The limiters in this video are in no particular order - also, we’ll showcase each one on the same track with the same amount of attenuation, so stick around to hear each one.
The Pro-L2 has become a modern classic and a go-to for a lot of engineers - the multiple styles give engineers a lot of flexibility while lookahead, channel-delinking, attack and release, and oversampling offer expert levels of control. I personally enjoy the dynamic style when using aggressive settings.
Let’s take a listen to it using a 50ms release, the dynamic style, and with oversampling enabled.
Elephant is an incredibly underrated limiter - various modes give you a great deal of control over the limiting. These modes can be edited further in the mode editing section where you can control the channel linking, when the limiting begins attenuating, how it affects transients, and more.
We made a video showcasing this plugin in a lot of detail, so if you’re curious about it search it on our channel.
Let’s listen to the plugin with the EL-4 setting and use the Sharp transient function.
Whereas other limiters affect the overall left and right channel peaks, Elevate attenuates up to 26 frequency-independent bands. These bands can be affected uniformly or independent from one another, which gives a master a really transparent sound, or a very aggressive one if paired with the plugin’s transient shaper.
The transients can also be affected on a band-by-band basis, and if you want to tailor your limiting to specific frequencies that’s also an option. Lastly, the plugin includes a clipper if you need a truly aggressive and loud sound.
Let’s listen to the limiter with some subtle transient expansion and mild clipping in addition to limiting.
Although older, this plugin creates a really full and warm sound, as well as offers the option to increase loudness without engaging the brick wall ceiling. The enhance feature on this plugin brings quieter details forward, while the limiter itself causes a rounder warmer sound.
I like turning auto gain off and blending the enhance function with increasing the input until I get a good balance between the 2 unique features. Let’s take a listen with the same amount of attenuation as other plugins, but then slowly increase the enhance function.
Softube created a line for line recode of the DS1-MK3 compressor and limiter, which was repurposed into the MM-1, a maximize, and limiter with 5 algorithms. Similar to the Sonnox limiter we covered in the last chapter, this plugin offers both a brick wall limiter and an enhance function.
The 5 modes each sound distinct, with wide being a great option for dynamic stereo expansion due to the mid image being limited more than the side image.
You can also lower the output in the settings. Let’s take a listen with the same amount of attenuation as before, and then slowly introduce the amount dial.
This next limiter has a simpler setup, but a huge sound - using the PSP InfiniStrip plugin which models multiple 500 series units, I’ll select their Brickwall Limiter. With this limiter, I’ll first reduce the ceiling to cause attenuation, and then increase the output gain, balancing the 2 to find the right level.
Since the limiter has no latency, I find it works great at retaining transients - and the 3 different release modes as well variable release time help shape the sound of what you’re limiting to loud and upfront to smooth at slower settings. A soft-knee setting also adds to its flexibility.
Let’s take a listen to it.
Brickwall HD is the only limiter on this list that lets you measure the LUFS of the mix and then set it to a specific setting - which is incredibly useful. It offers 3 clipper settings, adaptive release, 4 different modes or profiles, and a ceiling.
Useful measurements are also in the top left. I personally enjoy this plugin for dialogue, especially when tailoring to streaming services. Lastly, when you buy this plugin you get this nifty desktop hardware controller.
Let’s take a listen to it using the general setting, an adaptive release, and subtle clipping while achieving the same attenuation as previous demonstrations.
Barricade V4 is the most affordable plugin on this listen at roughly $30 - its design is similar to the Pro-L2 but it also offers a very useful compression section prior to the limiting stage. With it, you can introduce saturation, tape emulation, clipping, and more.
The limiter section offers 8 different modes, including the previous Barricade’s algorithm, along with attack, release, true peak, and dithering.
Let’s take a listen and slowly introduce some saturation from the compressor as well.
If true peak limiting is something that’s important to you - maybe you work in a broadcast environment and have very specific guidelines regarding levels, Elixir is a great option. Its threshold is always true peak, and its multistage limiting ensures you achieve transparent limiting, even with the quickest release settings.
Dynamic channel linking and delinking is also a unique feature, that I haven’t seen on the limiters, making Elixir a really well-designed limiter.
Let’s listen and notice how we don’t get any overs.
A lot of engineers swear by this plugin, and I understand why - it has an innovative design, great sound, and enough flexibility to tailor the sound to any project. It utilizes 5 bands in a dynamic EQ section, as well as settings like channel linking, lookahead, knee, and more.
The threshold includes auto-make-up gain, the release can range from 10ms to 8 seconds, and various styles make it easier to quickly find a setting. Multiple clipping settings and dithering with optional noise shaping are available as well.
Up top, we can enable an HPF to increase headroom or remove a DC offset, and inter-sample peaking detection. A LUFS meter is also a really useful tool that’s included in the top right.
Let’s take a listen.