Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

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Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:45 am

What's the difference between Maximizer, Limiter, and Brickwall Limiter? They all do the same the same thing in my mind, so I must be missing something, since Cubase has three separate Dynamics Plug-ins for them.

The Cubase 8 Plug-in Reference manual says,

"Brickwall Limiter ensures that the output level never exceeds a set limit." (p. 38)

"Limiter: This plug-in is designed to ensure that the output level never exceeds a set output level, to avoid clipping in following devices." (p. 47)

Those descriptions seem virtually identical to me, so how should I decide whether to use the Limiter or the Brickwall Limiter?

And then there's:

"Maximizer: This plug-in raises the loudness of audio material without the risk of clipping." (p. 48)

Isn't that exactly what the limiters do? I've always thought of limiters as allowing me to raise the gain (which raises the loudness) while ensuring that peaks don't clip.

Why does Cubase have three plug-ins for this, when they all seem to do the same thing? What am I overlooking?

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Parrotspain » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:32 am

In the broadest terms a limiter restricts the peak levels in audio material whilst leaving lower level material untouched, whereas a maximiser raises the average level of the material (high and low level) and restricts the peak levels.

My understanding is that in general limiters behave like compressors with high ratios and high threshold, pulling back peak levels. Brickwall refers to that ratio being infinite.

For example, a compressor set to 20/1, for 20db input gain above threshold knee, there is 1db output gain. A steep slope.
A compressor with ratio set to infinity/1, for 20db of input gain above threshold knee there is 0db output gain. Would look like a vertical line on a graph, hence brickwall.

Hope this helps, no doubt someone else will be able to put it better than me, but that's the principle.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:34 pm

Parrotspain wrote:My understanding is that in general limiters behave like compressors with high ratios and high threshold, pulling back peak levels....

... For example, a compressor set to 20/1, for 20db input gain above threshold knee, there is 1db output gain. A steep slope.
This makes sense to me.
Parrotspain wrote:... Brickwall refers to that ratio being infinite....

... A compressor with ratio set to infinity/1, for 20db of input gain above threshold knee there is 0db output gain. Would look like a vertical line on a graph, hence brickwall....

This makes sense to me too.

The thing is, if you use a limiter to squash the top 10db, and then you raise the output gain by 10db, this will raise raise the average level (high and low level) while restricting the peaks; so I still don't understand how that's different from a maximizer:
Parrotspain wrote:... a maximiser raises the average level of the material (high and low level) and restricts the peak levels.
I appreciate your explanation, but I'm still confused.

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Parrotspain » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:51 pm

If you compare the limiter and maximiser plug ins by looking at the output audio waveforms in comparison with the input waveform. The limiter will leave the waveform untouched until a peak occurs in which case it will dip the signal level. A maximiser will raise the entire level of the waveform and then apply limiting to the peaks.

So you could think of a maximiser as two components an amplifier followed by a limiter. Or, I guess vice versa.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:17 pm

Parrotspain wrote:... you could think of a maximiser as two components an amplifier followed by a limiter. Or, I guess vice versa.
Thanks again. No need to add an amplifer after the limiter, as the limiter includes an "Output" dial for adjusting the output volume. It seems strange to me that Steinberg added a whole different plug-in and named it "Maximizer", instead of just telling people, "increase the Output level on the Limiter if you want to raise the volume".

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:33 pm

BachRules wrote:It seems strange to me that Steinberg added a whole different plug-in and named it "Maximizer", instead of just telling people, "increase the Output level on the Limiter if you want to raise the volume".
Maximisers are more complex that the multi-linear segments of compressors or brickwall limiters, though they are effectively providing both those functions.

I haven't used the Cubase Maximizer, but the Ozone one allows me to specify the range of levels over which it is to work. It has several algorithms, with the most intensive bringing my old system to its knees.

However, it is still better to optimise levels by judicious mixing and sculpturing with automation, than aggressively use a maximiser, as the latter can get quite harsh when pushed. They are good to just give a gentle few dB boost of overall levels.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:54 pm

Patanjali wrote:Maximisers are more complex that the multi-linear segments of compressors or brickwall limiters, though they are effectively providing both those functions.

