #4
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a good mastering engineer will know how to make the mix loud without the use of excessive limiting that does indeed make drums sound like mush. This master I did peaks at an RMS of -9 and the drums have a good smack, very similar to the mix:

http://www.yellowmatterrecords.com/s...geddonSoul.wav

So basically my advice is make the mix sound good, and worry more about the overall eq curve of the mix and making sure that it sounds good.
Old 28th November 2006
  #5
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djui5's Avatar
 

I use a peak limiter on the 2 buss to catch peaks, and that's it. No gain reduction unless it's being hit by something like a stray kick or snare, etc. If I want something louder/smashed/etc, I'll use parallel busses.
Old 28th November 2006
  #6
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Markus Stock's Avatar
 

I've been testing alot of mastering brickwall limiters during the last years, Waves, Maxim, Steinberg, you name it and finally found the most versatile and best sounding (read: doesn't kill the drums as much as others do) to my ears in Voxengo's Elephant. The rest of their mastering plugs are absolutely great to have as well....
Old 28th November 2006
  #7
no... peaklimiting on the masterbus during mixing is bad in my opinion. if you have no experience, you can easily produce a lifeless and ultraflat mix.

I like to mix with a 2bus comp on the master.

cheers
Old 28th November 2006
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

I don't think you can really go wrong either way. Try both, and whichever one yields better results for you, go for it. Personally, I prefer not to use a bus comp during a mix. I try to get as close to the sound I want without it. I'll do 2 mixdowns for the car stereo test - one with and one without the bus compressor, mainly just to see what my options are.
Old 28th November 2006
  #9
I tend to try to get the best mix I can without compressing/limiting and then bring in the buss compression.

It may be just a holdover from my old two step process of mixing in my DAW and then sweetening (mastering is cutting disks, where I come from heh ) in the old pre-Sony Sound Forge. (I have the Sony version but it has serious issues which I could NOT get Sony to fix during my short free-support window. Like so many Sony purchases, even my old pal Sound Forge turned out to be a bummer under Sony.)

Anyhow, it's just never struck me as a good idea to mix into heavy compression.

But, that said, I used to use a mildly characterful limiter across the board buss when I mixed OTB in the mid and late 90s
Old 28th November 2006
  #10
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heathen's Avatar
 

Look ahead brick wall peak limiters should really only be used in mastering. If you want a great stereo buss comp to mix into the Smart C1 or C2 really are 2 of the best, you hear people all the time say it gives it "that" near finished sound, I dunno I've owned A C2 for years and I don't know about finished album sound, but it is an extremely usefull unit and will usually do exactly what you are talking about. It will beef up any drums usually, providing you know how to use it. You will hear things you usually can't. I've got a few great analog comps but the C2 gets used probably 95% of the time.
Old 28th November 2006
  #11
LCD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djui5 View Post
BTW, for anyone reading this thread in the future, there is a big difference between a peak limiter and a brickwall limiter. L2/3, Maxim, etc are brickwall limiters.
Care to expand?
Old 28th November 2006
  #12
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LCD View Post
Care to expand?


No, cuz I'm an idiot. I'm deleting that post
Old 28th November 2006
  #13
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Thread Starter
A lot of people are misinterpreting my original post!

I thought I clearly stated that I am considering using a Limiter to "occasionally" test my mixes at high SPLs, and with a more squashed dynamic range of 12-14 DB.

I found that there can be a considerable change in balance/tone and relationship between elements when I go from 20 Db of dynamics to 12.

Clearly that anything that goes out for mastering would be bounced without any sort of limiting, and I only would turn it on occasionally to hear how things would sound when limited.
Old 28th November 2006
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
no... peaklimiting on the masterbus during mixing is bad in my opinion. if you have no experience, you can easily produce a lifeless and ultraflat mix.

I like to mix with a 2bus comp on the master.

cheers
Old 29th November 2006
  #15
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brandy's Avatar
 

I usually have a limiter on the mixbus, but without any gainreduction - just to have it there to catch peaks wich easily can appear when setting up a mix or while tracking so i don't have to care much at that point.

Later in the mix i sometimes pull the treshhold down to "look what's happening" to the music, but in 99% of the time i mix without any processing on the mixbus.

I even stoped to do some kind of "preview mastering" when i hand out premixes.

We all did and some do that because we fear that the client will compare to mastered records and will be disapointed when the premix is not at the same loudness.

But i stoped that. Why?

It is so easy to f*ck the mix up with a "quick and dirty mastering" - how should the clients be able to listen through the mix at home to prepare a list of needed modifications when they are listening NOT to the pure mix?

I better take the time to explain that the mix is NOT mastered and i explain what a mastering will do to the mix later etc.

Later in the REAL mastering the ME will take much more care to NOT f*ck up the mix/the ballance.

The mix has to sound great without a limiter first.


brandy
Old 29th November 2006
  #16
Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
A lot of people are misinterpreting my original post!

I thought I clearly stated that I am considering using a Limiter to "occasionally" test my mixes at high SPLs, and with a more squashed dynamic range of 12-14 DB.

I found that there can be a considerable change in balance/tone and relationship between elements when I go from 20 Db of dynamics to 12.

Clearly that anything that goes out for mastering would be bounced without any sort of limiting, and I only would turn it on occasionally to hear how things would sound when limited.
Yes, what you describe makes total sense both from a mixing & mastering point of view (I get to wear both hats).
I tend to do the same whenever the genre of music I am mixing dictates loud levels (hence heavy limiting) at the mastering stage.
This is particularly useful for checking and adjusting snares & kicks as they can end up too soft/quiet after mastering.

This is of course unnecessary for tracks which don't need much limiting at the mastering stage or to be sent to the MEs who claim they can achieve the loudness required by most current releases while preserving the transient & level of the drums.heh
Old 29th November 2006
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
A lot of people are misinterpreting my original post!

I thought I clearly stated that I am considering using a Limiter to "occasionally" test my mixes at high SPLs, and with a more squashed dynamic range of 12-14 DB.

.

Well the thread title says "Mixing with a limiter on the mix bus" , When I mix with a compressor on the 2 buss, i strap that baby on for the whole ride. That's mixing with a _____ on the 2 buss.

so probably why you are getting these responses. I think if you need a limiter to catch peaks on a mix, you are mixing too loud in the first place.
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