compressor, maximiser, limiter ??

While learning to set up a simple ‘mastering’ chain, their seems a common suggested use of compressor, maximiser & limiter in the chain. *‘mastering’ term used very loosely!

Question - aren’t maximisers and limiters essentially just compressors, or is there something unique that they otherwise do or achieve, or how they achieve what they do different?

Maximisers & limiters use a maximum output or threshold setting, but do they function more as a ‘squashing’ of the sound or as a peak limiter?

While on the lower end of the learning curve with ‘mastering’ (first song actually), I’m finding a bit of compression pump sneaking in to the mix and it kinda feels/sounds due to the maximiser/limiter. Still lots to learn I admit!

One last question - should I use the Cubase 7 supplied ‘brickwall limiter’ or ‘limiter’ vst? Not sure which is better!

A limiter and a compressor are essentially the same thing. The primary different is that the amount of compression at the threshold amount is set to infinite in a limiter.

A maximizer is different, however, in that it treats the frequency bands differently while keeping the RMS “loudness” at a certain peak amount. At least this is how I’ve understood it, and I’ll readily admit that I don’t have as good of an understanding of maximizers as I’d like to have.

Not neccesarily. There are multi-band maximizers there, of course, but basically maximizer is a limiter which is optimized for loudness maximizing work:

  1. User interface is designed for this purpose
  2. Limiting algorithm may be different: look-ahead peak detection etc.


Always great to learn new stuff!

And, on top of that, certain maximizers add harmonic distortion to achieve a higher perceived loudness.

Of course. Traditionally generated by “soft-knee-limiting” (part of my “etc” category of limiting algorithm). Maybe today they have more sophisticated techniques … don’t know about those … my university studies on DSP dates back 15+ years ago and the last time I seriously tried to analyze behaviour of different maximizers was around 2001.

A lot of what I wrote about is also published by the plugin manufacturer. Have a look at slate and uaudio plugins. Pretty cool how how the algorithms add harmonic content based on what is being fed through them.

Thanks for the tip! I never thought manufacturers would release this kind of information. Thougt it’s their secret stuff.