Compression and limiting - still struggling with first principles.

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by jmm22, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Although I have read about the difference between the two, I am still struggling. I do know that limiters have higher compression ratios, but could that be all there is to know? If I had a clear example of two situations, one where compression was the right tool, and the other where a limiter was, I might be able to find my way out of the dark. I am using compression with some success, but I am trying to find the reason why I would need to use a limiter.
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    Home Page:
    Yes, a limiter is just a compressor set to a high ratio and (usually) fast attack/release. In a studio situation I would mostly use compression, but there are specific cases for limiting. One is in mastering where you just want to take a little of the peaks off so you can boost the RMS without clipping. You might also apply it to an individual track with more peak activity than desired. For most other things in a studio mix compression is the more likely candidate.

    In live mixing it's common to have peak limiters on the pass bands (that is, after the crossover and before the amps) for protecting speakers from mechanical damage that can result from high level transients. Occasionally RMS limiters are used to protect against thermal damage. An RMS limiter has the high ratio but slower attack and release rates.
  3. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    O.K. Thanks.
  4. jkchuma

    jkchuma Active Member

    Jan 5, 2011
    Some of the best advice I was given years ago was don't be afraid to play with the knobs and screw it up! It's how you learn what sounds good and what sounds bad. Tim Crich has a book called Recording Tips for Engineers that has a lot of great starting points and tips. Recording Tips for Engineers, Second Edition: For cleaner, brighter tracks (Book) (9780240519746): Tim Crich: Books

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