Your quest for the best Limiter plugin starts now...
Limiters, as you probably know well by now, come in handy at many different stages in the music production process. In fact, whenever you want to tap down transient peaks and push the tail or body of a sound, a good Limiter may just be the quickest way to get the results you want.
Now, while it's well-known for being the last thing in your mastering chain, it can also be used on vocals to control peaks, on your synth-bass to make it more consistent and in many other places during the production of your tracks.
In this post below you'll discover 3 good workhorse Limiter plugins. I hope you find the best Limiter plugin for you!
The purpose of this series of posts is to provide you with only 3 good DAW audio plugin choices for the different types of available professional music production plugins.
This, as you can imagine, is no easy task given the sheer amount of plugins available in most of the various audio plugin categories. Some really excellent contenders had to be left on the virtual cutting-room floor.
Why not just list more?
That would've been the easier option for me, but there are countless blog posts listing the 20 or 10 "best [.....] plugins". While these types of posts have their place and purpose they can still leave you with a bit of overwhelm when it comes to making a choice. Even more so when you start comparing plugin features.
So, the general idea of these posts is...
... to narrow-down to just 3 top contenders in each of the popular DAW plugin categories. This means you can start with a solid shortlist and demo the plugins which appeal to you most, knowing that these have been selected for good reasons.
So, how are the included plugins selected?
Nothing too scientific. It's a mix of my what I've picked up in my experience in audio and music for the past 20-ish years, coupled with some light research on sites with ratings and reviews and various lengthy "what's the best plugin for... ?" music production and audio forum posts. You know the ones. ;-)
So, you can think of it as my opinion plus a bit. Take it with a grain of salt as you would with any opinion about music production software and gear in general. My hope is you'll find the 3 recommended plugins in each category a good starting point and find the plugin that suits you best, faster.
The first stop in our quest for the best Limiter plugin is Limitless by DMG Audio.
What makes this beast of a Limiter plugin so special is that it's not only multi-band, it's also dual-stage. This means you get highly-specific control over the transient and body stages of your signal which allows you to dial in the exact tone you want for each of these aspects of your sound separately.
The simple four-control interface makes it easy to get the sound you want, fast, while the drop-down style menu allows you to quickly switch between different limiting characters. In addition you also have an advanced section which provides you with more surgical tools for when you need more precise control.
It also comes with a spectrum analyzer where you can configure the crossovers of your different frequency bands and a time-plot that highlights the peaks and gives you a visual representation of the clipping process.
That's just scratching the surface. If you want to really know why many music producers and engineers consider this the best Limiter plugin out there, then you have to give it a try and hear for yourself. It's available for Mac and Windows and you can try out the demo version before you buy it.
Next stop in our quest for the best Limiter plugin brings us to a definite classic. Say hello to the Sonnox Oxford Limiter!
You probably already know by now just how good the quality of the plugins produced by Sonnox are. The same definitely goes for the Oxford Limiter.
You couldn't really ask for a more simple-to-use Limiter. Every control you'll need and use are right there on the main interface. Set your input and output, tweak your attack, release and soft-knee parameters, blend in a bit of the classic enhance should a bit more perceived loudness tickle your fancy and wham-bam Bob's your aunty!
You can also switch between 4 different types of variable noise-shaping modes to find the one that works best for the material you're working on.
Whether it's a transparent limiter you're after or one that imparts a bit more character and oomph to your sound, Oxford Limiter gets the job done and get's it done well.
This, like quite a few other Sonnox plugins, is definitely one most producers should have in their studio arsenal.
Just check out the ratings over at Plugin Boutique (affiliate link) and you'll see that I'm not the only one that sings it's praises. Definite champion!
Last but by no means least in our hunt for the best Limiter plugin we get to FabFilter's Pro-L2.
It's no surprise, being made by FabFilter and all, that this behemoth of a Limiter has fast become the go-to Limiter plugin for so many producers and engineers. It's elegant and feature-packed design makes it one versatile balancing tool no studio should be without.
On top of the usual features you've come to expect from FabFilter plugins...
... "Perfectly tuned knobs, MIDI Learn, Smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, an excellent help file with interactive help hints, SSE optimization, GPU-powered graphics acceleration." ...
... you also get all the limiting features you could ever need and want from a modern Limiter plugin...
... transparent and loud, true peak limiting, 8 different limiting algorithms, great metering that covers most standards including K-system support, DC offset, dithering with 3 different noise-shaping models, separate channel-linking for extra control over transients and release stages and much, much more.
To top it all off it's very light on CPU so your system will be less likely to get bogged down even with multiple instances running at once in bigger sessions.
It's little wonder that it's rated 5 star at Plugin Boutique with 110 votes (affiliate link). It's available for both Mac and Windows platforms and a free-trial is also available for you to test-drive. Give it a go today! It may quickly become your firm-favorite go-to Limiter.
I trust this gives you a great starting point in your hunt for the best Limiter plugin for your setup!
Are there other great workhorse Limiter plugins? Sure! I've left out at least 3 more excellent contenders for this list just to keep it short and sweet because that's the point of this series of posts.
If you however feel you want to explore some more options then head on over to Plugin Boutique's Limiter section, sorted by rating for your convenience.
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