Brickwall Limiter no output level control?

I never paid attention before, but the brickwall limiter in the channel strip (or plug in) has no output level control.
so much for level matching…

The purpose of that plugin I think is to simply brickwall limit levels mostly for safety and you don’t need makeup gain for that. It’s not a plugin to make things louder or whatever.

So no need to “level match”.

1 Like

hi Mattias, thanks for your input
I’m not so sure I agree, even if safety is the issue, there is still an input which is adjustable, its not a one setting only thing, and if that input is adjusted for any reason then the level is also affected. Obviously how you use it or how I use it may be different,

I don’t see an input level adjustment. What are you referring to?

not an actual input knob, I’m referring to the threshold adjustment. The input I’m referring to is the actual level of gain reduction that is affected by lowering the threshold to any varied amount. One could say the threshold should be this level or that level, I’m not looking to split hairs on the subject, I’m just used to being able to make my own level adjustment to any plugin that changes or affects my initial level, real, potential, or imagined…

I think the better way of thinking about it in this particular plugin is that the “threshold” triggers the point at which limiting roughly begins, but since it’s brickwall limiting there is nothing above that point. So rather than working like a threshold on a compressor it’s more like an absolute ceiling. Hence no need for that makeup gain.

Perhaps it should have been called “ceiling” rather than “threshold”. To me it’s implied, but I can see how others may not see it that way.

PS: “Brickwall Limiter ensures that the output level never exceeds a set limit.” is what the manual says, so clearly having makeup gain available would defeat the intended purpose of the plugin.

1 Like

Nothing more to say…

1 Like

Well, in usual use cases you don’t need output gain for these but like Waves L1/L2/L3/Ozone/etc. brickwall limters can have output gain and is sometimes useful. Sometimes I use them on tracks to reduce transients and spikes and in that use case, I want to reduce the output gain to match the loudness i.e. bypassing the effect don’t make too much volume change.

Though this plugin is designed as is, surely limits what it can be used for however it is totally legit.

Sure, if you shove a hot signal into it, ‘hot’ relative to threshold, then you might end up increasing loudness and then you might want to back off the output to match.

If that’s how a user wants to use the brickwall limiter then it’s not the right tool for the job, as opposed to the L1 and others that are actual loudness maximizers

1 Like

:open_mouth: What’s the difference between “Loudness Maximizers” and “Brickwall Limiter”? Can you define it? :slight_smile:

A maximizer is intended to maximize loudness. It might technically be a limiter that’s been adapted to achieve that goal, but it’s still intended to maximize loudness. As far as I recall limiters that are intended to function as maximizers actually allow true peak levels to rise above threshold.

The brickwall limiter is intended to set a hard limit of absolute peak level (either sample peak or true peak, typically).

If I have a hypothetical limiter that acts as a maximizer with an input/threshold and an output, and I set the output to -1dBFS, and then start lowering the threshold to where it starts limiting the signal, then the loudness might increase. So with that input/threshold set to for example -14dBFS the loudness might have increased by several LU “despite” the output/“limit” being set to -3dBFS. So in order to keep the loudness the same I now have to lower the output control to compensate, which in turn turns the peaks down (which can be fine of course). It just looks ‘odd’ because the output no longer functions meaningfully as an absolute ceiling relative to Full Scale, it’s more of an output level control to adjust to increased loudness.

Now, if I’m mastering music and want to make things really loud then this isn’t a problem at all. I can leave the output at -1dBFS (or whatever) as I pull down the threshold to make it louder and everything works as intended. Making it louder is the goal and I want peaks close to full scale. But if I want to use the loudness maximizer as a brickwall it’s a bit… odd. Pushing levels harder into that limiter also then increases loudness by design, which isn’t necessarily what we want, at least not in post-production (sound-to-picture).

1 Like

To me, the difference is just the names. Before L1, there was no such term as “maximizer” or “loudness maximizer”. Those terms are just product names. In fact, if you go to waves site and look for L1/L2/etc., they are also advertised as “Brickwall Limiter”.
“Brickwall Limiter” is an older term, the wording was already there in 80s, which means a limiter that does not output more than a given level, like a brick wall.
In addition, “Limiter” is just a name for compressors which has a high ratio traditionally above 1:20, and fast attack often in micro seconds range, namely UREI1176 was commonly called by the term than compressor only because it has such parameter sets. IIRC it was called a limiting amplifier, that’s a product name, and this is perhaps where the term came from.

All do exactly the same job, reduce signal level above threshold. The difference is the parameters, 1:20, 1:inifinity, look ahead functionality in the digital domain (invented for L1), ways to modify signal above threshold in the frequency domain, program dependant behaviour, the existence of threshold parameter, attack, release, etc.
But they are all the same processors, just reduce signal above the threshold, that’s all. And this plugin has no output gain. It’s perfectly OK, but it sure limits the usage.

