For dynamic processing, limiters are an essential part of the mixing and mastering process. If you’re not too familiar, just know that limiters work to limit the peaks in a waveform to prevent them from passing the digital ceiling. Limiters are used to boost a song’s perceived loudness while lowering the overall dynamic range of the audio.
When you go to buy one, you’ll find that there are numerous limiting plugins to choose from. While all limiting plugins have the same basic purpose, they vary widely in design, features, and functionality. You’ll want to narrow down your options to find the one that is best for your production needs. We’re going to help you with that task now by looking at some of the best limiter plugins you can get your hands on today.
Top 9 Limiter VST Plugins
- FabFilter FabFilter Pro-L 2
- Sonnox Oxford Limiter V3
- iZotope Ozone 9
- Tokyo Dawn Labs TDR Limiter 6 GE
- Softube Weiss Compressor/Limiter
- PSP Xenon
- Softube Weiss MM-1
- Soundtoys Devil-Loc Deluxe
- Boz Digital Labs Big Clipper
FabFilter is a well-known name in the plugin realm, and for good reason. FabFilter’s Pro-L 2 is one of their excellent limiting plugins with a very intuitive interface. Like most of their plugins, FabFilter’s Pro-L 2 features built-in spectrum analyzers and top-notch metering options.
This plugin will enable you to focus on various loudness metering standards and true peak metering to get the exact results you are looking for. The Pro-L 2 is pretty transparent, but it does add some color to your mix. Its features include channel linking controls and dithering controls, which give you more power in the limiting process.
The transient and release settings are particularly helpful if you have an overly loud transient that’s limited to just one channel. In this case, they will help you keep the release time consistent across both channels. The Pro-L 2 offers enough versatility and functionality to be listed among the top limiting plugins you can get your hands on today.
- Comes with an audition button
- Unity Gain and DC Offset
- Awesome selection of limiting styles to play with
- There’s no built-in knee control
The Oxford Limiter V3 from Sonnox is ideal if you are wanting to maintain the transients of different mixes while also preserving the clarity and maximizing the volume. The V3 is one of the top brick wall limiters that make sure the detail is in the mix. It’s a pretty versatile plugin that gives you the ability to hone in on the details or think outside the typical limiter box.
The V3 utilizes four distinct processes to give you the best results. These are preprocessing gain control; reconstruction metering; program enhancement and overshoot control; and noise and dither shaping. You’ll also have full control of the soft knee, release, and attack. The Auto Company feature will assist you in resolving reconstruction errors while maintaining the overall loudness. Its look-ahead capability also will help you preserve vital transients.
If you prefer to work with a true peak limiter, you can’t go wrong with the Sonnox Oxford Limiter VST. It can offer you clarity, intensity, volume, and transparency for your production without leaving it sounding lifeless.
- Detects both conventional overs and inter-sample peaks
- Super user-friendly
- Enhance function helps to boost loudness levels
- It can be challenging to dial in enhancement
If you’re familiar with iZotope, you probably know that their mastering software stands out among its competitors. Ozone is near the top of the list when it comes to their mastering bundles. With this bundle, you’ll also have access to the dynamic Vintage Limiter modules, which give you an impressive range of limiting options that can work with all styles of music.
The Ozone 9’s functional multiband design enables you to limit the whole mix with one simple setting. You’ll also have increased control over the band’s specific frequencies. This is great for those who want to get into the nitty gritty details while limiting.
The Vintage Limiter is an emulation of the Fairchild 670, which is known for its silky-smooth compression. The Character knob gives you additional power to achieve the perfect level of color for your mix. You’ll also be able to control the amount of tube emulation running on top of your mix. There’s an impressive number of metering options, and it also offers MP3 codec previewing. The Ozone 9 is an incredibly useful mastering limiter plugin to help you achieve your mastering goals.
- Comes with a mastering assistant
- Adds some color and warmth
- Great versatility
- Has the potential to overcook your mixes if you let it
The Tokyo Dawn Labs Limiter 6 GE is an excellent limiter plugin for modern mixing and mastering across a range of genres. It offers six-module dynamics, and the modules can be moved around in any order to be customized for various applications. The TDR Limiter 6 GE is incredibly versatile, so it’s a great option whether you want to smash with brick wall limiting, carefully control your overall loudness, or think outside the traditional limiter box.
The six modules you’ll have access to are Peak Limiter, Dynamics Compressor, Tru Peak/EBU Loudness Meter, High Frequency Limiter, Clipper, and Output Protection Limiter. Each module puts the ultimate power in your hands to completely control the signal path. You can play around with the order of these modules to shape the perfect exciting sound for your mix.
We were impressed with the loudness metering section because it is both functional and beautiful. It’s super detailed along with being advanced true peak and EBU R128 compliant. It will help you have a much better understanding of your mix’s dynamics. It also has an equal loudness bypass feature, which ensures that you won’t be thrown off by perceived differences in loudness.
- A lot of bang for your buck
- HF limiter is top-notch
- Gorgeous workflow setup and GUI
- Manual is super confusing
The Weiss Compressor/Limiter from Softube is available for purchase individually or combined with the Weiss DS1-Mk3 plugin. It’s an incredibly versatile limiter plugin that can help you achieve impressively loud and dynamic masters. It comes with numerous features that help you get the results you’re after. You’ll be able to develop a limited master without undesirable pumping thanks to its top-notch filters. The user can take advantage of various controls, including threshold, attack, release, ratio, and knee. You’ll have complete power over all the fine details because all of these controls are fully sweepable.
