Hard Limiter

Hi All…

New to the Audacity world. Basic question for a newbie. I was watching a video on youtube that was giving me tips on how to make my voice sound better etc. One of the steps in the video mentioned going to the “Limiter”… The only limiter in my options to choose from was hard limiter. In the video, it looks like:


And his tips were:
Hard Limit for voice-overs
Gain 3-4dB
Limit -3dB (single track) to -4.5dB (multitrack)
Hold 2.0

But in my version of Audacity, it didn’t look like the persons in the video, it looked liked below:


So clearly he has a newer version, but for my older version as Im on Windows 7. Is the above options for the gain limit hold able to be done on my version? I did all the other steps mentioned in the video I saw but left out the hard limit option and it sounded fine. Just learning :slight_smile: thanks

The current version of Audacity (2.4.2) will probably work fine on Windows 7 even though it’s not “officially” supported.

Audacity’s built-in limiter was improved some time ago so you must be using a rather old version of Audacity.

The old hard limiter will clip (distort) the waveform. As a rule, distortion should be avoided but it will alter the character/quality of the sound and you might like what a little clipping does to your voice. So, you can go-ahead and try the old limiter.

The new limiter won’t distort the waveform and a reasonable amount will of the “new and improved” limiting have almost no effect on the “quality”.

Gain 3-4dB

That’s useless unless he knows where you’re starting. The Amplify effect will default to whatever up or down gain is required for normalized (“maximized”) 0dB peaks.

Then if you hard-limit to -3dB your new reduced/limited peaks will be -3dB. And you can optionally apply make-up gain (or Amplify again) to bring everything up by +3dB, bringing your peaks back to 0dB. And you can run the whole process over again if you want “more”.

There is a [u]Recommend Audiobook Mastering Process[/u] and it’s also good for voiceover with the exception that there usually isn’t a -3dB peak limit for voiceover so you can set the limiter to 0dB. But, it’s really intended to make your voice “sound better”. It will get your levels in-spec (for ACX Audiobooks) and it will check your noise level. …It’s assuming you’re starting-out with a good recording of a good performance.

Thanks much. Yeah I saw that my version I have is the Audacity 2.1.0 I was going to download the latest, but it said it wasn’t supported, but if you think it would be fine… I should give it a go?

Unless you want a distorted effect, use soft limiter with hold of 10ms or longer …


Thanks but that doesnt show up on mine as stated with the pic of what showed on his version and mine. I only have Hard Limiter available nothing else on mine.

Even though Audiobook Mastering is designed for ACX/Audible, their requirements are stiff and it’s a pretty good assumption if you can pass that, you can submit anywhere else. Their specifications are traceable to broadcast proof of performance.

Fair warning, home readers have some nasty surprises when they set up their new microphone on the kitchen table like the manufacturers keep insisting they can do. In particular background noise at -60dB. In English, your room noises have to be 1000 times quieter than your voice. If you can tell your computer is on just by listening, it’s going to be a long day.

Don’t fall in love with hard limiter. As Trebor, above, that’s the effect used for taxicab dispatch, two-way radio, and air-traffic controller.

“United Two Five, clear for approach two four right, contact ground control one two eight point two.”



Are you sure you’re in Audacity 2.4.2?

Screen Shot 2020-11-04 at 4.29.35 PM.png

No. I wrote in the first reply, I have 2.1.0. I was going to get latest, but it says its not supported by windows 7. First reply to this mentioned they thought it would be okay even though it says not supported. Shrugs.

OK. Try this. Attached: “limiter.ny.” It’s a Nyquist plugin dated May 2015 and may need to be installed to get all the fancy tools.

limiter.ny (1.52 KB)

First reply to this mentioned they thought it would be okay even though it says not supported.

Sometimes that means it will work OK, but if you run into trouble, we may not be able to help you. In the same sense that Microsoft recently said they no longer support Win7. Machines don’t just fall over dead, and no, I’m not going to put my Win7 computer out in the garage.

See if that limiter plugin works.


I may be able to remember the earlier process for audiobook mastering. There was one. It was a little more involved, but it did work. It was the model for the current one.

There was one before that, too, but it qualifies as an instrument of torture by the State of California. Not recommended.


Oh. I remember this. You had to import Low Rolloff for Speech custom curve and settings into Effect > Equalization and then be careful how you used it. That’s the rumble filter needed because so many home microphones have low pitch noise and distortion.

Attached LF_rolloff_for_speech.xml.zip

LF_rolloff_for_speech.xml.zip (326 Bytes)
Unzip it to the .xml file and install it in Effect > Equalization. I’ll remember how to do that any minute now.

You sure you can’t borrow a more modern computer for a while.


Effect > Equalization > Manage > Import: point it to the .xml file > OK.

And then run it. I don’t remember the magic for that, but when you get it installed and running, it should look like this.

Screen Shot 2020-11-04 at 5.17.29 PM.png
If you have a very deep, rumbly announcing voice, Low Rolloff may take a little of the gutsiness out of it, but it’s worth it because of everything else it does.

I need to go look for an older machine to recall all the steps.


You need to download and install RMS Normalize. The older Audacity didn’t have a convenient way to set RMS (loudness).

rms-normalize.ny (810 Bytes)
I know this looks like a college class in effects and software management, but when you get it done, it’s three steps to go from raw reading to audiobook submission—assuming you read in a quiet, echo-free room and don’t make any mistakes.

All that and it sounds exactly like you with no noticeable distortion.

Effect > Equalization: Low Rolloff, length about 5000 > OK.
Effect > RMS Normalize: -20dB > OK.
Effect > Soft Limiter: -3.5dB and I don’t remember the other settings, but they were default.

That’s it. I announced into a Zoom stand-alone sound recorder, cut it to length, applied those three tools and made it past the ACX technical requirements for audiobooks—according to ACX. I submitted it. That was back when they allowed you to do that.

That wasn’t high enough, so I had to add one roll of “bathroom tissue” to the stack to get it up to mouth level.


Audacity 2.4.2 “probably” does work on Windows 7. We have multiple reports saying that it does, but Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft. We do not officially support obsolete operating systems, we do not test on Windows 7, and if there are any issues that only occur on Windows 7 they will probably not be fixed unless they are also relevant to supported operating systems.

Obviously it would be best to upgrade your operating system as soon as possible, but if you are stuck for now with Windows 7, you could try Audacity 2.4.2 and if it does not work for you, revert back to an earlier version. Most of the old releases are available here: https://www.fosshub.com/Audacity-old.html