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Review - Flux:: Pure Limiter
o me Flux is at the top of the food chain of dynamics and clean processing. When I first tried their products I had barely heard of them and didn’t know what to expect at all. Needless to say, Solera blew me away, and is still to this day the only reviewed product here at ProTooler that have been branded wicked. Lets see what the new Pure Limiter can bring to the table.
May we all be pure
The Pure Limiter is the latest addition to Flux Pure Series that also consists of Pure Compressor, Pure Expander, Pure DCompressor and Pure DExpander. Besides being the first de-compressor and de-expander I’ve ever seen, these sweethearts are perhaps the cleanest dynamic tools you will ever use – and thus the name “Pure”. Besides the Pure Series, Flux also has the Master Pack including their flagship Solera and the very “pure” EQ Epure, as well as the freebie Bitter-Sweet.
“Wait a minute!” you might say, “a master pack without a limiter? that’s bloody stupid!”. Well, actually Solera can be set to act as a limiter, and so can the Pure Compressor. If you set the ratio to 1:1000 it’s technically a limiter. Why the need for Pure Limiter then? They are different, the algorithms are different and the options in Pure Limiter are different, so setting Pure Compressors ratio to 1:1000 will make it a limiter, but it will not make it the Pure Limiter. Am I making any sense?
Let me start by saying this, the Flux plug-ins look great. The interface of Pure Limiter looks a little like the rest of the Pure Series but not as much as you might expect. First of all, it isn’t a thin standing unit (can you say that about a plug-in?), and secondly it has some added features that makes it look a little different.
One of these things is the waveform window, not actually a separate window, more like a display actually… Anyhow, this window or display will show two different things, either the waveform of the original signal and the processed signal or only the processed signal but with a histogram of the release. You switch between them easily by clicking on the two buttons. This is actually very useful, and I assume this is something even full-fledged mastering engineers will appreciate. Pure Limiter of course also have the regular meters, which you can see at the top picture.
Flux plug-in utilizes in my opinion the single best preset system in any plug-in. Their plug-ins have two slots to which you can both load presets. In-between them is a slider that lets you blend these two presets. You will see this in real-time, as the knobs turn when you move the slider. It’s a brilliant system. With the 1.2 update of the Flux plug-ins, the preset system was changed a lot. The basic principle described above still applies, but it is now easier to deal with them in the preset window that pops up when you click any of the preset slots. The bugs that could occur in the previous version is now also gone. There are two not so good things though: 1) the old preset window was dark and good looking, the new one isn’t… 2) there aren’t many presets included.
Flux usually say that their plug-ins should be easy to operate, while still allowing users to do advanced settings. In the Pure Limiter this is especially apparent in the release mode, which can be set to manual, auto or advanced mode with the release mode slider. With the advanced mode engaged you have the option of changing maximum and minimum release values, velocity (speed of variation between maximum and minimum values), hold, HPF and LPF. Beneath these controls there are two button: link channels and RL filter solo. The latter allows monitoring of the signal feeding the release value. You of course have all the regular settings as well, like input and output gain, as well as threshold and knee which can be linked so that setting one of them automatically sets the other.
It should be apparent by now that Pure Limiter is close to soundless. There is probably as little coloration as you can imagine. This is the heart of the Pure Series as a whole. I have used the Pure Limiter since it was in beta and have used several limiters alongside it during this time to try to get a feel for how they all are different. McDSP ML4000, Digidesign Dyn 3, the Logic limiter and Massey are some of the limiters I have used at the same time. Let me just say this, stock limiters have absolutely nothing to put up against Pure Limiter. Actually, not many limiters have much to put up against Pure Limiter. While others begin to pump or smash the transients with ugly artifacts, the Pure Limiter is just getting started.
With the more “pro accepted” plug-in limiters it’s a different match however. Some of them are hard to compare though. For instance, the McDSP ML4000 – like all McDSP products – uses a whole different way to deal with clipping which makes it a very different product altogether, and just a matter of taste. The Massey on the other hand is a bare-bone limiter that – while good – lacks very much of the functionality of Pure Limiter. With this in regard I find it very hard to pick one limiter that’s “better” than the others among the top. If I’d say one thing that sets it aside from most other limiters besides the “pureness” and the flexibility, it would be that it almost never starts pumping. I was very impressed by this.
If you want to give it a listen for yourself, then you should check out the thread on Gearslutz where the Pure Limiter is up against a very famous crowd of competitors… And dare I say, that from that comparison it is, to my ears, one of the best without a doubt.
I wouldn’t say that Pure Limiter is necessarily the best limiter to go for if you want one, and only one, limiter. The reason for this is that sometimes a little coloration can be nice, and you won’t find this in Pure Limiter. This is of course a conscious decision by Flux, which with the Pure Series have strived to create a set of very clean dynamic tools. They have most definitely succeeded with this, as was apparent with the release of Solera and the original lineup in the Pure Series. Pure Limiter is a natural extension of the Pure Series, and certainly worthy of carrying the Pure name. It boasts some very useful features, like the detailed release settings, the A-B preset system and not least the waveform view. Couple this with one of the best dynamic handling algorithms and you got a product that any mastering engineer should check out when making the decision on what limiter to use.