13 Best Limiter VST Plugins 2022

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Best Limiter VST Plugins

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Chances are you already know the power of a compressor and value it highly in your mixing workflow. A limiter is like a superpowered compressor with the ability to boost the loudness of your mixes and even add some nice saturation and warmth, depending on the module.

To that it extent, limiters fit in rather naturally with a mastering workflow, but that isn’t to say they aren’t also valuable when it comes to mixing, and there are several in this guide that are in fact, best suited to mixing purposes.

In this guide, we look at the best limiter VST plugins on the market.

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FabFilter Pro-L 2 by FabFilter – Best Overall

FabFilter Pro-L 2 by FabFilter – Best Overall

FabFilter Pro-L 2 is very simply a limiting masterpiece. The fact that it comes with eight limiting algorithms may well be enough to elevate it to legendary status already. But it doesn’t just give you control over the type of sound, it’s the best of both worlds – transparent sound and maximum loudness.

We could be here all day talking about the features, whether it’s the real-time level display, up to 32x linear-phase oversampling, surround support, unity gain, separate channel linking, MIDI learn, or otherwise.

But it’s a FabFilter plugin, and FabFilter plugins always come loaded to the rafters!

It is the right one for you? Be sure to check out the introductory video below, as it offers a solid overview of all that the FabFilter Pro-L 2 limiter makes available.

Trying to choose the “best” plugin in this category was challenging. There are so many great options from a variety of developers. That said, Pro-L 2 is feature rich, highly reliable, and great sounding. So, we had to make it our best overall pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Oxford Limiter V3 by Sonnox – Best Premium Option

Oxford Limiter V3 by Sonnox – Best Premium Option

With your mix dialed in, you’re ready to take your track to the next level. Sonnox’ Oxford Limiter V3 promises to deliver maximum loudness, presence, and density, while keeping the transient detail and clarity your mix so deserves.

This true peak limiter conforms to the accepted industry standard of ITU-R BS.1770-4, so you can maximize without worry. It includes controls for attack, release, and variable soft-knee for fine tuning.

From a transparent boost to a saturated creative effect, Oxford Limiter V3 can give you exactly the type of limiting you need. It also features advanced lookahead processing, and an Enhance function, which helps reduce the possibility of clipping.

Oxford Limiter V3 also comes with a Recon meter, Auto Comp, TPDF dither for 24-bit and 16-bit output word lengths, four types of variable strength noise shaping modes, and a factory preset library.

Some producers feel Oxford Limiter V3 loses a bit of the high-end sparkle. We can’t confirm or deny this, but it might be something to look out for. Depending on the mix, you may not get the desired results, so experiment before committing.

Despite the potential downside, there’s plenty to gain from Oxford Limiter V3, so it’s our best premium pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

TDR Limiter 6 GE by Tokyo Dawn Labs – Best Budget Option

TDR Limiter 6 GE by Tokyo Dawn Labs – Best Budget Option

It’s been around a while, but it doesn’t seem any worse for wear. The only thing that’s changed is that Tokyo Dawn Labs’ TDR Limiter 6 GE is more affordable than it has ever been.

At its release, it was a revelation, but it’s still worth a look today, with its sheer power, versatility, and surgical dynamics shaping functionality.

More than a mere limiter, this dynamics compression and limiting toolkit comes with six modules you can arrange as you see fit. There’s a dynamics compressor, clipper, high-frequency limiter, peak limiter, output protection limiter, and a true peak and EBU loudness meter included. That basically makes it a channel strip.

TDR Limiter 6 GE also features true peak and EBU R128 compliant loudness metering, equal loudness bypass, presets, plus other creative features.

The introductory video is hilariously 20 minutes long, so that gives you an idea all the possibilities TDR Limiter 6 GE sets at your fingertips. It’s more than qualified to be our best budget option.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Oxford Inflator by Sonnox

Oxford Inflator by Sonnox

Sonnox intends to make the job of limiting as easy as possible, with the streamlined but powerful and great sounding Oxford Inflator.