Not as far as I can see, but perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place.

I understand the larger point you’re making, but the naming implies usage, and since they have different controls usage will be different - not to mention because they likely aren’t coded the same way either (in other words the same settings on an L1 won’t give you the same results as on the Steinberg plugin we’re talking about).

Right, so they don’t actually just do the same one job above threshold because some do more than that, and additionally Steinberg’s does not “just reduce signal above the threshold”, it sets maximum peak to the threshold value. In a sense it reduces signal “to” threshold instead of “above”.

Of course we can call that semantics or we can decide to talk about some unknown threshold the Steinberg plugin actually uses, but from a user perspective the threshold in the Steinberg Brickwall Limiter isn’t really a treshold the way you see it in the L1 for example, it’s more of a ceiling above which you shouldn’t get either sample or true peaks.

But whatever, all I’m trying to say is that the name of the plugin indicates what it’s intended to be used for, the description indicates what it’s intended to be used for, and the available controls to use it that way are available. The only thing I think maybe could have been different is that “threshold” perhaps should have been called “ceiling” or something.

1 Like

For the record, this discussion is kind’a pointless. If a user wants a limiter with an output level control then there’s this:

And if a user wants a limiter to maximize level then there’s this:

Why add an output control to the Brickwall Limiter when the other two already exist?

1 Like

I am not asking that. I am only saying there is no reason it does not have the output gain. And again it is totally right to design it without the output gain but it’s designed that way so be it.

They all do more than that, but “Maximizer”, “Loudness Maximizer” or “Brickwall Limiter” does not define what they do. They are just terminology for sales/marketing.


Hi Mattias,
Just came across a perfect example where I use L1 to remove a peak from an EP track.
It had mid-frequency very short spikes on the attack which didn’t sound hard at all so I originally left it as is but the peaks were causing little crackles in the following dynamics processors in the master. In these cases, I usually insert an L1, set the threshold and gain to remove only the peaks and rest untouched, it’s very useful, sounds quite natural and maybe the only case I still use L1 these days. As soon as I did this, I remembered this thread. :slight_smile: If you could bring down the output gain on the brickwall limiter, the plugin could be used for this purpose. (Though, again I am not asking, I’m happy with what I have. :slight_smile: ).

1 Like

But you still can though. If all you want to do is limit the output peaks then just lower what is called “threshold” until you’ve done that.

And if you really want separate controls then why not just use the regular limiter or maximizer plugins that I showed above?

Yeah, you are right. I just tried it and realized if I set it to -8.0dB, it does the same thing as the L1 case.

And I tried these, too. With the maximiser it was a bit difficult because it is not designed to match the input gain and output.

So in the end, what you said was right. This processor don’t need output gain. :smiley:

Interestingly, none of these 3 processors could remove the crackles from the EP track. They sure limited those peaks but somehow, L1 was the only one could remove that completely. Not saying which is worse/better but for this purpose, L1 was the right choice (didn’t try any other 3rd party ones).

Besides, referring to the terminology, I found these at the top of the L1 manual;

The Waves L1-Ultramaximizer is a sophisticated audio-processing toolkit that combines an advanced peak limiter, a level maximizer, and a high-performance re-quantizer …

and then a few paragraphs later,

… it is very highly recommended that the L1 is placed at the end of the processing chain. Failure to observe this will not prevent L1 from working, but you should be aware that the absolute brickwall limiting AND the benefits of IDR re-quantization will be compromised and will need re-limiting to maintain the original level.

So it’s like they are using the term “brickwall limiting” as a function, and calling this processor a peak limiter and a maximizer.
As said earlier, no matter what parameter sets these has, to me these are all same thing, a compressor with an infinite ratio with negative attack time (look ahead), and often with auto gain. If you draw a compression curve of any of these plugins, they will look all same/similar depending on the knee. The ‘threshold’ of such a processor could be controlling output gain, too (like in L1. It adds the same amount of gain as the threshold, at inifinity ratio, auto gain perfectly matches the threshold.), and/or the parameter could be shown negative or positive. They do look different in the GUI but, all they do is multiply a number less than 1 to a value above a given point, with envelope characteristics. These terms come from a marketing point of view, not from how they work. You cannot define them from functions.

A limiter is a compressor with very high ratio, but negative attack times are not possible.
The look ahead feature doesn’t mean the attack time is negative. It just means the detection is happening before the processing and not at the same time.
The attack is the time the gain regulation takes to go to max gain reduction.

The threshold is the point the processing starts. What is happening with the makeup gain, could be different from implementation to implementation.
But the threshold doesn’t control the makeup gain. This is mostly done by an extra algorithm, taking the gain reduction into account.

That is b…t.

Yes and no. The marketing is playing with these terms and makes often misleading statements.
But the terms do have a meaning.