Hi Danny, your Ultimate Channel Strip has the limiter nearly last in the chain however in one of your videos, you talk about placing it right after saturation. Seems contradictory to me and I am confused, can you please help, thanks, Scott.
I might be able to clear this one up @scotthstevenson
You “set” the level/threshold of the limiter after saturation, but it still stays second last in the chain (last being dither)
Once the limiter is set, you move down the strip and place the plugins before the limiter in the chain.
Reason being is that you could do all this subtle work before and then set the limiter at the end and then the limiter gets rid of all your changes.
Setting your limiter before you do the subtle work down the chain saves you from having to re-do everything.
Thanks, when you place it immediately after saturation , are you looking to knock off say 1-2d, and then when you add all the other inserts in between, you make sure the same 1 to 2 dB is knocked off the limiter ?
The goal is to essentially have the level of the song at the around the desired end playback volume amount before you start adding in the other changes. It’s not about making sure the gain reduction is exactly the same before and after because as you add in other plugs, they will change the gain here and there depending on what you add in. Does that make sense?
Thanks but doesn’t clear it up for me. Managing the volume of the channel after an insert has been inserted can be done with variosu plugins, normally even on the output of the last plugin inserted. Limiter is purpose built to reduce peaks, so are peaks being reduced straight after saturation ? Danny, can you assist here please ?
First of all SmoothSailing has got it all right. So thank you for that.
Well there’s two ways to look at this. One from a mixing perspective, i.e. channelstripping an individual element like a kick or bass.
Or two, from a mastering perspective, i.e. building a mastering chain.
In reality, the workflow is essentially the same.
First you saturate – because its such a dramatic change you want to do that right away, and it makes things sound so much better so early in the game, it’s just a nice way to start.
Then you set the limiter. The output margin for mixing is between minus 1-2 dB for maximum output just to provide some headroom if you want to go into another insert like a side-chaining compressor or a modulating effect.
For mastering I still like a -.3 output margin. You can still make it extremely loud with that margin output setting.
Setting the initial limiter:
In mixing, you are not looking at numbers when setting the threshold of the limiter, but at a power sweetspot. How do you find the power sweetspot? It takes sensitivity and practice and we spend quite an extensive amount of time learning how to do that at nextlevelsound’s mixing and mastering program.
In mastering, we set the limiter so that our master-in-progress is just a bit quieter than the reference track target, because we know that the loudness will creep up with the additional compression, eq and saturation inserts.
Adding inserts in between the saturation and the limiter:
Now that we have basic saturation and power, we can insert additional compression, saturation and eq plugins in between the saturation and the limiting. As we do this we tend to try to leave the limiter settings alone and “mix into” the limiter. Sometimes you have to make minor adjustments, but you want to try to avoid fussing with it constantly.
You can manage the chain’s gain structure with the inputs and outputs on the additional inserts to get the sound you are looking for.
This workflow works extremely well for all of the reasons that SmoothSailing explained above.
Hope this helps!
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Hi Danny, it doesn’t actually help as you don’t mention anything about gain reduction, you know, knocking off the peaks. From a mixing perspective on individual elements, are you looking to knock of some peaks with the limiter after saturation ? thanks, Scott. A simple yes/no is what I am after.
Hi Scott, ha! ok…let’s see if we can get to the bottom of your question.
When you say “knock off peaks”, what is your goal here?
To prevent digital distortion from peak information, i.e. digital clipping on a given channel?, or
To create headroom after the limiter for better fader resolution for level balancing?, or
To create headroom after the limiter for another plugin insert?, or
To create the concentration of what we at the school refer to as “knock” power – which is a sound design approach at creating impact energy - like the sound of something hitting something?
Once I understand what you are trying to achieve I can give you a better answer about the amount of gain reduction that might occur.
But in the meantime, I can already re-emphasize what I was trying to communicate in my earlier post:
Setting the threshold correctly is not about setting it to a specific numeric value like “knocking off 1-2 dB” but about finding a power sweet-spot - which is done by ear, not by eye.
Power does not have a linear correlation with dB units of gain reduction.
Are we getting any closer?
Ok, so the only real use I see a limiter has is in setting a ceiling of db, and reducing the peaks. Otherwise it’s just increasing the volume. So GR. I don’t have a goal, I am asking (for mixing) what is the limiter doing after the saturation, is it actually shaving off the peaks, as it’s designed to do, or are you recommending it just for gain staging which could be done with any plugin ? Do you know what i mean ? A limiter shaves of peaks, thats’s its job.
Been two weeks now, anyone ? Danny ?
tagg danny here so he can get the notification!
thanks but I don’y know how to tag, can you please tag him for me ?
JUST @ and then put the users name you want to tag
Sorry, I was on Summer vacation but I am back now.
The limiter has several purposes which I enumerated 1-4 in the previous post. So the amount of gain reduction depends on your intention.
Not everything needs limiting – and in fact some things sound terrible with a limiter – like anything with a delicate decay, such as a crash cymbal, or a very delicate hi-hat pattern.
I use limiters most often on kicks and snares to create an “impact” knock energy. How much gain reduction really depends on taste and is set by ear, not by a specific number.
The limiter occurs at the end of the chain and is usually set right after saturation, because saturation is so transformative that you need to do it first so you can set the limiter to contain it.
Then the other plugins are set after the limiter although they are inserted between the limiter and the saturation, so that they can be set within the context of the limiter – which also can be adjusted as the chain comes into focus.
Not sure if that sheds more light. Please let me know.
It does, thank you Danny.