Hypothesis: Brickwall limiters get nasty (bad nasty) when pushed. By REALLY pushing several brickwall limiters, we can get an idea of the nature and intensity of that nastiness.
Hypothesis #2: When a mix is loud-makeable, just about any brickwall limiter will work. When we must push a mix, certainly not all brickwall limiters are created equal and that’s what I’d pay extra for.
Down Side: By pushing a limiter to 200mph, we may not get a clear indication of what we can expect at 60mph. In other words, it’s up to you to decide if what you are hearing actually applies to your normal or even extreme usage.
Upside: At least I’ll know what limiters I DON’T want to deal with when I know I’m gonna have to push a limiter hard.
I had The Intern make me a compilation of a handful of choruses out of my reference material. I wanted variety.
Using the reference wav file, we simply added 8dB of gain to already mastered stuff.
Too much? Obviously.
I’ve heard artifacts from pushing a limiter a bit before and I wanted to see if we could induce those. I believe that a limiter than can take this kind of abuse is going to sound more transparent when not abused. That’s up to you, I guess.
To Tweak Or Not To Tweak?
I come from the school that I shouldn’t have to tweak a brickwall limiter. I don’t want to! I’ld rather tweak my mix. It’s very possible that those of you who do enjoy tweaking brickwall limiters may find better sounds by digging into the details. For this experiment it wasn’t practical to play around with settings so we left the default settings as much as possible.
If you want to conduct the test yourself, feel free to download the wave file (zipped) here: Brickwall Limiter Original Wave File (It would be awesome if you posted your results, too! I wish I had more limiters in this test, especially the UAD Maximizer.) If some of you think you can better results than the stock settings, I’d love to hear it.
There are quite a few files here. Most limiters have multiple modes. We did our best to include all of them. In the case of Slate FG-X, we disabled the 2bus compressor as this was not a test of 2bus compressors. Feel free to redo the tests with Slate’s FG-X compressor enabled, just make sure to extend that luxury to any other Brickwall Limiter you test.
Download the 16-bit, 44.1Khz wav files: Brickwall_Limiter_Test_wavs.zip
Elephant El Uni
Izotope IRC II
Izotope IRC III
Limiter_6 Digital Clip
My opinion? Voxengo Elephant is a TREMENDOUS SOB. After all the hype, the end results aren’t even close.