Using a limiter on the master channel advice needed

Discussion in 'Production' started by mr meh, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. mr meh

    mr meh Well-Known Member

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    Fucked around with limiters on the master channel many times trying to get my tunes loud, but I can never seem to get decent results with them....tried loads of different ones too with various settings but I always seem to end up making the tune sound horrible with them :(

    What sort of settings do you guys recommend??
     
  2. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8

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    Zero gain, zero release, medium lookahead. You really shouldnt be limiting you master buss if you want to get you tracks loud. Limiting should be used to prevent the out from clipping, and also change your sound slightly to get an idea of what it will sound post-master, which works for a lot of artists.
    Dont go gaining it though, because maximising the master is pretty much the last process of finishing a tune, and will prevent you from mixing properly if you change the dynamics of everything at once.

    Leave a limiter on there maybe, but dont touch it. Make sure you've mixed your tune and got every sound sorted, then do some buss mixing, which is where you can get most of the loudness sorted anyway. Then when your ready to try and master your mixed tune, master a bounced wav file, not the original project.
     
  3. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    Firstly you need to understand that anything you're doing on the master is effecting the whole mix, so your mix needs to be as tight as it can possibly be before even hitting the master to really get the most out of any processing you're doing at this stage, otherwise it will just fall apart very quickly.

    I think the most important thing to remember when using a limiter on the master is that it shouldn't actually be working too hard i.e. not pushed very much, this relates back to what I mentioned above as you're pushing the entire mix and even the very best mixes will start to fall apart if pushed really hard through a limiter on the master

    So to battle this... compression / limiting is most effectively used in small amounts at different stages in the mixing / mastering process with the very last stage being the master channel, where it should probably be used the least I would say. (again see above)

    So for example with a snare, you want a little bit of compression / limiting on the original sample itself, then a little bit on a drum bus, and then a little bit on the master.

    This just makes each limiter's work a bit easier as you're spreading it across 3 different ones rather than caning it through just one which it isn't gonna be able to handle too well.

    In terms of limiter settings on the master, I personally go for a soft knee (this might allow a bit of clipping but that's not the end of the world and gives you a little bit extra volume (just ask Icicle), then a fairly fast attack (a good tip here is to set your attack to as little as possible, then bring it up very slowly and listen to how your drum hits start to punch through a little bit more and more - but don't give it too much attack though as soon the hits will start hitting too loudly and clipping too much where the limiter isn't reacting fast enough), and then a fairly middle of the road release value - not too little that your drums make the mix pump (unless you want this effect), but not so much that the limiter is staying on for too long and taking that little bit of pumping "energy" away that you're trying to create

    Hope this helps mate!
     
  4. subprime

    subprime Dysjoint

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    Something to consider, that I am finding at the minute anyway: If you mix into a limiter, you end up shaping your mix to suit that specific limiter and it's reactions/characteristics. Then if for some reason you were to use a different limiter (or send the tune to someone else) the mix might fall apart because that limiter reacts differently/has different characteristics. Pretty obvious really but just something I found from going from Nomad Factory's e-compressor to Slate's FG-x. Both can get a mix up to -7/-6 rms but sound very different.
     
  5. Dark Lizardro

    Dark Lizardro The Lizard that has a hammer Staff Member

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    why the hell would you mix with a limiter on the master bus? As said above, whe you use a limiter, all your mixing will be molded on the parameters of that limiter.

    Keep the master bus clean when you're mixing, aim for some headroom (I usually make my master bus reach -6db), and leave the loudness of the song to the mastering stage.
     
  6. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8

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    Xtrah, Audio, Emperor, Mind Vortex and numerous others have either been quoted saying that they do it, or show that they do it in masterclasses.
     
  7. Interruptor

    Interruptor Member

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    It's also a preference to mix against the limiter, but I'd go with mix to -6dB and leave master channel limiting to mastering. Also, you should'nt just crank the limiter when mastering, subtle EQing and compressing and only using the limiter to prevent peaks works wonders.
     
  8. Hertz Promo

    Hertz Promo Active Member

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    Possibly the worst thing that you can do - If your mix is so fucked you need to stick a limiter on it to get it louder then no matter what you do on the master bus is gonna sound awful
     
  9. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure I remember Audio only has it there to catch the highest peaks and to stop any clipping while he's mixing, and then obviously to partly simulate how the final mix will sound when it's fully pushed through a limiter.

