Introducing LIMITER. A great-sounding, smart mastering plugin that analyzes your music and suggests the best settings to help you get pro-sounding results.
LIMITER’s targets help you optimize the loudness and controls to maximize transparency, minimize distortion, and get the perfect loudness. LIMITER helps you master your music in a smart and musical way whether you’re shooting for a super-loud and punchy master, or optimizing your audio for streaming.
Bad limiter settings can un-do hours of hard mixing work. If you push a limiter too hard without optimizing the settings, you’ll squash the transients of your audio and suck the life out of the performance. If you master your music too quietly, it will lack energy and clarity when compared to louder songs.
It can also be difficult to know how to tweak the various controls, such as gain, attack, release, link, and ceiling to work best with your audio. Understanding and setting these controls correctly is crucial to creating a pro-sounding master that translates well everywhere.
LIMITER analyzes your music and gives you targets to help you dial in the best settings and an excellent sound when mastering. LIMITER’s targets help you get a great starting point, from there you can tweak the settings to suit your music and preferences.
We created a unique limiting algorithm that ensures maximum transparency and sounds brilliant with all genres and styles of music. When using LIMITER, you’ll maintain the integrity of your mix and transients whilst effectively controlling true peaks; no matter how loud you go.
In addition to the clean gain slider, the NRG slider boosts your music with rich harmonic distortion to thicken your sound and give you more perceived loudness. The PCH slider enhances the transients of your audio, giving you complete control over the punch of your music.
Avoid the hassle and create incredible sounding masters in less time. For smart and fast limiting that empowers you to make the best decisions for your music, download the free trial of LIMITER and get your music sounding better than ever.
LIMITER’s primary function is to go on your output channel and help you optimize the loudness and various settings to get your master sounding great and ready for release.
- Load up an instance of LIMITER on your master channel and select your preset, such as Loud, Spotify, or Apple Music.
After selecting a preset, you’ll see the target ranges highlighted on the meters. The goal is to keep the meters within these ranges.
2. Now monitor the loudest section of your track, and click analyze.
You’ll see a target range highlighted on the input gain slider showing you what gain adjustment is suggested to achieve your sonic goal. You’ll also see target arrows on the attack, link and ceiling knobs, helping you optimize those settings to suit your music.
3. Set the gain slider within the highlighted target range, then adjust the attack and link knobs to match the suggestions based on LIMITERS analysis. We recommend leaving ‘Release’ on auto for the most musical result.
Use this as a starting point and adjust if necessary. Hover your mouse over each control for advice on how the control will affect your sound.
In just a few simple steps, you’ll optimize the loudness of your song based on your selected preset. You’ll also tweak the settings to sound great with your music whilst maximizing transparency and minimizing distortion.
If you want to dive deeper into the power of LIMITER and explore the sonic possibilities in greater depth, read on.
LIMITER gives your masters dramatically improved clarity in the low-end compared to other limiters.
When running a 100Hz sine wave through LIMITER, a market leading limiter, and a €299 limiter, we can see that Mastering The Mix's LIMITER produces considerably less harmonic distortion. In this test the harmonic distortion was 20dB to 40dB less, giving an audibly cleaner sound.
True Peak Control
The ceiling gives you precise control over the true peak of your audio. Even when pushing the loudness to extreme levels, LIMITER keeps your true peaks in check.
INTERFACE AND FEATURES
On the left side of the interface you’ll notice three input sliders. For clean gain, adjust the Gain slider to match the target or to suit your preference. The white input gain target will show once analysis is complete and relates to the loudness suggestion of the selected preset. Monitor the loudest section of your track during analysis, as the targets help you optimize the maximum short-term loudness of your track. Adjust the gain slider to sit anywhere within the target range.
The input gain target is linked to the attack setting. The shorter the attack, the more it reduces the gain. To compensate, the gain target increases as the attack is shortened.
NRG & PCH:
If you feel the track needs more energy and perceived loudness, increase the NRG slider to drive the sound with’ harmonic distortion input gain (which we created specifically for mastering applications).
If you feel your track needs punchier transients, increase the PCH slider. LIMITERS unique intelligent transient detection algorithm will musically enhance the punchy elements of your mix.
If you adjust NRG or PCH after analysis this will have changed your gain level. Click the analysis button again to reset the target range on the clean gain slider. You can even add negative clean gain if necessary.