A quick glance at the user interface will tell you most of what you need to know. You’ve got controls for input, effect, curve, and output. And this is all you really need to get polished results.

The best part about Oxford Inflator is that it can boost your track’s loudness without affecting the quality or dynamic range of the track. If you drive it hard, it will respond in kind with a tube-like warmth to glue your tracks together.

Check out the video below to see all that Oxford Inflator can do to make your mixes louder and punchier.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Big Clipper by Boz Digital Labs

Big Clipper by Boz Digital Labs

Clippers are powerful enough on their own. A big clipper, on the other hand? Well, that’s a different matter, says Boz Digital Labs.

Big Clipper is both a clipper and a limiter (so you don’t have to pick), with the ability to blend the two in four different ways (two crossover modes, a blend mode, and a serial mode).

Better still, Big Clipper doesn’t struggle where most clippers struggle. You can push this baby hard, and it will retain the cohesiveness of your mixes.

Big Clipper even comes with what first appears to be EQ controls. But it’s no ordinary EQ. These controls let you adjust the clipper’s sensitivity to different frequencies. If you want to keep the low end clean, then dial down the sensitivity for less distortion.

The video below shows you how to use the Big Clipper as a bass driver. This is just one of many ways you can use this VST plugin to push your mixes to a new level.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

NEVO by SoundSpot

NEVO by SoundSpot

SoundSpot’s NEVO is another “big” clipper solution with a 16-band soft clipper, single-band hard clipper, coloration settings, transient shaper, as well as a final clip wall limiter. You can’t arrange these modules like you would with the TDR Limiter 6 GE, but the developer promises they’ve been organized into ideal signal flow.

Whether it’s for individual tracks, groups, busses, mixes, or masters, NEVO can be used in a variety of creative ways.

The drive function lets you add a light tape drive. With the curve control, you can transition through the clipping of the low and high end of your sound. The smooth control increases the 16 clipping bands while smoothing the drive effect.

Further, you can add a bit crushing effect with crush, control the transient amounts you want to pass through the clipping with breach, use the soften dial to smooth out the sound, affect the type of color you want to add to your sound with coloration (warm, transparent, bright), control transient emphasis (low, mid, high), and control the clip wall (final brick-wall limiter).

NEVO is one of the most unique limiters out there, so if you’re looking for something different, this VST plugin should interest you.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Devil-Loc Deluxe by Soundtoys

Devil-Loc Deluxe by Soundtoys

Soundtoys’ Devil-Loc Deluxe is fun, useful, and inspiring. Simply load it onto your mix bus and notice how it instantly transforms your tracks.

Soundtoys calls Devil-Loc Deluxe an “audio level designer.” The simple design of the plugin was based on the 1960s Shure Level-Loc brick wall limiter designed for use with public address systems. With extreme compression and gritty warmth, producers quickly assimilated into their workflow and loved the creative results.

Just as the Shure unit was simplistic in design, Devil-Loc only features a few controls – crush, crunch, darkness, and mix dials, as well as a release switch (slow or fast). That’s more flexibility than the Shure Level-Loc had, though, because it was basically a one dial wonder.

If you prefer simplicity, you’ll be glad to know Devil-Loc Deluxe comes bundled with the original, more simplistic Devil-Loc plugin – featuring just two control knobs.

Whether drums, room mics, vocals, or acoustic guitar, Devil-Loc can add some lovely flavor to your tracks, especially if you love huge, nasty compression.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

The Wall by Boz Digital Labs

The Wall by Boz Digital Labs

Boz Digital Labs’ The Wall, just as it sounds, is a brick wall limiter that lets you push your mixes to their limit without losing mix cohesion.

Most limiters will take your mixes and render them useless, especially when pushed hard. Which is why The Wall was created in the first place. This mastering limiter will preserve your tones and the punch of your drums, while boosting the overall loudness of your track.

