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Signal Loss During Mixdown. Has This Happened To You?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by FidelityHigh, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    I have Sonar 8.5, it's my DAW of choice and I love it. To me it's the most comprehensive & complete recording software available for PC.

    On the downside I've discovered that I’m experiencing significant audio loss when bouncing or mixing down tracks. This occurred when I switched from Windows XP to Windows 7. Even with XP I had to tweak the computer & software settings because I noticed a slight difference in sound quality when bouncing. I followed some of the suggested optimization guides (along with a friends help) obtained a pristine bounce. But that was XP. Windows 7 is a completely different story. There was no slight difference when bouncing, there was a major difference. I’ve been told it could be an issue with the drivers in Windows Media Player or an ASIO issue. Whatever the case, the bounced audio is, for the most part, unusable. I’ll admit haven’t implemented every optimization for Sonar with Win 7 (perhaps someone can give some much needed advice). I did come up with a work-around (not within Sonar) but I’d like to fine-tune my DAW & OS. Are there any other Sonar users having these issues? My audio interface is the RME FF400 btw.

    P.S. If there is already a thread pertaining to the Sonar bounce issue, please inform. Thanks
  2. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    What interface are you using?

    The audio engine in Sonar 8.5 is more than sufficient, and I wonder if it's a hardware issue and not a software issue?
    I've used XP/Vista/7 with Cubase/Nuendo, and most of my problems (excluding Vista) were related to hardware/drivers.
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Just as a totally non-scientific guess - it's probably not Win7, because that's what I use. I use a PreSonus Firepod and Cubase with Win7-64bit and have no such issue at all.
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Try a real time export and see what happens. I use Win 7 and Sonar 8.5. No issues....with exception to my own ability to produce something decent. My exports are generally what I mix.
  5. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    I'm using a RME FireFace 400. It's great also. I'm pretty sure Sonar is not the culprit here, i'm thinking it's more of a Windows 7 issue.
  6. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    Thanks Huseph. I did try a real time export, still the audio was somewhat diminished. My problem could be that when I mixdown, I’m looking for an "exact replica" of the audio being mixed. When A/B ing the original and the mixdown, I’m looking for it to match in terms of volume and fidelity. I had it with XP, I just think i'm not using the right settings in Win 7.
  7. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    I hear what you're saying if that's what you used to mixdown your "Choir of Angels" entry. Nice
  8. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Thanks. That's exactly what I used. Win7-64bit with Cubase 4.x, a PreSonus Firepod and my new Nady RSM-4 that my lovely girlfriend bought me for early Christmas.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's a Windows 7 or interface problem. It's operator error. Really. Digital audio is digital audio is digital audio. What it sounds like during the mix it should sound like when it's mixed down. Otherwise, you have set something incorrectly. I'm not sure why working ITB you need to bounce anything? We're not talking about analog multitrack here. So when you bounce, you're probably transcoding things up and down, willy-nilly. That's why things don't sound like they're supposed to. You may also have some kind of dithering feature that is being added every time you bounce and/or mix down. You know it's operator error when everybody else is not having the same problem. It's not equipment. It's not the operating system and it ain't the software. It's operator error.

    Stop bouncing! Or, I'll stop the car!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I'm with Remy.

    A few things to check however: when you render are you using the same project samplerate? And how do you listen to the results? Winamp? iTunes?
  11. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    You used the Nady on vox? Sweet. Seems to suit your voice.
    Looks like you've got your work cut out for you in trying to top that gift.
  12. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    +1. Normally the finished 2-track sounds indistinguishable from the audio I hear when working on the mix in the multi-track project.

    "Bounce" in many DAWs is the same as "render" in Vegas or "export" in some other software. It just means to mix down the multi-track to a stereo file.
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    True, but for some they may also be dithering down to 16 bit which would sound different to a 24bit file. I'd double check the bit/sample rate on the bounce settings. That would definitely explain the difference.

    For a Win 7 optimization (which I also don't think is the culprit), check the sticky in my computer forum. Additionally, do you have the very latest RME drivers? Up until recently, it was recommended to use the Windows legacy firewire driver. In the current driver version this is not a concern.
  14. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    Thanks for responding Remy. I’m sure at least 60% of all request for help here is the result of operator error, probably this one included. Bouncing within Sonar is basically a mouse click (yes a window appears with quite a few options but I’ve got that covered). This was a feature I’ve gotten used to over the years. It was convenient having the ability to mixdown all tracks & effects in a project into a faithfully-reproduced stereo wave file. As mentioned I do have a work around, I master directly to the Fostex CR500 with great results btw (I have stopped bouncing, no need to stop the car, lol) but the problem just nags me.
    I'll get to the bottom of it I’m sure, as you stated no one else seems to be having this problem so this one's on me. It's cool, I'm up for the challenge. Once I do i'll post it just in case some other poor slob encounters this issue.
  15. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Isn't there an option to mixdown with, or without, effects, etc? (Been awhile since I've used Sonar.) Might you be missing something there?

  16. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    We will all just be guessing until we have more details about the exact nature of the problem. In what way is the rendered audio degraded? Is there distortion? Clicks and pops? A drop in volume? Or are there specific parts (eg: a certain synth or effect) that do not render properly?

    Also you need to confirm that you are rendering at the project samplerate to avoid samplerate conversion issues, and preferably to a 24 bit file to eliminate dithering / truncating issues.
  17. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Thanks! It was my first real "outing" with that mic. Can't wait for the warranty to expire so I can do the mods on it.

    You used the Nady on vox? Sweet. Seems to suit your voice.
    Looks like you've got your work cut out for you in trying to top that gift."
  18. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member

    Well, here's the conclusion but first i'd like to thank everyone who stopped by & shared their thoughts and expertise. Turns out the culprit was the lack of due diligence on my part (You could call it operator error).
    My PC is a beefed-up Falcon NW Talon. The first thing I did after installing the RME Fireface 400 was disable the on-board soundcard. Turns out I didn't go far enough. My video card has a sound card (well two in cross-fire). I discounted it since there was no sound from the HDMI connection. Apparently not having sound doesn’t mean it's not using resources. When I did disable the video soundcard(s) the bounce came back the way it should. All the volume was there with 95% fidelity, the missing 5% is what I call "air". That airy top-end. Mind you this is very subjective since it’s so minute (not trying to start a new thread here...ha). Two of my friends could not hear the difference. For me this is where the real tweaking comes in, trying to get that 5%. That would encompass getting the latest drivers, power dithering, defrag, other optimizations.
    Anyway that's how it was with XP.
    Thanks again guys. I'll try to pay it forward.
  19. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Hmm. You realise that, from the point of view of the DAW there is basically no difference between playing back and rendering? Blocks of samples are calculated, then either send to a soundcard buffer or written to an audio file... it shouldn't make any difference which.

    Obviously, software can have bugs. But the chances are a bug will result in totally garbled output or no outut at all: a slight loss of 'air' is highly unlikely.

    I suggest that your bounced files are now identical to playback, and there is some other reason for the percieved difference. This could be an EQ or volume setting in your media player software for example, or even just the psychological effect of no longer seeing the mixer on-screen.

    <edit> Or of course, it could be the result of samplerate conversion while rendering. What samplerate is your interface set to? Are you rendering at the same samplerate?

    I suggest a blind ABX test: that's the only way to be sure your ears are not fooling you.
  20. FidelityHigh

    FidelityHigh Active Member


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