The attack time (measured in milliseconds) represents the time after which the release of the gain reduction sets in. A longer attack time preserves more transients but may cause audible distortion if the gain is pushed to extreme settings. A short attack time ensures less distortion but the overall loudness of the signal and presence of transients may decrease.
After clicking the analysis button, you’ll see an arrow on the attack knob. LIMITER analyzes your audio and suggests a musical attack setting that helps to control peaks whilst also keeping your sound punchy and dynamic.
The release time (measured in milliseconds) controls how quickly the gain reduction returns to zero after the signal is limited. A long release time will make the limiting process smooth but can lead to pumping effects, since the short-term loudness changes may become audible. A short release time helps to preserve transients and to increase the overall loudness of the signal, but it might cause audible distortion at extreme settings.
To enable intelligent auto release, click the “AUTO” button below the release knob. If auto release is enabled, the release time adapts itself to the characteristics of the input signal and automatically changes based on your audio. This adaptive release time ensures a smooth limiting process even when you go for more extreme gain settings.
We recommend leaving the AUTO release engaged for the most musical results as AUTO Release is constantly adapting to your music. AUTO Release is automatically enabled after audio analysis.
When mastering a stereo signal, you’re working with two channels; the left and right.
With the link knob at 0%, you limit the left and right channels independently. This gives more loudness and punch at the cost of adjusting your stereo image.https://www.masteringthemix.com/pages/limiter-manual
At 100%, the right and left channels are linked meaning that the limiter affects both channels equally. This maintains your stereo image but often results in slightly less loudness and punch.
You can adjust the knob anywhere between 0-100% to get the linking that works best with your audio and loudness goals.
When you click ‘Analyze’, LIMITER will determine the stereo correlation of your audio, giving the similarity between the left and right channels. The link knob will then give you a suggested link amount based on the correlation.
The higher the stereo correlation, the more similar the left and right channels are, and therefore the higher the channel linking can be without compromising transparency.
As the correlation decreases, so does LIMITER’s suggested channel linking to help preserve the transients and characteristics of the mix. A correlation average of 1 will give a target of 100%. A correlation average of 0.4 will give a target of 0%.
Channel linking is subjective. There is nothing wrong with setting the link knob to 100% if you wish to maintain the integrity of your stereo image. Equally, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a lower channel linking setting or going for 0%, especially if you’re shooting for more loudness. These targets are a suggested starting point and can be adjusted to suit your preferences if necessary.
When to overrule the link target:
Want a super-loud master? Set the link to 0%.
Want to totally maintain your stereo image? Set the link to 100%.
Ceiling is comparable to the threshold of a compressor, with the difference being that no audio goes above the ceiling. This allows you to set the headroom, which is the space between the loudest peak of the music and 0dBFS, and account for any intersample peaks introduced by limiting.
After clicking the analyze button, you’ll see a ceiling target arrow showing the suggested ceiling knob position, to maintain good headroom to suit the selected preset.
All music created digitally in a DAW must be converted back to analog before we can hear it. As part of this conversion, a reconstruction filter is applied to round off the stepped digital audio signal. These filters can cause slight changes in the levels of the audio. This can be a problem for the signals close to 0dBFS and can cause intersample peaks.
Spotify recommends leaving -1dBTP of headroom for dynamic masters (up to -14 LUFS) and as much as -2dBTP of headroom for louder masters.
Similarly, the ‘Apple Digital Master’ initiative has introduced a protocol whereby the mastering engineer delivers audio in a format that avoids inter-sample peak issues by increasing the headroom.
Some people argue that intersample peaks are imperceivable and therefore not an issue to concern themselves with. The true peak meter in LIMITER will turn red if you surpass the preset true peak threshold, and, ultimately, it’s your choice if you wish to reduce the ceiling. Our advice is to avoid true peak clipping whether you’re mastering for streaming or a festival sound system.
To the right of the interface, you’ll see the DR, LUFS and dBTP meters.
The DR (Dynamic Range) meter measures how transient your audio is. The higher the number the less transient your music is. Keeping an eye on the dynamic range reading helps you avoid squashing the transients of your audio through over-compression or over-limiting.
The LUFS meter is used to measure the perceived loudness of your audio. It displays the LUFS short-term reading for your audio. The higher the number, the louder your music is. Knowing the LUFS helps you get the loudness right for your music, whether you’re looking to create a loud or dynamic master.
