Maximus Controls & Options

NOTE: Click on the screenshot above to jump to the help for the selected control section.


Maximus takes the input signal, passes it through a variable high-pass filter and then splits the signal into three user-defined frequency bands. Each frequency band can be treated independently with either saturation, compression, limiting or band level (EQ). The bands are then recombined and sent to the Master compressor. The controls for Maximus are explained in detail below.

Compression Envelopes

There are 4 independent compression envelopes in Maximus, one for each of the three user-definable frequency bands and one for the Master band. It is important to note that the compression envelope interacts closely with the PRE & POST GAIN, ATT & REL controls.

Compression Envelopes Controls

If you are familiar with regular compressors you will notice that Maximus does not have a threshold level control. More flexibly, the compression threshold and curve are set by a user-definable envelope (see below). There are 4 independent envelopes, three are assigned to frequency bands - Low, Mid, and High, and one to a Master envelope on the final output of the plugin. Input levels are represented by the horizontal axis and output levels by the vertical axis.

In the example (above) the point at which the compression curve deviates from the 1:1 input/output line (45 degree line), is the point where compression starts (in this case approximately -3 dB). This is also an example of a 'Soft Knee' curve to a maximum output level of +3 dB.

Compression Envelope Options

Located along the bottom of the graph window, from left to right, are:

Compression Mapping Envelope Options Menu -

General Options

Options Menu - Contains some general options for Maximus:

Analysis Display

There are two display modes accessed by selecting the BANDS or MONITOR tabs to the lower right of the display area. When the BAND cutoff or level values are adjusted while the display is in MONITOR mode it will momentarily snap to BANDS mode while the adjustment is made.

The MONITOR display is a valuable analysis tool to observe how the various compression and envelope settings are interacting with the input / output sounds. The example above shows a kick drum being analysed with a long release setting on the compression envelope. NOTES: Many of the display options work in combination with the selected frequency band and only show data for that band. Clicking on the display area will Pause the display.

The BANDS display shows the LOW, MID and HIGH frequency bands. It is possible to adjust the band cutoff and band level by clicking on the boundaries between bands and dragging with the mouse. The band cut-offs are used to feed the LOW, MID and HIGH compression envelopes. The Output Spectrum display option is useful to determine what part of the frequency spectrum the input sounds occupy so that band cutoffs may be most accurately set.

Display Controls & Options

Show main input peaks - Display the main input level graph.

Show band input peaks - Displays the input level graphs for the Low, Mid and High frequency bands, depending on the band selected.

Show band output peaks - Displays the output level graphs for the Low, Mid and High frequency bands, depending on the band seleted.

Show band analysis envelope - Displays the envelope representing the analysis of the level for each band selected. In combination with the Input Peak display, shows how the input signal envelope is being tracked.

Show band gain envelope - Displays the gain envelope applied to the selected band (compression envelope).

Show all gain envelopes - Displays all the gain envelopes applied to the selected bands, color-coded for each band (Red = Low, Orange = Mid, Yellow = High, Green = Master. Apologies to the color-blind).

Show band level markers - Displays the Pre (Purple) and Post (Blue) levels set for the selected band.

Show output spectrogram - Displays a spectrographic analysis of the output frequencies. Only displayed when in BAND mode. Useful for selecting frequency band cut-offs.

Band Process Controls

The input signal is split into three bands, LOW, MID and HIGH before being passed to the MASTER stage. The controls in the light grey panel change to reflect independent settings for the selected band.

NOTE: The LMH band-split filter type can be set as IIR or Linear-phase, see the General Options menu. Set by ear depending on the material. Normally IIR will be OK, but if the low-end seems to have smeared transients, try Linear-phase.

Target Band Settings

Selecting these tabs allows independent control of the 3 frequency bands and the Master controls. The cutoff frequencies for the bands can be adjusted using the LOW and HIGH frequency knobs, or by dragging on the BAND display mode.

Mode Settings

A series of controls surrounding the target-band selection controls:

Stereo Enhancer

Gain Section

These knobs control the input and output levels for each band-compressor.

Saturator Section

The following controls will add saturation (valve/tape style 'overdriven' distortion) effects to the selected band. This is a subtle effect so don't expect the sort of sound you would get from a guitar distortion pedal.

NOTES & TIPS: Saturation (pleasing to some) is a type of amplitude distortion, usually associated with Valve / Tube Amplifiers, tape or analog circuitry. Generally, as a waveform exceeds the maximum amplitude that an analog system can carry, its shape is rounded or bent. This bending is a mild distortion that progressively increases as the input approaches the maximum (0 dB).

We suggest setting any band you wish to saturate to a hard-limiting envelope and allow the input to peak a little over 0 dB, then blend in some 'Soft-clip' from the saturator. Superb results can come from a combination of these two.

Envelope Section

The envelope controls affect the dynamics of the envelope response.

PEAK vs RMS NOTE: For the master band, a limiter (PEAK mode) is normally used. For the other bands, PEAK or RMS is used depending on the desired results. Most analog compressors work in RMS mode, however peak generally gives better results with complete mixes.

Band Frequency Controls

Low, Medium, High Look ahead Delay

NOTES: The LMH delay parameter determines how far ahead Maximus will look into the signal and is useful for allowing fast transients through then limiting. This parameter then relates to detected input signal levels for the compression envelopes. As a real-time level monitoring system can't know what level a signal was at AFTER it has happened. This means the compression envelope will react a few samples later. By seeing a few ms into the future compression/limiting can be timed perfectly to be at the right level for any given moment. As looking into the future is impossible we can move the whole audio stream into the past (delay it) so the algorithm is now looking at the present while the audio it needs to process in the past (buffer). When a LMH delay is set, Maximus will introduce a delay to the output equal to the look-ahead value so that inputs can be pre-analyzed. Using long look-ahead times on mixer tracks, other than the master, will require Plugin Delay Compensation (PDC). For the master band, the delay is the attack length. The total delay of Maximus is equal to the LMH delay + Master attack. For effective LMH channel limiting, the LMH delay must be equal to the longest attack of those channels. For compression, other settings are usable since some transients can be allowed to pass uncompressed.

Frequency Control Section

These controls set the Low-Medium and Medium-High band cut-offs.

Comparison Bank

In the bottom right corner you will find:

Arthur: I wonder what will happen if I press this button?

Ford: What happened?

Arthur: A sign lit up saying 'Please do not press this button again'.

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981)