Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

A place to ask the basic questions, a place for students, newbies, and everyone else.

Moderators: rick, Mark Bassett

Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:08 pm

I want to fatten and increase the perceived loudness of some drum sounds.
I know with software limiters it's almost a one or two dial process.
However, I have a hardware compressor/limiter.
At the higher ratios it becomes a limiter (20:10, 30:15).
But how do I set the other controls (Input, Attack, Release etc)?
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Wiz » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:01 pm

B4 someone far more knowledgeable than me comes along....


Shorten the attack and release as much as possible. Set ration to whatever..... Try different ones as you go along...


Lower threshold and get some gain reduction going...

Whilst listening to the transient slow the attack , get the front part of the drum sound you want, slow the release to get the sustain fatness pump you want and the ratio sort of changes the hardness of the sound.


So I think of attack as the start of the sound, release as sustain and groove and often balance the release whilst feeling the groove of the tune, and the ratio as the hardness of the sound.


Then adjust all the controls as you fine tune


I don't think of it as limiting...to me a limiter does just that,stops something getting any higher in peak energy than what i want it to.

Hope it helps till someone comes along with the right answer......


I forgot to add....

Perceived loudness is limited of course by, peak energy, other wise you would just turn it up, sothe attack of the compressor is where you will get the headroom to bring up the rms or perceived loudness compared othe uncompressed version....
Peter Knight

Cant ego loquemur Latine

http://www.ozlandmusic.com
Wiz
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby gigpiglet » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:41 pm

be careful limiting hard to increase perceived loudness.
if you smash all the peaks - even though you could then turn it up louder - it may not be "perceived" as louder at all.

also not sure what you mean by the ratios you mention (20:10, 30:15)
do you mean 20:1 and 30:1?
both 20:10 and 30:15 are actually 2:1 which is not limiting at all - but very light compression
Gareth Stuckey
gigpiglet productions:presents:recordings
gigpiglet
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1125
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:10 pm
Location: sydney australia

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby rick » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:24 pm

If loudness is the goal in the analog domain
you could find a apex dominator and a compeller on eBay
For next to nothing and even cheaper usually
Plug either one in it and wonder why the hell they cost
Next to nothing ?

Or 20:1 fast attack fast release ..
Either sounds good or shit depending
Rick O'Neil
I think we went to different schools together
turtlerockmastering.com
we listen
User avatar
rick
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 3444
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 8:02 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Drumstruck » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:31 am

also defer to those with far more knowledge.... and I try to approach it simply and probably arseabout.....

set the makeup gain so it's not adding level
then set the threshold / ratio so it's just taking the tops off the peaks - almost inaubibly
increase the attack until it starts to affect the sound negatively then back off a bit
adjust the release until it starts to breathe then back off a bit
increase the makeup gain to the desired level
finetune in same sequence and audition using the bypass

or you could look in the f/s section where I have a 4ch limiter for sale (shameless plug, I know :| )
Ian Dare
Drumstruck
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1538
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:37 pm
Location: Over the hills and far away

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:49 am

Not planning to buy anything. I have a Helios Compressor/Limiter. I just want to experiment with limiter on single drum sounds, as in the software domain it can deliver more presence of the drum in the mix, without increasing actual volume.
The Helios is a bit weird, which is why I needed help.
Maybe I have the ratios the wrong way round.
At one end of the dial is - 10:1, 15:3. At the other is 24:8, 30:15. When compressing in a regular way, the strongest effect is at the 24:8 end of the dial, so I was assuming that was the limiting end of the scale - as opposed to the 10:1 end. Looking at it now, I have probably been using the compression completely the wrong way around, assuming the 24 and 30 were more heavily compressed than the 10 and 15. :-?
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Wiz » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:00 am

Limiting is really just a high compression ratio

usually considered (at least in what I have read) as 10:1 and up.

if you think about it. Why limit?

you limit, for either sonics (you like the sound) or to control the peak level (so you dont clip something or cause something to operate post limiter at a level you dont want)

I would think a compression ratio expressed as 24:8 is a fancy way of saying 3:1 I might try and look up that compressor and see why it expresses it as it does.

if you muck around a bit, with a compressor the way I described, perhaps some light will come on (it did for me, its essentially the way Mike Stavrou described in his book mixing with you mind, that one chapter was a huge watershed for me)

I sought of think of it like ADSR in some ways.

