Master Plan's Loud Knob
by Sam, 30 April 2023
Master Plan’s Loud knob pushes volume limits while completely preserving the dynamic feel (or groove) of your track. Unlike other limiters, which require several settings and a careful hand at tuning "ballistics" such as attack and release, all of these considerations are built into the algorithm and react directly to the audio coming in.
Master Plan’s algorithm does this by allowing overshoots when it will help keep the groove. As you push harder and harder, the algorithm makes riskier and riskier decisions about the overshoots, and some clip distortion creeps in. It’s always best to use your ear to determine when this point is; all limiters and clippers sound undesirable at some point, and all in their own special way. For instance:
- A soft or hard clipper flattens the tops of all audio that overshoots evenly. This technique causes loud sounds and bass to growl, and kicks to pop on impact at fairly low levels of dB boost. It usually sounds undesirable at a lower volume level than a traditional limiter. However, it does a great job at maintaining the perceived dynamic range of your track up to that point.
- A traditional-style limiter anticipates peaks and ducks under them (lookahead, or attack). It then relaxes on the volume and lets it go back up after a peak (release). You must tune the breathing/pumping of the volume just right, or it will fight against the rhythm of your track. That means no crackly distortion, but it can pull the impact out of your drums or mess with your rhythm. Some of these limiters have ‘auto’ settings for ballistics, but they don’t usually outperform hand-tuning.
- Chaining a clipper into a limiter, helps tame the weaknesses of each approach, but for the most part, you’re now balancing how much of each problem to put into your track: clip distortion and breathing/pumping.
Master Plan combines these approaches in novel ways to get the best of both worlds: no breathing, no pumping, and full clarity beyond the volume level where you’d normally set a clipper or traditional-style limiter. Give it a listen!