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What is an Audio Limiter?

An audio limiter is a signal processing tool that helps control the output level of an audio signal, preventing it from exceeding a certain threshold and causing distortion or clipping. It can be a software or hardware device, depending on the application.

It places a cap on sound levels. It stops the audio from getting too loud and hurting your ears or damaging gear. The main job of a limiter is to keep sound within a set range.

This range keeps the signal safe and free from issues like clipping or distortion. The aim is to get clear, clean sound without any unwanted noise. In live shows, radios and broadcasts, limiters help manage sudden spikes in volume level.

The audio stays consistent and pleasing to hear with this tool’s help.

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Difference between a limiter and a compressor

A limiter and a compressor are both tools used in audio processing, but they have some differences. The main distinction is the compression ratio. A limiter typically has a higher ratio, often equal to or greater than 10:1, while a compressor usually has a lower ratio.

This means that a limiter applies more aggressive compression to the audio signal. Another difference is their intended purpose. While compressors are commonly used to control dynamics and make the softer parts of an audio signal louder, limiters are mainly used to prevent distortion by setting a ceiling on the output level.

So, if you need more subtle dynamic control, you may choose a compressor, but if you want to protect against clipping and excessive volume spikes, then using a limiter would be more appropriate.

How to Use an Audio Limiter

Adjust the attack and release times on the limiter to control how quickly it reacts to changes in audio levels.

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Setting the threshold and ratio

Setting the threshold and ratio on an audio limiter is key to controlling the overall level of your audio signal. The threshold determines at what point the limiter starts reducing the volume, while the ratio determines how much compression is applied once that threshold is reached.

For example, if you set a low threshold and a high ratio, even small peaks in your audio will be heavily compressed. On the other hand, if you set a higher threshold and a lower ratio, only louder peaks will be compressed.

Finding the right balance between these settings is crucial for achieving optimal sound quality and preventing distortion or clipping in your audio signal.

Adjusting attack and release times

Adjusting the attack and release times of an audio limiter is an important step in getting the desired sound. The attack time determines how quickly the limiter responds to sudden increases in volume, while the release time determines how long it takes for the limiter to stop compressing after a loud peak.

By adjusting these settings, you can shape the dynamics of your audio signal and ensure that it sounds balanced and natural. It’s important to find the right balance – too fast attack or release times may result in overly compressed sound, while too slow times may allow unwanted peaks or inconsistencies in volume.

Experimenting with different settings will help you achieve a pleasing and professional-sounding result.

Using a limiter in mastering

Using a limiter in mastering is an important step in the audio production process. When mastering music or other audio, a limiter helps to control the overall loudness and ensure that the final product sounds balanced and professional.

By setting the threshold and ratio of the limiter, you can prevent any peaks or excessive loudness from causing distortion or clipping. Additionally, you can adjust the attack and release times of the limiter to shape the dynamics and make sure everything sounds cohesive.

This helps to maintain consistent levels throughout the entire track or album. Overall, using a limiter in mastering allows you to enhance the sound quality and make your audio shine while still keeping it within acceptable limits.

The Benefits and Limitations of Audio Limiters

Audio limiters have several benefits, including limiting dynamic range and preventing clipping, maintaining audio integrity and preventing distortion. However, there are also limitations to consider when using audio limiters, such as potential trade-offs in sound quality and the need for careful adjustments to avoid over-compression.

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Limiting dynamic range and preventing clipping

A limiter is an important tool in audio production that helps to control the dynamic range and prevent clipping. By setting a maximum output level, the limiter ensures that the loudest parts of an audio signal do not exceed this limit.

This is especially useful when working with recordings or live sound where there may be sudden spikes in volume. The limiter acts as a safety net, automatically reducing the gain if the audio reaches dangerous levels to avoid distortion or damage to equipment.

Additionally, it helps maintain consistent volume levels, making sure that softer sounds are audible without overpowering louder sections. Overall, using a limiter in audio production helps ensure a balanced and controlled sound while preserving its integrity.

Maintaining audio integrity and preventing distortion

A limiter is an important tool in audio production that helps maintain the integrity of the sound and prevent distortion. By setting a limit or ceiling to the output level of an audio signal, the limiter keeps the audio within a desired range, avoiding any clipping or distortion.

This ensures that the sound remains clear and undistorted, protecting both the equipment and our ears from any potential harm. Whether it’s in recording, mixing, or mastering, using a limiter helps ensure that the audio maintains its quality and fidelity throughout the production process.

Limiters are especially useful in live sound applications and broadcast productions to control overall levels and comply with industry standards for acceptable loudness range. It’s essential to use limiters carefully so as not to over-compress or lose dynamics in the audio signal.

Potential trade-offs and considerations

Using an audio limiter can offer many benefits in terms of controlling the output level and preventing distortion. However, there are also some potential trade-offs and considerations to keep in mind.

One consideration is that using a limiter excessively or with improper settings can result in over-compression and loss of dynamics in the audio signal, leading to a less natural sound.

Additionally, while limiters can help prevent clipping and maintain audio integrity, they may also introduce some artifacts or changes to the original sound due to their compression process.


In conclusion, a limiter in audio is a tool used for controlling and reducing the difference between the loudest and softest parts of an audio signal. It sets a limit or ceiling to the output level, preventing distortion and protecting equipment.

When used correctly, limiters can greatly improve sound quality and ensure that audio remains within acceptable levels.


1. What is a limiter in audio?

A limiter in audio is a type of dynamic range compression tool used for signal reduction and output level control during home recording or mixing music.

2. How does the limiter work in car audio?

In car audio, the limiter works by setting an output level limit to prevent high ratio compression or gain reduction that might damage speakers.

3. Can I use a hardware limiter for my home recording?

Yes, you can use a hardware limiter for your home recordings to manage compressor settings and maintain ratio in audio processing.

4. Is it important to have a good understanding of compressor settings when using a limiter?

Yes, knowing how to set the right compressor settings is vital as it directly impacts the quality of online audio outputs produced.

5. How can I learn more about limiters and compressors?

You can explore fields like audio engineering which covers topics such as dynamic range compression, high ratio compression, gain reduction among other things related with Audio Compression.