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Author Topic: Why different results when mixing down ITB with different interfaces, buffer settings etc  (Read 7993 times)

TotalSonic

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A Deian wrote on Tue, 08 December 2009 20:39

Oh and yes everything was mixed ITB.  The idea that buffer settings can change the way Samplitude reacts to plugins is interesting.  Did a lower buffer make mixes sound more "forward"?

Did a null test tonight after all.  I lined up two mixdowns of identical mixes (they were mixed to 256kpbs mp3s using the same laptop and program) and clicked on the phase switch for one of them.  One mix used a usb interface, the other used a firewire interface.

Bounced 17 seconds of audio and uploaded the result here:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/upyk62

I sincerely wish it did, but it doesn't sound like it nulled...


Ps: Just in case I also bounced two mixdowns that used the same soundcard with the same settings, and this time it nulled.




What application are you using?  Did you confirm that the two mixes were lined up exactly down to the sample?  It helps to have a timing spike (i.e. a super short test tone) at the head of the file to help with making sure they are correctly lined up.  If this is confirmed to be tested correctly then sounds to me like it's time to change what DAW software you use - it's absurd to have a bounce to disc routine actually be effected by what sound card is used!

Best regards,
Steve Berson

TotalSonic

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One other possibility not covered yet - some plugins, such as reverbs, have randomizing elements to their algorithms - which means that no two bounces are exactly the same when using them.  fwiw - the file you posted sounded mainly like difference in the ambience.  So perhaps you're hearing the effects of this (although the fact that you didn't in the "control" track is still suspicious).  Perhaps it's worth doing a null test without any reverb plugins loaded though.  

Best regards,
Steve Berson

A Deian

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For those mixdowns we used Cubase.  The mixes do really sound like the output of each convertor though, like the 1616m mixdown sounds like the DA of the 1616m.  And the laptop soundcard's mixdown sounds like the laptop's soundcard.

We did the same test with no reverb and the mixdowns still didn't sound the same so it's not the reverb.  There's definitely a link between the soundcard's output sound and the mixdowns but I can't work out why.

Thanks for the help though, Steve!
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subvertbeats

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A Deian wrote on Wed, 09 December 2009 13:24

For those mixdowns we used Cubase.  The mixes do really sound like the output of each convertor though, like the 1616m mixdown sounds like the DA of the 1616m.  And the laptop soundcard's mixdown sounds like the laptop's soundcard.

We did the same test with no reverb and the mixdowns still didn't sound the same so it's not the reverb.  There's definitely a link between the soundcard's output sound and the mixdowns but I can't work out why.

Thanks for the help though, Steve!


Could you share the full Cubase project folder?
I'll happily try some tests for you and try and work out why you are seeing (hearing) these things.
As I wrote before Ive tested Cubase and Nuendo and have never seen anything like you are...

UnderTow

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I am betting it is operator error combined with the placebo effect. I mean come on, someone comes here with this whole story and never once mentions which DAW it is until someone explicitly asks? Yet he does mention "Pro Tools HD converters" on his Emu card? (A marketing lie btw). Clearly someone isn't thinking particularly logically.

Why not go to the Steinberg forum and ask for some advice there? If it has really been bugging you for years...

Alistair
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TotalSonic

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UnderTow wrote on Wed, 09 December 2009 10:51

I am betting it is operator error combined with the placebo effect.


fwiw - the file he posted from his null test showed that the 2 files are not nulling.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

A Deian

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Alistair I'm sorry we didn't mention DAW.  We've used Cubase, Nuendo for mixing, while tracking was done on Protools HD3 through a MCI desk.  I'm not sure what you mean by "someone coming up with this story" as there's nothing to be gained by making something up here.  We didn't think it's the software's fault as the same Cubase session at another studio (actually they ran Nuendo but the session is the same) with PCI desktop setup and Lynx Aurora didn't experience these mixdown problems.  The problems only arise when using firewire or USB interfaces with our laptops.  We've tried two laptops, both windows XP.  FYI we have contacted Steinberg and they said it's definitely not the software.

And The Emu card does have the same AKM converters as Protools HD.  Of course that doesn't mean it sounds the same as we all know there are other factors involved in sound quality.  In my opinion neither the EMU nor Protools HD3 sound particularly great, everything sounds inherently "modern" through them.  Especially after hearing the Prism converters at mastering.

Subvert Beats - Thanks for the offer. The problem is not session specific, it even happens with mono WAVs.  Would be happy to send you files although like I said we did a mixdown at another studio (Strongroom) with a desktop setup and there were no problems.  If you're by any chance in London perhaps I can get in touch?
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A Deian

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It's been suggested that we should try a newer laptop and a different firewire card so we'll do that and see if it makes a difference. Though the current laptop is Core2Duo 2.4 with 3gb ram so it shouldn't be the issue, unless the culprit is Windows.
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UnderTow

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I really think you are wasting your time by coming to this forum with this problem. You need to find out exactly what the problem is and the only way to do that is to go through a very specific step by step methodology.

If Steinberg can't or won't help you, ask on the Steinberg forum. You will find knowledgeable Cubase users. (Is it Cubase or is it Nuendo? Which version? Etc etc. Why all the vaguery? If you tried both, why not make that explicitly clear?) They might know of some setting that needs changing or you might have discovered an unusual set of circumstances that reveals a bug in Cubase or Nuendo. Either way, a mastering forum isn't the right place to get trouble shooting. Ask Steinberg or ask on the Steinberg forums. (Unless you can't post there. Rolling Eyes)

It seems you have a technical issue. The only way you are ever going to solve it is by being technical and explaining every single step in minute detail. Every setting you use. Every step you made and you have to explain it to people that are familiar with Cubase or Nuendo. Not present your problem to a group of people that use a variety of DAWs that do not behave in the way you are experiencing.

Alistair
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A Deian

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I'm here because I respect mastering forums, the average gy here should have better ears.  A few "engineers" we've played the tracks to can't seem to hear the difference.  They just dismiss it with the usual "placebo" effect or "you're just imagining it" quip.  Admittedly the difference is small but big enough to make a difference to our sound.  It's the same with pan laws and truncating, some people don't care saying the difference is negligible.  But mastering guys care about this stuff.

Honestly though I don't see why you insist that I'm hiding something, or "can't post on the Steinberg forum".  Sorry for taking your time.
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cerberus

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i don't know of any bug like this for cubase. it is possible if the hardware buffer is
set too low, some plug-ins which have high latency may not perform correctly. that
is the only plausible explaination i can think of at this time.

jeff dinces

TotalSonic

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A Deian wrote on Wed, 09 December 2009 16:13

I'm here because I respect mastering forums, the average gy here should have better ears.  A few "engineers" we've played the tracks to can't seem to hear the difference.  They just dismiss it with the usual "placebo" effect or "you're just imagining it" quip.  Admittedly the difference is small but big enough to make a difference to our sound.  It's the same with pan laws and truncating, some people don't care saying the difference is negligible.  But mastering guys care about this stuff.

Honestly though I don't see why you insist that I'm hiding something, or "can't post on the Steinberg forum".  Sorry for taking your time.


I don't agree with Alistair that your concerns aren't valid here.  Understanding what is happening "behind the scenes" in the DAW apps we use can often be critical to delivering a good mix these days.  I think it would be good to post the 2 files that you derived the file that showed lack of a good null from so that we can verify that the null test was done correctly in this case - the 17 second length is fine for these purposes.

If the null test was correctly done then it points to the possibility that Cubase's bounce to disc routines could be compromised.  Imo a well coded DAW app's bounce to disc routines should be completely unaffected by what sound card or other audio interface device you use.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

TotalSonic

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cerberus wrote on Wed, 09 December 2009 16:46

i don't know of any bug like this for cubase.  it is possible if the hardware buffer is
set too low, some plug-ins which have high latency may not perform correctly. that
is the only plausible explaination i can think of at this time.

jeff dinces


Thinking about it plugins that can have random results, or buffer settings that are set too low for the plugins to function correctly definitely are more likely the culprit here than a bug in Cubase's code.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

cerberus

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hey steve;  thinking more, that should not affect offline exports;
only if one does the export in real time (optional)...

also there is a "constrain delay compensation" option in cubase... pdc can be
turned off partially ("constrained") or disabled. in that case, exports could still
employ pdc.  (would be pilot error, not a bug).

jeff dinces

Geoff Emerick de Fake

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A Deian wrote on Wed, 09 December 2009 11:27

It's been suggested that we should try a newer laptop and a different firewire card so we'll do that and see if it makes a difference. Though the current laptop is Core2Duo 2.4 with 3gb ram so it shouldn't be the issue, unless the culprit is Windows.

What's the FW card got to do with it? Have you made a test WITHOUT any soundcard?
I've listened to the "null" file; it is clear that the differences lie in the reverbs; the random modulation is clearly audible.
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