WHAT IS AN AUDIO MAXIMIZER?
A Maximizer is an audio effect that increases the loudness of your track without distorting it. It does this by reducing the dynamic range, which is the difference between the loudest and softest parts of your track. In this way, maximizers are similar to limiters or soft clippers, although there are some important distinctions we will clarify later on. All of these tools are valuable tools you should learn to create a warm, rounded final mix with maximum polish.
Maximizers can be used to make your tracks sound louder and fuller, without adding any unwanted distortion. They can also be used to add punch and excitement to your tracks.
IS A MAXIMIZER JUST A MASTERING LIMITER?
No, a Maximizer is not the same as a Limiter. A Limiter is an audio effect that prevents your track from getting any louder. This can be useful if you want to prevent your track from clipping (distorting) the digital signal.
However, a Limiter will also reduce the dynamic range of your track. So, if you want more loudness without reducing the dynamic range, then you should use a Maximizer.
The primary distinction between compressors and limits is the character they add to sound. Compressors tend to be more nuanced, while limiters are more aggressive. Some compressors can also be used as both a compressor and limiter, but they cannot be used interchangeably. Engineers often use limits and compressors to reduce noise levels.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOFT CLIPPING AND MAXIMIZERS?
Just like the subtle difference between maximizers and limiters, there is a bit of nuance between what it means to “maximize” vs. what it means to “soft clip.” Both Maximizers and soft clipping will increase the loudness of your track without distorting it. However, there is a subtle difference between the two.
If you want a more natural sounding increase in loudness, then gently round off the peaks of your signal with soft clipping. If you would prefer a more aggressive sound, use a Maximizer to compress the entire signal.
These tools are often used on the same piece of audio material to reach a user defined LUFS target, usually about -6 to -5 for an electronic dance music track.
HOW DOES A MAXIMIZER WORK?
A Maximizer works by reducing the dynamic range of your track. Dynamic range is the difference between the loudest and softest parts of your track. By reducing the dynamic range, the Maximizer increases the perceived loudness of the audio signal — making your track sound louder and fuller, without adding any unwanted distortion.
There are two main types of Maximizers: peak clipping and RMS compression. Peak clipping is the more common type of Maximizer, and it works by shaving off the peaks of your track’s waveform. Gain reduction is applied to the loudest sound waves, making the quieter sound waves feel louder by comparison. This gives your track a “pushed” sound that can add excitement and energy. Going too far or too aggressive with a limiter will begin to distort the audio signal at worst, and before then begin to add some undesirable color to the input signal. This is sometimes called “brick wall limiting,” and outdated limiters such was the Waves L2 are often referred to as a “brick wall limiter.”
RMS compression is less common, but it works by compressing the entire waveform evenly. This gives your track a more “polished” sound that can make it sound fuller and beefier. RMS offers a more transparent limiting process, ensuring maximum loudness by avoiding some of the coloration from brick wall limiters.
IS A MAXIMIZER A COMPRESSOR?
Generally, compressors are not used for loudspeaker increases. It is also available for other functions, including defining transients that control variable Peaks or simply affecting dynamics. It has a function for boosting sound.
Maximizers are more commonly used for loudspeaker increases than compressors. This is because compressors can add unwanted distortion to your track, whereas Maximizers will not. In addition, Maximizers are specifically designed to increase the loudness of your track, whereas compressors can be used for a variety of different purposes.
WHERE SHOULD I PLACE A MAXIMIZER ON MY SIGNAL CHAIN?
A good rule of thumb is to place your Maximizer after your EQ and before your Limiter. This will give you the most control over how much gain you’re adding to your track, and it will help you avoid any unwanted distortion.
If you’re using a DAW (digital audio workstation), then you should insert your Maximizer on your master channel. This will allow you to process your entire mix with the Maximizer, rather than having to process each individual track separately.
What is the Best Way to Use a Maximizer?
As with any audio effect, there is no one “best” way to use a Maximizer. It all depends on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your track. However, there are a few general tips that can help you get the most out of your Maximizer.
First, start with a light touch. It’s always better to add more gain later on than to overdo it from the start. Second, make sure you’re using a high-quality Maximizer. There are a lot of bad Maximizers out there, so it’s important to find one that sounds good. Third, experiment with different settings and see what sounds best for your track. There is no magic formula for using a Maximizer, so it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.
WHAT IS A GOOD LIMITER SETTING?
In a good master, it’s not important that the limiters work so it is ideal the maximum gain reducer for the limiters should be 1.5 dB. If you are looking for a higher ceiling, it is best to use two limiting processes in series with one another. Two limiters working together can be more effective than just increasing the threshold for one limiter. If you desire an even louder sound, try using a Maximizer in addition to your Limiter. A Maximizer will amplify your track’s volume without anyintroducing distortion, making it the perfect tool for achieving maximum loudness.
