#1
Here is my recording chain:
Guitar->zoom g3x->art usb dual tube pre->compatible usb cable->laptop usb input (hp dv7)->Reaper

Or, instead of the zoom, i will mic up my guitar amp.

I was monitoring my tone with my headphones and I noticed two strange happenings. My interface has a "mix" and "level" knob on it that lets me mix or solo either the signal in my interface, or the signal being returned from my computer (record monitoring, or playback). I noticed when i set my mix knob to my signal into the interface that it was very sweet, full, and articulate sounding. When I switched the mix to the laptop record monitoring, I noticed the signal was louder (unity gain probably by setting the level knob to half), but the sound lost a decent amount of its luster and sizzle. Not as pleasing for sure.

Any idea what could be causing this? Usb cable? ASIO4all (i use it for improved latency)? Some reaper setting? I am especially confused as to why the computer mix is louder. I dont have anything on the track/master. Its just send the signal to reaper, and then send it back out to the interface and to my headphones. And im pretty sure the signal on my interface pre-computer mix is post the Volume and Gain knobs on the interface, so i dont think those would cause it.

Let me know if you guys need more info. Thanks!
#2
Quote by Watterboy
Any idea what could be causing this?
Probably your less than ideal pre, which doesn't sound much good if ya ask me.
Quote by Watterboy
Usb cable?
Unlikely - you'd have to use a seriously bad USB cable, and that probably wouldn't be the resulting effect anyway.
Quote by Watterboy
ASIO4all (i use it for improved latency)?
Nah it's not that.
Audio drivers don't affect audio signals that way.
Quote by Watterboy
Some reaper setting?
Nah, if you have no fx processors on that track then it's not it.
Unless you have reaper set to work at less than 44.1kHz/16bit, but still I'd say that effect would be too noticeable to be caused by that.
Quote by Watterboy
I am especially confused as to why the computer mix is louder.
You have something applying gain somewhere.
Don't have a clue 'bout what it is but it is so.
#3
Quote by Spambot_2
Probably your less than ideal pre, which doesn't sound much good if ya ask me.
Unlikely - you'd have to use a seriously bad USB cable, and that probably wouldn't be the resulting effect anyway.
Nah it's not that.
Audio drivers don't affect audio signals that way.
Nah, if you have no fx processors on that track then it's not it.
Unless you have reaper set to work at less than 44.1kHz/16bit, but still I'd say that effect would be too noticeable to be caused by that.
You have something applying gain somewhere.
Don't have a clue 'bout what it is but it is so.


Thanks for the reply. I have to agree that my pre is less than ideal, since I see pres selling for like $1000 and mine was only $150. But that said, the headphone monitor on my pre seems like it is monitoring just before the signal that is sent to my laptop, and the signal sounds really good. Are you saying the pre is poor at sending the signal to my computer, or receiving it back? My pre has one of those optical line outs on it. Maybe i should try that?

If there is anymore information I can provide to help narrow this down, or any troubleshooting steps i should take, please let me know
#4
Ugh- i think I resolved this issue. It was a result of how I had my tracks set up. Heres what happened:

First off, if I use input 1 or 2 on my interface, it pans my signal either 100% left or right respectively. However, I always have my "Monitor" button set to mono on my interface so it sounds quiet.

But once the signal hits Reaper, I had the track set to Mono input with the track width set to 100%. As a result, this created a double for the other ear (which, as a result caused the volume jump and also slightly altered the tone, maybe because of phasing or something).

To fix it, I set the track to stereo input, but changed the track width to 0%. Now the two signals seem to sound exactly alike, I think. At the very least, the volume is spot on

Edit: ahh, so after some critical listening, there still is a decent difference in tone between the direcy monitoring on the preamp versus the return monitoring from reaper. The direct monitoring sounds much sweeter/crisper and has more presence and articulation. I have no effects running in Reaper at all. The volume is fixed, but there is definitely a change in tone that is kind of annoying
Last edited by Watterboy at Nov 18, 2014,
#5
Quote by Watterboy
But once the signal hits Reaper, I had the track set to Mono input with the track width set to 100%. As a result, this created a double for the other ear
No wait, creating a double for the other ear would mean raising the volume of 6dB.

