Confused by limiter vs. peak reduction (DR-22WL)

Discussion in 'Handheld and Field Recorders' started by tmmlrd, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. tmmlrd

    tmmlrd New Member

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    I'm new owner of a Tascam DR-22WL and I see it has two different functions aimed at reducing distortion at high input level (as far as I understand): limiter and peak reduction. However it is not clear to me how the two work and how they shall be used... I'm mainly interested in recording instruments (my clarinet and my son's flute) and concerts of the band where we play. Which of the two functions could I use and when?
    Moreover, I don't fully understand how the -12db light works and how use it...
    Thanks a lot for your help, I hope to get skilled enough soon in recording with my unit so to be able to answer to other users' questions, too!
  2. john geier

    john geier New Member

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    I have the same question and the instuctions do not seem very helpful.
  3. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    Both limit the recording level but Peak will also automatically reduce the record level as required so that the next similar peak is recorded at a lower level.

    If you start a recording with the input level maximized in Peak mode, you will find that the input level has been reduced at the end of the session by an amount that should permit the same peak level to be safely subsequently recorded.

    Tom
  4. Dan Finnegan

    Dan Finnegan New Member

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    Hello,
    I have the DR-22WL for use with concert band recordings. I want to be able to record great sounding recordings with no audio problems. I plan to use the limiter function, however, people have said peak reduction can work better. The concerts include pieces that vary in volume, and I heard when the peak reduction is turned on and the level is low, you'll get a quiet sounding recording during a quiet portion of a piece. Plus, I am having trouble with adjusting the input level. The distance between the stage and where I will place my recorder is about 40-60 feet away.
  5. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    I suggest that you attend the band rehearsal. Set the recorder to peak reduction mode with the input level maximized. Place the recorder high, some distance back from the stage (you will need to learn where sounds best) and record the entire band rehearsal; the recorder will reduce the input level as required to capture the loudest passages. After the rehearsal, note the input level value that the recorder has determined.

    Set the input level to that value (or perhaps a little less) in limiter mode when you record the formal event. The result should be a recording that captures the peaks without clipping distortion while maximizing dynamic range.

    If you find that the recording's quiet passages are too quiet, post-process the recording with DAW software like Audacity or similar to compress the file as suits you.
  6. Dan Finnegan

    Dan Finnegan New Member

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    Thanks!
    And one last thing if you know: I may use the Wi-Fi control app when I am on stage and the recorder is in the audience. Do you know how far you can be from the recorder until the signal from your phone starts to die away?
  7. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    > ... how far [] can [your phone] be from the recorder...

    Probably less than you'd like.

    In my experience the range is on the order of 50 feet, maybe 100, in "ToDevice" mode where the smartphone connects to the recorder acting as a WiFi access point. In "ViaRouter" mode, both the recorder and phone connect to a common access point - either one you've provided and placed at some convenient intermediate position or, if the venue has WiFi public access, you might be able to use its network access points.

    In either case, you should test, test, test. I've found DR_Control pretty untrustworthy.
  8. tmmlrd

    tmmlrd New Member

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    Finally I got the way the peak function works! Thanks.
    I usually record the performance of the brass and woodwind band where I also play (25 players, all unplugged). My usual settings are rec level 50 to 70 according to the distance from the stage I can put the recorder and limiter always on. No major changes if we play indoor or outdoor. I found that clipping on saturation is very bad when happens and not easy to prevent by previously adjusting rec level, this why I always have the limiter on... Moreover it is not always possible to adjust the level at rehearsal, also because they often occur in a different room from the where the concert takes place: be it a hall, a church, a theatre, a square....
    The recorder is usually placed about 20-30 feet fromt the stage and some 7 feet above ground. To keep it I use a camera tripod at its max extension plus a telescopic stick (one of those used to take selfies) on top of it.
    I found that placing the recorder between the stage and the public reduces the collected ambient noise (still allowing recording applauses). To avoid taking too much of the first row players (flutes and clarinets) over the others (brass and drums) I place the recorder as high as my field setup allows: tripod and stick.
    I agree that the DR_control app is pretty unreliable. Tascam made some updates to the app and the firmware, too in the last year or so, but after I lost a whole concert record since the recorder froze well in the middle (and I didn't properly realize through the app) I don't use remote control anymore. This is bad since WiFi control was what convinced me to select this recorder over others, but nonetheless my goal is to be able to take home good and complete records and this is made more successfull without remote control.
    Glad to hear from someone else experience, too.
  9. tmmlrd

    tmmlrd New Member

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    Thank you so much for this explanation! May I ask how did you get it? Just from experience or it is documented somewhere? I also asked the support about details on ho the limiter and peak functions work, but without success...
  10. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    > ... is [it] documented somewhere?

    Awkwardly, yes; it suffers, perhaps, from translation. Page 23 of the reference manual discusses (PEAK REDUCTION)/TIPS and LIMITER.

    The following suggests placing the recorder in PEAK mode, with maximized input gain, and Record-Pause (flashing Record button with tracks selected [DR-44WL]), instead of actually recording the rehearsal:

    "When recording live performances, for example, test for peak reduction may be performed before actual recording. Select the peak reduction mode in recording standby, and maximize the input level. As a test performance is given subsequently, the input gain is reduced to an appropriate level to meet the input signals, and an optimum input level for the performance is set..."

    FWIW, I would do what you can to raise the recorder even higher than seven feet. Double that if you can to better balance the front and rear instrumentation.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  11. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    Sorry; wrong page number. I was quoting the DR-44WL reference manual. The -22 reference manual is a little clearer, sort of:

    DR-22WL reference manual page 18:

    "LIMITER
    The limiter functions only at excessive input level.
    This function is useful for musical instrument performance and
    musical recordings.