I haven't used the Cubase Maximizer, but the Ozone one allows me to specify the range of levels over which it is to work. It has several algorithms, with the most intensive bringing my old system to its knees.

However, it is still better to optimise levels by judicious mixing and sculpturing with automation, than aggressively use a maximiser, as the latter can get quite harsh when pushed. They are good to just give a gentle few dB boost of overall levels.
Thanks. Steinberg chose to constrain their Maximizer documentation to five somewhat cryptic lines, so I'm going to stick with my less mysterious dynamics processors.

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:06 pm

BachRules wrote:Steinberg chose to constrain their Maximizer documentation to five somewhat cryptic lines, so I'm going to stick with my less mysterious dynamics processors.
Despite the 'economy' of the documentation, a well applied maximiser can give results that plain dynamic processors would have difficulty duplicating. Try some of the presets to see what is offers.

Just remember, any maximiser or brickwall limiter MUST be placed post-fader and be the LAST plugin before rendering via export.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by fretthefret » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:44 am

Patanjali wrote:
BachRules wrote:Steinberg chose to constrain their Maximizer documentation to five somewhat cryptic lines, so I'm going to stick with my less mysterious dynamics processors.
Despite the 'economy' of the documentation, a well applied maximiser can give results that plain dynamic processors would have difficulty duplicating. Try some of the presets to see what is offers.

Just remember, any maximiser or brickwall limiter MUST be placed post-fader and be the LAST plugin before rendering via export.
Unless you are exporting a lower bit depth than what your project was mixed at!
If you mixed at 32 bit float or 24bit and are exporting down to 44.1 kHz 16 bit or less than 192kbit MP3 then you would want the UV22HR Dither Plugin to be in the last Post-Fader slot.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:51 am

fretthefret wrote:Unless you are exporting a lower bit depth than what your project was mixed at!
If you mixed at 32 bit float or 24bit and are exporting down to 44.1 kHz 16 bit or less than 192kbit MP3 then you would want the UV22HR Dither Plugin to be in the last Post-Fader slot.
Sorry, I forgot that Ozone's Maximizer has built in dithering, covering both in one plugin.

Yes, if dithering is a separate plugin, then the order is:
1) Maximizer
2) Dithering.
Both post-fader of course.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Crotchety » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:53 pm

Perhaps another way of appreciating the difference: A Maximiser placed on an acoustic guitar really thickens it up nicely. And by automating the Optimise you can add in just that little bit of occasional punch. I wouldn't use a limiter for that.

Whether or not I ought to be doing that post-fader is something that Patanjali has just reminded me (thanks)...

Also, there is some talk here of squeezing dbs so you might find this thread relevant: http://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtop ... 98&t=73412
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:53 pm

Crotchety wrote:Perhaps another way of appreciating the difference: A Maximiser placed on an acoustic guitar really thickens it up nicely. And by automating the Optimise you can add in just that little bit of occasional punch. I wouldn't use a limiter for that.

Whether or not I ought to be doing that post-fader is something that Patanjali has just reminded me (thanks)...

Also, there is some talk here of squeezing dbs so you might find this thread relevant: http://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtop ... 98&t=73412
Thanks for the link.

In light if this thread, I'm thinking of it as a soft-knee compressor, with substantial distortion, and makeup gain. Automating it sound interesting; I hadn't thought to try that. Thanks all.

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by UnderTow » Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:11 pm

A Maximizer is just a brickwall limiter that automatically pulls up the gain. That's all. It just makes life easier but is essentially the same thing.

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by UnderTow » Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:20 pm

Patanjali wrote:Just remember, any maximiser or brickwall limiter MUST be placed post-fader and be the LAST plugin before rendering via export.
It depends on what you are doing. I use maximizers (or brickwall limiters depending on how you want to call them) all over my mixes on individual channels. I want them to be pre-fader so that the fader adjusts the level of the entire channel, not the level going into the maximizer.

Actually, I would love an option to turn all the the post-fader slots into pre-fader slots. If anything, the whole post-fader slot system is a nuisance to me. Even nicer would be if it could be done on a channel by channel basis.

Oh, and more slots please. :)

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:00 pm

UnderTow wrote:It depends on what you are doing. I use maximizers (or brickwall limiters depending on how you want to call them) all over my mixes on individual channels. I want them to be pre-fader so that the fader adjusts the level of the entire channel, not the level going into the maximizer.
I did think of that afterwards, as they can of course be used anywhere, but since they can be quite CPU intensive (maximisers, that is, not brickwalls), using them in too many places can crush a system.
UnderTow wrote:Actually, I would love an option to turn all the the post-fader slots into pre-fader slots. If anything, the whole post-fader slot system is a nuisance to me. Even nicer would be if it could be done on a channel by channel basis. Oh, and more slots please.
I have never come across a situation (that I remember) where I used a post-fader slot on a non-output track. Would be interested to hear of a use case.

I would suggest that all slots for all tracks, except the outputs, be pre-fader, but with the option, on a per-track basis, to progressively switch to post-fader, last one first.

The default for the output tracks should remain post-fader on the last two, as I suspect that many would too easily forget to switch to post-fader when they insert maximisers and ditherers, since they MUST be post-fader.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:15 pm

I am used to using Ozone's Maximizer, which incorporates dithering, so ensuring no clipping. It even has inter-sample clipping prevention.

However, I just thought of a possible problem when using a separate maximiser (or brickwall limiter) and dithering plugins.

Of course, the maximiser is placed first, to stabilise the signal range for the ditherer.

But if the maximiser sets the peaks to zero full scale (0FS) or just below it, wouldn't the noise that the ditherer adds to do its thing be likely to exceed 0FS, so undoing the effectiveness of the maximiser?

Do ditherers include the micro-dynamics adjustments to prevent this, or do their basic algorithms, by their nature, prevent it?
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by fretthefret » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:33 am

Patanjali wrote:I am used to using Ozone's Maximizer, which incorporates dithering, so ensuring no clipping. It even has inter-sample clipping prevention.

However, I just thought of a possible problem when using a separate maximiser (or brickwall limiter) and dithering plugins.

Of course, the maximiser is placed first, to stabilise the signal range for the ditherer.

But if the maximiser sets the peaks to zero full scale (0FS) or just below it, wouldn't the noise that the ditherer adds to do its thing be likely to exceed 0FS, so undoing the effectiveness of the maximiser?

Do ditherers include the micro-dynamics adjustments to prevent this, or do their basic algorithms, by their nature, prevent it?

The latter is closer - "their basic algorithms, by their nature, prevent it"
You can still have small overs using a dither plugin.
This is why most wouldn't peak limit at 0dbFS but at -0.2dbFS instead to allow that slight headroom - especially useful when converting to MP3.
In any case, dither is ALWAYS the final 'MASTERING' operation on a signal path before the final format 'print'.
In otherwords, you shouldn't dither a 'mix' unless you are printing your reduced bit depth MASTER straight out of the mix... as sometimes happens with EDM.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:23 am

Patanjali wrote:... if the maximiser sets the peaks to zero full scale (0FS) or just below it, wouldn't the noise that the ditherer adds to do its thing be likely to exceed 0FS, so undoing the effectiveness of the maximiser?
I was under the impression dither only affects the least significant bits, never altering the more-significant bits. It doesn't just add any random noise (which could cause clips); it rather adds specialized noise devised with respect to your signal so that it changes only the least significant bits.

I could be wrong, though.
Last edited by BachRules on Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:31 am

BachRules wrote:.. it rather adds specialized noise devised with respect to your signal so that it changes only the least significant bits.
Sounds like some smart people involved there. So it would appear to come under the 'by its nature' category, rather than micro-dynamics.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by BachRules » Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:33 am

Patanjali wrote:
BachRules wrote:.. it rather adds specialized noise devised with respect to your signal so that it changes only the least significant bits.
Sounds like some smart people involved there. So it would appear to come under the 'by its nature' category, rather than micro-dynamics.
Except, I'm googling for info to substantiate my suggestion, and I'm not finding anything, so I may well have been totally wrong.

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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:28 am

BachRules wrote:Except, I'm googling for info to substantiate my suggestion, and I'm not finding anything, so I may well have been totally wrong.
Sounded good at the time. :D :D

iZotope has a Dithering with Ozone PDF, that, contrary to what the title suggests, is 85% about dithering in general.

In relation to my query, on page 25, they state:
Don't Loudness Maximize to 0 dB and then try to add dither, or even filter DC offset. You could go
over.
My question is answered with a 'Yes', it can tip 0FS to clipping.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Arjan P » Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:39 am

People need to be aware of the difference between digital clipping and true peak clipping (inter sample clipping). A perfectly non-clipping audio file can still produce clipping in the DA stage of converting to analog. So maximizing or limiting to 0 dBfs is always a bad idea if true peaks are not considered. Certainly not when further conversion (to MP3 for example) is to take place.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by Patanjali » Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:17 am

Arjan P wrote:People need to be aware of the difference between digital clipping and true peak clipping (inter sample clipping). A perfectly non-clipping audio file can still produce clipping in the DA stage of converting to analog. So maximizing or limiting to 0 dBfs is always a bad idea if true peaks are not considered. Certainly not when further conversion (to MP3 for example) is to take place.
Ozone has a checkbox to include mitigating inter-sample clipping. I haven't looked at Cubase's Maximizer to see whether it does.
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by samueltornqvist » Sat May 28, 2016 11:05 am

It has been a while on this forum. Sorry to be so late to the party :)

I still have some questions and wonder what you guys think.
I'm playing around with the cubase plugins. I do have 3rd party plugins but I'm interested in using the ones found in steinberg because of the integration. It is quite handy the way it is set up (channel strip). And it seems more resource effective.

So, in terms of mastering:
1. Is there any difference in putting the limiter in the channel strip and in the inserts, i.e. slot seven? Pre/post fader that is.
2. My understanding is that the Brickwall and the standard limiter has the possibility to change the release, but with the brickwall there is no make up gain at all. And the brickwall has an detect intersample clipping which can be uesful.
3. Both maximizer and standard limiter has make up gain, but the maximizer does this automatically.
4. The maximizer has the possiblity to add a soft clip and, in the channels strip (only?) it also has the possibility to mix its effect, so if you want a limiting effect, make sure you put it to 100.

So, it seems like all the plugins have their own purpose. It is interesting how there is no plugin that can do all of it.
I have found that the Standard limiter is the most useful for mastering purposes and the most control (out of the three limiters). It also sounds the best in my mind since you can control the release. I often get bad distortion and strange artefacts on even very low reduction with the maximizer. We're talking around -2db. I also find that the optimize number on the maximizer to be quite arbitrary. I find it the least useful plugin and wonder about its purpose. Perhaps you guys can tell me.

Then there is the VST dynamics which is quite useful because you save inserts with this one. And it has soft clip and release control. It lacks make up gain in the limiter, but you can do that with the compressor which is included. It is probably the better plugin of them all for mastering. but is not in the strip (understandably)

In the end it just seems like steinberg has a bunch of disconncted plugins that are not so streamlined and thought out. Why not one plugin that does the job well? Actually, they mostly sound good, I just wonder about the many versions that are seemingly similar and all having one feature that the other does not. Why VST dynamics, three limiters AND the channel strip? It is rather confusing. And if you want dither you need another insert plugin as well with cubase since it is not included in any limiter. Steinberg has it yes, but you need another insert.

Ozone has been mentioned before. It is a fantastic plugin, but is very expensive and a total resource hog. It also does everything in one plugin that steinberg needs three or four to do.

My favorite limiter is L2 by Waves. It just sounds fantastic. It has dither included and there is no clipping/distortion within reasonable levels. But, I do think that you can do rather well with stock plugins if you know what you are doing. Does steinberg know what they are doing with these plugins? Could they include a better manual?

Still wanted to try steinberg and see what they can do. I really like the interface and I think most plugins are totally ok if you know what you are doing. I wish the manual would be a little more clear about them.
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Using cubase since the Atari 1040

Composer, Producer, Voice Coach/Talent
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xerix
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Re: Maximizer v. Limiter (v. Brickwall Limiter)?

Post by xerix » Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:20 am

limiters - limit everything to a threshold dB
maximisers - limit everything to a threshold dB then boost that signal to a second threshold

best way to think of it is like distortion: you lower the signal->then CRANK IT UP

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