On Synthtopia on Jan 21, there was a post about a free Waves L1 clone called Yohng W L1. Waves L1 costs $300 so when someone claims they have created a clone and are offering it for free I become curious. I become even more curious when the developer's site claims it creates "identical" output. I have Waves L1, so I decided to load up SoundForge and put these two plugins to the test, head to head and see for myself.
When comparing these two plugins I was interested in seeing if:
- The features match up
- How they compare with overall RMS values on a processed file
- How they compare on peak analysis and sound coloration on a processed file
Features: YES - well only the limiter part -- No Ultramaximizer
There are two flavors of Waves L1. There is the L1 limiter & the L1 Ultramaximizer. For the sake of clarity I should mention that this free limiter is a clone of the L1 limiter and not the L1 Ultramaximizer. So perhaps this clone isn't going to save us $300 like mentioned above, but it may get us halfway there. :)
The L1 limiter consists of a threshold slider, a cieling slider and a release slider. The Yohng W L1 has all of these as well. When comparing the two side by side you'll notice you can't get the exact same settings on the release slider. The Waves release slider goes from -.01 ms to 1000.00ms, the Yohng Limiter goes from -1ms to 5000.00 ms. But for most applications you wouldn't want to set your release any lower than 1 millisecond anyway, so this isn't too much of an issue. Also, ms are rounded up in the Yohng tool.
I took three different types of samples: a drum loop, a vocal bit and a piece of music to perform my tests on. All the screenshots here are from this analysis using the Waves PAZ analyzer.
Is RMS Output Identical? YES
The RMS frequency analysis is identical.
Is the Peak Output and Sound Coloration identical: So Close I'll Give it a Yes
Waves L1, despite any marketing speak you have heard, is not transparent. One of the reasons we choose to use L1, atleast in the video game world, is because of its sound coloration. It gives a little bit of a raw edge to sounds which is really great for things like drums, gunshots, and less dynamic types of music. If you are looking for transparency I would suggest L2 & L3.
So my next curiosity was to see if the Yohng W L1 colored sound the same way Waves L1 does. It sounds very, very similar to the Waves L1. The Yohng W L1 isn't entirely consistent in being dead on with Waves L1, in some files I noticed a slight dip at 20hz and occasionally some wierd dips in the low mids. However 95 percent of the time I would say it looked identical. (See the screenshots below for an example)
In Conclusion: This limiter is free and really, really close to it's more pricey inspiration. If you're looking for a limiter that sounds like L1 and you're on a budget, this one will do the trick.
Grab the basic W L1 Limiter HERE
Grab the W L1 limiter with a new skin by Betabugs HERE
Until Next time... Over N Out