A limiter is essentially a compressor that has a very high ratio (20:1).

Limiter graph example
Figure 1 - Graph showing signal output with the ratio set at 20:1

A limiter has two primary applications:

  1. To keep signal peaks from exceeding a certain level in order to prevent distortion
  2. To prevent large peaks from reducing the overall average signal amplitude.

Hard limiting is where the threshold is set in such a way as to ensure that the entire signal is being limited. The resulting signal often sounds squashed but is a useful effect with some forms of rock and dance music.

Working Example

1. Percussion beat without a limiter:

Uncompressed sound wave

2. Limiter added to sound:

Limited soundwave

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