Difference between sound quality while in a DAW vs. when compressed and exported

#1
Forgive the lengthy title, and hopefully this is something relatively new for this forum. I have been recording music for about a year or so, but one thing that has always sort of bothered me was the difference in sound quality between mixing a track (most of mine consist of a large number of tracks as well) and the actual quality when it is exported. I expect some difference, but the degree is often staggering (for better and for worse). This is particularly an issue with bass instruments. For example, I will mix it "properly" and be able to hear the bass clearly in a mix; then upon exporting I find I can hardly hear it at all, and through the same sound source no less.

Can anyone help me in understanding why this is? And more importantly, how to counteract this so I can mix more properly?
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#2
Have you tried adjusting the latency?
edit.
I have encountered something similar in the past. The pitch was slightly higher in the recording after transferring it from my laptop to the PC. This only happened on a couple songs but I couldnt figure it out. Recently I adjusted the latency because I noticed it was higher than it should be. I havnt had trouble since but Im wondering if the transfer from laptop to PC may have had something to do with it. (since I had to compress the file)
Last edited by dopelope at May 4, 2011,
#3
What DAW are you using? Sounds like something is really going wrong. How are you exporting too? What settings are in place when you do export?
#4
What file-type are you exporting to, and what settings for that filetype? Sounds like a conversion issue, though some things are inevitable depending on the codec used.
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#5
I use Reaper as my DAW (primarily) and typically I export to .wav files.

-dopelope- thanks for the response, but the issue isn't related to switching from a laptop to PC; as I only use my laptop for this purpose. I'm not sure that even makes sense if your using the same listening source for mixing then checking the sound quality of the compressed file. For example, I generally use headphones for both and when the difference is drastic I find it difficult to explain.

As far as settings for exporting within Reaper, I basically left them the "standard" way they came. 44100 Hz sample rate, stereo. I presume this is accurate?
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#6
Quote by Ulalume
I use Reaper as my DAW (primarily) and typically I export to .wav files.

-dopelope- thanks for the response, but the issue isn't related to switching from a laptop to PC; as I only use my laptop for this purpose. I'm not sure that even makes sense if your using the same listening source for mixing then checking the sound quality of the compressed file. For example, I generally use headphones for both and when the difference is drastic I find it difficult to explain.

As far as settings for exporting within Reaper, I basically left them the "standard" way they came. 44100 Hz sample rate, stereo. I presume this is accurate?

What about bit-depth? Did you record in 24-Bit and then stepdown to 16-Bit Redbook CD Standard? I'm not too familiar with Reaper, so don't know how good it's dithering is etc. but that's one potential cause. Did you use any form of dithering engine if that was the case? (Logic 8 has 3 dithering options in addition to no dithering, for example).

Also, what are you playing back the .wav with? It's possible your music playback program (iTunes, Windows Media Player) has an EQ active (or automatically alters the audio) and perhaps it is being altered by something relating to that program?
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#7
There is one dithering option, but I've never used it. This is mostly because I am not sure what that is. Also, I recorded 24-bit and export 24-bit. I just didn't switch anything around in the export menu, as I presume that it would be the best given my inexperience.

And I play the .wav in Itunes, but there is no active EQ I am aware of.
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#8
If you're not doing any compression, which it appears you aren't if you aren't down-sampling, you shouldn't hear any difference between playing back your session and listening to the mix. Are you monitoring through your interface (if you have one) and then listening through your computer's soundcard to hear the bounced mix?

Also, are you sure you're not running some busses on that session that aren't routed to mixdown to the 2-track?