I know, people always say, just turn knobs till it sounds good, or the classic, just use your ears. Of course at one level they are right. But, for me, learning compressors was at first an intellectual thing, and the sonics came later.

The way Stav explained it just went BINGO! for me and gave me a way, to learn the effect of things like attack and release and how it related to the sound it produced. Sure, before reading that chapter, I could quote internet verbatim what the controls did, in a technical description, but now I employ the compressor in both a technical and artistic way.

Also, his article on VU's, and the description of "maximum illusion vs minimum voltage" was another aha moment.

enough rambling
Peter Knight

Cant ego loquemur Latine

http://www.ozlandmusic.com
Wiz
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:51 am

Can't find a user manual for a compressor with those ratios. They're a little rare, although several people have them.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Wiz » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:41 pm

I had a bit of a look around, and a bit of a think...


i think its related to broadcast.... (the compressor ratios)

and 24:8 must be equivalent to 3:1 it must be just expressed that way, for some reason for broadcast back in those days..
Peter Knight

Cant ego loquemur Latine

http://www.ozlandmusic.com
Wiz
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Alistair » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:44 pm

I would think the weird ratios probably have something to do with action of the compressor below the number specified.
Eg, 30:15 describes what happens if a signal is 30dB above the threshold, but not if it's 16dB above the threshold. It doesn't specify if acts like 2:1 across it's whole range.
But that being said I haven't seen it before either.

If you can't find the manual it's easy enough to check by setting up a metering plugin in your DAW and doing a round trip.
Alistair McLean
Alistair
Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor
 
Posts: 633
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:35 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Wiz » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:02 pm

Alistair wrote:I would think the weird ratios probably have something to do with action of the compressor below the number specified.
Eg, 30:15 describes what happens if a signal is 30dB above the threshold, but not if it's 16dB above the threshold. It doesn't specify if acts like 2:1 across it's whole range.
But that being said I haven't seen it before either.

If you can't find the manual it's easy enough to check by setting up a metering plugin in your DAW and doing a round trip.



so are you thinking, 29 dB above threshold, no reduction... 30 db above threshold, 15 dB reduction?

under what circumstance would that be used? Or is that how radio broad cast limiters function(ed)?
Peter Knight

Cant ego loquemur Latine

http://www.ozlandmusic.com
Wiz
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Ben M » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:13 pm

I don't know for sure...but those unusual ratios could have more to do with the slope (or knee) of the compressor...
There are other older style compressors with similar ratios.

Have you considered some 2 stage compression Chris?
User avatar
Ben M
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1910
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:54 am
Location: Sydney and Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Alistair » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:59 pm

No- I'm thinking that the ratio could be anything below that number- eg 20dB over the threshold could be 13dB of reduction or 4dB, who knows?
As Ben said, what we would now call the knee of the comp.
Alistair McLean
Alistair
Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor
 
Posts: 633
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:35 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:45 pm

Just fwiw...
A slightly later version of the original F760 has more standard ratios.
Here is a pic of the reissue:
https://www.kmraudio.com/helios-f760-co ... imiter.php

Here is a pic that (just about) shows the same ratios as mine:
http://www.helios-electronics.com/Signature_Clemens.jpg
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby rick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:56 pm

I reckon the 10:1 is your closest bet on those beasts .. but really looking at them f@#$ knows ..
no wonder your confused

the one that sounds the dullest when you smack the drum will be the limit option .
then adjust to taste


and with that goldmine of a description let me add .. the setting that you like the most is the one to use
Rick O'Neil
I think we went to different schools together
turtlerockmastering.com
we listen
User avatar
rick
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 3444
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 8:02 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Paul Maybury » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:31 pm

