Often, these days, we are only busy making our sound as clean as possible. Looking for compression without distortion, and EQ’ing without any weird transients. But what if you are loking for that rough, bulky, heavy sound? Well, this is where, in my view, the Big Blue Limiter comes into the picture. As this limiter loves to create distortion.
As soon as you load Big Blue into your DAW, you’ll notice that the GUI is a bit small. I am used to a high resolution monitor, wide screen. And I would have loved it if the GUI was a bit bigger. The GUI itself is quite straight forward, all the knobs and buttons are right there where you expect them. However some features need some more explanation.
At the top left there is big rotary pre-amp button, appropriately named Drive. This pre-amp imitates the sound of a tube amp. The higher you set it, the more drive it will give your signal before it hits the limiter. Below the drive button we have the look ahead knob. If this is set at o the limiter only has 6 samples of delay which is awfully little. Worth mentioning is that the quality of the limiter increases if you increase the settings of the look ahead.
In the center we have two VU meters, two sliders for threshold and output and two buttons Link L+R and Compare. The first are quite self-explanatory, these VU style meters show the gain reduction for both channels (L and R). However I will explain a bit more about the two last buttons. The Link L+R button, if activated, makes sure the left and right channel get the same amount of limiting. This way the stereo image is preserved.
And then there is the Compare button, which I think is just brilliant! This feature matches the output signal to the input signal. Very useful if you are going to A-B, you’ll only hear a difference in sound and not in volume, often resulting in a distorted image.
With the Output slider you can set the loudness of which your signal is allowed to leave the limiter, creating a kind of auto-gain. As soon as the signal comes in louder than the set value, the gain is being reduced, and will get back in the time you have set with the release button.
Finally there is also a Knee knob for adjusting the limiting response curve. When used together with the release slider, you can adjust the response even further.
The Big Blue Limiter looks nice, however with modern (big) screen resolution I would have loved it if it would have been a little ‘bigger’. This limiter can add some nice ‘dirty’ to your sound. And not only that, the BBL adds warmth to your mix without making your ears bleed. Maybe because the BBL is modelled after vintage tube amps.
They guys at 112dB market the Big Blue Limter with the tag line: ‘… when it’s OOMPH you need.’ And that actually is the truth alright. BBL really adds that OOMPH!
The pricetag of 149 euro is considerable, but in the end I can’t fault it on that because it delivered. So the best way to find out if this is a limiter for you is to test drive the Big Blue Limiter yourself. A demo version is available on the 112DB website (fully functional for 60 days!).