Gearslutz

Gearslutz (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/)
-   Mastering Forum (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/)
-   -   What Are Your Go-To Combinations Of Clippers Limiters In 2018? (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/1233083-what-your-go-combinations-clippers-limiters-2018-a.html)

theMuzzl3 4th October 2018 08:23 PM

What Are Your Go-To Combinations Of Clippers Limiters In 2018?
 
What are your go-to combinations of clipping and limiting plugins? How do you use them? When do you use them? What is the ordering of your chain? What parameter settings do you find to often be the sweet spots? Which plugins are "honorable mentions," for you?

The market is constantly changing and we are always getting new tools, some of which are revolutionary and others of which are hyped up a lot but don't quite live up to the hype. Most of what we find in our google searches is driven by ads, and even the non-ad results are effected by "who does use ads, place them higher in results." Therefore, it is a good idea for the community to share methods and opinions, and to consider others opinions on a normal basis. A lot of engineers follow the philosophy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, those engineers (in my opinion) are the ones who will end up being left behind. Not to diss on you Waves L2 users, but... "ahem, it is 2018... act like it!"

I'll list my usual methods, of which I have found to work (usually for EDM or other electronic & beat driven tracks).

My methods for pushing the loudness wars (and sometimes even for streaming radio masterings) involve combining clippers with limiters.

Clippers that I use are: Kazrog KClip 3, LVC Audio Clipshifter (a bit different, haven't tested it enough yet), and StandardClip by Sir Audio Tools. I am giving some of the airwindows clippers a chance, as well. Also, the clipper within Newfangled Elevate seems to be quite nice... but I don't have enough experience with it yet to comment on the quality or usefulness of it.

My goal for clippers is two things:

1) A clipper that does about 1.5 dB of clipping (as low sa 0.2, but usually 1 dB), and is placed before my first limiter... sometimes its placed after my first limiter. This one is usually a hard clipper. This clipper causes the limiters to function a lot more smoothly. KClip has been my go-to but it drives my CPU so much that I have to render audio with just KClip alone active. This is why I have been giving airwindows clippers a shot.
2) A final clipper, doing usually 0.3 dB of clipping but up to 1, that is placed after my last limiter; but might be followed by a last ozone maximizer with 0 dB threshold and true peak active, just to make sure true peak stays at -0 dBFS. This clipper is do set things just a tad more hot than most things, and to add a little bit of flavor. It is usually a soft clipper, but if it is KClip then hard clipping still sounds better in most instances.

I should note what my limiters usually look like. My first one is an ozone maximizer on IRC IV Modern, with the slowest character I can get, and the highest transient emphasis I can get. This, like the first clipper, basically handles transients in a smooth way and it emphasizes them so that the later stages of limiting/clipping do not destroy the punch as much. This limiter does about 0.3-1 dB of damage, and it usually negates the need for any compression in my mastering chain. At slow settings, the ozone maximizer really pushes a lot of bass through... and its cleaned up with 2nd and 3rd maximizers. I might give PSP Xenon a shot for this stage, as it can shape transients well. Also, Elevate would probably work great but has a huge CPU intensity.

My second limiter has been an Ozone Maximizer on IRC IV Modern, Transient or Classic... with middle character, usually around 4. This one tends to do the highest amount of limiting, in my chain (but sometimes the last limiter, at quick setting, does more). This limiter does no more than 3.37 dB of gain reduction. I am testing out other limiters for this stage, such as Newfangled Elevate, DMG Audio Limitless, Flux Elixer V3, Voxengo Elephant, FabFilter Pro-L, and Slate FG-X. I used Slate in the past and it failed as a true peak limiter, but it does do some nice stuff if I follow it with an Ozone maximizer, voxengo, or fabfilter. It seems like Newfangled Elevate is becoming the go-to for this stage. It seems to have set the bar at new standards, as far as doing a lot while being basically invisible.

My last limiter has been Ozone maximizer, IRC IV (usually modern setting, but sometimes classic works better as *unless I am mistaken* it is broadband), at 1.65 to 0 character (speed). It usually does about the same amount of damage as the second limiter, but sometimes quite a bit less. This, as the previous limiter, does less than 3.37 dB of limiting.
The aforementioned limiters will be tested at this stage as well. My final clipper is placed after this, but sometimes before it (and sometimes this limiter does no limiting, but only sets the true peaks so that a clipper pushing over 0 dB is tamed but still spits out that distorted quality that we sometimes seek).

It is always a battle of CPU vs. quality, and often I end up only using 1 limiter and no clippers. If I use all of the stages listed above, it is to achieve the highest loudness possible; and the methods above are based on what I have found to work with Ozone Maximizers.

I should also mention that Waves L2 was my go-to for years, but is surpassed nowadays.

Lastly, note that I try out quite a few different things, and the list above is in no way the only thing that I do. I always try several things and end up using which ever works best. In the case of mastering for streaming platforms, it is a lot easier to apply very mild limiting and sometimes no clipping is useful. But, when I try to get something to be pushed "as loud as possible," I end up trying a bunch of things until I get the highest amount of loudness with the least amount of audio degradation.

