The Sonnox Oxford Limiter is a software plug-in to be used inside a DAW. It can be downloaded off the Sonnox website for installation, and authorized using an iLok.
The purpose of a limiter is to control the loudness of a signal without causing the signal to clip. The Oxford Limiter can be used to achieve this goal, and also contains a fair amount of flexibility compared to other limiters.
The measure of a limiter is how loud it can make a signal before it starts to sound significantly worse. Digital limiting has been around for a while, and have seen many improvements over the years. The Oxford Limiter sounds better to me than other older limiters like the Waves L1 and Maxim.
There are many different parts of mixing where limiters are useful. The most obvious place is for the mix bus to achieve CD level amplitude. My current preference for mix bus limiting is the Slate Digital FG-X plug-in over the Oxford Limiter.
However, I also like to subtly use a limiter on vocals and on my drum bus. I find the FG-X limiter to be a little bit overkill in these situations, so I usually use the Oxford Limiter. I pretty much use this plug-in for all 'auxiliary' limiting situations, rather than on the mix bus.
The Oxford Limiter has been popular for a long time. It contains several controls such as 'attack', 'release', and 'knee' that are typically seen on compressors and not 'stand-alone' limiters. This offers some unique flexibility compared to the competitor plug-ins. The 'Enhance' feature is also unique. Supposedly, it can be used to preserve that transients in a signal that can be destroyed during digital limiting. This can be helpful if you are using the plug-in on your mix bus.
Dithering is important part of mix-down/mastering. Any limiter used for this part of mixing should include a dithering section. The Oxford Limiter has an extensive dithering section, and was designed to be a true mastering limiter.
It's a simple limiter plugin, so it's pretty simple to set up. It's downloadable, install it, and authorize it. Simple as that. I'm sure it comes with a manual, I've never really looked for it because it's a simple program, though. The GUI is also pretty simple. If this is the first limiter people have worked with than they may need to look up some terms and experiment with it. If one has experience with limiters this isn't any more complex than others, even though it works better.
There isn't a lot to say about the stability. It just works. It's not very CPU intensive. You can have a lot of instances running at the same time without any headaches. I run it in FL Studio with a Dell XPS Studio PC running Windows 7. My computer has six cores and 6 GB of RAM but even on computers less suited for music I'm sure there would be no problem. I've been using it for a year and haven't experienced any problems. It's never crashed or got in my way when I'm creating.
I love how transparent the sound is. Other limiters seem to color the sound of the whole track. This plugin does not. I use Sonnox Oxford Limiter very basically, meaning I don't use a lot of the added features. That's not to say they aren't useful, as many others use them. Some of these features are the "enhance" parameter. It basically brightens up the mix the more you turn it up. The GUI is clear and concise. It's not complicated and it's easy to maneuver. This is truly my favorite limiter, even after trying limiters by Waves. I'd definitely make the purchase again and I encourage everyone to try it out. Best limiter I've ever used.
This is a pretty fantastic digital compressor, which is something that a few months ago, I never thought I would be saying about any digital compressor. Setting it up wasn't difficult. The manual pretty much took care of everything, and it was easy to read and follow. I doubt even a novice would have trouble with it. Everything that this plugin can do can be controlled very easily.
The software is some of the better compression software I've seen. It's got a multitude of features. The signal enters and can be controlled at the beginning with the input control, where you control gain. There's a second section that controls attack, release, and knee values. There's finally an output level control, as well as several dithering options. There's another feature called Enhance which is a godsend; it lets you change the rate at which the DAW samples the audio, allowing you to get a tighter, fatter signal without peaking. This is rare for many compressors, which will often peak just before you reach the sound you want. There's another feature that's great for digital compressors called Recon that will make sure that playing the audio back after compression won't cause the sound to clip.
I've never had a problem with the performance of my computer as long as I've been using this plug-in.
I really like the flexibility that this compressor has. It doesn't color the tones in the same way that a tube compressor would, but that's not really possible with digital. Instead, it allows you to really shape the sound from various angles. It's honestly more versatile than most compressors out there as well. For about $400, it's a bit expensive, but if you have no compression at all, and can't afford multiple compressors, then I'd say you'd be better off getting this. Eventually I'd insist that everyone own at least a few outboard, but if you can only do one in the meantime, make it this one.
this plug is very powerful: you can climb up to 18 db of gain. But more importantly it greatly respects the mix, it denatures and nothing is terribly simple and effective. TOP! it has become the benchmark of my mastering chain (placed at the end of course)