By - Traditional-Spray267
Limiters are good for protecting your system from loud peaks, while a compressor is better used to bring the quieter parts up to match the higher peaks.
Both of them can be used to protect your system, the main difference is in how they sound. A limiter can sound harsh but in theory you won't hear it as often. A compressor will sound warmer but tends to colour the whole sound and add a ducking effect every time the bass hits - this may or may not be a benefit to you!
You may also have the option of dynamic EQs in your DSP, which limit using eq filters rather than overall volume control. These can be effective but difficult to tune properly!
Thanks! We will have noticed the limiters while setting them up so we are definitely going to look into the compressors! Do you maybe have some reading material on how to setup compressors correctly?
Most of the reading material you'll find will be relating to studios and music production, found this one taking about church sound systems:
If you're using the compressor for protection, the threshold should be set high enough that you only see it activating on high peaks. Then set the ratio fairly high to act like a limiter.
Setting the attack very low will make the compressor kick in quickly so you will not get any peaks going to the amplifiers, or you can turn up the attack time a little bit to let through some transients and keep the sound punchy.
I find that tuning the release time is best done when the system is very loud so you can hear more clearly how it is affecting the sound.
Thanks, huge help!!
A limiter is just a compressor with a very high compression ratio and a fast attack.
The way you’re doing it it right. No compressor on the main mix (on the mic, efx, instruments then sure, it’s a tool to use).
Leave the signal clean, not hitting the limiter normally but you know that’s there “just in case”.
Limiters are definitely a must have protection so you don't blow drivers. I try to keep levels where they are almost never activating.
I'm also looking to buy a compressor for my sound, I really like the effect it gives of ducking everything else when loud bass hits on certain tunes and the overall change in dynamics. I have a compressor in my soundcard (rme fireface) and often turn it on when listening at home, especially for older reggae tunes that aren't mastered to be super loud all the time like most newer tuens are. Try one out and see if you like it!
if it's your system and you're working the sound, use compressors lightly and limiters only to squash accidental peaks. It's better to put compressors on individual channels, like vocal mics.
I like compressors as they're useful to "fatten" the sound on older tracks. Newer music is already squashed so hard it's pointless.
if someone else is using your system, brick-wall limit and then adjust the mixer output so when the mixer hits the red, that coincides with the limiter kicking in.
obv, there's so much more nuance to this it requires a bit of trial and error.