Deleted 691ca21 7th October 2018 02:36 PM

Very rarely will clip the Crookwood ADC on the way back in, only for super loud projects. Usually StandardCLIP shaving off no more than 1.5dB on occasional peaks (Hard Clip, 64x LP OS with largest kernal size and 100% cutoff), into Limitless for the rest. Limitless settings are totally project dependent. If it doesn't need to be so loud, I will usually skip the clipping stage.

X-Pand Sound Mastering 7th October 2018 02:59 PM

Unless some crazy peaks need to be "delt with" :cop: I never "clip" anything.
Small stages of gain make up from this gear to that gear to that plugin etc etc

Btw the good old l2 can STILL do an amazing job sometime. It has that way of "compressing" things and make the midrange a tad forward, it can be very effective on some mixes. I miss the Spl Ultramiximizer hardware aswell, a great tool kfhkh

jpanderson80 9th October 2018 05:20 PM

TDR Limiter 6

Trakworx 9th October 2018 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theMuzzl3 (Post 13551932)
If I use all of the stages listed above, it is to achieve the highest loudness possible

Wow. So...

How many loudness processors do you actually stack at once when you do this?

What LUFS level are you trying to achieve?

jonathan jetter 10th October 2018 05:01 AM

I've been playing with a Black Box HG-2. it's not clipping per se, but it sure knocks down the peaks. and sounds pretty great while doing so. recall is simultaneously more difficult than i would like, but not so difficult as to outweigh the sonic benefits.

then some AD clipping, and usually FF Pro-L after. once in a while Limitless instead.

M_Music 10th October 2018 06:08 AM

1.TC MD3
2.UAD Prec Lim.
3.Sonnox.

spleenless 11th October 2018 06:35 PM

I love the new Izotope Maximizer. It's really clean and versatile. Lately I've been using a touch of that in series with a touch of the Fabfilter L2. The new L2 also really amazing and has great loudness metering built in. I love it at the end of my chain.

Soon to come is my MTB-2 which will be the last in my analog chain which will handle a bit of the limiter duties.

engmix 11th October 2018 06:55 PM

I haven't quite found the multiple clipper / brickwall limiter concept working in my chain. I can get more loudness with the least amount of alteration to the balance of the mix and or damage to transients with a less is best approach in regards to the topic...ymmv

kirito 12th October 2018 03:20 PM

I really hate the sound of a limiter push more than 2 , 3 dB. So if i need a hot level i will use a clipper and 2 limiters. StandardCLIP, FG X, LVC limited max

JP__ 12th October 2018 04:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by engmix (Post 13565534)
I haven't quite found the multiple clipper / brickwall limiter concept working in my chain. I can get more loudness with the least amount of alteration to the balance of the mix and or damage to transients with a less is best approach in regards to the topic...ymmv

kfhkh

Deleted 691ca21 12th October 2018 04:33 PM

I don’t understand how you can get ‘more loudness with a less is best approach’. Sounds antithetical to me. Please do expand (pun intended).

kirito 12th October 2018 05:01 PM

" less is best " would it mean you prefer to smash one limiter ? like 1 eq, 1 comp, 1 limiter ?

5.333V 12th October 2018 05:52 PM

Music that breaths and beeing detaild is like ice cream for my soul!

Deleted 691ca21 12th October 2018 07:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 5.333V (Post 13567436)
Music that breaths and beeing detaild is like ice cream for my soul!

Until your client asks for it a lot louder...

5.333V 12th October 2018 08:48 PM

Of course. The customer is always right.

XKAudio 13th October 2018 08:51 AM

FF ProL2

Elevate

Nonlinear 15th October 2018 04:39 PM

Despite the approach used by some, IMO, using a clipper AND a limiter really doesn't make sense. The purpose of a limiter - especially those with "lookahead" - is to AVOID clipping.

If you don't care about adding heaps of harmonic distortion to your audio then just use a compressor and a clipper and skip the limiter.

Trakworx 15th October 2018 04:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nonlinear (Post 13572487)
Despite the approach used by some, IMO, using a clipper AND a limiter really doesn't make sense. The purpose of a limiter - especially those with "lookahead" - is to AVOID clipping.

If you don't care about adding heaps of harmonic distortion to your audio then just use a compressor and a clipper and skip the limiter.

I've heard some experienced MEs say that 1 or 2dB of clipping before limiting doesn't cause significant distortion and it helps avoid pumping in the limiter from peaky program material. I don't work that way but am considering experimenting with the idea. I expect results to be highly program dependent. Often I've found there's no single right or wrong answer that fits every situation so I try to keep an open mind...

Deleted 691ca21 15th October 2018 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trakworx (Post 13572512)
I've heard some experienced MEs say that 1 or 2dB of clipping before limiting doesn't cause significant distortion and it helps avoid pumping in the limiter from peaky program material.

