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Thread: How to use a limiter to help even out volumes of different tracks?

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    How to use a limiter to help even out volumes of different tracks?

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    Hey guys, as the title says I'm having issues with the limiter and using it on tracks to even them out. Mainly vocals and samples. I know different samples from the same song can have different volume ranges I am trying to get different chops I have that are all from the same song to even out in pro tools. Also, when I record vocals on another project of mine I am having trouble using the limiter to get my intro to match the volume of when my verse comes on. I feel like I am not using the threshold and ceiling knobs correctly and I am not getting good even volume results from either my samples or my vocals or anything that has different dynamic ranges I guess. I did try adding compression of course and it helped but it didnt quite fix everything. I am looking for advice and tips on how to mix better with the limiter to help me even out vocal volumes and sample volumes. The sample volumes are from the same song. I usually put each chop from the song on different chops with the same ceiling on the limiters but different thresholds based on whether it starts peaking in the red or not. I do the same thing with vocals so the intro is one track with a limiter plugin on a certain ceiling and adjusted threshold and the verse is a different track with a different limiter plugin with the same ceiling as the intro but a different threshold adjusted. Please help!
    Last edited by bandcoach; 10-07-2015 at 12:45 AM. Reason: fixed spelling in title

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    Avoid limiters on your tracks. You'll have a much easier time mixing when you first level your tracks with the faders/automation. When the levels sound good without any compressor or limiter add compressor plugins to individual channels - to give the sound more density. But leave the limiters from the tracks. Put one on the master when you have finished mixing - or if you like to mix into the limiter put on in the master early on.
    However if you are new to mixing I would recommend mixing without a limiter until everything sounds good.
    Last edited by labeat; 10-07-2015 at 01:41 AM.
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    I've never ever before encountered someone who thought it was a good idea to actually even out an element using limiting. Don't confuse this by actually using a limiter on individual sounds, as there are many different things you can do on individual sounds with a limiter... but evening out?!
    You simply have too little control on how the sound will behave by doing this with a limiter, it's much better to do this with a compressor as you can both control where compression will kick in, as well as how much compression will kick in.

    I suggest you learn all the possible parameters in a compressor and learn how to use them properly, that thing only should make it much simpler for you to even out elements.
    And there's another method that has to be mentioned - automation. By simply automating the input and/or the output volume you can make the performance a lot more even.

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    I may be a broken record in this post, but stick to general fader levels and compression to "even things out" which many people refer to as "balancing".

    I know it's stupid & cliche, but less is more. Only add a process/effect if you absolutely need it otherwise you'll spend years screwing up your own mixes like I did.

    Every mix/track I would over process, then I'd start again from scratch and do the exact same thing.

    Things like limiting and compression are like drugs and we just want more and more, figuring it'll keep improving the sound.

    But the less we use, many times the better the result is.

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    just to avoid any confusion about options: yes ---> they are right.

    Best thing when starting out is to just change the level of the parts until they sound good. If you need to, place things on different tracks or chop them and change the level of the sliced parts.

    Once you get all the levels sounding good without processing, you can then "see" if something is actually peaking too loud just to sound "loud enough". Then you can think about compression and perhaps, dare I say it, limiting…!

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    Thanks for this thread lots of helpful info. Cheers : )

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    You usually use a little bit of compression in parallel in tracking to even out the volume of tracks a little. During mixing you usually volume ride the tracks to even them out, because else it will be more difficult to dial in good average mix balance.

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    To elaborate on what jBam and free Spirit wrote

    Bandcoach's steps to a successful mix (I've been using this approach since the mid 80's)
    levels - balance everything by reducing levels on each track from nominal operating level aka unity gain or the 0dB position on the fader (not the meters) until every part can be heard
    panning - everything in its own place
    eq - light and shade
    fx/compression/limiting dynamic control

    Booby Owsinki cites these steps in the same order in his book the "Mix Engineers handbook" - I had not read it until this past week, so was pleasantly surprised to see the same order, only goes to show that the old school way still has some merit imo
    Last edited by bandcoach; 10-10-2015 at 08:36 AM. Reason: spelling nazi
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    great responses thanks guys. So you guys don't even use limiters on vocals or anything like that? Also, still having trouble leveling out my samples. Do you guys use compressors on your samples or do you feel like it ruins the sample?
    Last edited by StanleySteamer; 10-08-2015 at 06:21 PM.

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    time and a place for applying any kind of dynamic management (eq/compression/gating/expanding/limiting); knowing when and what to use is the hard part
    BC: I've been making music since Before Computers were common in music
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