The dBTP meter gives you the true peak reading of your audio. True peak reflects what the actual peak of your audio would be once it’s been converted into an analogue sound wave, which happens when digital audio plays through speakers. Keeping the reading below 0dBTP helps ensure your audio doesn't clip or distort when played back by the listener.
All of the meters have target lines on the sides that relate to your selected preset. Try to keep the loudest section of your song within the target range. This will ensure your track is neither too loud or too quiet for your selected preset. If you breach the targets, the meters will turn red to warn you that an issue has arisen. If you breach the DR or LUFS target, try turning down the input gain. If you breach the dBTP target, try lowering the ceiling. Click the meters to reset the readings and colors.
True Peak Limiting
LIMITER uses true peak limiting to control intersample peaks and measure true peaks. True Peak Limiting is turned on by default and can be switched off in settings. True Peak limiting does not perform any sample rate conversion on your output audio.
LIMITER only the uses the difference of the oversampled signal to mitigate any loss of transparency due to sample rate conversion. In most cases unless NRG or PCH is used we recommend not using oversampling.
When limiting an audio signal, very fast changes are needed to control the peaks whilst trying to maintain the loudness and transparency. These fast changes can cause distortion aliasing.
Aliasing is the misidentification of a signal frequency, which can introduce distortion or other artifacts into the recording.
Oversampling reduces aliasing by running the internal limiting process at a higher sample rate than the DAWs sample rate. The oversampling settings are set automatically depending on your DAW sample rate:
44.1kHz : 4x Oversampling
48Khz: 4x Oversampling
96kHz: 2x Oversampling
Aliasing most commonly comes about when limiting the audio signal heavily. This is when oversampling is most useful.
Also, if you’re applying NRG then aliasing artifacts can be produced. Again, oversampling can help reduce these issues. You can adjust the oversampling default in LIMITER’S settings.
Oversampling increases CPU and can introduce a very slight pre-ring due to the filtering process. This can make the transients slightly less defined, though the effect is very minimal and often inaudible.
LIMITER fully complies with EBU R128 / ITU-R 1770 metering standards
The real-time moving level display shows you how the limiter is affecting your audio. It shows input (light green), output (dark green), and gain reduction (white). You can change the scale of the level display in settings to 30dB, 20dB or 10dB. The level display can also be turned off in settings.
INPUT / GAIN REDUCTION METERS
To the left of the central display you have the input meter. This shows the peak of the audio that you’re pushing into the limiter. This is ‘post’ NRG, PCH and clean gain sliders. If you want to maintain some of the dynamic range in your mix, keep an eye on this meter to ensure that the input gain is not constantly driven into the limiter.
To the right of the central display you have the gain reduction meter. This shows the amount of gain reduction applied to the left and right channels. When channel linking is set to 0% you'll see the left and right gain reduction meters moving independently. When channel linking is set to 100% you'll see the left and right gain reduction meters moving in unison.
Show Meter Scale
By default, the metering, input, level display and gain reduction scales are turned off. These can be switched on in settings.
As with all things in audio, you want to be sure all processing has a positive effect on your mix and is getting you closer to your desired sound. You can click the Delta button to solo how LIMITER is affecting your mix.
Tweaking the knobs when previewing the delta can help you understand how they’re affecting your mix, giving you greater authority and knowledge on how to achieve the sound you’re shooting for.
Remember, the audio you hear is how LIMITERS settings have changed your sound.
The bypass button will let you preview the before and after results of the processing without latency issues in your DAW.
It’s impossibly difficult to make fair comparisons between two sources of audio that are different loudness’. LIMITER accurately level matches the bypassed signal to give you a clear representation of the difference between your limited audio and the original audio.
Level matched bypass can be turned on or off in settings.
Low-CPU mode can be activated in settings. This reduces the CPU load of LIMITER by simplifying the user interface.
The A/B button allows you to quickly switch between two different states of the plug-in. This enables you to try a different approach to your audio to see what works best.
The arrow above the A/B button copies the active state to the inactive state. This allows you to keep the current settings of the plugin in the inactive state and make a few adjustments in the active state to see if you can improve the sound. You can then jump between A/B to see which you prefer.
Help section showing the version and build date, along with links to the manual, help center and support.
