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I Don't Use Limiters Dynamics Plugins
Old 18th December 2010
  #1
Gear Head
 

I Don't Use Limiters

When mixing, I'm noticing that never reach for a limiter. I understand what they do and how they work, but when it comes to application, I just end up grabbing a compressor instead. Am I missing something really important here? I feel like I am.

When would you choose a limiter over a compressor?
Old 18th December 2010
  #2
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evangelista's Avatar
 

I think many people don't use them.

I do here and there, mostly to level a parallel lead vocal or tame very badly played kicks and snares.
Old 18th December 2010
  #3
Gear Addict
Compressors
Limiters
Leveling-Amplifiers

All three of these are dynamics processors for controlling audio.

The most specific of these is the limiter. The idea is to make sure that nothing in the audio signal gets past a certain level. It's great for killing peaks in the audio. Think of it as an uber-fast compressor. Great on really percussive sources where you want the overall volume up, but the peaks keep getting in the way. They typically don't have "ratio" controls as the ratio by definition is infinity to one.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the "leveling amplifier." These are your LA series of comps/limiters. They're generally "slow" in attack and release and offer a bit of a "smoothing" effect on the program and are most often based around some sort of opto-cell. Typically leveling amps are good on sources like bass guitar, vocals, and guitars.

Compressors I generally think of as being the most flexible of these. Typically you can adjust them to be "fast" like a limiter, or "slow" like a leveling amp.

I could totally mix some styles of music without using limiters, but in the hard rock/metal genre, and even modern urban/pop styles, I can't imagine NOT using limiters at all. That's just me though.

One thing I've learned over the years. Some things work for some engineers and artists but that doesn't mean that those things will work for me. Use what works for you. If you're getting the results that you want, then what's the concern??
Old 18th December 2010
  #4
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lm66's Avatar
I never use it for mixing.

But I like my Pendulum PL-2 for tracking and mastering.
Old 18th December 2010
  #5
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The MPCist's Avatar
 

Useful for taming the occasional peak but without giving a 'compressed' feel to the track....
Old 18th December 2010
  #6
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Just finished mixes from a live recording with a flaky drummer. The dynamics of his snare offbeats were all over the place. The limiter on my UREI LA-22 cured that nicely.
Old 18th December 2010
  #7
Shy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damien Heck View Post
When would you choose a limiter over a compressor?
When I don't want to seriously alter the dynamics. I usually much prefer a combination of a good tube preamp and a good transparent brick wall limiter. Both are basically "overdriven", the distortion from each is very different, and with the right control I can get a good balanced sound without turning things into mush.
Old 18th December 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damien Heck View Post
When mixing, I'm noticing that never reach for a limiter. I understand what they do and how they work, but when it comes to application, I just end up grabbing a compressor instead. Am I missing something really important here? I feel like I am.

When would you choose a limiter over a compressor?
limiters are great for drums to get them really slamming
it all depends on what sound you are going for.
'brickwall' is desirable for aggressive sounds
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
Gear Addict
 
David Watts's Avatar
 

I'll be honest, I freekin' love limiting the **** outta things! (and then tastefully mixing it back in with the original, of course )
Old 19th December 2010
  #10
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vernier's Avatar
Compressing / limiting, it's just a different ratio.
.
.
Old 19th December 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Compressing / limiting, it's just a different ratio.
.
.
Yeah I had always heard that a limiter is just a compressor with a ratio of 10:1 or higher (give or take)...
Old 19th December 2010
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Compressing / limiting, it's just a different ratio.
.
.

Couldn't be farther from the truth.
Old 19th December 2010
  #13
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PlugHead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The MPCist View Post
Useful for taming the occasional peak but without giving a 'compressed' feel to the track....
+1

Not used much here for mastering, or even on the 2 bus, but - on drum tracks, sometimes on bass, or a track with extreme 'peaky' instruments, it stops overs and keeps a track sounding 'uncompressed' which, I know, is blasphemy around these parts...
Old 19th December 2010
  #14
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Ernest Buckley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damien Heck View Post
When mixing, I'm noticing that never reach for a limiter. I understand what they do and how they work, but when it comes to application, I just end up grabbing a compressor instead. Am I missing something really important here? I feel like I am.