Further simplifying the limiting process, Boz Digital Labs took 30 parameters and combined them into a singular Flavor control. That makes the limiter especially easy to operate. Having set the level, all you need to do is adjust the Flavor dial until it sounds right to your ears.

The Wall also comes with three limiting algorithms, dual limiting modes, sanity check (normalizes your level), up to 8x oversampling, and dithering.

For those who appreciate something a little different, a little easier to use, a little more “instant,” The Wall is ideal.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

BUTE Limiter 2 by Signum Audio

BUTE Limiter 2 by Signum Audio

Signum Audio’s BUTE Limiter 2 is a smooth, transparent true peak brickwall limiter.

This sound crusher (and I use that term affectionately) comes with linear phase upsampling, advanced adaptive auto release, five release curves, pre-gain, post-gain, and automatic max target functionality, three layouts (resizable history view, vertical metering view, horizontal control view), automatic DAW sync and re-metering.

It also includes history for true peak, true peak output, threshold, and gain reduction, warning system for post-gain overshoots, in-depth history analysis, and up to 10-channel surround.

One of the best things about the BUTE Limiter is probably just how easy it is to use. There aren’t endless parameters to tweak, and the interface is primarily focused on the visualization of your audio’s signal.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Maximal 3 by Venomode

Maximal 3 by Venomode

Venomode’s Maximal 3 is a combination true-peak brickwall limiter, soft clipper, and loudness meter (broadcast standard). Venomode likes to call it a “loudness maximizer.”

True-peak limiting comes with lookahead and brickwall limiting, four limiter modes, as well as attack and release controls.

The variable soft clipping can be used to tame peaks prior to limiting, or to add warmth to mixes, as a creative tool. Maximal 3 comes with an adjustable curve for soft to hard, meaning you can chop transients or add saturation to mixes or individual tracks.

The dedicated loudness metering section is based on the ITU-R BS.1770-4 specification. The target loudness of meters can be set to any level, though.

To curtail aliasing and inter-sample peaks, Maximal 3 comes with up to 16x oversampling utilizing linear-phase resampling filters.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

CLA-2A Compressor / Limiter by Waves

CLA-2A Compressor / Limiter by Waves

If you’re a fan of the electro-optical Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveling Amplifier tube compressor and its frequency dependent behavior that made it so sought after, then you will enjoy what’s on offer with Waves’ CLA-2A Compressor / Limiter. This module is perfect for voice, guitars, and even basses.

CLA-2A comes with Chris Lord-Alge’s personal presets, compressor and limiter modes, sidechain frequency filter, zero latency, mix control for easy parallel compression, and trim control for level adjustment.

You can tell from the graphical user interface that, at its core, CLA-2A is about as simplistic as you can get. CLA-2A will add some nice smoothness, punch, and fullness on any track you use it on, and it can make any track – such as a vocal track – really pop in a mix.

This is a great compressor / limiter for mixing purposes.

Learn more: Waves

CLA-76 Compressor / Limiter by Waves

CLA-76 Compressor / Limiter by Waves

Waves resurfaces another classic Class A line level limiting amplifier (1176LN Classic Limiting Amplifier) in the form of the CLA-76 Compressor / Limiter. Both versions (switch between them at the click of a mouse) – Blacky and Bluey – come with a superfast attack, an ALL control for the much rumored “all-buttons-in” mode, and a modeled preamp distortion. These babies sound incredible on drums.

Overall, CLA-76 can add some serious punch to your drums, especially with more extreme settings.

The video below shows exactly how the CLA-76 Compressor / Limiter works. While it’s relatively easy to operate, there are some nuances that make it work, and these are worth studying if you’re interested in this vintage style limiter.

Learn more: Waves

dbx 160 Compressor / Limiter by Waves

dbx 160 Compressor / Limiter by Waves

The original dbx 160 compressor is considered one of the best drum compressors ever created. No wonder Waves wanted to create their own dbx 160 Compressor / Limiter plugin, developed in collaboration with none other than dbx.

