Just as engineers discovered the benefits of hitting analog tape harder than the specs considered safe, it turns out that clipping actually provides an excellent means of controlling peaks and creating an appealing non-linear behavior that enhances instruments and overall mixes. The only caveat is that digital clipping when pushed too hard, can cause irretrievable damage. It turns out that there’s a very narrow window for clipping that allows cohesion and presence. Big Clipper’s unique constellation of controls let you throw open that window and let the air in. Along with the ability to control the intensity and shape of clipping, Big Clipper has four blend modes that control how the limiting and clipping combine. However, the real magic is in the three-band sensitivity control; too much low-frequency energy causing problems? Just dial it back and let the mids and highs work their wonders. Are the highs taking your head off? No worries. Just cut them and let the mids speak. Whether you need subtle clipping or heavy overdrive, Big Clipper gives you full creative control.
Big Clipper—Just the Facts:
- Combines variable clipping and limiting
- Shape lets you adjust between hard and soft clipping
- Four blend modes control how the limiter and clipper are blended together
- Three-band frequency sensitivity controls how the clipper/limiter responds to different parts of the frequency spectrum
- Toolbar with presets and save, A/B comparison, selectable stereo, and mid-side operation, wet/dry mix, and bypass
Big Clipper—Cracking the Code
It’s important to realize that many of the processes we use to manipulate sound in a pleasing manner are counter-intuitive. Common wisdom tells us that clipping is something to be avoided—it was true in the analog days, and more so in the digital era. But just like it was discovered that distortion judiciously (creatively) applied, could make drums, guitar, bass, or vocals stand out while still reading as clean in a mix, it was only a matter of time before creative use of digital clipping was found to yield similar results, particularly in certain genres of metal and EDM. In fact, cleverly applied clipping, rather than compromise the sound of an instrument or entire mix, can actually enhance them.
The early onset of clipping in a digital system, or soft clipping, behaves much like analog tape saturation in terms of trimming peaks while adding a non-linear behavior that in context reads as transparent while adding body and presence. While a limiter can trim peaks and bring up overall level, aggressive limiting can also cause unwanted artifacts. Aggressive limiting not only chops off transients in a bad way, it also pushes down everything beneath them, punching holes your mix.
It turns out that the trick is to combine clipping with limiting so that neither has to work too hard, which in turn yields transparent results in terms of level and presence. Big Clipper combines these processes with quite a bit more flexibility.
Big Clipper Controls
Along with the standard attack and release controls for clipping, Big Clipper offers five control sections:
Push—controls the input gain of the clipping algorithm. The harder you drive the input, the harder it will clip.
Pull—adjusts the clipping threshold. Anything above the threshold will be clipped, anything below is unprocessed.
Shape—lets you adjust between soft and hard clipping, from smooth to aggressive
Blend—the blend fader controls how much the limiter and clipper are blended together. There are four different ways you can combine them: two crossover modes, Blend Mode, and Serial Mode, which give you quick access to a wide variety of clipping flavors. Each mode changes the way the Blend fader responds.
This is an incredibly powerful set of controls. To the casual observer, it looks like a simple EQ, but in reality, it’s more like a band-pass filter that controls how the clipper responds to different frequencies. Too much distortion in the low frequencies? Simply reduce the low-frequency sensitivity. This powerful control section lets your tailor clipping to your very specific needs and taste.
Download a demo of Big Dipper now and let it point the way to undiscovered worlds of processing and mixing.
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