Sonar Export Audio - Dynamics Lost?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by mantovic, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. mantovic

    mantovic Guest

    Hi, all. I've been experiencing problems exporting wav's from my Sonar projects.

    After I do my sequencing, record all tracks as audio clips, add effects, etc, when I export audio from Sonar into a single wav file I notice significant loss in dynamics when playing this mixed-down file back in any windows software (Media Player, WinAmp, Sound Forge, to name but a few). I'd say about 10% of the overall dynamics is lost, which means significantly more silent and virtually unusable music.

    I've tried a couple of tricks so far, to no success. The 24/16 bit switch within Sonar proved useless, as did my tweaking around with latency and various other 'audio' options in this sequencer. I also constantly check master bus and stuff, no leak. I must point out I use only one soundcard (Midiman Delta 410), the same drivers for all these various music players and sequencers, and that I listen to the tune I have just made in Sonar on the same pair of monitors when I switch to WinAmp or Media Player or Sound Forge. Virtually, all the hardware and the equipment is the same, which makes me believe the loss occurs during the process of exporting.

    But..! When I re-import the very wav file that sounds so silent into my Sonar, and play it as a single audio track in the sequencer, the dynamics is back??!! Then I re-export it, and it's all lost again either in Winamp or Media Player or...?

    Any idea as to what's going on anyone? Somethnig I overlook, compatibility issues, drivers, bad software...anything?

    My system: Intel PIV 2.4 G, 2*60 7200 hard disk, 512 M DDR, etc.

    Thanx a million. Mihailo
  2. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Do you mean dynamics as in, the whole thing sounds softer, or the whole thing has less difference between loud and soft passages?

    I think you've run into a mastering problem - not being able to get enough level in the wordlengths provided.

    Quick check: Go to the Windows Volume Control (speaker icon, in the icon tray at bottom left) and turn your master volume and WAV volume all the way up. This might fix your problem.

    What happens is that SONAR plays everything as if the slider was all the way up, but other software uses this slider to attenuate the music. Putting the slider all the way up will make the music equivalent in volume to what you hear in SONAR.
  3. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Oh, if you're doing a side-by-side comparison of the volume of your exported track against commercially released stuff and it sounds softer, that's usual. Import that commercial track into SONAR and play it side by side with your unexported work... your work will sound loud in SONAR, but the commercial track will still be louder.

    It's a mastering issue - being able to get more perceived volume without clipping is an art. There isn't anything wrong with your hardware and/or SONAR.
  4. mantovic

    mantovic Guest

    I'm not sure if I was clear enough.

    I'm also not sure what you mean by 'softer'. What I get outside Sonar is 'quieter', but of course not because I forgot to turn my master volume in Windows all the way up, but because the signal to noise ratio has changed after the exporting process. Of course I can raise the master volume in Windows, or for that matter using my external amp, but this way I just pump the master volume up, and the 'ratio' problem remains. You raise master volume and get significantly more hum, and in the sequencer you get the same effect with much less external volume and almost no hum? Sounds strange to me. All the data is digital, and the exporting process has been done within Sonar. Why would there be losses? (If I had, for instance, played the track in Sonar and recorded it in Sound Forge, the signal would have gone through my sound card's circuits and there could have occured hundreds of possible problems, I know, but this way, after non-real-time exporting carried out internally in the sequencer? Hm.)

    I'm not comparing my track with any commercial release. I compare it only 'with itself'. I take my own track exported from Sonar that sounded so quiet in Media Player and re-import it back into Sonar. And here it is, in Sonar it sounds powerful, outside it, it sounds about 10% quieter overall ('overall' means relative difference between loud and soft passages remains intact, but the entire passage is, as you say, 'softer'). Eg. something that is on the verge of distortion in Sonar becomes pleasant and moderately loud in other programs. The 10% or so lost from the signal turns into hum.

    I have been told time and again Sonar was a 'what you hear is what you get' program in terms of exporting audio, i.e. after the mix you must hear in your wav player exactly what you hear in the sequencer before exporting. This is why I am confused. I do know that a good mix is an art in itself, but the mix has already been completed in the sequencer (however good or bad). It is the change after the final mix and the exported audio that troubles me. Or are you saying that what I hear in Sonar and what I hear in Win Amp or Media Player SHOULD sound different, the very same digital audio file, on the very same system in the very same conditions (amps, monitors, sound card, computer)? Not what I have been told, nor my idea of good sequencing/mixing software, but then again I might be wrong...

    Hope this was a bit more explicative and not beside the point (I am not a pro, but I don't think I am a total beginner either to put a post to be solved by sliding the master volume in Windows),

    Cheers and thanx,
  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    From what I can tell from your description, you have a levels mis-match between sonar and everything else. It appears that sonar has more gain but everything else is at the same level. Check every volume/gain control and fader position in sonar. Also check that both the sonar and any possible soundcard driver setting is matched for levels.
  6. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    AudioGaff probably wrapped up what I wanted to say, but anyways:

    Sorry to be persistent, but what about the WAV (or Wave, depending on your sound card/drivers) slider? In my experience, the signal out goes something along the lines of

    SONAR ---> Master Fader attenuation ---> soundcard

    whereas Winamp, etc goes from

    program ---> WAV fader attenuation ---> Master Fader attenuation ---> soundcard

    Moving the master fader around will change the volumes on both, as well as raise inherent sound card noise level. My mistake on that... apologies.

    I'll agree that digital is digital, and shouldn't change at all. In my experience, whatever I hear in SONAR has been whatever I get outside, virtually no changes. Only if the WAV slider is all the way up, though.

    From what I gather, your music data itself doesn't contain any more hum than it did in SONAR (as can be proven from the fact that currently, when reimporting into SONAR, it's still crystal-clear). This means that your data is intact, and whatever is being seen by SONAR, etc is also being seen exactly the same way by Winamp. The hum has to have been introduced in the playback process somewhere.

    What I'm thinking is the same as AudioGaff - there has to be some extra attenuation somewhere along the software signal path, and the most likely culprit is those sliders in Volume Control, as well as sound card drivers and settings.

    I didn't want to make you sound clueless in that first post... sorry if my replies were somewhat offensive. I just wanted to point out the obvious first (and I still bungled up by suggesting it had to do with the master fader anyway :) )
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