With a clear sound and minimum THD, the original hardware was especially popular in the late 70s and throughout the 80s. Looking to extend its feature set, Waves added MS Matrix, mix and noise controls, as well as a stereo component.

In the video below, you’ll be able to hear the dbx 160 Compressor / Limiter on drums.

Learn more: Waves

What Should I Look For In A Limiter VST Plugin?

More than likely, your DAW has a stock compressor / limiter module. It might be good enough for demos, sketches, and samples, but chances are it’s not going to cut it for official releases you want to share with the world.

Whether you’re mixing or mastering, a good limiter will add without taking away, boost your track’s loudness, and if desired, add a bit of analog coloration to the result. Depending on what you want, a limiter can do even more than that. As such, it’s worth investing in a good limiter you can rely on.

But this also means limiters aren’t overly complicated. They are effectively extreme compressors with additional controls for fine tuning. Some come with more, some come with less, but for the most part, they are simplistic in design (if sophisticated under the hood).

That said, you can still end up with a bad limiter. Some are going to sacrifice mix cohesion, clarity, or even certain frequencies. That’s why a high-quality limiter is critical to your workflow, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of mastering. Though, again, limiters can be valuable for mixing and mastering processes alike.

Here, we’ll consider a few factors that can help you arrive at a buying decision faster:

  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s dive into each.

Sound Quality

With increasing loudness as its primary function, a limiter isn’t necessarily there to add much or any coloration to your tracks. Such options are available, of course, and depending on the limiter, pushing it hard can add that pleasant analog warmth classic hardware units are known for.

But unless otherwise noted, transparent limiting is generally a good place to start, especially for newbies. You want to add loudness to your tracks without sacrificing mix cohesion, clarity, detail, and so forth. You want the limiter to enhance your mixes, not tear them apart.

If a limiter can do that, it should get passing grades. From there, you might consider other parameters and controls, coloration, presets, user interface (visualization), and things like that.

But first and foremost, sound quality should be examined closely. With plenty of videos and audio samples available, you can hear exactly how a limiter sounds and get a sense of whether it’s going to work for your projects.

Some homework is generally par for course. You can buy on a recommendation, and that’s not a bad idea, but pair it with some of your own observations and research. If you’re the one that’s going to be using the limiter, then you should know how it affects the sound of your mixes, and chances are you’ll have a better working experience with a limiter you like.

Features

There aren’t necessarily a ton of features you can add to a limiter. You can have different limiting algorithms, clippers, frequency sensitivity controls, things like that. And of course, if you really wanted to, you could offer a ton of granular, tweakable parameters that affect the outcomes of the limiting.

At the end of the day, it’s still a matter of whether the limiter does what it says it does. All the features in the world generally aren’t going to make up for bad sound.

The above are all quality limiters, even if some do have their own shortcomings. So, it’s worth exploring what features are available. It just doesn’t matter to the extent that sound quality matters.

Because what it all comes down to is whether you can achieve desired results. If the tool works, perfect. If not, you’d want to select something else.

Budget

You can spend about $50 to $250 on a limiter, but they certainly aren’t as expensive as some categories of plugins. It makes sense. Limiting is important, but it’s essentially a utility – like de-essing or noise gate – though limiters generally do have more utility than those.

Also, unlike other categories of plugins you generally don’t need more than two or three limiters in your VST library, and that’s being generous. So, you’re probably not going to end up spending a lot on limiters in the grand scheme of things.

But this still comes with the usual disclaimer that we recommend against going into debt for any VST plugin purchase. If you need to save up, save up. Otherwise, keep within your budget and you shouldn’t have any regrets.

Top Limiter VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

When it comes to making great mixes, there’s always a lot to think about. There are many tools you need to use to enhance your tracks. Though it can be easy to forget, a limiter plays a key part in the process, maximizing your track’s loudness.

But now that you’ve combed through this guide, you’re equipped with everything you need to know to find the limiter VST plugin that’s right for you. Purchase it, download it, install it, and start experimenting with it today.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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