After the Limiter?

Can we apply further processing after the limiter?
Strictly speaking, there should never be any plugins inserted after a limiter unless it's for dithering purposes. There is however one situation where a certain kind of technique can be applied after the limiter - when you plan to get the final result really loud. The technique for this is covered in the advanced section.
Aside from that, limiters pretty much always go last. Let's say you applied an EQ after the limiter. If you boosted any frequency bands, you will surely hit the top and trigger the red lights indicating you are clipping the audio. This is because the limiter has already pushed everything up to just before hitting the top.
If you reduce a band of frequencies, you will loose some of the loudness you just obtained by using the limiter in the first place. If the EQ were to go before the limiter, there would be no risk of clipping when boosting. An EQ reduction, which would lower the RMS level, could be replenished by pushing the limiter a little harder. For best results, put the limiter last in the chain. Try to think of a limiter as a final seal that cannot be broken.

Important point – always set the ceiling to be about 0.2db below 0 creating a tiny little gap between the top of the peaks and 0dB. If you are mastering loud (or hot as some people call it), set it even lower -0.4dB perhaps. There are a couple of reasons for this:

Reason 1 - Some software's overload indictors (red lights) will trigger, indicating that clipping has occurred when a peak reaches 0dB regardless of whether it's actually clipping or not.

Reason 2 - Inter-sample peaks. This is quite a complicated subject which will be discussed in an up and coming article. Basically, even though you have your limiter set to catch any peaks, some peaks may still reach higher than 0dB during conversion from digital to analogue. This is down to how the digital signal is converted from absolute numerical values to the smooth curvature of a sound wave. The smoothing process can cause peaks to jump higher than the actual numerical values they represent in digital form. Setting your ceiling to be lower than 0dB helps prevent problems caused by inter-sample peaks.

On the next page is a short video demonstration of the use of a limiter at the end of a basic master chain.

David Eley - TGM Audio

Next page... Demo of a Limiter