This plugin enables mid-side processing that can be used in parallel. The metering is well organized so that you can easily keep track of all the levels in the mix. It has the top-level Weiss sound that you would expect based on its name. If transparency is a top priority for you, you’ll have to look elsewhere. When it comes to harmony, you’ll get an up-front sound, particularly when the settings are pretty aggressive.
The benefit of the Weiss Compressor/Limiter is that it doesn’t affect your punchiness, and it will make your mix sound more cohesive and professional. The Softube Weiss Compressor/Limiter can get the job done for your modern mastering projects.
- User-friendly interface layout
- Numerous exciting features
- Very upfront limiter sound
- Preset browser isn’t the best
6. PSP Xenon
If transparency is your priority, the PSP Xenon from PSP Audioware is where it’s at. It’s perfect if you’re looking for beautifully clear limiting results and a shimmering mix. This level of transparency is possible because the Xenon is designed in two stages. It utilizes 192kHz sample rates and 64 bit processing along its signal path.
The PSP Xenon offers various transient detection modes to accommodate all types of music styles. This gives you the ability to control the speed of the attack setting on your limiter. The limiter then determines how to transfer the transients to the second stage of limiting. Mode A lets you smash the transients in the same way a brick wall limiter would. Modes B & C utilize a lookahead mode to help protect the transients and keep the limiting results smooth.
Additional features found on this plugin include K-system metering, four kinds of dithering, and stereo linking. If you want a perfect combination of versatility and transparency, look no further than the PSP Xenon.
- K-system support
- User-friendly interface
- Super transparent
- Pricey for what you get
The Weiss MM-1 emulates the incredibly popular DS1-MK3 limiter VST, and Softube did an impressive job replicating this awesome piece of hardware. You’ll find many of the same algorithms in the MM-1 as in the original digital hardware unit. There are five distinct limiting colors to work with: Transparent, Loud, Punch, De-Ess, and Wide. With the Amount knob, dialing in the perfect level of processing for your production is a breeze.
You can utilize the Mix control to blend in the limiter, which will elevate your master without overwhelming it. Are you a beginner? This plugin is your friend because the intelligent processing design makes it impossible to screw up. And if you have more experience behind your belt, you can really dive in with the various controls to add filtering, de-essing, compression, and much more to customize the limiting for your music style.
The interface is very accessible with enough features to satisfy even the experts. The MM-1 is as close to foolproof as any limiter plugin out there.
- Five different limiting styles
- User-friendly interface
- Intelligent processing is impressive
- High price tag
The Soundtoys Devil-Loc Deluxe is an intriguing option in the limiter plugin market. It’s not designed to be utilized for overall mix limiting, but if killer coloration is your focus, the Devil-Loc has your back. You can achieve truly insane distorted sounds by using the Devil-Loc for limiting individual instruments in the mix. This plugin works particularly well when used on drums to elevate the room ambiance or add some crazy distortion. You can also smash the life out of the drum sound to mix in parallel.
If you really want to test the limits of this plugin, you may end up with a big, fuzzy disaster with extreme gating effects. But when you use the mix knob, you’ll be able to mix in the extreme settings to your dry signal to achieve a subtle layer of grit underneath your mixes. It’s super user-friendly as it’s based around just four controls. Darkness will help you to dial in the perfect tone. Mix gives you the ability to run the plugin in parallel. Crush gives you the power to limit the incoming signal, and Crunch distorts that signal.
When you buy Devil-Loc Deluxe, you’ll also have access to Devil-Loc, a toned down version of the software that works great with single instruments rather than busses. Although it is technically included in the limiting realm, the Devil-Loc Deluxe is essentially a heavy distortion and compression plugin. Pick this one up if you’re ready to get a little crazy with some extreme tones.
- Very unique compression and distortion tone
- Mix knob gives you the ability to dial in parallel
- Low-pass filter is beneficial
- Lacks transparency
- Requires heavy focus on incoming and outgoing levels
The Big Clipper is one of the best products that Boz Digital Labs has to offer. It gives you incredible control over your mix with a number of unique features. You will have complete power over your mix’s overall level, cohesion, and presence. There’s quite an impressive library of algorithms to work with. This means that you will be able to effectively control your peaks to maximize loudness without squashing the life out of them.
The Big Clipper stands out because it utilizes the small window found between the digital clipping and digital ceiling. The result is a sound that emulates when you hit analog tape a little harder. Its hard-hitting design ensures that your mixes all get some air. You can customize how you combine your clipping and limiting with the use of four distinct blend modes. You’ll also have access to a three-band sensitivity control. This means that if you have too much high end, for example, you can dial it back to further work on the highs and lows.
The Shape control gives you the option to pick between hard and sot clipping. This is ideal for situations where you want to dial in two different coloration styles.
- Ideal for dialing in color to your mix
- A great selection of tones to choose from
- Output level adjustment
- Not super versatile
- There’s a learning curve
This list is just a small portion of all the incredible limiting plugins currently available for mix engineers of all levels of experience. There isn’t just one limiting plugin that we can single out for being the best as they each have their own specific features, design, sounds, and settings. Try a few out and go with the one that works best with your workflow and production needs.