Automatic db limiter?

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bharrower
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Automatic db limiter?

Post by bharrower » Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:47 am

Hi

Apologies if this is a stupid question but when DJing with ableton is there a way of maintaining a limit on the db level for each of the tracks automatically?

My problem is that I have noticed some of the mp3s I use are at different levels. When I bring them in to ableton I have to watch the levels are not drastically different when I use them live.

I understand that you can manually set each track volume and save it but wondered if there was anything which could automatically do this when I'm playing live?

Cheers

B

ollyb303
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Post by ollyb303 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:15 pm

What you need, my friend, is what's known as a "Limiter".

The built in compressor in Live has a limiter preset or there are some good free VSTs out there.

The Kjaerhus Classic Master Limiter is pretty good (and free) you can get it HERE

edit: Stick it on the Master, not one on each track!
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bharrower
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Post by bharrower » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:23 pm

You are my new best friend.
Is it reliable? Is it heavy on the cpu? Is it likely to cause drop outs when I'm playing live?
B.

bharrower
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Post by bharrower » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:49 pm

Is that limiter only available for pc?
B.

Trypset
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Post by Trypset » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:22 pm

does this (putting a brickwall limiter) on the master degrade the sound quality on big systems?
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ollyb303
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Post by ollyb303 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:51 pm

bharrower wrote:Is that limiter only available for pc?
B.
Sorry, yes that one is only for Windows. Are you on a Mac?

Obviously the Limiter preset in Live's built in compressor is still available on a Mac.

There are lots of limiters out there that are Mac compatible, some are free even.

A quick search over at KVR throws up These alternatives. I've not used most of them, but the top one looks like it might be ok(?)
Trypset wrote:does this (putting a brickwall limiter) on the master degrade the sound quality on big systems?
Using a limiter is always going to change the dynamics of your audio. Whether you hear this as a degradation of quality is down to your ears. Use compression/limiting as sparingly as you can to acheive the desired result. Too much will not sound good.
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Da hand
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Post by Da hand » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:18 pm

Placing a limiter will do absolutely nothing to equalise the volume levels of your tracks!

All it will do is compress the peaks of the louder tracks, but the overall volume (RMS) of each track will remain unchanged. Therefore, your louder tracks will still sound louder, but now will have a worse sound quality depending on how much you are limiting them.

To equalise the volumes of the tracks you will need to adjust their overall volume - not just the peaks. When DJing on a hardware mixer, that is what the input gain knobs are for. On Ableton, as you stated, you can do this with the clip or track volumes. Normally, this adjusting of levels is part of the preparation process of your clips or you adjust it live when preparing to mix in a song.

If you want this to be done automatically, you will need to find something that measures the RMS levels of each track and then adjusts the volumes accordingly. Even then, some tracks will appear to have different volumes depending on their frequency content.

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Post by ollyb303 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:36 pm

Da hand wrote:Placing a limiter will do absolutely nothing to equalise the volume levels of your tracks!

All it will do is compress the peaks of the louder tracks, but the overall volume (RMS) of each track will remain unchanged. Therefore, your louder tracks will still sound louder, but now will have a worse sound quality depending on how much you are limiting them.

To equalise the volumes of the tracks you will need to adjust their overall volume - not just the peaks. When DJing on a hardware mixer, that is what the input gain knobs are for. On Ableton, as you stated, you can do this with the clip or track volumes. Normally, this adjusting of levels is part of the preparation process of your clips or you adjust it live when preparing to mix in a song.

If you want this to be done automatically, you will need to find something that measures the RMS levels of each track and then adjusts the volumes accordingly. Even then, some tracks will appear to have different volumes depending on their frequency content.
Try sticking the Kjaerhus Classic Master Limiter on the master for a DJ set, use clips which you know have very different volumes. You'll see what I mean.
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Brian Ffar
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Post by Brian Ffar » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:44 pm

Da hand wrote:Placing a limiter will do absolutely nothing to equalise the volume levels of your tracks!

All it will do is compress the peaks of the louder tracks, but the overall volume (RMS) of each track will remain unchanged.
No disrespect, but this is completely false.

Let's say you have a track with an absolute maximum peak value of -3dB, and an RMS value of -18dB. If you slap a limiter on it with a threshold (or gain depending on the limiter) of 9dB, you will:

a) remove the 3dB of headroom above the peaks, and

b) limit an additional 6dB of your signal for a total limiting range of 9dB.

