Using The Adaptive Limiter 10.2.2
With Logic introducing it's newest updates in the last few months I've had a lot of requests to talk about using the Logic Adaptive Limiter 10.2.2 and cover some of the basics of this great plugin.
One thing that's important to understand about the Adaptive Limiter is it's not just a Limiter I've seen many people discuss how the limiter can distort a mix and although I'd never advocate you crank your music beyond the acceptable realms of loudness imparting distortion is part of what this plugin does. The Adaptive Limiter is part limiter and part analog model hence the distortion. It's often overlooked in place of more expensive plugins but it's a versatile tool and works by rounding off and smoothing peaks, which is similar to the effect an amplifier has on a signal when driven hard. Think of turning up the gain dial on a Marshall amp and that's the general idea of what this limiter does.
A limiter is typically used to boost the final mix level or the weapon of choice during mastering and is almost always placed at the end of your chain after EQ, compression and anything else you might using. As the Adaptive Limiter 10.2.2 is all about making your mix louder the plugin needs to 'look ahead', this 'lookahead' feature sees coming peaks and the smooths them over. The downside is latency occurs and that's one of the reasons why this plugin is generally used when the music and mix is complete.
Like it's predecessor the plugin has virtually the same features but with a few new additions and tweaks to the functions and interface.
The first thing I noticed was the hidden drop down area had been ... well drop from the plugin and replaced with buttons and dials on the main display area. This is great and I think has been changed for very important reasons.
Gain Reduction Meter
Although this isn't essential I love the fact that Apple have added a visual gain reduction meter. It's not going to set your mix on fire but it will help tell you if you've completely crushed your mix by seeing on screen how much gain reduction is being applied to your music in dBs; this addition is a great feature that's also been added to the Limiter plugin too.
Used in conjunction with the level meter the gain reduction meter can become a powerful visual tool that will help you to gauge how much your peaks are being limited.
Another feature that's been moved from the hidden drop down menu is the Lookahead function. Again I think the fact that this has been moved from the hidden drop down display to a fully fledged dial in prime position tells us this is something important and so perhaps we should take notice of it. This new dial is the one that will actually shape your mix as it's the part of the plugin that looks ahead at you music and smooths and control how the peaks in your mix are dealt with. So it's more important than you might think!
One thing I have to be careful of in my work is making sure 'true peaks' are not exceeded. The Adaptive Limiter has changed the Inter Sample Peak feature and replaced it with True Peak detection. This basically means if the True Peak button isn't engaged your mix might still be clipping without you knowing it.
Why is this important? First off clipping isn't good even if you write music that is heavy on the distortion front, but the other reason is that broadcast by law in many countries now dictates that music levels do not exceed a set level and that 'Overs' MUST be kept below the standardised level.
It sounds confusing but without going into a more detailed tutorial the simple solution is engage the True Peak button if your music is heading for broadcast and Logic will just about do the rest for you! Having said this with true peak engaged it can apply more limiting to ensure no overs occur so only use TP limiting when your music is being prep'd for broadcast. If your music isn't going to be hitting the airwaves then you might not need to activate the TP button and thus your music will be limited to a lesser degree than if the button is switched on.