Adjust the default settings for LIMITER.
We hope LIMITER helps you dial in the best settings to master your audio, whether you’re shooting for a super-loud master, or optimizing your audio for streaming. We’re here to help if you run into any problems or have any questions. Contact Support.
LIMITER is available in VST, VST3, Audio Unit, and AAX formats.
MAC OSX Requirements
- OS X 10.10 or higher. 64-bit AU, VST ⅔, or AAX host.
- Windows 7, 8, or 10. 64-bit VST ⅔, or 64-bit AAX host.
When running the Mastering The Mix Global installer you can choose which of our software to install. If you wish to install further software at a later date then just re-run the installer and select the software you wish to install. Installed software will have a tick next to it and it will be greyed out.
(Please note to reinstall software you will first need to uninstall that particular software, see below for details).
- AU - (Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, Garage Band, Presonus Studio One, and more).
- VST & VST3 - (Ableton, Ableton Live, Acid PRO, Cubase, Nuendo, FL Studio, and more).
- AAX - (Pro Tools).
The support files and software are installed to the following default locations.
On OSX these are:
/Applications/MasteringTheMix - for the Uninstaller program
/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components - for AU plugins
/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST - for VST plugins
/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST3 - for VST3 plugins
/Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio/Plug-Ins - for AAX plugins
On Windows these are*:
C:\Program Files\MasteringTheMix - for the Uninstaller program
C:\Program Files\Steinberg\Vstplugins - for VST plugins
C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3 - for VST3 plugins
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Avid\Audio\Plug-Ins - for AAX plugins
Following installation, you can move the files to your desired location if required.
* The exact drive letter may vary according to your system.
Please note all of our plugins are now 64-bit only.
To uninstall simply run the Uninstall program and then select the required options.
After you have purchased you will receive an email with a serial code in this format...
Online Authorisation (Default)
Open your Mastering The Mix Plugin in your DAW and click the KEY icon in the top right-hand corner of the plugin wrapper. This will open an authorization page where you can copy and paste your authorization key. Click ‘Authorise’, and you’re good to go! You will have two activations per license purchased.
- Copy and paste the license code sent to you via email into the box below that says ‘Product Key’. Your license code will have this format: XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX.
- Click 'Generate' to generate your Offline Activation Request XML. This file will be saved to your desktop.
- Transfer this file to an online computer.
- Upload the file to our website and you will receive an Activation Response XML file download.
- Transfer that file onto your offline computer.
- Click 'Load' then locate your Activation Response XML file to authorize your software offline.
Resetting Your License
Each license comes with 2 activation slots. These can be deactivated from within your software, or remotely from your online account whenever you need to free them up.
You can reset your license yourself by clicking the ‘key’ icon in the top right corner of the software. You’ll see a button that says ‘Deauthorize’. Click that and you’ll be able to use your license on a different machine.
You can remotely deactivate your license if you don't have access to the software. Login to your account, view the list of your products, then click “Deactivate 1 activation’ to deactivate your license there.
If you bought your license from one of our licensed resellers then you will have to register your license in your account area before you can deauthorize the license. Login to your account, then enter your license into the ‘Register License’ input box, then click register, and refresh the page. Your licenses may take a couple of seconds to appear.
You can see if an update is available within the software itself. Just click the (?) icon in the top right corner of the software and you'll see the version number. If an update is available you'll also see a link to download the latest update.
You can find the release notes and latest versions for all of our plugins from the release notes section of our Help Center here.
Your Online Account
Purchases made directly from www.MasteringTheMix.com will automatically sync your downloads and licenses to your online account. You can register your licenses bought from our authorized resellers in your account area to give you access to remote license deactivation and the latest installer download links. Click the 'Register Product' tab, enter your license into the box, and click submit. You will find your license code and your installer download link listed under 'My products' after refreshing the tab.
If you need help with problems or questions, and this help file does not provide an answer, please visit the Help Center on our website.
If you have encountered a bug in our plugins, first of all, make sure that you are using the latest version of the plug-in. You can see if an update is available within the software itself. Just click the (?) icon in the top right corner of the software and you'll see the version number. If an update is available you'll also see a link to download the latest update. If the bug is still present in the latest version, please send us a support ticket and include as much technical information as possible: operation system and version, host software and version, steps to reproduce the bug, etc.