Maximizer, Apogee UV22HR, and possible clipping


I have a question about clipping during mastering, in Cubase 7.5 and in general.

Let’s say I have the Cubase Maximizer plug-in (or another limiter) on the main stereo output (pre-fader), and have the Apogee UV22HR on the same main output (but post-fader). The main stereo output fader is set to 0.0.
Let’s say I have “output” set to 0.0 inside the Maximizer, and I raise the “optimize” knob until the sound reaches the clipping limit (I think 0.0).
As far as I know the Apogee plug-in will add a kind of low-volume noise to the music. Since I have previously pushed the sound just under the clipping limit, is it possible that adding this low-volume noise could bring some clipping?
Or is it so much low-volume that it won’t have any such effect?
I was thinking if I should lower a little the “output” setting inside the Maximizer. Does it make any sense? Would lowering to -0.1 be enough?
Would lowering this setting (below 0.0) also have other benefits, perhaps it would reduce the possibility of distortion with cheap music players?

In any case would the meters of the main stereo output show if some clipping is occuring, even if the Apogee is post-fader? In other words, do the meters on the main stereo output show what is happening after everything, including the post-fader plug-ins?

Other questions, about your tastes:
What do you think about the “soft clip” option inside the Cubase Maximizer? Do you think it sounds good?
Do you like the Cubase Maximizer for raising a little the volume (no loudness wars), or do you think the bundled Cubase Limiter or other bundled plug-ins sound better?


What I do before inserting a Maximizer (I use the Waves L2 for this) is to make sure the peak level in the master never goes above -3 dB to give the plugin some room to work with. I usually set the output ceiling to -0.3 to be on the safe side.

I actually think the Cubase Maximizer does a pretty good job if you don’t overdo it. I believe I never went higher than about 30 % optimize. To check for possible clipping I use the excellent freeware SPAN plugin, btw.


How do you adjust the volume in the master, to stay under -3 dB?
Do you mean that you first mixdown a stereo file, and then apply the Maximizer/Limiter?
Do you put the Maximizer/Limiter pre-fader, or post-fader, on the main stereo output?

I would prefer to do the mastering within the main project, without first creating a stereo WAV file and then making the mastering on it. So I can always comfortably make adjustments in the mix.
How do you suggest to proceed to keep the peak level below -3 dB in the main project (without exporting a pre-master)? Perhaps I can put the Maximizer post-fader on the main stereo output, and adjust the fader? But I have been told (and have read) that the Maximizer or Limiter should be put pre-fader. Is this really important?
What do you think? Thanks.

I realized that the individual channels in the Cubase mixer (including the main stereo out) have an option for adjusting input gain.
Thus I think I could proceed like this, in order to do the mastering inside the main project mix (after the mix is ready):

(Of course I’m talking about configuring the main stereo out.)

  1. Put the Apogee dithering plug-in in post-fader position.
  2. Put the Cubase Maximizer plug-in at the last pre-fader position.
  3. Put any other mastering plug-ins as inserts before the Cubase Maximizer.
  4. Adjust the main stereo out input gain, while looking at the Cubase Maximizer input indicator; set the main stereo input gain so that the Maximizer input indicator shows peaks below -3 dB.

EDIT: Forgot to add… do you think this way is good?

Now some questions:

  1. If the peaks displayed inside the Maximizer’s input level meter are already below -3 dB, should I increase the main stereo out input gain in order to touch -3 dB? Or should I just turn the “optimize” knob (inside the Maximizer) a little more? In other words, is it OK if the signal fed to the Maximizer is below -3 dB (even a lot below)?
  2. What’s the benefit of leaving “some room to work” for the Maximizer plug-in? Will it sound better? I read (and watched) that usually a mix should have some headroom when submitting it for mastering, because this headroom is required for adding plug-ins (eq, compressors, etc.), but perhaps this is another matter.


Any maximiser on the output channel needs to be POST-fader otherwise you will defeat its purpose.

If you adjust a fader after a maximiser:

a) Increasing the level will force clipping.

b) Decreasing the level will force the maximum level to be below 0dB.

Then the dithering, if not included in the maximiser, needs to go after it.

If the maximiser includes dithering, as per iZotope’s Ozone, put it in the LAST post-fader slot (just to stop you being tempted!).


I meant to keep the stereo out fader on 0.00 dB. This way the sound volume should be unchanged on that fader (and there should be no clipping), right?

It seems there are different opinions regarding this, as I have read.
The advantage of having the maximizer in pre-fader position, would be to be able to make fader-rides (perhaps fade-outs with automation), without changing the character of sound.
The character of sound would get slightly changed when driving more or less (whith fader-rides) the maximizer in post-fader position (because the amount of compression/limiting would change when the input volume changes).
At least, this is more or less what I have read somewhere.
I’m still not sure what to do. Perhaps I should evaluate the different situations (when I need fader-rides or not), and see what to do in each single case?

Any other thoughts?

But then it limits your options as to how to optimise how much you drive the maximiser.

While you can use a plugin in any way you like, a maximiser’s job is to:
a) Increase the general level of the source material, and
b) Ensure the output NEVER exceeds a particular level.

You compromise both of those by having ANY fader after that.

I find fade-outs require a bit of tweaking anyway, so having a maximiser after the fader is just another of the many considerations that go into that process, and a minor one at that. It might change the slope of the fade out.

If you are worried about changing sound character, do NOT use compressors at all, but use automation on individual and output channels to precisely control the output. Particular dynamics controllers are chosen because they do change the sound character in desirable ways, and maximisers have a tendency to make tracks more ‘in your face’.