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The LIMIT.ONE grew out of a need to address the demands of preparing audio for today’s
evolving digital distribution channels. The way that people obtain music—from free streaming
services to high-resolution downloads to YouTube and all the rest—has transformed the way we
must prepare audio, yet so many of our tools were developed in the analog era, which had
vastly different requirements and expectations.
Specifically, today’s engineers are expected to bring volume levels up to within just a few samples of digital clipping (0dBFS) while still providing clean, professional results. Precision analog devices developed specifically for this purpose are rare, and in their absence a number of questionable practices have emerged: clipping converters, intentionally distorting and clipping the digital waveform, using excessive compression and/or limiting, and—most commonly— relying on digital processing to generate an audio file that approximates the original while peaking dangerously close to clipping. We often call these various methods “brickwall limiting.” The LIMIT.ONE is among a very few all-analog limiters designed specifically to accomplish brickwall limiting while offering ultra-clean, audiophile sound quality before you hit your A-D converter. Achieving your maximum volume before converting to digital is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood aspects of creating truly professional digital masters. By avoiding digital overs in the converter and using the full bit-depth available—rather than “making up” empty bits in the digital realm—your final digital audio file will be both clean and truly full volume. These are the marks of a processional master.
Unlike most digital brickwall limiters, the LIMIT.ONE’s unique circuit maintains the shape of the original waveform as much as possible. The processed wave form is not identical, of course, but rather than being flattened at the peaks, the waveform processed by the LIMIT.ONE can maintain the original (typically rounded) shape. We might say that the LIMIT.ONE can be more faithful to the original signal while still providing brickwall limiting. These unique abilities of the LIMIT.ONE are accomplished by employing a current controlled attenuator between two Pikatron transformers. We’ve taken this core design from the renown broadcast limiters developed in the 1960s by TAB Funkenwerk, specifically the later models Printed in GERMANY © 2016 rockruepel Pro.Audio. All rights reserved. which were solid state designs utilizing dual transformers. However, we have added significant updates and features that make the LIMIT.ONE as powerful and effective in the digital era as the U73s were at the height of the analog era.
Of course, clean brickwall limiting is not the only use of the LIMIT.ONE’s unique circuits, and we encourage creative uses for it that go beyond the original intentions. You’ll soon find that there a many unique ways to use the LIMIT.ONE whether you’re mastering, mixing, tracking or even working in a live concert setting. Some of those other uses will be explored after we take a closer look at the unit’s unique controls and features