Limiting as a means of "compression"

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metanoiastudios
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Limiting as a means of "compression"

Post by metanoiastudios » Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:22 am

Perhaps one of you guys can clarify this for me. When I think of a limiter, I think of something that you'd use on a mix bus to control the overall peak level of a mix. When I think of compression, I think of balancing the levels of a signal to a certain amount; However, I know some of you use limiters to get a bigger sound out of guitars, vocals, what have you.

In this case, what is the main difference between a limiter and a compressor? If you use a compressor with a high ratio of 10+, doesn't this in fact act as a limiter, or is there a certain special compression algorhythm that you would get from "compressing" with a limiter?

hope my question makes some kind of sense. ha! perhaps it might help me if you guys can tell me your uses for a limiter, and why you are using them in such applications other than a master mix?

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Post by the finger genius » Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:32 am

a limiter is basically a compressor with the ratio set to infinity.
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Post by firesine » Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:52 am

Yeah, I think of any ratio 20:1 or more as basically being a limiter. This can be cool on instruments where the transients are eating up so much headroom you can't get the body or fullness of the sound to come through. So you chop off the transients and bring up the entire level to suit your sound. Sometimes this sounds best when combined with uncompressed version of the same signal as it can sound weird by its self. Say parallel drum buss limiting. At least thats how I think about it.
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Post by vvv » Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:13 am

I like to use a software limiter after a compressor on vocal tracks, also. I find that I can often get another 3-4db of level, depending on what the compressor did to the track.

Limiters are cool on things like tambo's, also, where they are sometimes not evenly played. I find that, to the extent the sound is changed, it can be less obvious and more consistent than with a compressor; same thing with an acoustic guitar.

On some stuff, using a limiter to severely reduce peaks can change the sound significantly as you alter the initial transients. It can do cool things to cowbells, for instance, and a little more subtly than a compressor.

Finally, I use a limiter when I am "hand automating" a track in the computer, where I go in and instead of just boosting the gain on sections to even out a track, I use the software limiter to do it.
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Post by Jeff White » Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:21 am

I am always combining compression and limiting in series in Digital Performer. My go to compressor is the Waves RenComp and I have several Limiters that I use post compression. Sometimes I'll just use a limiter for a specific sound, as the Waves RenComp is pretty transparent on the settings that I use.

I like the Nomad Factory Blue Tubes comps/limiters a lot, as well as the T-Racks mono limiter for a little grit. Replacing this lately with Nomad Factory's BT Limiter LM2S (http://www.nomadfactory.com/products/bl ... index.html) or sometimes a RenComp set to infinity.

I have also been loving Massey's Tapehead for AU (http://www.masseyplugins.com/ or http://www.smassey.com/au.html), but this is more tapesaturation compression than limiting. However, I love the sound of it so I've been compressing with RenComp and using Tapehead after it.

I like using a limiter for peak stuff, but only slightly, so I'm setting a ceiling and still allowing for dynamic range. Love it for acoustic guitars and vox but I end up using it for drums, too. With bass I compress a little heavy and then use Tapehead for grit, definitely. Sometimes a limiter before Tapehead.

Some examples via MySpace of all of this, minus Tapehead AU (it wasn't out yet):

http://www.myspace.com/swivelchairs

I guess all in all I like transparent compression and a limiter with character. Obviously this could be in reverse order using a comp with character and a transparent limiter. Whatever works.

Hope this helps...

Jeff

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Post by Wilkesin » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:09 pm

the finger genius wrote:a brickwall limiter is basically a compressor with the ratio set to infinity.
Fixed your post to what I believe is correct.
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Post by Mr. Dipity » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:19 pm

Wilkesin wrote:
the finger genius wrote:a limiter is basically a brickwall compressor.
Fixed your post to what I believe is correct.
Fixed your post to what I believe is correct.

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Post by the finger genius » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:19 pm

Wilkesin wrote:
the finger genius wrote:a brickwall limiter is basically a compressor with the ratio set to infinity.
Fixed your post to what I believe is correct.
A brickwall limiter usually indicates that special efforts have been made to get the ratio as close to infinity as possible (often used to keep audio from clipping during a/d conversion.) But any limiter has a very fucking high ratio.
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That said, what I'm gettin' at is, perfectionism is for the truly defective.

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Post by Jay Reynolds » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:45 pm

Mr. Dipity wrote:
Wilkesin wrote:
the finger genius wrote:a limiter is basically another brick in the wall.
Fixed your post to what I believe is correct.
Fixed your post to what I believe is correct.
Fixed your post to what Roger Waters believes is correct.
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Post by the finger genius » Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:49 pm

hi-oh
vvv wrote:
That said, what I'm gettin' at is, perfectionism is for the truly defective.

You may quote me.
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Post by cgarges » Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:49 pm

You know, this comes up a lot and to be honest, I never think of the two as individual devices. The famous Teletronix LA2A is technically a "Limiting Amplifier," but it can do far gentler and more subtle compression on certain things than a dbx 165 with the Over Easy mode engaged.

I guess technically, yeah, something that's 10:1 or higher is a limiter and everything else is a compressor or whatever, but I never, ever give that any thought in the middle of a session. If I'm looking for some kind of gain reduction, I'll audition a device that I think might work and if it doesn't, I'll try something else. If I'm working on a digital console, I might use the channel compressors and set them up to behave like some kind of analog compressor that I like. But really, I'm never thinking about the distinction when mixing. Or tracking for that matter.

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Post by Wilkesin » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:25 am

the finger genius wrote:hi-oh
Ha, we mucked this thread up real nice! :D
Slider wrote:"we figured you'd want to use your drum samples and reamp through your amps anyway, so we didn't bother taking much time to get sounds".

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Post by logancircle » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:30 am

Yeah, the definition I always got was any compressor with a ratio of 10:1 or more. Many engineers, including myself, prefer using multiple compressors in series, each doing different things. For example, you might use a 5:1 comp with short attack to do peak limiting and a then a 3:1 for to raise the overall level. If you're careful about how you set your attacks and release and knee, you can get similar limiting results without it sounding crushed.
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Post by losthighway » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:37 am

I've been using a similar technique in my mastering experiments (i am not a mastering engineer). Limit, or flatten the really high peaks just to get some head room, then add a much more subtle compression for a more audible effect. Then post on myspace and accept only nice comments. Then die unknown. This is also drastically effected by the order in the plug-in chain.

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Post by drumsound » Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:33 am

Sometimes we get too hung up on semantics...

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