Hard Clipping Vs. Soft Clipping

Hey Everyone, so I have heard about Hard Clipping… and I’ve heard about Soft Clipping. I am wondering… what is the difference between the two and how can they both be used when Mixing and Mastering? What kind of tools are they? What are some of the benefits to each along with any rules that apply for using them? Lastly when they say “Clipping”, is it Analog Clipping or Digital Clipping? Would love to hear some info!

Clipping may be described as hard, in cases where the signal is strictly limited at the threshold, producing a flat cutoff; or it may be described as soft, in cases where the clipped signal continues to follow the original signal at a reduced gain.
Hard clipping generates high levels of eleventh, fifteenth and nineteenth harmonics, which can sound harsh. Soft clipping results in fewer higher order harmonics and intermodulation distortion.

I rarely use hard clipping, as I don’t like the sound but it is often used in mastering.

Soft clipping often has a smooth sound that generates second or third order harmonics, depending on if clipping is symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Tubes are often associated with soft clipping and transistors with harder clipping, although this is definitely not always the case.

1 Like

Hello again Paul! So like if i had a Sound Wave that i was about to Master and there were some spikey peaks, would i be able to use some Soft Clipping followed by a Limiter, then in doing so would take some pressure off of the Limiter so i could Limit a bit more without those peaks activating the Limiter thus being able to get the most out of my Limiter resulting in a louder Master?

Hard clipping would be best suited for that application

1 Like

Hard Clipping, got it! Do u know of any plugins that I could use that are for Hard Clipping? Any rules or guidelines I should follow using this application? And is this an application that you would recommend (Hard Clipping then Limiter), or is there another way you would suggest?

If you are discussing clipping in both the analog and digital realms, you don’t want any digital clipping since unlike analog clipping, it doesn’t produce any harmonics, only digital garbage.

1 Like

Fabfilter Pro L is the best sounding hard clipper I have used. Simply turn the attack fully clockwise so only the clipping stage is triggered and not the slower limiting stage.

Yes, you would clip just before the limiter. I don’t use hard clipping, as I don’t like the sound but many people do.

1 Like

Once again Thank You Paul! Now I have Ozone 8 Maximizer, is there any Clipping tools in that Plug-In that I could utilize?

IRC III has a Clipping algorithm, I have not used it though, so can’t comment on it.

1 Like