    "PEAK
    This function automatically reduce the recording level to an
    appropriate value when input signal is too high. It is useful
    when you cannot preset the recording level or unable to make
    adjustments during recording."
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  12. tmmlrd

    tmmlrd New Member

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    Thanks, Tom.

    I remember those words in the user manual, but I admit they became clear to me right after your explanation!

    Although the peak funciton may be useful sometime (it is kind of a auto rec level) I think I'll go ahead using the limiter. As far as I understand the limiter is kind of a compressor acting on strong signals (there should be a threshold at some level, which is factory determined...) with increasing compression (virtually up to infinite for signals becoming much higher than saturation) to contain them within the saturation level. This filtering should act temporarily only when the peaks occur.

    On the other hand, the peak function has an unpredictable effect which acts not only around the peaks but on the following record from the peak on. And I'd say that having a rec level that changes dynamically during the record is even worse than having some filtering just when needed. At least this is my feeling.

    Nonetheless the peak function may be very useful if one has the occasion to make a pre-recording session. This may happen e.g. in case of a rehearsel which is done in the same room of the concert, but this is most often not my case (not to say that even an empty room sounds very different from a crowdy room...).

    P.S: This small recorder (DR-22WL) is full of functions, And according to me is very good compromise between portability, easy of use and quality of recordings (and cost, too). I love it. Only drawback is the poorly reliable WiFi. Which on the other hand is the real plus of this recorder with respect to third companies'... I admit I didn't use extensively the WiFi connection after the last firmware and app update, got really disappointed when I lost a concert record that decided not to use the WiFi anymore, although some tests I made with the last firmware and app indicated that the reliability should have been improved... Anyone is using WiFi after last updates with success?
  13. tmmlrd

    tmmlrd New Member

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    I do agree with you: as higher the recorder, as better the balance. But this is not easy to achieve with field setup... Maybe a fishing pole... ;) I'll think about it.
  14. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    > ... having a rec level that changes dynamically during the record is even worse...

    In peak reduction mode the input level will only be reduced if necessary; it will not increase at any time during the recording unless you manually increase it, but since you'll be busy playing your instrument, that won't happen.

    While changes dynamically is true, it can only be in one automatic direction, toward less sensitive, and once it has found a sufficient level it won't change after that.

    I suspect that once you've found the approximately-correct input level for your band and your setup, you can start there and be pretty close in most environments. In any case, you should err on the side of a recording level that is too low. You can make up gain in post-processing, but you can never remove the unpleasant artifacts of clipping distortion.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  15. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    > ... Maybe a fishing pole...

    A long one, maybe. If you want a serious solution, consider a Shure S15A, a 14-foot telescopic stick on a tripod. Used ones appear on ebay, now and again.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  16. tmmlrd

    tmmlrd New Member

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    OMG that stand looks very pro, but it's more than twice the cost of the recorder!!!
    Even used it would be very very expensive. I'm afraid I will look for something DIY...
  17. Dan Finnegan

    Dan Finnegan New Member

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    Hello,
    Like I have mentioned in a previous forum, I use the 22-WL for recording concert band concerts. I have been using the limiter LCF, which works really well, however, I am thinking of trying to use the Auto Level LCF sometime (with a different recorder, like DR-05 or DR-40). Does anyone recommend using auto level for recording band concerts? I know its recommended for recording meetings, however, I would like any tips on using it if anyone has used auto level for orchestral/band recordings. Or if I should stick to using the limiter.
  18. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    Dan, if you've found a good record level by manual trial-and-error in LIMITER mode, you will achieve essentially the same result in PEAK mode if you start with the same input level.

    An advantage to using PEAK mode, though, is the automatic input level reduction should a band passage become particularly louder than you anticipate. Should that occur, the overall record level after that event will be reduced, so a potential disadvantage of PEAK mode is that the level change might be audible to a critical ear.

    As I suggested earlier in the thread, I believe the best solution is to start with input level maximized using PEAK mode at a rehearsal. At the end of the rehearsal the recorder input level will have been reduced as required by circumstance to encompass full dynamics. I would then note the resulting input level setting and use that setting at the formal performance in LIMITER mode (to handle an unanticipated, even louder, event).

    Or, since you say "... which works really well...", do nothing more than what you currently find works.

    The DR-40 offers an additional mode, AUTO LEVEL, which is not suitable for music performance recording because, in addition to reducing the input level during loud passages, it will also increase the recording level during quieter passages. That might be helpful to record a personnel meeting but it is unnatural when recording music.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  19. GTBecker

    GTBecker Member

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    tmmird, since this tread has been resurrected, I can report that I've found a better tall stand than the Shure S15-A.

    Consider the Manfrotto 1004BAC, actually a light stand that has a 3/8"-16 thread on top. Most current microphone bars and mounts accept both 5/8"-27 and 3/8"-16, and most microphones are today provided with such an adapter. The Manfrotto is better built that the Shure and costs less, too.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  20. Dan Finnegan

    Dan Finnegan New Member

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    Thank you Tom. I have been doing that for the concerts this year and the results are fantastic.
    I just bought myself the DR-07MKII that includes a pair of adjustable microphones (ranging from XY to AB). What would you say is the best pattern for recording concerts?

    I usually keep mine at XY, for a more tighter image, however, I have considered trying out AB (or having the mics IN BETWEEN XY and AB, where the mics are straight ahead) but I would like to know what is best.