Advice please: Maximizer vs. Brick Wall Limiter - which use?

Hi - Musically, when is it more likely that the Maximizer will help vs. the Brick Wall Limiter? I don’t have much experience with either (actually none with the Maximizer), but I’ve been using the BWL as the last plug in the chain to squeeze a few dB out at the end.

Thanks for any thoughts!

BWL soon struggles if you hit it too hard, maximiser is supposed to be your weapon in the loudness war, however many distribution systems now detect overly loud material and turn it down. If you produce modern pop or EDM, maximiser will give you a more contemporary sound. I find Ozone’s limiters hard to beat, even then I use sequential pairs of them which improves tranparency - to my ears anyway. There’s no right or wrong - use you ears and listen to your material on as many systems as possible.

Thanks, PeppaPig!

No EDM here, just Synth Piano with some other instruments thrown in, VSTi drums, VSTi Bass, and live vocals. Just trying to squeeze a little bit out, not make sausage. My BWL generally has 3-4 dB GR, and I’m happy enough with the sound. But that might be because I don’t know any better!

I’ll look at the Maximizer soon, I won’t use the “Contemporary” or new setting whatever it is called.


Find examples of music you want to compare to, look at the wave forms in an editor and compare them to yours, really maximised waves can look like a solid block! Try using more than one limiter or multiple instances of you favourite staging the limiting, this can massively reduce the damage heavy limiting can cause. BWL followed my Maximiser might be a good starting point for experimentation. Very sparse dynamic material is a notoriously poor candidate for heavy limiting.

I find material that has gentle compression on most tracks with a gentle compressor on the mixbus responds much better to heavy maximising without destroying the sound.

the Brickwall Limiter is mainly designed to limit short, high peaks. It can be used before a Compressor or Loudness Maximizer to take care of the high peaks, or, and that is probably the most common way to use it, and the end of the plug-in chain (before dithering of course) to work like a safe-guard for the set threshold.
It is not designed to work like a Loudness Maximizer.

That’s when the Maximizer comes into place. :slight_smile:


The brickwall is like a lawnmower, you want to shave off some peaks, but not all, occassionally clipping <2dB
A maximizer, increases loudness at a cost, it doesn’t go louder, it just blows everything up. Use it with caution as it will not sound as distorted a brickwall driven too hard, but it will mess with your mix and it won’t sound anything like it when driven to hard.

Best advice is to get your desired loudness BEFORE entering ANY limiter and let the limiter just deal with the occasional overs of a few dB

Brick Wall Limiter - essentially for limiting peaks in the signal and avoiding clipping. Can be set in a way which effects the peaks only and not the main body of the signal, but by controlling the peaks may also allow you to increase the level of the track to boost the main body of the signal a little.
Maximizer - for boosting RMS average and overall perceived loudness. Usually effects all parts of the signal. If overused will flatten out natural dynamics and squeeze the life out of your music.

Try out the new Modern algorithm in Maximizer, it is a lot better than the Classic algorithm IMHO
Much more subtle, at least on my latest country and blues projects. And I often use the BrickWall behind the Maximizer as it can get too hot too fast sometimes :wink:

Country and blues, that is along the lines of what I record, so that’s very interesting - I thought the Modern algo would have been more for EDM. Thanks for mentioning that! BTW, how much are you turning the Optimize dial?

I’ve been using the BWL, with the end result of getting a project LUFS of-15 dB (my target), and with a BWL gain reduction of no more than 2-3 dB. This is after a gentle bus comp.

I got to thinking that if I’ve already mixed things to the -15 LUFS I’m happy with, there is literally no role for the Maximizer at that point.

Is that the right way to think of it?

PS: I did try the Maximizer briefly on a project, 20% optimized and 100% “Mix”. It made it very noticeably louder, wow!

I mostly use Ozone, but I try to use the onboard plugins as much as possible.
I don’t remember when I last looked at a RMS meter, I have always some reference tracks to compare to.
I find them more confusing when mixing a sparsely instrumented ballad, and then a full on rock piece.
Personally I prefer to use my ears and get the perceived level as close to what I think is right, without adding to much distortion.
But we are talking mastering here more than anything else, the Maximizer can be great on vocals or anything really, that needs some fattening up.

Thanks, peakae. FWIW, I use the Cubase Control Room LUFS meter (not quite RMS, iirc, but similar) to aim for -15, which I believe is a cut-off for some streaming services (they will bring everything down to that before putting on line). Somehow my initial mixes wind up pretty close to there, with some peaks over -1 dBFS that I’m using the BWL to get rid of (rarely needing more than 2-3 dBFS of GR with the BWL). I am near the bottom of the mixing/mastering food chain, so my ears alone would not get me where I need to be yet.

My - that sounds interesting. I will have to look at that.

Thanks again!

Sometimes what I do is;
1/ get the mix as loud as I can with just brick wall limiter on master
2/ render it to -6dB, -9dB, -12dB and then import it back into cubase & playing around with maximizer
3/ render to mp3 and then compare waveforms/stereofield/frequencies of the versions. repeat step 1-3

If you do this long enough you can get it almost perfect. If you listen to songs like Skrillex - Bangarang or Knife Party - Boss Mode, often you realise less is more.