I don't really know what the width function in reaper is, but I'm guessing it either is a pan knob or a spreader, meaning either a sample delay or a mix of doubling and EQing.
Or both.

Not only raising volume though, 'cause raising the volume would not make anything appear wider.
Quote by Watterboy
To fix it, I set the track to stereo input, but changed the track width to 0%. Now the two signals seem to sound exactly alike, I think.
If you want to record only a channel, then set the recording to one channel only, else you'll pick up the signal from one channel but the noise from both.
Quote by Watterboy
Edit: ahh, so after some critical listening, there still is a decent difference in tone between the direcy monitoring on the preamp versus the return monitoring from reaper. The direct monitoring sounds much sweeter/crisper and has more presence and articulation.
Your pre's converters sound bad, there's nothing you can do about it apart from switching to something different.
#6
Any recommendation on a pre that would do a better job for say.. budget of 300?

Edit: im gonna assume not, actually. Probably need to spend a lot more than that for good converters. That is really dissappointing especially since now that ive identified the difference in sound quality, it is glaringly obvious to me haha
Last edited by Watterboy at Nov 19, 2014,
#7
Depends how much i/o you need.

For $300 or a little more you could probably get a used apogee duet 2, or the older duet which still sounds hella good for that money.

ART anyway is not any famous for making good converters, and even $150 would give you an improvement.
Say a mackie onyx blackjack wouldn't be that better, but it would definitely be better.
I personally would rather get a duet and a serious improvement though.

You're on PC?
Audient id22 or SPL crimson.
They cost more than $300 even used though I reckon.
#8
Thanks for the info and all the previous replies spambot. My preamp has the s/pdif out on it. Is it possible to use that with a different interface? I think it can get higher signal quality 24bit/48k. I think the other out is 16bit or something.
#9
s/pdif is a digital data interface - conversion would still be done by the art pre.

You may get an interface with converters alone and use the pre's of the art pre, but I don't really have a high opinion of these either and rather than using the thing with a better interface with line inputs only I'd get a new interface altogether if I wanted to upgrade.
#10
But would the higher resolution or bit depth make a difference, since its only 16 normally but 24 for the spdif?
#11
Bit depth is the resolution, the other number is the sampling frequency.
I mean, even the sampling frequency is resolution in a sense, but in the tech sense only bit depth is resolution.

Anyway, the sound would still be that.

Higher resolution will get you more headroom, but I'm guessing the headroom of these converters isn't even close to 24bit headroom - 144dB, theoretically.

Higher sampling frequency will avoid aliasing, which is a form of distortion.
This is great if you wanna dive into the somehow tech stuff - http://recording.org/index.php?threads/oversampling-explained.48087/

Anyway, the sound will still be that of them pre's and them converters.
Also if you can output a 24bit signal via s/pdif you can send a 24bit signal to your computer.
Just look into the driver's settings, or reaper's.
Same thing for the sampling frequency.
#12
Hey man, thanks for taking the time and answering all of my questions. You've been really helpful. Ill read into this stuff more and hopefully educate myself a bit
#13
I think your problem is the headphone input has a mono summing effect and what you're hearing via the DAW is both delayed and at different levels, on top of that delayed somewhat.

I'd drop the asio drivers first to verify the issue is present with the original drivers.

Don't know what else to suggest but could also be a design of the interface itself where the monitoring is somehow better by bypassing all further circuitry...

I'd go for recorded sounds since that is the ones you're ending up with and try to adjust for that. I don't think the audio interface is somehow so bad that it skews things by that much. Most likely bussing or user error.
#14
Quote by diabolical
I think your problem is the headphone input has a mono summing effect and what you're hearing via the DAW is both delayed and at different levels, on top of that delayed somewhat.

