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I've distortion on a few songs using a limiter

Member for

13 years 9 months
I am mastering my own album and after 2 test runs I have discovered distortion on a few songs, even though it never goes about -0.1db. I think this is because I may have gone a little bit over the top with the limiter in an attempt to get things sounding loud. I didn't realise that when the file is squared off in places (extreme limiting) it is distorted!

I am going to do it again but with compression and a less severe limiter. What compression ratio/threshold/attack time/decay time etc should I use for best results?

Time is running out - the deadline is Monday!

Any help would be much appreciated.



Member for

15 years 5 months

mobilelab Mon, 01/14/2008 - 17:21
Real mastering usually takes place in a room that cost several hundred-thousand dollars to build, on another several hundred-thousand dollars worth of equipment, and at the hands and ears of someone with TONS of experience. I've seen Custom Built equipment even. Slapping a compressor on your final mix is just that, compressing your final mix. There are several potential issues with any "final" mix that recording/mix engineers like the rest of us may not even be aware of due to experience, listening environment, equipment, etc. I would do a lot of research as to what mastering IS. This is a great website for it. If Eddie Kramer sends out for mastering, so should everyone else.

Member for

15 years 11 months

RemyRAD Sat, 11/24/2007 - 12:37
michaelwookey ahhhhhhhh you see that mastering is like black magic. Most of the real mastering engineers here use a great combination of both analog and digital stuff. That's right, some things come in digitally, go through some analog blah blah and back to digital again. Digital is not the be all end-all. In fact the best sounding stuff never seems to be like that. If your mix isn't great to begin with, it will be less great from compression and/or limiting. Either way, that process will either enhance its already good qualities or enhance its already bad qualities. So just remember, less is more. Just a couple DB of compression and a couple DB of limiting is all that's necessary. Will it be as loud as Bob Ludwig's stuff? Probably not but then, you're not Bob Ludwig. He's been doing it a few more years than most of us. So maybe you should have one of's many competent mastering engineers Master your project, before your deadline? Then, you might even be able to find out what they did? That's low-cost education in my book.

I get all my information from crackerjack prizes
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

16 years 3 months

multoc Sat, 11/24/2007 - 13:27
The best thing I've heard about mastering is it's the process of making eq flat enough to make it possible for the consumer to make their own eq changes (that's on the eq side of things)....when it comes to everything else you must just be careful about not overdoing it, and I hate to say using limiters is not my cup of tea for doing it.

I prefer using a compression with some sort of ceiling on it....or send it out to a facility and have it done professionally since that's the route you're going on the manufacture of the disc.

That's what I would do if I were in your situation, save yourself the headache of learning something new, and have it done better on better equipment and ears

Member for

17 years 2 months

Massive Mastering Sat, 11/24/2007 - 14:54
michaelwookey wrote: What compression ratio/threshold/attack time/decay time etc should I use for best results?
The one that works best with the mix. And it'll probably be different on the next mix and the one after that might be totally different. Compression *and* limiting.

You need to do what the mixes are asking you to do. If you're not hearing what they're telling you, I don't think Monday is going to be a reasonable deadline...

And in any case, the loudness potential is dictated by the mix to a large extent -- Even the most experienced mastering engineer can only push a mix as far as it's willing to go. He (she) might have the gear and the experience to limit (no pun intended) the damage -- But volume is always a compromise. Past a certain point, you are almost universally making the mix sound worse on purpose simply for a little more volume.

Which still, after decades, blows my mind completely. Don't get me wrong -- I'm "forced" almost daily to bring projects far beyond where they "want" to be -- But I'll never (at least, I hope I never) get used to it. It drives me nuts to see what people will sacrifice for something the consumer never asked for in the first place.

Sorry -- Just one of those days. For another thread.