Cubase 9 pro limiters - let's go deeper

Hello all cubase-lovers. :smiley: I would really like to hear from you about your experiences and/or tips about the limiters included in cubase 9 pro. Yes, there are better 3rd party limiters but I really would like to learn about these and master them - I think it is worth the time.
I find that the documentation is severely lacking about these plugins. But I do think that these plugins do have potential if you compare the “price”, namely free with purchase of Cubase.
I have gotten very good results with them, (also bad) but I would like to know a little more why exactly. I do know how limiters work, but I am scratching my head a little with these, partially because there are three (4 sort of) of them, and some of the functions are not that clear either, even though I theoretically know what they do.

Limiters:

  • Brickwall: No makeup-gain. Intersample detect clipping (IDC).


  • Limiter: Make up gain and variable release. No IDC button."


  • Maximizer: Two modes, Automatic gain, softclip, Variable release, RECOVER, and a mix button. No IDC buttons


  • VST Dynamics: A set of plugins, including gate and compressor. Has softclip, no gain but level can be changed with the compressor, variable release, and no IDC button.

So, questions for both Steinberg and users:

  1. Which one do you use and for what?
  2. Do the other limiters have IDC even though there is no button for it? Do all the limiters “read ahead”?
  3. Why not have one limiter with ALL the functions, instead of 3 (eh,4)?
  4. Is the idea to work with several limiters to create a good track, if you need all the functions, i.e. gain and IDC?
  5. Why not include a dither in the limiters to save plugin-space?

Personally I always get the best result with the “standard limiter”. It is he most transparent in my mind, and creates the least artefacts (I am not talking about good ones). It obviously depends on the style of music. But what is the Maximizer really intended to do? How is it different, and what does the two modes really do besides adding two more buttons? Would be nice to know what is happening with the attack and release for example, etc.
I also find the maximizer the most destructive. It clips rather easily, and creates bad artefacts around 2-3 GR. Normally you don’t want more than than when putting it on the stereo-out, but I find most limiters do this better, handling more GR with little or no artefacts. On the maximizer it becomes obvious rather quickly.
Also, what is your experience with the recover button? I don’t really know what it is doing. I mean, it is “recovering” the “limiting” more when I turn the button to the right or left for example, and how is that different from release really? Is it like a variable “punch” button found on some limiters? I have not been able to “play around” enough to really get it.

I also find that I do way better with “classical mode” on the maximizer in terms of being transparent and GR than the “modern mode”. i.e. I get louder mixes without pumping and being obvious. But I think this is due to not really getting how it works. Again, I am sure music style matters. I generally write more acoustic sounding music and big orchestras. But when I write more electronic and commercial I find I get similar results - too much pumping, artefacts and less “maximazation” (lower volume) that is.

I like the idea of cubase being a fairly complete DAW without spending millions on 3rd party plugins. (well, I do spend millions on 3rd party Virtual Instruments…) And I love the integration of the plugins which speeds up workflow. I am also using 3rd party plugins. I also love the idea of getting the same results as someone who has spent over 2000 on a new fantastic limiter and compressor. Perhaps not totally possible, but near enough, and “good enough”.

Would love to hear what you have learned, what you know, and if there will be some updates about these plugins in the future. Especially explaining a little better what all these plugins do and what they are truly intended for. And integrating the limiters into fewer plugins would be good too.

Cheers!

In short, I feel the maximizer is most suitable for loudness. This and this alone is where I use it for, mostly on a post fader slot in my master FX chain. It works prettig good on electronic music in my experience. Bit sensitieve, as for my taste it can indeed be too much very easy.

IMO Maximizer and Brickwall Limiter are designed for different purposes. I’d agree Maximizer is about boosting signals to increase the loudness. So this is going to have an effect on the whole signal. The more you boost the more artifacts you are likely to get. In contrast, Brickwall Limiter is designed for limiting the peaks only without affecting the body of the signal. This process is more transparent.

Absolutely agree with you both. But what about the “standard limiter”. The brickwall does not boost signal, i.e does not increase loudness, whereas the standard limiter does and seemingly does the same as the maximizer.

