Compressor vs limiter vs soft clipper
Ok, I am (rather, have been) having a lot of issues with trying to remix and choosing having a limiter/compressor/or soft clipper on my master (I really dislike volume/dynamic attenuation tools on any others unless I can't get by without them.
When I first started my sequencer music project (I use fl studio) I originally had no clue how to handle peak volume Etc so I used the soft clipper.
Ironically that gave what i was looking for; headroom and tonal transparency (I like bright/loud sounds.)
I switched versions one day and saw they were putting limiter in master. Originally I thought it was nice but realized it created real issues regarding clarity, balance, and brightness. I want to clean up my sound but also retain the "heavy" bright clear, impacted sounds that gave my tunes life.
What can you guys recommend for a virtual producer like me?
I am far from the final authority or even close to an expert on this, but I do record pretty frequently in my home studio and can probably share some of my experiences with this.
Compression is probably the most complex out of those three options. If you know how to use it correctly or know what settings work best for you, it can be an immensely powerful tool. I am getting better with the compressor plug-ins I have for Reaper, but it's definitely a tweaking and gradual process. With the right settings it can give your bass a lot of thump and sustain, with the wrong settings it can sound super squished and farty.
I typically like the sound you are talking about when I'm using my strat (sorry to bring the guitard material in here!) for recording. I like the jangly, metallic sound of the bridge pickup and want to maintain that without giving people haircuts when they listen to my stuff. One of the guys on here wrote an awesome article on using compression correctly (I can't for the life of me remember his name, it might be FDeck), so I would give that a read for sure. Most of the studio guys use compression, so I'd assume it's a good option in most cases. GL man! Recording is a blast! :bassist:
The default limiter makes things sound overly bland and hard to get really even balancing. It's almost impossible to get a good clear kick and snare going. Soft clipper ironically was the best when I first started but I'm changing lol.
I found this tho, it might be good for a read
My solution for the pop/rock stuff that comes my way is to compress instruments that need it by a few db's, but not squash them into pancakes. I'll then knock a few more db's off on the 2buss with a gentle multiband compressor. When I'm done with the mix it will have peaks anywhere from -18dbfs for dynamic material, to -6dbfs for loud material. That's what I've found to be an ideal range for mastering engineers I work, and what I prefer when I master in-house.
I'll only throw a limiter on the 2buss if I need to send a demo mix to a client, and don't want then to come back with comments like "It's not as loud as I'd hoped."
At the mastering stage, I'll commonly use a corrective EQ feeding a saturation stage, which goes into a multiband compression stage, followed by a color EQ stage, which then hits a limiting stage (to make it loud enough for the client), and finally to a dithering stage.
That's what works for me. Use what works well for your mixes, and don't sweat it. If your soft clipping solution gets you the results you want, go for it.
Meh I should experiment when I'm actually at home
A soft clip device or plugin will do it's thing by clipping, and therefore distorting the waveform. There's the source of the fuzziness. Any form of single band processing will have the most emphasis on the low end because it tends to have the most energy. There's the source of the low end being more heavily affected.
You could try a multiband solution to strike more of a balance between the different frequency ranges that are being compressed, saturated, limited, etc. you could also adjust the EQ going into the circuit, or try to compensate for it afterwards.
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