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With the L3 Peak Limiter, Waves has once again created an entirely new category of audio processor. Like its predecessors, the acclaimed L1 and L2 limiters, the L3 is destined to become an indispensable tool for professional mixing and mastering by offering unprecedented control over multi-band peak limiting. The key to the L3’s power is its patent-pending Peak Limiting Mixer™ (PLMixer™) engine. The L3 differs from conventional wide band and multi-band limiters in several ways:
Unlike wide band limiters, the L3 first uses linear phase crossover filters to divide the audio spectrum into five bands. The PLMixer™ then uses psychoacoustic criteria to intelligently decide how much attenuation to apply to each band so that all available headroom is used. The result is that intermodulation is minimized and overall loudness is maximized, while brick-wall limiting is still maintained—all while retaining the simplicity of a single master threshold control.
Unlike traditional multi-band limiters, the PLMixer™ doesn’t require a wide band peak limiter to catch overshoots generated by individual band adjustments. Instead, the PLMixer™ automatically controls the gain relationship between the bands.
The L3's Priority control allows the user to control the relative limiting of each band. This unique control lets users adjust the tonal character of the L3 over a wide range, while maintaining brick-wall limiting.
The L3 allows a 12dB boost or cut in each band in addition to the limiting applied to each band. In effect, this feature functions exactly like a Linear Phase EQ placed before the limiting section of the L3, making the L3 an all-in-one final mastering tool. The L3 features a linear phase crossover which doesn't introduce phase distortion between the frequency bands. The crossover points are selectable by the user.
While the technology of the PLMixer™ allows the L3 to be extraordinarily transparent, additional controls allow it to emulate the color and character of vintage limiters. The Separation control, for example, adjusts the independence of each band; when set to 0, the bands do not react separately, and so the L3 functions—and sounds—like a wide band limiter. The Master Release alters the L3’s Adaptive Release Control (ARC), offering a Warm, Scaled, Aggressive, and Manual tonal options in addition to the standard ARC setting.
Rounding out the L3’s feature set is the acclaimed Waves dithering and noise shaping section, which delivers the highest perceived quality of sound after quantizing.
The L3 comes in two versions: the Multimaximizer™, which includes all of the features listed above, and the Ultramaximizer™ , which uses the same PLMixer™ but offers limited controls.
With its transparent operation, brick-wall limiting, extreme tonal range and dithering and noise shaping control, the L3 can function as a complete mastering processor.