Limiter on a master


How do professionals limit their tracks? Because I looked at the audio waveform and it feels like a clipper is used, but it is a limiter??? Because the limiter ruins the transients/peaks. I don’t understand how they use the limiter.


Everyone has a different process.

I discussed the process my Mastering Engineer used for an upcoming release of mine. Clipper was the first thing in the chain, followed by dynamic eq, mastering comp, “vibey, coloring” eq and then a limiter.

He made the “loud and proud” digital versions and then made a less aggressive vinyl master by backing off on the limiter for more dynamic range.


Hardclip or die :fox_face:



Limiter can be used to raise the volume of other elements while keeping the louder elements the same. But this works best when the mix is balanced with there being no frequency overlap.

But in the past ive had better results using a limiter on some individual track elements to control the dynamics…by removing unwanted peaks…by putting a ceiling and controlling the volume level of the drums, bass and other elements in contrast with each other

But as far as the professionals…idk what chase dobson…said…


Thanks bfk


Clipping is something I’ve been looking at more over this year. The first place I’ve been using it is on drum samples during mixing, I’ve been finding I can get back a few DBs across a mix if I clip most of the drum samples without obviously affecting the dynamics.

In mastering specifically, I’ve always had it at the end of the chain because historically I didn’t remember to hit “true peak mode” on my limiter and I would have inter-sample peaks over my intended ceiling get through. So the clipper was a final final stage to make sure I kept everything under my ceiling level. Now, with more knowledge of oversampling and not pushing my limiter as hard, I use clipping more to get another few tenths of a DB of gain out of my limiter.

Say I have a master where I want it in terms of dynamics, distortion, balance, etc… but I’m not quite hitting the target I have in mind for loudness. That is where I’ll put the clipper at the end of the chain and try to get a bit more level. I’ve found it’s much more transparent than trying to add more gain in the limiters (Izotope IIRC 4 or Newfangled Elevate, both complex multi-band limiters) that I’m using and then compensate for any changes in sound that will make. Elevate actually has a really good clipper built in just before it outputs audio, I usually use that clipper, but I have been intending to try some dedicated clipping plugins as well (though I’m looking more for something quick and easy to use during mixing on drums).


I often (and right now, too) have the problem that TP measures are still positive even though I turned on TP limiting. FOr instance, I set Pro-L2 to a -0.3dB ceiling with TP on, but after rendering Expose tells me the track has +0.45dB True Peak… I tried it with a clipper (and various limiters) after it, but still the same +0.45 value.

I can’t find a way to really set a TP ceiling with any plugin - depending on the track, the TP measure after rendering is between +0.05 and +1dB higher than the TP ceiling…

Putting Ozone Maxmimizer (IIRC II) behind Pro-L with the same -0.3 ceiling and TP on lowers the resulting TP to +0.15, but it’s still way too high and it only lowers the TP measures since there is an additional 0.3 ceiling… Putting limiters (Elevate, Pro-L, Ozone…) without additional ceiling behind this doesn’t affect the TP measure. Only lowering the input volume or the ceiling seems to help.

What am I doing wrong here?

Edit: I just googled a bit and it seems to be a thing that different programs and plugins have different methods of measuring TP/ISP. Some like Reaper and Expose show higher values, others like Youlean or the various limiters I use show lower values…


That was going to be my guess as I was reading your post. I haven’t used the fabfilter stuff, but I’m inclined to trust Ozone and Elevate as long as I’m not pushing them too hard. Ask the limiter for too much gain and it’s a different story, if you have the limiter on a cleaner mode, it will let peaks through to try and avoid distortion. I have tried some of the limiters that I use to see how well they can keep peaks controlled, but I suspect that most let transients through to some degree even in their fastest settings so some amount of clipping is needed if you’re really really trying to get those loudness wars masters.

I also work with Youlean loudness meter strapped across my outputs after everything else, and I check my stuff with Expose to get another measurement (and also to measure groups of tracks quickly to make sure an album is coming together consistently). Youlean is my ultimate guide, everything else is just another set of eyes, as far as I’m concerned. The way I use expose is more about checking dynamic range, and the measurements inside of limiters themselves I use to let me know what the plugin is doing, but not what my master is doing.


Ah, that’s interesting, thx!

Yeah, Expose is great for quickly comparing multiple tracks, but if you never had probs with the Youlean results and all the limiters show the same, I guess I don’t have to rely on those higher TP values in Expose. :smiley:


Also worth mentioning now that it’s not midnight, if you have transient emphasis on in your limiter, that can also cause peaking if you were near zero before hand, since in some cases they actually turn the transients up instead of clamping down on them (or at the very least they slow down the attack time purposely to let transients through). Just another reason to use clipping as a final stage.

Just had a good idea for a $300 plugin: a mastering limiter that can boost transients psycho-accoustically without actually increasing the level. IDK if that’s possible, but if that is, free headroom that sounds like more dynamic range will be a winner, especially in EDM stuff.


Yeah, that makes sense. Although I haven’t experienced so far that that affects the TP measure by Youlean or other limiters. Gonna check out if that influences the differences between these measures and the Expose meaures though when I find some time!

That plugin idea sounds good! No idea but might be possible somehow, I heard of aspects like impulse or punch in psychoacoustic stuff.


I bought StandardCLIP to experiment with, I’m mastering an industrial release at the moment. I’ve taken the advice of the engineer that mastered my next release and put it at the beginning of my signal chain. I don’t have it working all that hard, but I do have it in 16x oversampling mode and its hitting the CPU hard.

Im not hearing any artifacts from it and the client is happy w the results thus far. I’ll keep experimenting and report back if anyone cares.

:edit: this thing would be a drum subgroup smasher!


I know this thread is about mastering, but I can never get snare drums (in a metal mix) to sit right without hardclippers


I think it’s not bad to use clipper on master because if mix is not bad it will be ok.

@chasedobson yes plz. we are curious


I’ve seen a lot of metal mixes that utilize clippers in this way.


Nice point that the clipper vst can add gain/volume to the overall master.


For me… sometimes Limiter is a little bit if magic…. Sometimes not… haven’t figured out why yet :man_shrugging:

Clipper I’m not fam with… I thought clipping was bad :thinking: