A limiter is essentially a compressor that has a very high ratio (a typical limiter ratio setting is 20:1 and above), a hard knee and a fast attack and release time. When the incoming signal exceeds the threshold of a limiter, a high level of compression is applied.
A limiter has two primary applications: -
- To keep signal peaks from exceeding a certain level in order to prevent distortion.
- 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.
1. Percussion beat without a limiter:
2. Limiter added to sound: