Following the exclusive announcement on tonights podcast from Paul Tapper at Nugen Audio that their next product will be a True Peak Limiter, they have given us the opportunity to get a world exclusive sneak preview to share with this community AND you could win a copy FREE too.
What is ISL and why is True Peak important?
As Paul explains in the podcast interview, with digital audio you have no way of knowing what happens between each sample and in fact they have seen anything up to a 6dB rise possible between two samples. So what a true peak limiter does is calculate what would have happened between the peeks and limit that as well so you know that the final audio will really not go beyond the Threshold settings. When I tried this I placed the ISL (Inter Sampling Limiter) after a well known high quality limiter plug-in and I saw that the ISL was still finding nearly 2 dBs of peaks to handle.
If you take a look at my video about why loudness is important because we will be normalising to a loudness figure the peaks will be going up and down across different programmes but we need to make sure that the peaks don’t go above the level as laid down in the broadcasters delivery specs and so the need for an accurate True Peak Inter Sampling Limiter has become a critical part of the broadcast workflow.
Conventional So Far…
The plug-in follows a fairly conventional limiter GUI. You set the threshold by moving the white line and arrows on the input meters to the Threshold you desire or the required ceiling in your delivery specs.
There is an option of setting the plug-in so it can read ahead of the gain control section and so respond to any peaks as they happen rather than after they have happened. This obviously requires a delay but as long as you use Delay Compensation, to keep everthing in sync, it will mean it will pick up all the ‘overs’. That said even without look ahead it was very fast indeed.
This is an unconventional feature in any dynamics plug-in and allows the user to hear what sounds are above the threshold, so it comes across as a gated effect. The reason they added this feature was the acknowledgement that this plug-in will sometimes be used by non audio types and this is a very clear way to demonstrate what the plug-in is doing in a non technical way.
How does it sound?
As regular readers and podcast listeners will know I have been waiting for a decent broadcast limiter and especially one that is AAX too. Lets deal with AAX first and simply say that the team at Nugen are working very hard at porting everything across to AAX so I won’t have too long to wait. But does this work as a broadcast limiter? The simple answer is YES. It simply does what it needs to do without fuss and without colouring the sound. I have recently finished a “Between The Ears” programme for BBC Radio 3 and it involves a lot of sound design and it was an excellent programme to try the ISL limiter out and its great and completely transparent. I deliberately tried pushing it hard and it just works even with way more gain reduction than I would normally ever consider using in this context.