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Why use a limiter on a Master ?

Member for

21 years 2 months
Hi Guys...

I'm very new to this master work..

I just use Waves L2 on my Master 'cos i know it boosts the volume... but i wanna know the REAL need to use a Limiter on a master... what it affects on a master... what does it does ? What is a limiter ?

Why use a limiter? Why not compress all possible peaks on the MIX and then just normalize the song ?

Thx a lot for this explanations... :)


Member for

21 years 2 months

JeffreyMajeau Tue, 03/18/2003 - 15:47
Limiter = compressor with a fast attack and high compression ratio. A limiter keeps transient, percussive peaks at bay while pushing up the average level of your mix. Used gently it can make your mix "jump". Used with a heavy hand, it'll make your stuff sound like everything else on the radio - oversmooshed in the quest for the "loudest" release.

Dan Roth
Otitis Media

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/18/2003 - 18:06
All of the dynamics are squashed by an Orban Optimod usually. The radio stations get more distance with a louder signal, without increasing their power. If your signal is not compressed all ready, then it will pump on radio and tv.

There is a thing called the "loudness war." There is an artist that set out to have the loudest CD ever. He succeeded and it sound like crap. If you look at the mastering from about 82 to present, people are mastering hotter and hotter, reducing the dynamic range, and some major players have overs often on their masters. I would provide a link to another graph which looks at about 8 CD's from various genres of music. But, I would get another death threat. E-mail me and I'll get you the link.

Anyway, with 24 bit digital, we finally have great dynamic range of 144dB, and we don't use it. We normalize and compress music that should only be represented by three bits because it only has 18dB of dynamic range, and use up 23 bits to represent the same 18dB of dynamic range. It is insane. EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE BALLS TO THE WALL LOUD EVEN WHEN IT IS A SOFT PASSAGE. Just like I typed it. The lowdness war is something we all must play, to keep the perception of a professional product.

The L2 has a sound. it takes some time to learn to use it correctly. the key is to use it sparingly.

Member for

19 years 8 months

Alécio Costa Tue, 03/18/2003 - 18:13
hey, if you plan to send your mixes to a serious mastering engineer, do not fuck the mix 2-bus with limiters and compressors. keep some headroom, let us say mix with peaks at least under -0.2 db.
Your master will sound much better and of course he will use much better suitable gear to make the album sound as a pro product.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/18/2003 - 23:44
No offense, but if you have never done it, you better refer them.

Mastering is an art all of it's own. If you were to walk into a real mastering room, you would see a reference monitor system and acoustics that reveal the detail that is not possible in even a great control room. they are two totally different environments. I bet that you wouldn't even recognize half of the stuff in there. Mastering is more than compression and a preset on the L2.

What will be the format that you send to the duplication house? DAT, CD-R, 1630? Have you contacted them to see what they need from you? Do they have a real-time error correction process? Are they going to make a glass master and press or are they going to burn CD-R's? These are things that you need to know how to deal with.
If you send them a CD full of errors and overs, and they duplicate that, then you are going to have one pissed off client and ruin your chances for a return booking.

Member for

19 years 8 months

Alécio Costa Thu, 03/20/2003 - 05:48
hey lowd,
The plant is also responsible for bad masters. suppose ya send a good master and the CDR is damaged somewhere in the path? they must do E22, E32, blair tests..

To the other brazilian friend: hey, where do ya live?
I think now we are 4 on here. One from Balneário Camboriú, me from Florianópolis, a guy from Porto alegre and of course yours..

Member for

18 years 8 months

falkon2 Sat, 03/22/2003 - 05:42
Originally posted by lowdbrent:
We normalize and compress music that should only be represented by three bits because it only has 18dB of dynamic range, and use up 23 bits to represent the same 18dB of dynamic range. It is insane.
From a mathematician's standpoint: I'm not going to say I'm anywhere near professional, nor do I have anything resembling Golden Ears, but if my numbers and logic are right, 3 bits = 8 different possible positions for each frame. 18dB would be a reference to the difference in volume between the smallest amplitude possible (other than 0) and the loudest amplitude possible. Taking the smallest possible amplitude as reference, you'd only be able to generate amplitudes with values of multiples up to 8 of that reference amplitude (and even those only at certain frequencies, depending on the sampling rate), which would mean a huge mess of quantization.

Higher bitrates = less quantization noise.

I agree with your view on the loudness wars, though. Many an obscure CD I own has been ruined by this. There's one I have that's mastered so badly that even my mom can hear the pumping.

Member for

18 years 11 months

Pez Sat, 03/22/2003 - 07:59
"I just wanna know some tips... Thx a lot for your comments. "

The L2 "looks ahead" and finds the peaks and then limits them. It's actually very easy to use. I would highly recommend reading the directions that come with it. I would only use it if you're doing the mastering yourself. In that case you can set it to 0.0 and bring down the meter on the left until it limits no more than 3db. That should be enough to pump up the volume a bit without degrading the sound of your mix.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 04/10/2003 - 12:48
If you have to master yr own material then please do at least this.

Spend an amount of time ( And I mean somewhere in the vicinity of 2 -3 dedicated hours a day for at least 2-4 weeks) Objectively listening to CD's that are in the same type of ballpark soundwise or genrewise that he material you are producing is.

Listen without outside interruptions,Make notes of what the material sounds like as it interacts with yr room .

In other words dont sit there composing or editing, passively listening to the room, But spend time actively understanding the room and Monitors you will be working thru.

This will help you understand whether you are making small or large adjustments based on how yr ROOM is or whether you are making these adjustments cos the material needs em.

Dont forget once you have embarked on yr Mastering journey that you WILL need to:

Take frequent ear refresher breaks.

Reference what you are working on in other systems (cannot be stressed enough)
Eg Burn CD's & Play them on other systems.

Do as much of your work at LOW MONITORING LEVELS as you can.
(SO SO SO SO Important Esp in an untreated room)

And a tip for the L2/L1 Grab the Threshold & Out Ceiling Faders And move em down TOGETHER. This way the Volume correct mode wont trick yr ears into thinking "Cool louder, Cool Better!'Once you feel an optimum level of limiting has been achieved relative to the Program material & you are sure you arent over limiting yr material you can bang the outceiling up to where you wish -.01-.02-.05 whereever you wish.

Hope This at least helps on the Guerilla tip.

BTW Which waves package did you buy?

Member for

20 years 9 months

Bob Olhsson Fri, 04/11/2003 - 19:06
Originally posted by lowdbrent:
...If your signal is not compressed all ready, then it will pump on radio and tv.
This is a popular myth that isn't actually true at all! In fact, if you let a broadcast processor work on relatively uncompressed material, the result will be louder, punchier sound on the air!

Bob Orban and Frank Foti, the two top designers of broadcast processors have even been requesting that labels send special masters for broadcast that are NOT peak-limited.

There are very real reasons for making CDs hot having to do with being competitive in programming meetings and focus groups but broadcast is just about the LAST reason to push CD levels.