If you have to use the Ableton Live limiter for your master limiting, you may have noticed it can soften your drums very easily. Well, try this.
Insert a Saturator first, and try, say, 2 dB of Drive; Saturator will always clip your peaks a bit, and this will take some of the stress of the limiter as peaks will be hitting the limiter less.
Then, a good tip in audio engineering in general can be to share the heavy lifting between two instances if using one instance doesn’t sound smooth enough. So, share the workload between a few limiters.
Here, I have four Ableton limiters, and I was doing roughly 5 dB of limiting with them in total (note that even though the total Gain of those makes 10 dB, that’s just gain towards the threshold).
I tested this method against my favorite limiters, and I’d say it works quite alright compared to doing all the desired limiting with just one Ableton Limiter, which makes it too soft.
Always make sure to do a lot of on/off and pay attention to what this does to the sound…you want to go for smooth, transparent limiting, avoiding distortion.
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