I'd drop the asio drivers first to verify the issue is present with the original drivers.

Don't know what else to suggest but could also be a design of the interface itself where the monitoring is somehow better by bypassing all further circuitry...

I'd go for recorded sounds since that is the ones you're ending up with and try to adjust for that. I don't think the audio interface is somehow so bad that it skews things by that much. Most likely bussing or user error.


I managed to work around the whole volume thing I think, so im pretty sure that isnt influencing the tone anymore. But yea- the interface isnt totally skewing the sound, but it sounds like it is missing some of the brilliance and sparkle that i can hear when i monitor before the conversion. There arent any other busses or anything. I opened a new project in reaper and put one track in there and have monitoring on. Unfortunately i dont have another interface to compare to.

Edit: out or curiousity, I tried using my zoom g3x usb direct to monitor my guitar signal. I noticed that i had the exact same issue. The raw monitored sound sounds really brilliance and touch sensitive, but the DAW return sounds like it looses that brilliance. I think the best way i could describe it is as if you had a noisegate with sort of a slow release and it alters the feel of the attack. Its not delayed, it just feels like the attack is weird. With the direct monitoring, i can almost visualize my strings and their roundness in the tone, but in the daw return it has the same overall tone body, but lacks that certain clarity and touch sensitivity sound. Its really odd. The direct just FEELS better. Also, just fyi- im using the same usb cable for my zoom that i used for my interface. Not that it necessarily matters. Just worth mentioning.
Last edited by Watterboy at Nov 19, 2014,
#15
Art makes that bad of pre's?

I have a lesser model then TS's as an add on for mobile field recording and while it is not the best sounding one, I have no problems to get a nice full recording. Since I use it mostly with condenser mics, I should have noticed the frequency loss I think.

I also think USB cables can't be worn. I think they either work or don't and by design there can't be any middleground.

Unless perhaps the power feed (a lot of laptops that advertise having 4 ports, could only have 2, where they are split over 4), usb bandwidth is enough to handle that, but voltages do get split or routed to just one or 2 ports.

It could be (knowing windows haha), it might process it through it's own soundchip as well, or applies an EQ.

Might be a longshot, but I have had seen weirder stuff.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 20, 2014,
#16
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Art makes that bad of pre's?

I have a lesser model then TS's as an add on for mobile field recording and while it is not the best sounding one, I have no problems to get a nice full recording. Since I use it mostly with condenser mics, I should have noticed the frequency loss I think.

I also think USB cables can't be worn. I think they either work or don't and by design there can't be any middleground.

Unless perhaps the power feed (a lot of laptops that advertise having 4 ports, could only have 2, where they are split over 4), usb bandwidth is enough to handle that, but voltages do get split or routed to just one or 2 ports.

It could be (knowing windows haha), it might process it through it's own soundchip as well, or applies an EQ.

Might be a longshot, but I have had seen weirder stuff.


Im not 100% sure its the pre now, because I took the interface entirely out of the equation and got the same result when recording through my zoom g3x. Unless, of course, they both just suck at the whole ad da and lose that same bit of information haha
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#17
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Art makes that bad of pre's?
The converters are the problem, not the pre.
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Since I use it mostly with condenser mics, I should have noticed the frequency loss I think.
Why would condenser mics make it easier to spot such differences?
Quote by xxdarrenxx
I also think USB cables can't be worn. I think they either work or don't and by design there can't be any middleground.
Though they can be worn indeed, or plain bad quality and cause interference, but that would result in hum instead of high frequency loss and lower slew rate.
Quote by xxdarrenxx
It could be (knowing windows haha), it might process it through it's own soundchip as well, or applies an EQ.
No "soundchip", just ADA converters.

As for win, it uses the art pre as audio interface so no chips involved there as well.
Quote by Watterboy
Unless, of course, they both just suck at the whole ad da and lose that same bit of information haha
Yeah it's this if ya ask me.

Guitar multi fx processors don't have any more than cheap ADA converters.
They don't really need them anyway, they're for guitars only...