If you then check the RMS value of your tune, I guarantee it'll be at -12db, and increase of 6dB RMS.

Da hand
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Post by Da hand » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:55 pm

ollyb303 wrote:
Da hand wrote:Placing a limiter will do absolutely nothing to equalise the volume levels of your tracks!

All it will do is compress the peaks of the louder tracks, but the overall volume (RMS) of each track will remain unchanged. Therefore, your louder tracks will still sound louder, but now will have a worse sound quality depending on how much you are limiting them.

To equalise the volumes of the tracks you will need to adjust their overall volume - not just the peaks. When DJing on a hardware mixer, that is what the input gain knobs are for. On Ableton, as you stated, you can do this with the clip or track volumes. Normally, this adjusting of levels is part of the preparation process of your clips or you adjust it live when preparing to mix in a song.

If you want this to be done automatically, you will need to find something that measures the RMS levels of each track and then adjusts the volumes accordingly. Even then, some tracks will appear to have different volumes depending on their frequency content.
Try sticking the Kjaerhus Classic Master Limiter on the master for a DJ set, use clips which you know have very different volumes. You'll see what I mean.
I don't want to be mean, but I don't think you know how a compressor works (a limiter is a compressor by the way). Go on WIKI and read on what a compressor does and then you will understand that what you are proposing is not correct.

And, just to entertain your advice, I placed the Kjaerhus Classic Master Limiter on my master. I made two clips - two copies of the same track and same section of the track, but one was 4 db lower than the other.

Guess what happened, the track with lower volume played lower and the one with higher volume played higher. Yes, they both output with 0 db peak level, but that is not the point here. Peak levels do not determine the volume we hear as humans.

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Post by Da hand » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:00 pm

Brian Ffar wrote:
Da hand wrote:Placing a limiter will do absolutely nothing to equalise the volume levels of your tracks!

All it will do is compress the peaks of the louder tracks, but the overall volume (RMS) of each track will remain unchanged.
No disrespect, but this is completely false.

Let's say you have a track with an absolute maximum peak value of -3dB, and an RMS value of -18dB. If you slap a limiter on it with a threshold (or gain depending on the limiter) of 9dB, you will:

a) remove the 3dB of headroom above the peaks, and

b) limit an additional 6dB of your signal for a total limiting range of 9dB.

If you then check the RMS value of your tune, I guarantee it'll be at -12db, and increase of 6dB RMS.
You are missing the point. You can set a limiter to boost the levels of one track as you want, yes. But you cannot have the same limiter setting in a live setting as a standard for all incoming tracks. Why

Because each track would require a different threshold setting to be boosted.

The question for this thread is "can you have something that will automatically adjust the RMS volume of all incoming tracks" and the response so far is to simply slap on a Limiter. And I say, this is wrong.

and to prove it, I just ran the test proposed by olly303

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Post by ollyb303 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:03 pm

Thanks Hand but, having used hardware and software compressors and limiters for the last 12 or 13 years, I know how they work!

My point is exactly the one you have made - both tracks PEAK at 0db (or -0.2db).

My apologies if I misread the OP's post, but my impression is that this is what he was trying to achieve...
I have to watch the levels are not drastically different
I assumed by this he meant he had to watch the peak level didn't clip, and that the peak was fairly consistent.
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ollyb303
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Post by ollyb303 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:07 pm

Da hand wrote:The question for this thread is "can you have something that will automatically adjust the RMS volume of all incoming tracks"
Shit, I totally misread that as "Automatic db limiter?"

My bad. :roll:
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Da hand
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Post by Da hand » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:14 pm

ollyb303 wrote:Thanks Hand but, having used hardware and software compressors and limiters for the last 12 or 13 years, I know how they work!

My point is exactly the one you have made - both tracks PEAK at 0db (or -0.2db).

My apologies if I misread the OP's post, but my impression is that this is what he was trying to achieve...
I have to watch the levels are not drastically different
I assumed by this he meant he had to watch the peak level didn't clip, and that the peak was fairly consistent.
Hey Olby303, I apologize as well. I was sure that it was RMS levels bharrower wanted to adjust automatically, but now that I re-read the original post I am not sure which he meant anymore. Because if it is peaks, then you are most correct in applying a limiter to the master :)

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Post by ollyb303 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:18 pm

LOL :lol:

No worries mate. Maybe the OP will chime in again to clarify!
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