In the mastering process, it is key to use limiters judiciously in order to find the equilibrium of settings that work for your track. If you are doubtful of where to begin, try using a limiter with a low threshold and tall ratio. From there, you can test out disparate settings until you uncover what sounds best for your track.
WHAT SHOULD I SET M CEILING LIMITER TO?
Ceilings. The ceiling specifies the minimum value of output from the limit. In master chains the value is usually set to 0 or -0.1 db to prevent clipping.
TOP 6 LIMITER & MAXIMIZER PLUGINS FOR 2022
There are a lot of good Maximizers out there, but here are a few that we recommend:
Waves Maxx Volume
This Maximizer is easy to use and sounds great. It’s perfect for beginners who want to add a little extra loudness to their track.
FL Studio Soundgoodizer
This is a common tool in maximizing EDM records, even from engineers who do not produce using FL studio. If you’re not an FL Studio user, the closest VST plugin to achieve the same result would be Dada Life’s Sausage Fattener.
This is a more advanced Maximizer that offers a lot of features and control. It’s perfect for those who want complete control over their track’s loudness.
OXFORD INFLATOR BY SONNOX
Sonnox is aiming to make limiting easier for its customers through an elegant but powerful Oxford Inflator. A quick glance at the interface will tell you all your needs. You can control inputs, effects curves and outputs. And it is the only way you can get the best possible results. Oxford Inflators have the advantage of increasing the sound level of any recording without altering the quality or dynamics. When you drive your car hard, the engine responds to it as though the tube has a tube like warmth to connect it to a track. See this short video to see how Oxford Inflators can improve your mixing sound.
This is another advanced Maximizer that sounds fantastic. It’s perfect for those who want to add a lot of loudness to their track without adding any distortion, particularly due to the “oversampling” feature. This feature allows you take more accurate snapshots of the waveform and capitalize on each and every decibel of loudness possible. The FabFilter Pro-L has one of the highest oversampling targets on the market, 32x — in a world where 16x oversampling has been rare for years, this makes it possibly the most transparent limiter on the market today.
Colors have the power to affect mixes. Sometimes mixing has something else to do, and having the proper sound for these situations is crucial. The Massay L2007 features an excellent limitation mode with four modes for this sound. Although L 2007 does lack controls like some other limiter plugins it does offer a simple user interface as well as some useful tone shaping abilities. Control is simple, thresholds and outputs are sorted in a simple manner. Outside of these controls, two knobs are also available for setting and release modes. These four modes affect the L2007s detection of input data.
Transparency is important for certain projects. Not only will the mixing show through but it also gives you a clean and consistent outcome. Introduce the PSP-Xenon, a limiting software product aimed primarily at users who need to be transparent with their limiting settings. In order to achieve this clarity the system can process 64 bit data and 192kHz sample rates across a separate signal path. It is an excellent limiter, offering users a variety of transient detection modes. The mode set determines the speed of attack on a first limiter determining the amount of passing transients on the upcoming second stage.
WAVES L3-LL MULTI-MAXIMIZER
Building upon the successful L series plugins, Waves decided to up the ante with its new L3LL plugin. The limiter is available with 5 bands each, to control precisely which frequencies can be restricted. In contrast to other multiband limiting devices the L3-LL has just a limiter instead of five individually limited. Waves achieves this by utilizing its proprietary PLMixers to calculate how much gain loss applies to each band. L-3L can also be used as a master EQ by using the priority settings for each band, helping to determine how your plugin influences your mixes.
No matter what your needs are, there is a Maximizer out there that will work for you. So don’t be afraid to experiment and find the one that sounds best for your track.
Brainworx bx_limiter (click here) has been developed specifically to control the speed of master chains, mix buses and individual tracks. From super-transparent master limits to beautiful saturations and compression, this tool is available across multiple DAWs. This BrainWorx bx_ limiter supports Mac OS and Windows and can be ordered in native AAX AudioSuite, AU and VST formats. Brainworx developed the plugin for use on a multitude of mixes buses and to bind them before the master circuits.
WHAT I SHOULD LOOK FOR IN A LIMITER VST PLUGIN?
It is likely that your DAW uses standard compressors/limiter components. It might work well on demos, sketches or samples, but chances are that it won’t cut it when releasing a completed song. The best limiter is able to enhance the sound quality of the track while also adding analog colors when desired. Depending on what your desire the limits will be much greater than that. It is therefore wise to buy an effective limiter that you trust. However, limits are not complicated. The compressors have a special control system that allows the user to fine tune them.
GO FORTH, REBEL ARTIST.
If you’re looking for a way to make your tracks sound louder and fuller without adding any unwanted distortion, then a Maximizer is the perfect solution. Just be sure to place it after your EQ and before your Limiter in your signal chain, and you’ll be on your way to beefier sounding mixes in no time