Limiting problems causing distortion

Posted on

Member Since: Mar 31, 2008

Hi there all,

I've come across this problem before but resolved it. I've purchased a new card since and it's returned and i can't remember how i fixed it lol.


I mix my project in cubase sx 3 and have done a mixdown on it to move it for mastering.

When i get down to the final process, *the limiting* i get horrible crackling and distortion.

I know this just sounds like im pushing the threshold too much, but the distortion starts almost immediately after getting some attenuation on the track. Basically as soon as the limiter starts working. I used to be able to get the threshold a lot lower, and even then it wasnt the same kind of audio breakup i was getting.

I've tried several limiters and sequencers (thanks to a friend), all resulting in the same problem.

It's happened on both the sound cards i have owned, different sequencers and different plugins. So im assuming its a hardware problem.

I was just hoping someone might have had a similar problem or might know how i could start going about fixing it.

Thanks in advance for any help,

Sorry for the rambling but its not easy to describe lol


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Since: Apr 03, 2002

Mar 31, 2008 10:04 am

Are you limiting while recording or is this on playback? If during recording, if it's only software limiting, the limiting could be too late, as the clipped audio is still slipping the A/D convertors, try limiting or compressing BEFORE getting to the computer to eliminate clips.

I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Mar 31, 2008 11:00 am

In Cubase I find that putting effects on the master bus is one of the most demanding things on my computer. I get a lot more pops, crackles, and glitches in the sound when I put effects on the master bus.

Try mixing down your project without anything on the master bus. then take the stereo .wav and load it into its own project and apply all of your dynamics/EQ/whatever final effects there and see if the problem persists.

Just a shot in the dark anyways.

Since: Mar 03, 2008

Mar 31, 2008 11:28 am

Do you need to limit? Is the audio clipping to begin with or are you just trying to get your foot into the loudness wars? It does sound to me that you are pushing it too hard. Bottom line is, if you don't need to limit, then why limit?

A limiter is meant to prevent clipped peaks but if by applying a limiter you're getting clipping, you're either setting the threshold too low and the make up gain too high or the song is plenty loud and you don't need to make it any louder.

All that being said, try increasing your audio buffers. If this doesn't make the crackling go away, you could probably do without the limiting.

Since: Mar 03, 2008

Mar 31, 2008 12:00 pm

Here's the answer you got from Jeremy over at Just for the sake of anyone who might find it useful:

[quote]First step -

If you're preparing your track for mastering - don't use a limiter. Period.

Let your mastering engineer use his/her limiter.

Your mix should have headroom prior to going to the ME. If it doesn't, there's very little they can do to your mix except fix (to varying degrees) the horrible mess made by the plug-in limiter you're using. [/quote]

Incidentally, Jeremy does mastering in his studio which probably is worth more than a house on the East Side of Vancouver(500Gs or more ;p).

Since: Mar 31, 2008

Mar 31, 2008 04:53 pm


Thanks all for the reply.

I thought i made it clear that i had already done a mixdown of the track when i said..

'I mix my project in cubase sx 3 and have done a mixdown on it to move it for mastering.'

I've tried the limiter with it being the only plugin in the entire track. 1 audio file, one plugin. Im sorry if i didnt make it clear.

I only use a limiter as the final, final plugin at the mastering stage. Never during mixing, never before anything else.

Nobody NEEDS to limit, i just dont want my recording 15db lower than anything in the genre.

And yes it is software limiting, in which i've tried different ones, which all yeild the same results.

Really appreciate the feedback though and anything else anyone can offer :)

Since: Mar 03, 2008

Mar 31, 2008 05:43 pm

So, have you tried increasing your buffers?

Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Mar 31, 2008 05:45 pm

That would be my first guess for crackle pops. Is strange though that only one plugin on a singal wave file would do that.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Mar 31, 2008 05:56 pm

stranger yet, that several different plugs, all exhibit the same behavior.

Maybe something got changed in the render / mixdown settings. So now you're opening a different sample rate file? or something like that.

i dunno, sounds pretty odd.

Since: Mar 31, 2008

Apr 01, 2008 04:10 am

Yeah tell me about it! lol something defo isn't right.

Yes i have tried buffer increase, though my card latency on my emu 1212m is 20ms which i find rather high to what i had previously. Maybe it's related to my problem.

Thanks for the replys! I'll get there! (hopefully).

If not its back to mopping floors for me! lol

*small violin plays.

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
Since: May 10, 2002

Apr 01, 2008 09:02 am

Fill out your profile. Spec out your computer the best you can. Many mastering plugs are pretty demanding as is Cubase. Cubase is also fairly finiky as to how it works with different sound interfaces.

Since: Mar 31, 2008

Apr 01, 2008 12:01 pm

Yeah, i agree. It's just it doesnt explain why it has worked for a year previously. This is what is baffeling me.

That's why im having trouble finding the problem as its worked flawlessy with my current setup for months.


Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Apr 01, 2008 12:10 pm

What has changed?

Also, won't hurt to create a seperate user profile for XP and try that.

Answer:On a good day, lipstick.
Since: Jun 24, 2004

Apr 01, 2008 02:02 pm

Sounds like beffers to me. When I mix I usually adjust the buffers back to the 100 mark. since I'm not tracking it really doesn't affect things much. If you have a high track count, and are using mucho VST effects the cpu gets hit pretty hard.

Since: Mar 31, 2008

Apr 01, 2008 05:53 pm

Thanks again for the reply's.

Interestingly setting the buffers to the maximum 100ms then setting back did seem to solve the problem, i think. I'll have to test some more tommorow. I tried setting lower originally but not all the way down. Maybe it woke something up lol.

I mean, its really unpractical as the sound meters are sluggish and unaccurate so it kind of ruins it in that respect.

But what interested me that the buffers had some effect, maybe it's emu's drivers. Maybe i should google some latency issue related questions and see if that can help me.

Appreciated everyone! I just wanna make some music. lol :)

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