    I think it's fine to do this as long as you're not mixing into the limiter for loudness and pushing everything quite hard otherwise it will just probably fall apart when you take that limiter off and give it to the mastering engineer.
     
  10. dunks1980

    dunks1980 New Member

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  11. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8

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    That's pretty much what I do and what we should be talking about in here.
    The OP is either doing it wrong, or hasn't fully explained his vague problem.
     
  12. Dark Lizardro

    Dark Lizardro The Lizard that has a hammer Staff Member

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    To me, the OP is pretty clear on what he wants to achieve: loudness.
     
  13. Dugg Funnie

    Dugg Funnie Well-Known Member

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    Isn't this the whole point behind gain staging? I mean surely, if you have a channel that's causing a bit of clipping your first response isn't "let me just smash the entire mix for the duration of this songwriting/mixdown process". And, if it's not the sample, but the processing that's leading to the signal being too loud and you didn't consider the volume knob that tends to exist on damn near every plug out there, then you deserve a mix that clips and sounds total poop and I hope your mother cries late in the night over it.
     
  14. Serum

    Serum Well-Known Member

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    I don't put a limiter on the master but I'll run the master hot. Probably not the done thing but it works for me. I find that putting a limiter on there tends to take the sharpness out the beats. You probably don't want to redline it if you're after a super clean sound but that's not my thing.

    If you get the sound you want it really doesn't matter what you do. If everyone used equipment exactly as the manufacturer intended then a lot of great artists wouldn't have existed.
     
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  15. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    Not talking about smashing the mix mate, just catching the highest peaks and maybe creating a bit more of a feel for how the final mix is gonna sound when it later gets properly pushed through a limiter, and in the mean time you don't have to worry about the master clipping at all.

    Like Serum says though there's no real rules, everything comes down to personal preference and if it sounds good it is good.
     
  16. BassGorilla.com

    BassGorilla.com Founder BassGorilla.com

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    A lot of people I interviewed for our podcast said they use a limiter on the master channel while writing the song. The reason why is that you can hear a more similar version of what it will sound like once your tune has been mastered, so it helps you to get a better mix.

    To do it, you need to first get used to it, and pay close attention to the dynamic range (or lack of) for each sound, especially your drums and bass (obviously in a dnb forum lol).

    I recommend you to use the limiter with a ceiling of 0 or -0.3 dBFS, and then push up the levels into that ceiling. So you are using the limiter like a maximizer.

    if you turn the limiter off, the sum of all the parts/channels in your song should be peaking at between about -6 and -3 dB. You can occasionally turn off the limiter to check this, then turn it back on.

    It is worth doing it, trust me. I do it in all of my tracks these days and it helps with the mix.
     
  17. Binary_UK

    Binary_UK Binary.

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    I keep a Pro - L on my master with +5 on, its always turned off but I like to switch it on occasionally just to see how "loud" my tune will sound as such.
     
  18. Interruptor

    Interruptor Member

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    ...though for example if you push for example Waves L2 to 0,0 its equal to clipping. Besides if it's only the volume you want to raise when mixing, just crank your speakers up that 6 dB instead of using a limiter and then master it later.
     
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  19. mr meh

    mr meh Well-Known Member

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    I do the same sort of thing with the master fader, getting it as loud as possible without clipping. And I am getting the sound I want, but just nowhere near as loud as professional tunes. When I listen to my own tunes in my car or drop them in a dj mix or whatever, I have to turn the volume up quite a lot, but then have to turn it back down when a pro tune comes on.

    Loudness the one thing I've never been able to get the hang of for some reason. :(

    Anyway, I'll try some of these tips you guys have mentioned (y)
     
  20. dfault

    dfault New Member

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    It's a good idea to learn how to mix first without any processing on the output. Then maybe try out a compressor and leave it on there from start to finish. Sometimes a little sweetening EQ is also nice on the output to reduce the tendency to boost individual tracks with shitty EQs and it gives it a little gel. Using such things on subgroups is useful too. Don't forget you can use limiting/clipping on those subgroups to rein in any extraneous peaks prior to the output. I always pay attention to how certain elements sum together and end up peaking way louder than the where the mix is hitting in general. Little things like sub notes overlapping for a few milliseconds or a sharp synth stab playing at the same time as a loud crash hit are what to look out for.

    Drop pro tunes right in the sequencer while making a tune. A/B regularly as you are working. It's humbling but effective.
     
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