On the ADR (Helios f760's are ADR designs) compressors, ratio all the way right is the highest ratio. I think of anything from 4:1 up as limiting rather than compression. 1176's start at 4:1 and they are a limiting amplifier.
As for attack and release, for actual peak limiting, use the fastest attack and the fastest release. If you hear distortion on low end stuff, or a kind of warbling tremelo on note tails, slow the release to the next setting and the artifacts should go away, if not keep slowing the release.
You should also be able to induce some clipping of the input on these units if you slam level into it, this can lop off a little transient without really hearing it, if you don't go too far. Doing this will give you the ability to slow down the attack of the comp section and retain some perceived transient punch, but still have peak control via the clipping. A bit like driving a punchy transient onto tape. Your ear doesn't hear the clipping distortion if it of a short enough duration.
Broadcast limiters make extensive use of clipping circuits.
Rick, you are right, Aphex Dominators and Compellors are extraordinary processors, and are available for peanuts.
Cheers,
Paul Maybury
Paul Maybury
Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor
 
Posts: 690
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:07 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby rick » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:39 pm

Paul Maybury wrote: Rick, you are right, Aphex Dominators and Compellors are extraordinary processors, and are available for peanuts.


oh good I am right .. if three more people agree we can do a 24:4 ratio thread and start a rumour that will out do the ones gearslutz started about 7-8 years ago that made them worth nothin !
Rick O'Neil
I think we went to different schools together
turtlerockmastering.com
we listen
User avatar
rick
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 3444
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 8:02 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Enginearing » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:30 am

I have been told the Aphex Dominator is like chicken pie.
I have one sitting on my desk ready to put through its paces.
Great to hear fine gents such as Rick and a Paul hold them in high regard.
Ben Milne
Enginearing
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:56 pm
Location: Melbourne, Victoria

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:21 am

Thanks to all.
One day next week I'm going to launch this thread and start sending drums through my F760 while experimenting with everyone's suggestions.
Amazing though, I've misunderstood this compressor all the time I've owned it (about ten years). I think I saw a small number to the right (10:1) and a big number on the left (30:15), and without properly thinking about it, assumed my lower ratios were on the far right of the dial. Duh! =:)
In my slight defence, I don't use the F760 a lot, and almost always to smash a mono drum mic, often ambience, and I use my ears while twiddling the knobs. But I've obviously been 'smashing' my drums with the lowest ratios. Maybe not a bad thing?
Looking forward to a much more intelligent use of the unit in future though. Thanks to this thread.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:27 am

Try doing compression in reverse, (reverse the audio) - its much easier to make them act like a limiter.
Also running stuff through transformers after a compressor is enough to compact the transient.
C h r i z t o w n o
The Tasmanian
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1883
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:04 am
Location: Deep in the woods....

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Lee Cardan » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:05 pm

Wiz wrote:if you think about it. Why limit?


I was having a related conversation with a very clever cat just the other day (Chris Scallan, not sure if he lurks around here or not). But he put a thought into my head that stuck, and definitely changes the way I'll be approaching a lot of my future work. For sometime I have been working around these situations, but being given a real explanation as to why has let me have a little more fun with it

Basically,
edit: three tries later I'm not even going to try and explain this, you can go find him and ask him yourself.

But what this conversation leads to is me smacking the top few dB, ie needle barely moving if at all on pretty much any high transient material like kick, snare, perhaps acoustic played with a pick mic'd with a fast SDC, etc. So that when I give it to something like an LA2A, it gets a signal that has already had its dynamic range reduced, which is more what it's expecting (ie, something played back off tape) - the way he put it is all these new fancy 24bit converters have enormous dynamic range, so much so that a vintage compressor might consider it unnatural. which come to think of it, is probably the reason I sold my Purple MC77s- I'd track a snare nice, great headroom, plenty of dynamic range and throw that into a 4:1 situation expecting a radio ready result- but rather getting a whole bunch of awkward behaviour. To combat it I'd work in other way, light material sheet on the snare, ribbons at a distance, basically anything I could think of that would have of course being reducing the dynamic range for me, helping my compressors get closer to what they actually wanted to be working on. Who knew I could have just been clipping my converters this whole time.. It's funny because I've always tracked through the desk pres, but only the pres and not the channel strip so I had no output control, just a single level. So I couldn't clip in the pres, and the API pres I have also have only a single level, so I couldn't do it there either. It wasn't till I got the TG2 a little while back that gave me the opportunity to try 'limiting' (distorting/clipping which is really brickwall limiting) at the preamp so what follows it gets a very different kind of dynamic material to work on, which opens up a world of flavour. I can't wait to mod my APIs with some output reduction options so I can get them cooking too

