Hard Limiter gone?


I did update my audacity to the latest version recently. Now I’ve noticed that “hard limiter” has gone.

There is a filter named “limiter” instead. I don’t get how it works.

My workflow to audio tracks from videos that I made by myself (these are homemade videos, mostly more lo-fi from smartphones etc.):

  1. High and Lowpass to remove fuzzy frequency garbage at the ends of the spectrum.
  2. Copy the track.
  3. low-passing the one track using a falling line in the equalizer
  4. high-passing the other one using the opposite equalizer settings so both tracks being played togheter have the original sound again
  5. set the low-passed one to mono
  6. cut off the stronger peaks from both tracks using the hard limiter
  7. apply “leveler” to the high-passed track
  8. mixing the two tracks togheter. And low-passing the mix track again with same settings.
  9. set to -6db (this is my standard gain for my homemade video files^^), compress and mux back to the video

This was an every-time-working workflow to kill harsh peaks. This also gave a nice analogue-like old movie sound. Almost every time a quick but good enough result to me.

Now I stuck at step 6 with the new limiter. I tried several settings but it seems to act more like a fast compressor or like recorded at too strong level that a limiter. The sound is pumpy, distorted and more like the results of an record produced for radio stations.

How do I get the old functionality with this new limiter (just rounding the peaks above the threshold without general changes to the dynamics). The upper handle was for threshold and the middle one for soft/hard. I never used the third one and left it to default (i never got what this one does :smiley:).

I don’t want to use compressors at all here. In best case, these just make a record sounding flat and boring at all.

I think the rational was that one of the types in the new tool should do the same thing, although it doesn’t say that in the instructions.


I use more than one Audacity version and you may be able to as well. I’m not sure how it’s done on Windows. I’m not a Windows elf, but Audacity 2.1.0 apparently still has the original hard limiter.

…and I’ll post when I find it.


Ok. I read that manual and I think, “Soft Clip” is the one I want but it doesn’t work as described.

I used following settings from top to bottom: Soft Clip, 0, 0, -10, 25, No

But soft Clip and Hard Clip do the same to the record (just dumbly cutting off everything above the threshold leaving a flat horizontal line).

Try generating a 200 Hz tone. then apply the “Soft Clipping” setting to half of the track an the “Hard Clipping” setting to the other half. The difference is clearly audible even though the waveform does not “look” much different.

If you want a softer effect than the Soft Clipping setting, make a duplicate of the track that you want to process and apply the clipping effect to one of the tracks. Then use the track Gain sliders to adjust the relative levels of the two tracks.
The old “Hard Limiter” effect was equivalent to doing this with a “Hard Clipping” setting, but doing it with a “Soft Clipping” setting will produce less distortion than the old effect.

I tried the sinewave of 200Hz. After I never heard any differences by toggling between them, I inverted one of these tracks and mixed them togheter so only the differences between the tracks remain. The result was a silence… Even if I amplify that result, nothing there.

But I played once more with the settings. I get, what I want, if I apply the soft clip-settings with less threshold but multible times. :mrgreen:

Maybe the soft clip is still too hard for my needs.

But the new compressor-like hard limit setting is very useful for the final steps before saving and was highly missing before :smiley:. Thanks for it :smiley:. No more external VST for that functionality. That damn VST was the last reason to use Windows instead of Ubuntu, because I never found a replacement for that.

Thanks for your help :wink:

You can install Audacity 2.1.0 from here:


Scroll down to the version selector > 2.1.0.

If you install both just right, the older limiter may show up in the newer Audacity. This is part of the Effects Manager. Scroll down to “Manage.”


I get multiple different versions by installing Audacity in custom-named folders under /Applications. I don’t know how it works in Windows.

You might be able to get the older Audacity under Linux and solve all the problems.


Works fine like that in Windows (on 10, 7 and the XP systems I use/used).


I don’t see how that can be happening, other than “user error”, but then I can’t imagine how you could be doing it wrong.
Can anyone reproduce this problem? (I can’t).

No but with a tone generated at 0.8 the difference after mix is at -30.96 dB. It’s too subtle for me to hear when comparing soft and hard clipping on each tone.


Ok… if I amplify it in audacity, there is some strange sound that I only hear using headphones. Yesterday I used my speakers and I amplified by turning the volume of these up. That silent sound may have sunk in the silent hum that comes from the power source of the speakers. I expected a big difference. :unamused:

When there is regular audio instead of the sine wave, the difference is very very little and inaudible :wink: .

I’m sure, I did it the right way. I can’t imagine, what I may have done wrong. I’m using Audacity for years. :smiley:

This is what I get when using the clipping settings in the Limiter effect.
The first half is soft clipping at -10 dB, the second half is hard clipping at -10 dB.
To me the change in sound is immediately obvious. Is it not obvious to you?

That is obvious, but with a sine tone 0.8 or 0.3 amplitude in Windows, default Limiter settings as per Limiter - Audacity Manual, there is no perceptible change in sound between the two halves with normal Hi-Fi Speaker listening.

Can you hear the difference in the attached?


Thanks for the clarification Gale. I agree that for a very small amount of clipping the difference is negligible, but Franky666 wrote that he was using the Limiter with settings:
“Soft Clip, 0, 0, -10, 25, No”
These setting produce a significant amount of clipping when applied to a tone with an original amplitude of 0.8 (linear), and the difference between “soft” and “hard” clipping is clearly noticeable.

Attached is a plug-in that produces the same effect as the old Hard Limiter effect. The controls are a little different (simpler) than the old version.

The “Threshold level (dB)” control sets the level at which clipping is applied.
The “Mix (%)” control sets the “wet/dry” mix percentage. 0% gives the original unprocessed audio. 50% (default) is a 50/50 mix of unprocessed and processed (clipped) audio. 100% is 100% clipped audio.

This is a “Nyquist Plug-in”. Installation instructions are here: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/effect_menu.html#nyquist_effects
Note that, like the original “Hard Limiter” effect, this plug-in creates distortion.
hardclip.ny (749 Bytes)

Agreed too on Windows starting from 0.8 amplitude tone. Inverting the hard clip and mixing into the soft still only gives a result at about -30 dB, but that is easy to hear.


I listened to your audio files.

The “soft-hard-clipping.wav” one:
I hear a difference at the half of the length. I think, the last part is the hard one. If I apply the two kinds of clipping, I don’t get such high difference… :frowning:
I can only hear the difference using my headphones. The reason for it may be that my speakers are more for domestic use than professional.

I have multible sound systems at home:

  • The stereo system isn’t low-end, but also isn’t high-end. Somewhere between but stuck somewhere in the late 90’s. A classic one with stacked Amplifier, Tuner, CD…
  • The 2.1 speakers are homemade and sounds a bit better than most of these systems but aren’t high-end. These don’t have the common gap between the bass.
  • The build-in speakers from the television device. These sounds boomy and more like a bloated sound cloud around the screen. I’m not sure, if these are playing mono or stereo. :mrgreen: Somewhat bulky sound which I can’t really explain…

No way… All systems ate these differences at all.

BTW: The last kind of devices is, what I target with the tracks where I need this limiter. In most cases, my homemade videos are being watched on televisions with ugly audio playback.
But it also needs to sound good using better systems.
If I don’t filter them, there is nothing but noise, klicks (comes from fiddling with the camcorder while recording) and mysterious mumbling somewhere far away.

If I really need to mix something together that must sound good on every audio system, I use headphones for that but I also listen on the two audio systems after finished.

I wrote much…

All in all, I think, a misunderstanding comes up:

  • some of you may use audacity in a more professional way using more professional and expensive equipment that provides bigger differences here. You spend a lot of time in mixing and mastering.
  • I just want audio tracks for my homemade family videos that even works good using the average internal speakers of television devices without adjusting every second of sound there.

Does the plug-in that I made for you (https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/hard-limiter-gone/40867/14) do what you want?

No. The middle slider which was controlling the hardness (or whatever it exactly did) is missing (and it seems to be missing in the new limiter). A wet/dry mix between a clipped and unclipped version I can do by myself easily.

I exactly need the portion of functionality you have dropped to make it “simpler”.

The middle slider was named “Wet Level” and it controlled the output level of the clipped signal.
The third slider was named “Residual Level” and it controlled the output level of the unprocessed “dry” signal.
In other words, the second and third sliders controlled the Wet/Dry mix, but in a rather confusing way that few users understood (including yourself it would seem).

The processed (clipped) signal in the “Hard Limiter” effect is identical to the effect of “hard clipping” setting in Audacity’s new “Limiter” effect. The only thing that is “missing” from the new Limiter effect is a Wet/Dry mix control, which, as you say, is easy enough to do.

If you really want the old Hard Limiter, it can be obtained as one of the plugins in this installer: http://www.fosshub.com/Audacity.html/LADSPA_plugins-win-0.4.15.exe. You may want to install to an arbitrary folder, then copy just “hard_limiter_1413.dll” to the Audacity “Plug-Ins” folder.

Finally, use Effect > Manage… then enable Hard Limiter and OK.