Monthly Archives: December 2011

Clipper module prototype

Hi again!

I want to share 2 fresh conclusions I’ve got:

  1. Hard-clipping sounds bad.
  2. If hard-clipping sounds good it’s really soft-clipping.

My old opinion was: “Hard clipping sounds better than soft clipping because hard clipping starts later and affect signal for a shorter time”. Now I think I was wrong.

And I did VST clipper plugin just to check idea:

[download VST clipper plugin (windows 32-bit, 64-bit)]


  • 4x linear phase oversampling
  • 256 samples of latency
  • The main signal is not resampled. Only gain reduction signal passes through oversampling stage.


  1. “Gain” – input gain before clipping. Just set it to +6 dB and see the result!
  2. “Thresh.” – clipping threshold. I limited maximum value to -0.3 dBFS.
  3. “Shape” – soft knee shape (A: -6 dB knee, B: -3 dB knee, C: -1.5 dB knee).
  4. “Hardclip” – due to oversampling imperfection (and Gibbs phenomenon too) output signal can overshoot threshold given. To deal with that the output signal have to be digitally clipped controlling by this parameter:
    – “Off” – no output digital clipping is used. Use this value if the threshold is very low or this plugin is not the last plugin in chain (for example it used before brickwall limiter to reduce pumping effect).
    – “Thresh+” – output digital clipping has threshold +0.2 dB higher than soft clipping threshold but can’t exceed -0.15 dBFS. So if you set clipping threshold to -0.5 dBFS output signal can’t exceed -0.3 dBFS.
    – “-0dbFS” – output digital clipping has threshold of -0.15 dBFS regardless of soft clipping threshold.
  5. “DC.flt” – if “On” the 2nd order high-pass filter for 25 Hz is turned on. Filter works in the beginning of the chain e.g. before clipper. Added just to experiment. I think it doesn’t sound good. BTW, the best high-pass filter I ever heard was in preFIX plugin of Variety of Sound).


  1. Plugin doesn’t prevent inter-sample peaks to exceed threshold level.


See how soft clipping works in Lavry AD122 converter (see p.18 in [manual]).


Now I should work on slow limiter to limit not signal peaks but signal “body” for upcoming clipper/limiter plugin.

Happy holidays!

Peak limiter module prototype

Hi all!

I think I’ve got some kind of concept for upcoming clipper/limiter plugin. This plugin is planned to contain these modules:

  • input clipper
  • peak limiter (a.k.a “thin” limiter)
  • signal limiter (a.k.a “thick” limiter)
  • peak meter / output clipper

All modules are optional and can be turned off. Peak limiter has very fast attack/release and used only to limit peaks of signal. This “thin” limiter can optionally be used as HF limiter to limit only high-frequency components of peaks. Signal limiter has long attack/release settings to limit signal “body”. This “thick” limiter can be used in brickwall mode or in analog-style mode to pass parts of attacks through. Final clipper can work in inter-sample peaks suppression mode. And I think some high-pass filter to remove DC offset can be useful. That’s the concept.

Also I already implemented some ideas for peak limiter as test plugin. You can [download] it to check (Windows VST 32-bit and 64-bit).

What’s done in this test plugin:

  • very fast attack/release limiter plugin
  • only 6 samples of latency (in 44.1 kHz) so it can be used realtime
  • it’s intended to limit signal peaks only so it sounds bad when limiting the signal “body”

What’s not done in this test plugin:

  • no oversampling
  • no inter-samples peaks detection
  • no high-frequency limiting yet

So that’s it.

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Hit Mix Engineer Chris ‘Von Pimpenstein’ Carter Embraces Freeware Plug-in Developers on Hit Single: Variety of Sound, Vladg Sound

Hit Mix Engineer Chris ‘Von Pimpenstein’ Carter Embraces Freeware Plug-in Developers on Hit Single: Variety of Sound, Vladg Sound.
By Mark Cutlass
“Vladg” and “Variety of Sound” are not names one commonly hears bandy-hood around professional recording studios where “Waves” and “UAD” are the standards. But that may be changing soon. Chris ‘Von Pimpenstein’ Carter, a hit mix engineer with multiple #1 hit records under his belt, is one of many prominent engineers embracing young plug-in developers who offer up their wares for free.

On the recent number one hit single “We Can’t” for Latvian based rockers Mr. Rally, Carter heavily employed freeware plugins, including Molot, Ferric TDS and Nasty DLA. Molot is a dual-mode freeware compressor offered up by Vladg/Sound that features a Neve 33609 style compressor and a Fairchild 670 style compressor housed in a retro Russian military GUI. “This has become like my go-to compressor,” says Carter, who employed Molot on vocals and distorted guitars. He continues, “I’m starting to even use it instead of hardware. It sounds killer almost every time on just about anything.” 

Nasty DLA, a freeware plugin by one of the more popular underground programmers, Variety of Sound, was used by Carter for delay throws on the lead vocal. The plugin emulates classic delays which employs chorus in the feedback loop. “You can get some great character from Nasty DLA, just like in the old days; it’s a plug I use frequently,” says Chris. Also by Variety of Sound, Ferric TDS, a KVR award winning plugin, emulates tape saturation – only without the wow and flutter. Carter employed Ferric TDS after mixbuss compression, “for a little extra oomph and glue which takes it to the next level for a rock mix,” he says.

In the post-DAW mixing world, many mix engineers get caught up in the large selection of plug-ins available, trying to find the one plug-in that will fit exactly what they are trying to do. That’s a mistake, according to Carter, who employs a much more organic approach to mixing. “Find things that are just plain ‘good’ and use them,” he says, “and don’t get so caught up in the technical.” He views himself not so much as a technical mixer, but as a creative and emotional mixer. This makes sense, as anyone can really learn the technical ins and outs of mixing a record, but breathing life into a record is what, according to Carter, makes a hit record. Bear in mind that while he doesn’t view himself as a technical mixer, he has a wealth of technical knowledge that can make anyone’s head spin. “The goal,” he says, “is to know the technical inside and out so well that you don’t have to think about it; it’s just intuitive and you can reserve all your brain power for generating emotion.” 

Carter works almost exclusively out of the Feisty Chicken, his own private recording studio which comes fully loaded with an abundance of hardware and plug-in options for processing. But how much something costs isn’t a criterion he employs when selecting an effect. “I could care less;” he says, “it doesn’t matter what something costs and if some freebie plug-in beats the snot out of the competition to get the sound I want, then so be it.” 

More info:
Chris Carter at The Feisty Chicken Recording Studio: http://www.feistychicken.com
Vladg/Sound: https://vladgsound.wordpress.com/
Variety of Sound: http://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/
Mr. Rally: www.mrrally.lv
Mark Cutlass is a freelance journalist who contributes to numerous pro audio magazines. He can be contacted at markcutlass1@gmail.com