A limiter is a must in modern digital mastering. Some mastering engineers say they don't use limiters. They just use 'gain'. Same shit, different toilet. Digital ceiling is 0dbfs [decibels full scale]. You simply can't go over that (aside from true-peak or overmodulation but that's a whole different fish to fry/catch... whatever)
So if you're going above 0dbfs your DAW or plug-in or master bus is limiting or clipping the output in whatever way it was programmed to do it. So we're all listening to limiters of some sort unless the music is pretty quiet or mastered before 1990 or so. In mastering limiting is essential processing, in recording and mixing a limiter is a tool to avoid overs but should never be used for gain on a master bus. I'm more than aware that many engineers mix into a limiter. I work with those mixes everyday and I can do pretty good work with them. Sometimes that sound is just what the engineer/producer is looking for but they never get the chance to hear what it would sound like without it. They don't give the mastering engineer the chance to do their job the way it was meant to be done.
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