MIXING & EFFECTS
The Fruity Limiter is a powerful single band Compressor (with sidechain), Limiter & Gate. To access the relevant limiter and compressor controls, switch between LIMIT and COMP tabs on the plugin interface (as shown below).
When to use: Fruity Limiter is ideal for maximizing & limiting complete mixes, compressing & limiting individual sounds or doing basic 'noise gate' duty. Closely related alternatives are Maximus (multiband compressor/limiter/maximizer), the Fruity Compressor, Fruity Multiband Compressor and Soundgoodizer.
There is a video series available - Compression & Limiting video tutorials.
Click on the following links to jump to the section of interest:
The signal flow goes from the input to the Compressor (COMP), Gain, Limiter (with integrated Noise Gate), Saturation (SAT) and finally to the plugin output.
NOTE: To use the Compressor or Limiter in isolation, turn the Limiter CEIL or Compressor THRESH to their maximum value respectively. In the case of the Limiter also set ATT to 0.
Compression is a form of automated gain control that reduces the dynamic range of sounds. When the input signal exceeds a predetermined threshold the rate of increase is slowed (or even stopped) beyond that point. The art of setting a compressor is mainly in fine-tuning the magnitude, speed and timing of the automated gain changes so that the compression process does not introduce artifacts. How can reducing the amplitude peaks make the sound seem louder? To understand this we need to consider the way our hearing interprets the start (attack) and body (sustain) portion of sounds. It transpires that the attack (first ~10 ms) is used mainly to form impressions of timbre, clarity, crispness and punch, while the sustain contributes most to the perception of loudness. The sustain is most important because loudness perception comes from an integration (averaging) of the preceding 600-1000 ms to any given moment. Attack transients (of very short duration) simply don't have as much weight (due to their short duration) as the sustain portion of the sound. Lowering the amplitude of the peak transients, frees up headroom to raise the gain of the sustained portions of the signal (after compression), it is this step that increases loudness. However, as we alluded to earlier, compression represents a trade-off between dynamics and loudness, welcome to the loudness wars!
Video tutorials: Compression video tutorials
These controls affect the input and compression thresholds for Fruity Limiter.
NOTE: For the compression stage to become active you must lower the THRESH (Threshold) below the input peaks and increase the RATIO and optionally KNEE controls.
NOTE: You don't need to be overly concerned about compressor transients peaking over 0 dB since the limiter section can catch these.
Limiting is a form of heavy compression (generally used to describe compression ratios greater than 10:1). The purpose is usually to 'limit' the output level to a set maximum level, usually 0 dB, to avoid clipping in a final mix down. The Limiter can be used to maximize the level of a track dramatically, without introducing noticeable distortion and so limiting is a favorite effect used in mastering. While louder often sounds better, we draw your attention to the excellent Wikipedia article on loudness wars!
NOTE: The limiter section can be effectively bypassed by turning the ceiling (CEIL) to max and attack (ATT) to minimum.
These controls affect the input and limit thresholds for Fruity Limiter.
NOTE: For the Limiter to work the input signal must exceed the limiter threshold (CEIL). Your options are to lower the CEIL level, increase the GAIN level or increase the signal level entering the plugin.
NOTE: In order to trap transient signals before they pass through the Limiter a look-ahead time greater than 0 is needed. If 0 latency is desired then you can set the limiter's attack to zero and then adjust the compressor's attack to achieve the same effect (or as close as possible).
The analysis display is a valuable analysis tool to observe how the various plugin settings interact with the input / output sounds. Click on the display to Pause the display.
Options - Displays plugin information.
Show input peaks - Display the input level graph.
Show output peaks - Display the output level graph. Where the input (purple) and output (green) peaks overlap the color is gray.
Show analysis & gain envelopes - Displays the analysis (blue) and gain (white) envelopes applied to the selected band (white = compression envelope).
Show level markers - Displays the GAIN (purple), CEIL (green) & THRESH (blue) level settings. In the default position the lines overlap at 0 dB and show as a single white line.
Speed - Scroll speed slider (up is faster, down is slower).
To PAUSE the display, click on the display area. Once paused, you can continue to change display modes to examine data of interest.
NOTE: The limiter works on peak levels and the compressor on RMS (average) levels. The blue signal trace is the RMS input signal.
These controls affect the gating function in Fruity Limiter.
NOTE: The Gate is useful to suppress the noise that sometimes becomes audible on the tail-end of heavily compressed sounds where high levels of make-up (post compression) gain are used. It can also be put to creative uses, such as the classic 'gated snare' sound. Place a long heavy reverb on a snare, then set the gate Gain to minimum, the Release high and the Threshold to open on the initial snare hit. Tune release length to match the BPM of the track.
In the bottom right corner of the plugin you will find:
Didier Dambrin: Plugin & Interface.
Frederic Vanmol: VST Port.
Laurent de Soras: Saturation algorithm.
Robert Bristow-Johnson: Filter algorithm.
Thanks to: The music-dsp mailing list.