I have quite a few mastering limiter plugins I use when mastering. (Being the plugin junkie I am) However, I find myself returning to the same three over and over again. The three limiters I prefer are the Fab Filter L2, the DMG Audio Limitless, and the relative newcomer Newfangled Audio Elevate.
The Fab Filter Limiter has been my goto for the last few years. It’s very straight forward to use, with just a few controls that need to be adjusted. The presets included are a great starting point. Since I work on a good amount of hip-hop and pop music, I tend to start with the moderate preset bank. (cause everyone wants it loud.) One note to try is to switch the oversampling to x4. I find it sounds much better without taking a huge CPU hit.
The DMG Audio Limitless is a multiband limiter. It differs from the Fab Filter, which is a full band limiter. For me, when Limitless works, it WORKS. However, sometimes I find it pumps a bit more compared to the others. I find that the Limitless really shines on the drum bus. So I tend to use limitless more when I’m mixing then when I’m mastering.
The final limiter is the Newfangled Audio Elevate. Elevate is a new plugin for me, and I find it to be the most transparent of all 3. Elevate is an adaptive limiter that analyzes 26 frequency bands and alters the gain, speed, and transients for each band in real-time.
What always amazes me is how a plugin that is intended to do the same thing as the other can sound so different. That’s why I believe it’s good to have a few mastering limiter plugins you like so you can try out which one will work best for which mix.
Check out my video below to get a more in-depth look and to hear all three in action.