Version 2 of the renowned Sonnox Oxford Limiter [Tape Op #68] introduces the plug-in to the UAD-2 platform and brings with it a few under-the-hood updates. For those already familiar with Oxford Limiter, not a great deal has changed on the surface. Most notably, the Auto-Comp mode has been updated to fully comply with the ITU-R BS.1770-4 true-peak measurement standard for broadcast delivery, and there is also an added overall threshold for more limiting control.
For new users like myself, Sonnox Oxford Limiter v2 offers all the standard controls you'd expect from a limiter — input and output gain (±18 dB), attack, release, variable soft-knee, and output dither options. Yet there are several unique add-ons differentiating Oxford Limiter from its competitors, namely the Recon Meter and the aforementioned Auto-Comp. Recon Meter displays the reconstructed true-peak program material — i.e., the level of the post-conversion analog signal. Metering this way lets users see and account for any intersample peaks above 0 dBFS that could clip a DAC during the decoding process. Auto-Comp automatically corrects these problematic "true peak" events, but leaves the rest of the material untouched. Whether you're a mastering engineer or simply boosting reference mixes for clients, this is a safe way to get loud while ensuring you stay out of the red.
The Enhancement section is taken from the Sonnox Oxford Inflator plug-in. Instead of relying on conventional sample-value limiting techniques, it modifies the dynamic and harmonic content of the material to increase perceived loudness without raising the maximum peak value — while avoiding the nasty artifacts and loss of transients that can result from traditional over-limiting. A "Safe Mode" button controls the function of the module, while the Enhance fader adjusts either the curve or amount of the effect. I tend to leave Safe Mode enabled and use between 40-50% of the Enhance feature at the end of the mix chain. I find it thickens the mix and adds a greater sense of depth without obscuring the kick and snare transients, or overhyping the general balance. Like anything else, too much can quickly sound overcooked, so blend to taste. Lastly, an Auto Gain switch compensates for drastic changes in level and helps eliminate any pumping or distortion effects, even at the fastest release times. Again, this is an extremely useful safety-net tool for smoothing out sudden changes in a track's dynamics.
Sonnox Oxford Limiter v2 has remained one of the most popular software limiters on the market for good reason. It's as unobtrusive as any limiter I've used and offers features that let you confidently boost volume and impact without degrading the clarity or punch of the material. This is a very welcome addition for UAD-2 and Apollo users.