Anyway, so now with high transient material I either clip it in the pre, or it goes into the Zener or distressors to get those transients away so I can have a little more fun with it. A nice converter can do it too, without any nasty artifacts. Already have I found how much more squishy I can make things. Like anything, it's a valuable tool and should be considered when it's appropriate and when it isn't

I should also read this Mixing With Your Mind book I keep hearing about..
Lee Cardan
http://www.sunshine-recorder.com
Lee Cardan
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
 
Posts: 322
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:59 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby The Tasmanian » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:05 am

Lee - I do the same, drive my pre's which give me limiting, and there are no weird artifacts compared to comp/limiters, and I think it is more likely the input transformers.
And it really does sound more musical than putting a limiter on it.

A just did a session with a pair of Capi pre's, on snare, and they did exactly this, slightly driving the preamp, reducing the output, allowing me a healthy level into tools.
I can do this with a few pre's, but everyone acts/behaves differently
I love my TG2 for this, (esp on kick snr & bass - and even vocals) and Electrodynes, Quadeights, and Neve's.

I was obsessed by all of this many years ago, and found the whole secret (in digital recording) is selecting the right mic/ and position that does not get too dynamic, and using my preamps as subtle limiting.
One of my interests was why so many record of the past, recorded with certain consoles sounded so good, and apart from tape, these pre's they were using had 10db steps, (electrodyes for eg) so they were more likely limiting on the preamp - and getting tape compression

My belief/working method is, I should be able to playback the recording I have just accomplished, and there it all is, perfectly recorded, no wild crazy transients, by carefully choosing the correct mic, mic pre for EQ/flavour and slight limiting.
Driving a great preamp, is where the secret is for me. (especially in digital land)
As long as one has control of the output

I really like getting to a mix where I need no limiting at all, hardly any compression at all - a touch on Vocal bass and maybe a room mic - and that's it, because I use the front of my chain to do all of the critical work (that includes the player)

Once in the box - a little L2007 can give me more if I need, but almost never do - only on a stereo bounce.
Last edited by The Tasmanian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
C h r i z t o w n o
The Tasmanian
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1883
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:04 am
Location: Deep in the woods....

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:33 am

All extremely interesting.
But just to be clear......
I'm not trying to correct a mistake, or fix a transient. I'm interested in using a limiter on drums as an effect. As a different flavour.
I have some individual drum samples I'm very happy with. But I want to see if i can take them away from where they are with outboard processing. One way is with eq, another way is with tasteful overdrive, another way is with standard compression, and a final way is to hard limit - to bring down the initial attack point, and bring up the main body of the sound.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby The Tasmanian » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:38 am

Chris - have you tried driving them back through your pre's to attempt to get the result you are looking for?
I would have chosen this before a limiter.
C h r i z t o w n o
The Tasmanian
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1883
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:04 am
Location: Deep in the woods....

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby a.d.a.m. baby » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:01 pm

ChrisW wrote: One way is with eq, another way is with tasteful overdrive, another way is with standard compression, and a final way is to hard limit - to bring down the initial attack point, and bring up the main body of the sound.


I've never used it, but doesn't Transient Designer let you mess with this sort of thing?
User avatar
a.d.a.m. baby
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:49 pm
Location: Gold Coast

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:31 pm

a.d.a.m - It's not quite the same. I do have a TD.

Tassie - No, I haven't tried hitting the pre's again, but I almost certainly will.
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby Paul Maybury » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:03 pm

If you're talking about clipping or saturation to get limiting, there are a number of ways to do that.
Using a compressor or "limiter" that has to react to a signal before it can do anything about it, is not going to lop that transient instantly like a diode, transformer, transistor, tube or tape being wacked with level. Although, some get pretty close it's not the same.
Personally, I like limiters a lot, but they need to be real fast and be able to overload or clip a little to soak up a bit of what the gain reduction lets through.
Chris W, your Helios f760 should have that in spades.
Cheers,
Paul
Paul Maybury
Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor
 
Posts: 690
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:07 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: Turning A Compressor Into A Limiter

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:55 pm

I think so Paul. :-bd
Whitten
ChrisW
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
 
Posts: 1285
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 pm
Location: Hunter


Return to You've gotta start somewhere.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest