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volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?

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Julie Turner
volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Apr 24, 2019 at 7:52:25 am

So I'm learning about the limiter, realizing it can automate some of what I was doing by hand, and this leads me to a question.

Given some dialog audio that is too soft, is there any effective difference between these two scenarios:

1. Raise volume (ctrl-+) somewhat (say +5dB) on a group of clips inside a compound clip, then finish off volume increase w/ limiter

vs

2. Only use the limiter on the compound clip to get the output volume to the same dB level

? If I understand correctly, #1 will indiscreetly amplify everything up to a point, and then use the limiter to keep increasing the lower volume material while ensuring any peaks never go too high. While #2 effectively does the same thing ... it just uses the limiter to do both steps in one? Is that correct?

In case you wondered why I care ... I have a ton of clips where I have already made volume adjustments similar to #1. In fact, I went through and used to keyframes to knock down any peaks that emerged from my overall volume raising on the compound clip. So it seems to me this is all pretty similar ... and in fact it does sound pretty similar. But I wanted to check w/ you all.

Thanks!


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Oliver Peters
Re: volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Apr 24, 2019 at 7:38:15 pm

I would discourage you from using a limiter to basically create the mix for you. You really need to ride these levels on a clip-by-clip basis to get a solid overall mix. Then you can compound the clip and treat role-based audio lanes in the same way as submix tracks in a DAW.

For VO and dialogue levels I prefer two third-party (Waves) filters - MV2 and Vocal Rider. The first one is a low and high compressor. The second actually "rides" levels within your min and max settings. The results are slightly different and one may sound better than the other based on conditions. Then at the top level, you can still apply a limiter in the same way as a master track in a DAW. Hope that helps.

Be careful of final mix level, because there are different specs for different deliverables. For instance, loudness (CALM Act) specs for broadcast.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Brett Sherman
Re: volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Apr 25, 2019 at 2:19:37 am
Last Edited By Brett Sherman on Apr 25, 2019 at 2:21:35 am

I agree with Oliver, a limiter is not really designed to be used in this fashion. And often times you can hear the pumping when it engages. A compressor is more useful in this scenario. Adding a little compression can even out the dips and peaks, but ideally you'll use both a compressor and some manual leveling. Then on the output you put a limiter on to reign in the peaks. As with all compression it will boost noise also, so you need a pretty clean audio track. And too much compression actually reduces intelligibility, so you have to be careful not to overdo it.

By far the best value for Compressors is Klanghelm. The MJUC Jr. is free. And the MJUC doesn't cost much. I use the Mk3 MJUC with about 6db of compression and around 4db of makeup gain.

I'm sure VocalRider is a good option, it was overly pricey at $249. But now it seems to be $89. So I might actually look into it.

And for monitoring levels the Youlean Meters are great and free for the basic version!


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Oliver Peters
Re: volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Apr 25, 2019 at 12:19:51 pm

[Brett Sherman] "I'm sure VocalRider is a good option, it was overly pricey at $249. But now it seems to be $89. So I might actually look into it."

FYI - Waves will often run monthly specials (drastically reduced price) on different ones of their portfolio of plug-ins. So just keep an eye out for these if you are interested and you might get a good deal.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Brett Sherman
Re: volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Apr 25, 2019 at 2:45:37 pm

Does VocalRider work well as an FCP X plug-in?


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Oliver Peters
Re: volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:00:00 pm

Yes, the Waves plug-ins install as standard VST and AU, so they appear and work in all Adobe and Apple apps without issue.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Brett Sherman
Re: volume adjustment + limiter vs. limiter only — any effective difference?
on Jun 14, 2019 at 4:53:19 pm

I just bought the VocalRider plug-in. It's a remarkable deal right now at $29! It's first heavily discounted and then half off for a limited time.

I can confirm it works well in FCP X. (Not all plug-ins do)


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