Actually, I have a new limiter…. not like I didn’t have one (well maybe many) before, but who’s keeping count, right?! What is a limiter in the studio world you might ask? That’s a great question. It is an important tool in my computer that is used to bring the maximum volume of your song up to a commercial level or limit the maximum output of a source like a vocal. Limiters, like other plug-ins used in recording, all treat audio with different levels of color they impart on the sound. I have transparent limiters and limiters that add a lot of warmth or pleasant distortion, as well as limiters that just don’t sound very good. I’ve always felt that a good limiter is critical to a great final mix as you run your entire mix through it at the end of the process for that final polish to compete any song out there. It has to sound clean, clear, punch and dynamic. Dynamic is counter intuitive as really what you are doing with a limiter is sending your music dynamics up against a brick wall, which can really damage the sound if you are not careful or the limiter is designed poorly.
I heard of the FabFilter limiter from a podcast called Squarecad that I listen to about mastering and people in the business of making masters, so I had to check it out. The limiter ProL from FabFilter offers a generous 30 day trial on their products and I could resist a test run. After a simple download and install I was ready to go. At first look it seemed simple to use. I love the graphic design of the plug in, its easy to read and operate. There are some super presets to use as a jump off point and great visual metering for incoming signal as well as gain reduction. One of the great features of the plug in is that I can push volume increases into the Limiter while maintaining the same out put in volume and use my ears, not eyes, to judge how the limiter effects this sound! It is too easy to get fooled that just because it is louder that is sounds better. I love the sound of this guy, it is fairly transparent, but can also impart a fullness and detail that I had not heard in my other plug ins.
After mastering projects from bands like Hellbelly and Plateau through this limiter it is now my tool of choice for level maximizing. I could not be happier with my purchase, and have other plans for future plug-ins from FabFilter as their products can do no wrong and their customer service I have found to be first rate. I have my limit(er) and I’m not looking back!