And bad sounding converters sound bad in the same way.

They don't loose bits of info though.
Read here for more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog-to-digital_converter
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#18
I think i can get my hands on an imac 2009 from a friend who doesnt want his anymore. You think its worth it to grab the apogee duet and give that a shot? I wouldnt mind using the computer as my dedicated recording device to free up my other comp
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#19
^ depends.

If you want it anyway, get the mac.
If you think you'll not need more than a couple inputs and outputs at a time, find a used duet, better if duet 2, and have fun.

Also since you'd be on mac, have a look at logic as well.
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#20
I think it is your audio configuration, something is happening with those drivers, maybe Asio4all configuration.
I'd say dump that and record with the Art drivers. That'd be my guess, bad config on the drivers or the software.
#21
Quote by diabolical
I think it is your audio configuration, something is happening with those drivers, maybe Asio4all configuration.
I'd say dump that and record with the Art drivers. That'd be my guess, bad config on the drivers or the software.


I really hope this is true. Ill try to experiment with some drivers

Edit: nah i tried a few different drivers and a whole bunch of settings but they all had the same issue. Theres a small part of me (maybe 10%) that thinks its possible that the very slight millisecond delay due to latency is whats throwing me off, but the rest of me thinks its the conversion just losing some of the analog characteristics or something. The original has a very sweet sizzle and articulate feel to it, especially on clean or low-mid gain tones. It just seems like the conversion isnt capturing that (btw, i am monitoring all of this through headphones for critical listening)

Edit 2: Okay, so the thing that is really confusing me right now is this. I am using my Zoom g3x solely right now, and I thought it was an all digital device? So the amp sims and pedals are digital. So isnt my analog signal converted to digital once it enters this thing? And then wouldnt it have to be converted back to analog for the headphone jack, as well as the USB port to my computer? Or is the digital conversion literally the last thing performed, and my signal is analog up to the usb send? I just figured the whole deal was digital, so if the same converter is used to make it analog for my headphones, I would think the sound should be the same for what is sent to my computer that Im hearing in my headphones.
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Last edited by Watterboy at Nov 21, 2014,
#22
Quote by Spambot_2
The converters are the problem, not the pre.
Why would condenser mics make it easier to spot such differences?
Though they can be worn indeed, or plain bad quality and cause interference, but that would result in hum instead of high frequency loss and lower slew rate.
No "soundchip", just ADA converters.

As for win, it uses the art pre as audio interface so no chips involved there as well.
Yeah it's this if ya ask me.

Guitar multi fx processors don't have any more than cheap ADA converters.
They don't really need them anyway, they're for guitars only...

And bad sounding converters sound bad in the same way.

They don't loose bits of info though.
Read here for more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog-to-digital_converter


Ah the converters, I meant those, but my point would still stand, since they go through that to my computer.

I brought up a condenser mic, because it's very sensitive. If it rains outside and I record inside, I can hear the rain on the background. It also has very crisp high's and I use it quite often for just micing cymbals. Especially china's and splashes are real sweet through that.

I thought if the converters were bad, it would be easier to spot on such a wide sound representation. (aka bad lows, less than brilliant highs etc.) Since I have used the mic with multiple interfaces quite often. There would be more to be missed so to say.

I will check the link out regarding the data transmission, nice to know.

Also I get the driver system, It's just that I have had my windows drivers interfere, and even use my interface for the computer sounds as well. This resulted in clicks and bad guitar sound at times, don't ask me why. It should be able to be a main sound card and software at once, so yeah weird.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 22, 2014,
#23
Ive done some searching online and found some other people having a similar issue to what I am describing with inexpensive to expensive interface units. There are some suggestions that the difference in tone is a result of you "feeling" the vibrations of the guitar through your fingertips and into your body while you monitor with little to no latency. Ill post the thread here:https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/961608-my-ad-da-converter-making-sound-bad.html

Looks and sounds like the same exact issue i am having.
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