Aphex Dominator – Hardware Setup

Aphex Dominator II Model 720

The Aphex Dominator is a powerful tool but, at times, it’s not obvious what it’s doing or why. To appreciate it properly you need to patch it into an established signal chain, align it to the peak level you’re working to then set levels to get the required degree of limiting

This guide was written to help setup a Dominator in a podcast / broadcast chain but much of the detail is applicable in other setups

  1. RTFM
  2. Establish the peak level you want in your signal chain
  3. Put the Dominator in the chain & set levels approximately
  4. Set the EQ and density at midpoint >0<
  5. Set the release slightly above midway
  6. Turn the coarse limit control all the way clockwise
  7. Set the fine limit control to the midpoint >0<
  8. Set the range switch at zero (red led lit)
  9. Check for unity gain with the input gain at >0<
  10. Adjust input & output gains on the audio interface to set operating level
  11. Wind the coarse limit setting back so it just lights on program peaks
  12. Turn it one click clockwise so it doesn’t limit
  13. Use the fine limit control to get a nice threshold for limiting
  14. Increase the input level till you see gain reduction (GR) on the meter and hear lots of limiting
  15. Shorten the release time till it sounds good on your program material (see notes below)
  16. Experiment with the density & EQ controls with a bit of GR going on
  17. Back off the input level to reduce GR to a sensible level or till it sounds good to you
  18. Verify that the limited max output level ties in with the level required. If it’s out, rejig DAW input & output gains accordingly
  19. Check for unity gain with no GR, adjust input & output gains accordingly


  • Release time is really critical
  • Release & density make a big difference to the sound
  • The density control balances the contribution of the LF and HF signals to the limiting. With the control in the >0< position the bands are balanced
  • When misused the spectral balance can change quite dramatically
  • LF & HF band controls allow equalisation of the signal
  • There are switches for the turnover frequency of each section
  • Every control interacts and it takes a while to get the best out of it
  • You can make it super transparent or make it pump quite a bit
  • If in doubt back off the input level till GR is sensible
  • Turning the release clockwise makes release time shorter – the opposite of every other limiter ever made
  • Did I mention that release time is really critical?