So, I am more interested in the differences between the standard and the maximizer. Yes, the various options are obvious in terms of differences, but I still get better results with the standard limiter in the end, also in terms of loudness.

I guess if you want more pumping the maximizer is the way to go, but I figured a good limiter should be able to do both. Isn’t the maximizer capable of transparent boosting? Does someone know of a concrete example where one or the other would be a better choice? And does anyone have any good example of what the recover knob does, I mean beyond the theory of it.

Cheers!

Basically they are all one trick pony compressors… More theoretically, a good compressor plug should be able to come close to all the settings you get on a limiter, de-esser or maximizer

Sure, that is clear. Thanks for your answer. It is not that I wonder what a limiter or a maximizer does. This, I know :slight_smile:

I wonder what these plugins in steinberg really actually do and how they differ from each other. That is not clear. The manual is basically non-existent about them, and the features are not clear either. I mean, I see knobs, and I get what they do theoretically, but in reality I don’t see much improvement and usefulness from the new features. Can anyone explain recover well, for example and in what situation it is a good idea to use?

Virtually every other limiter I have tried on the market is easier and more obvious than these. At least there is a manual describing what the functions do.

Maybe these included plugins are crap? I don’t think so though. I just wanted to see if there is a way to understand how to work with them and how they differ from each other.

Ok, many one trick-ponies. I say scrap them all and create one plugin that does all tricks (featured already) well instead.

Cheers!

They’re separate plugins because they’re meant for separate things.

Brickwall Limiter is very aggressive. It’s meant for loud but short peaks, and it’s able to cut them very transparently. Definitely not intended for mix flattening. This is the only one with intersample clipping detection and adds 1ms delay to the project. You’ll primarily use this as one of the last inserts on the master bus or group tracks. Also useful when used offline to cut very loud but short peaks in single tracks.

The regular Limiter lets intersample peaks pass through, but it can be pushed much harder. Good on individual tracks and also works well with small group tracks.

The Maximizer’s Classic mode seems to behave slightly differently from the regular Limiter, but it’s basically an easier to use version of that plugin but with the option to use soft clipping. Modern mode behaves differently and is clearly aimed at pure loudness. The Recover knob changes the behavior of the release curve. At 0% it’s like a straight line downwards, but at 100% it looks more like a curved L. The higher the Recover %, the louder things can get.

The Classic mode behaves exactly like the old Maximizer.

Great answer. :smiley: Thank you! I do wonder how you found this information though… I have missed it. I do understand the difference between brickwall and regular limiter (and mximizer). And for me the maximizer is, as you said, an easier version of the limiter even though I don’t find it is that difficult to push the gain myself :wink:

For me the biggest mystery was the recover knob, and why I might use the maximizer intstead of the regular limiter in classic mode (modern is obviously different). Would be cool to know the difference between these two. I’m talking about results/sound, not if the plugin is easier to use or not.

But you answered really nicely. With this new information I will play some more with them and see if I can get a better grip of the plugin.

Cheers!

Is it my imagination or did Cubase ever come with a standard clipper as well?

I do not know of this? Perhaps in a older version?
What would a clipper do?

A clipper just “cuts” the peaks without an attack or release time. You can set the clipping treshhold and everything above will be cut. Most clipper plugins can smoth out the clipping behavior. GClip is a simple, good and free VST clipper. Try it out :slight_smile: https://www.kvraudio.com/product/gclip-by-gvst

With a clipper you can really push a signal without getting any pump effect because there is no attack and release. But a clipper adds more harmonics than a Limmiter. Sometimes I use a clipper for reducing peaks plus adding a bit distorion. For hard drum sounds for example.

Yes, sometimes a clipper can add some nasty odd harmonic if pressed too hard, that may be a good or bad thing depending on the clipper or the usage. May be great on a snare, bad on piano.

I have read that some people use very light clipping just for the few largest peaks, and have a limiter afterwards so it can be left to work more predictably.

OP. I would recommend Limiter 6. It is a free limiter, that has separate stages of limiting, compression, clipping, high frequency limiting - L/R, multiband, or mid side. It’s a good, flexible tool - and I believe they are updating it soo.