That's exactly why I do it, and yes, sometimes no clipping, sometimes no limiting, sometimes neither, sometimes both etc., whatever the track calls for.

If there are two stray peaks in the mix that are short transients that stick out 3dB above everything else, I'm gonna get rid of them with a clipper (as long as it's transparent to my ears) before hitting the limiter, otherwise things can sound nasty if you are doing say a max of 2dB of limiting but then on those two peaks, it suddenly hits 5dB of limiting. Whatever works. Why limit yourself? ;)

Nonlinear 15th October 2018 05:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deleted 691ca21 (Post 13572534)
If there are two stray peaks in the mix that are short transients that stick out 3dB above everything else, I'm gonna get rid of them with a clipper (as long as it's transparent to my ears) before hitting the limiter, otherwise things can sound nasty if you are doing say a max of 2dB of limiting but then on those two peaks, it suddenly hits 5dB of limiting. Whatever works. Why limit yourself? ;)

In cases like that I go into the DAW and edit the waveform (select the region between zero crossings and pull down the gain). Much more transparent than clipping. It's easy to see in a DAW where those rogue peaks are located. kfhkh

scraggs 15th October 2018 05:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nonlinear (Post 13572570)
Much more transparent than clipping.

this is what i used to think but it's not always the case. sometimes letting the machines do it is actually better.

Deleted 691ca21 15th October 2018 06:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nonlinear (Post 13572570)
In cases like that I go into the DAW and edit the waveform (select the region between zero crossings and pull down the gain). Much more transparent than clipping. It's easy to see in a DAW where those rogue peaks are located. kfhkh

I do that too sometimes. Like I said, whatever works!

Nonlinear 15th October 2018 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scraggs (Post 13572637)
this is what i used to think but it's not always the case.

When does linear gain reduction sound worse than clipping?

Trakworx 15th October 2018 07:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hermetech Mastering (Post 13572534)
If there are two stray peaks in the mix that are short transients that stick out 3dB above everything else, I'm gonna get rid of them with a clipper (as long as it's transparent to my ears) before hitting the limiter, otherwise things can sound nasty if you are doing say a max of 2dB of limiting but then on those two peaks, it suddenly hits 5dB of limiting. Whatever works. Why limit yourself? ;)

2 limiters in series can also be used for this.

Honestly in recent years I've been doing fine with just one good limiter and choosing which model of limiter and setting has been the key. But that's probably because I'm not going for the super-loud EDM type levels, just "loud enough" "sweet spot" levels.

Thinking of adding a touch of clipping before the limiter in cases where I'm losing too much perceived punch and attack in the snare/kick. As an experiment. Next time that comes up I'll check it out and try to remember to report back.

Trakworx 15th October 2018 07:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nonlinear (Post 13572681)
When does linear gain reduction sound worse than clipping?

Usually around 4PM PST.

Seriously though, that's a tough question to answer. Clearly he's experienced it or he wouldn't say it. There are so many different situations I encounter that I find I have to be open minded and just try things sometimes. Breaking the rules is how innovation happens.

Also, what works best for a Smooth Jazz track doesn't necessarily work best for a Grindcore track.

scraggs 15th October 2018 08:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nonlinear (Post 13572681)
When does linear gain reduction sound worse than clipping?

when i can hear it. most likely it's gonna be on a low frequency transient.

you can believe me or not believe me, but i've sat in front of the speakers doing exactly this, comparing manual volume moves with clipping, and sometimes the clipper is indeed more invisible.

Nonlinear 15th October 2018 08:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scraggs (Post 13572910)
when i can hear it. most likely it's gonna be on a low frequency transient.

you can believe me or not believe me, but i've sat in front of the speakers doing exactly this, comparing manual volume moves with clipping, and sometimes the clipper is indeed more invisible.

OK, I don't believe you! :) Something else was going on. This should be most noticeable ESPECIALLY on low frequency transients. High frequency transients are usually too short of duration to hear clipping (unless there's a lot of it).

Also, keep in mind that clipping results in a higher rms level than pulling that peak down via fader. Maybe that was influencing the perception (i.e., louder sounds better)?

scraggs 15th October 2018 08:58 PM

nope. one way (volume automation) sounded "like i did something there", the other (clipping) passed by unnoticed. so i'm speaking from direct experience about this exact subject, but you are welcome to continue to not believe me.

Nonlinear 15th October 2018 09:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scraggs (Post 13572991)
nope. one way (volume automation) sounded "like i did something there", the other (clipping) passed by unnoticed. so i'm speaking from direct experience about this exact subject, but you are welcome to continue to not believe me.

I believe you that's why the smiley face when I said I DON'T believe you.

OK, so what you heard was a "ducking" at that point, probably because the mids and highs got pulled down along with the low. A wideband limiter would produce that side effect as well, yes?

On the other hand a clipper would just chop off those mid/high ripples riding on the low frequency wave so you should have heard some loss there too. Perhaps the mids and highs that were chopped off were hidden by the new harmonics added by the clipping?

Will have to dig into this a bit more... Thnx