[Ardour-Users] Peak levels on master bus vs single track

Ralf Mardorf ralf.mardorf at alice-dsl.net
Thu Mar 2 15:13:40 PST 2017

On Thu, 2 Mar 2017 22:59:21 +0000, Will Godfrey wrote:
>On Thu, 2 Mar 2017 23:46:54 +0100
>Ralf Mardorf <ralf.mardorf at alice-dsl.net> wrote:
>> On Thu, 2 Mar 2017 23:22:50 +0100, Robin Gareus wrote:  
>> >On 03/02/2017 09:47 PM, Will Godfrey wrote:    
>> >> On Thu, 2 Mar 2017 21:39:12 +0100
>> >> Robin Gareus <robin at gareus.org> wrote:
>> >> 
>> >> <snip>
>> >>       
>> >>> You really want a limiter on the master-bus (not on individual
>> >>> tracks) As far as free software goes, I'd use swh's
>> >>> fast-lookahead-limiter.      
>> >> 
>> >> Hmm. Not always. I was once sent a track by a friend that had
>> >> horrendous ducking of the vocal due to the percussion track
>> >> triggering the limiter.     
>> >
>> >good point. It's not a general recommendation, but probably the
>> >correct one in the case that Alf mentioned.
>> >
>> >Yet if a percussion track can duck vocals due to a limiter on the
>> >master-bus, that percussions must have been well above the set limit
>> >(and actually pump the whole mix, not only vocals).    
>> Actually the whole mix could be just percussion + vocals ;).
>> However, if the limiter limits peaks of the percussion, it doesn't
>> affect vocals that don't cause peaks, too, since it doesn't compress
>> the signal. A limiter should never cause pumping. A limiter might
>> cause distortion, if it has to cut too much of the level.
>> A pumping alike impression could happen, if the limiter is used,
>> were a compressor should be used instead or in combination with a
>> limiter, assuming a parametric EQ is already used to get rid of a
>> possible frequency that is involved causing the peak, so it's better
>> done by the track and not by the main signal.  
>I probably used the wrong term! It was a female singer, guitarist and
>drummer. With hindsight, I suspect the limiter was turning the signal
>into mush and that was masking the singer. It didn't seem to have as
>much effect on the guitar, which was quite heavily fuzzed.
>This was a good few years ago, and they were using all analog kit. In
>fact, I think it pre-dates me getting my first synth, an SY22 :o

The point is, that sometimes we can't "repair" a mix anymore, but if we
have access to the individual tracks, than we have got more impact to
reduce the culprit, by radical EQ usage, by even too much limiter usage
and perhaps by adding a little bit of compression and all this without
affecting the mix as a whole, by just manipulating the individual tracks
of the mix. When using an EQ for the percussion track and another EQ for
the vocal track, it might be possible to separate the mush caused by the
limiter from the vocals. Manipulating individual tracks most of the
times allows to do more, than manipulating the sum.

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