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  • Question about Limiter on Master Bus

    I have all of my instrument tracks going to a master bus. None of the individual instrument tracks are clipping, but the output on the master bus is clipping. I can't seem to bring down the individual instruments enough to cause the master bus from clipping, without making the parts rediculously quiet.

    I applied a Waves L2 Maximizer to the mater bus and it made it so it wasn't clipping. I'm not sure if this is causing a bunch of distortion or what, if it is, it isn't bad because I don't really notice it.

    Would it be better to lower the volume of all of my instruments to a place where the master bus didn't clip, and then use the limiter to get the volume back up where it should be, or is what I'm already doing the way to go, or is that distorting the crap out of my stuff?

  • Which apllication are you using? If the application is rendering eveything internally at 32 bit simply lowering the master volume does the trick.

  • A limiter shouldn't cause instantaneous transitions in amplitude, and thus shoudn't (in theory) cause distortion. Lame answer, I know...


  • I am using Nuendo 3.2

  • What I tend to do is have a group track named Master Fader and route everything to that. Then I can do a bit of volume automation, if necessary. I also use a limiter on the output buss to take care of the odd potential clipping on a big hit.


  • bowserim, how much clipping are you getting? It's fine to use the L2 if it's only a few times during a piece, but you're going to hear its effect if you use it in place of setting the levels properly. (That can be good as an effect, but then it's controlled - different situation.)

    Furthermore, you should be able to lower all the faders a reasonable amount to avoid clipping without everything being way too quiet as you're describing. If not, chances are that something big and rumbly is eating up a lot of unnecessary VU. VSL's bass drums aren't overly boomy, but that would still be the first place to look. Find out what's causing the problem and reduce the boominess with a filter.

    You probably want to get to know the L2 by listening to its effects, which are easy to get in your ears if you start with exaggerated settings and back down to reality. I've found it to be good for 2-3dB of limiting/gain make-up before it becomes audible. Usually the auto-release setting makes it very transparent, but sometimes you want to set it manually on pop mixes.

  • Also, some people don't like to use limiters or compressors on the whole mix, but I've always found that the smoothness and especially added density is a good thing. I think it's best to insert both near the end, though, so you get a good overall sound first.

    In other words, mix then master.

  • I'd like to add to Nick's very true comments that there's a difference between compressors and limiters, at least from an aesthetical point of view.

    A compressor can be an important part of a proper balancing of all the single tracks of a mix (... I like to call it "The tracks 'work' with each other"). Usually, I begin to work with a compressor in my main-bus right after I found a good basic balance for a piece of music, and I come back to adjust its settings several times during my mix.

    A (brick-wall-)limiter is the final point of my main-bus processing-chain, ensuring that the mix will hit the master-output with healthy level, but without any overloads.

    ... of course the boarders are somewhat blurred, but I think it helps a lot to keep this basic differentiation in mind.

    /Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library