When would you choose a limiter over a compressor?
I`ll throw a limiter on the lead vocal sometimes.

Depending on the song... if the vocals are constantly contending with something in an aggressive piece, I will slap a limiter on there just to make sure the vocals stay in front of everything. Other than that, I only use it when mastering.
Old 19th December 2010
  #15
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synthoid's Avatar
 

I Don't Use Limiters

they can be great for keeping drum tracks sounding very loud without giving you digital overs in the mix. same idea as in mastering but applied to individual mix elements rather than the whole.

sometimes a slow-releasing limiter can be nice as an effect on a snare for example, giving you a kind of drawn-out sound with an interesting tail.

-synthoid
Old 19th December 2010
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlugHead View Post
+1

Not used much here for mastering, or even on the 2 bus, but - on drum tracks, sometimes on bass, or a track with extreme 'peaky' instruments, it stops overs and keeps a track sounding 'uncompressed' which, I know, is blasphemy around these parts...
Well said thumbsup
Old 20th December 2010
  #17
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XKAudio's Avatar
 

I feel that limiting kills the transients in a mix, which in reality is the best part of any sound... I think people will put limiters to make something sound really big and loud, but its better to compress some of the background instruments so that then the lead can be loud and still dynamic
Old 20th December 2010
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlugHead View Post
+1

Not used much here for mastering, or even on the 2 bus, but - on drum tracks, sometimes on bass, or a track with extreme 'peaky' instruments, it stops overs and keeps a track sounding 'uncompressed' which, I know, is blasphemy around these parts...
Interesting, I never thought of the whole uncompressed sounding angle. I will give this a try.
Old 20th December 2010
  #19
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Halloween's Avatar
I find myself using limiter as little as possible, when I do its normally to make a Chorus vocal poke out a bit.
Old 20th December 2010
  #20
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Sigma's Avatar
like vernier said ..it's just "ratio" that delineates
Old 20th December 2010
  #21
Gear Addict
I use them almost all the time! Only taming the odd dB here or there on busses but it stops the 2bus limiter having to work so hard during mastering.

Apart from ratio, the short attack is what makes a limiter a limiter. And that's what kills transients if you're not careful

L2007 hits the spot for me
Old 20th December 2010
  #22
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli_W View Post
I use them almost all the time! Only taming the odd dB here or there on busses but it stops the 2bus limiter having to work so hard during mastering.

Apart from ratio, the short attack is what makes a limiter a limiter. And that's what kills transients if you're not careful

L2007 hits the spot for me
? what do you mean by "short attack"

fast attack or fast release?

the LA4 compresor/limiter has a set attack and release

the attack is about 10ms which isn't FAST

and it's an opto so the release from that last -3 to 0 compression returns slower than compression over 3 dB

ratio is the only difference between a compressor and a limiters definition

the differences in limiters response characteristics is the designers choice
Old 21st December 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
? what do you mean by "short attack"

fast attack or fast release?

the LA4 compresor/limiter has a set attack and release

the attack is about 10ms which isn't FAST

and it's an opto so the release from that last -3 to 0 compression returns slower than compression over 3 dB

ratio is the only difference between a compressor and a limiters definition

the differences in limiters response characteristics is the designers choice
Exactly.... like most of the topics on this board, there's a real, correct answer.... everyone's subjective musings on the issue are irrelevant. The ratio used makes a compressor a limiter - generally limiters will have fast action, but that does not define them.
Old 21st December 2010
  #24
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miro's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The MPCist View Post
Useful for taming the occasional peak but without giving a 'compressed' feel to the track....
yep! thumbsup (especially on claps)
Old 21st December 2010
  #25
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Unclenny's Avatar
I do love using an L1 on odd things.....DI bass, occassional accoustic guits....you never know when I might need to pump something up.

Is L1 a real limiter? or is it some sort of 'UltraMaximizer'?

And I do love Ernest Buckley's avatars.
Old 21st December 2010
  #26
Lives for gear
 

I Don't Use Limiters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny
I do love using an L1 on odd things.....DI bass, occassional accoustic guits....you never know when I might need to pump something up.

Is L1 a real limiter? or is it some sort of 'UltraMaximizer'?

And I do love Ernest Buckley's avatars.
+1 to that

It's a go to bass and vocal thing for me
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