VI playback sounds different in LPX vs CB

Mishabou

Active Member
Alright, i know this topic has been discussed to death and i'm aware of the famous null test but i thought i share a surprising finding while working at my friend's studio last night.

We had LPX and CB open on the same computer (nMP), using the exact same sound card (Dante PCIe) going to a DAD AX32 AD/DA and finally JBL monitors. Basically both software are using the exact same equipment/signal path.

We noticed a difference in sound when a VST instrument is played on LPX or CB. Just to make sure, we did a blindfold test by taking turn playing and switching apps. We both could pick out 100% of the time which app the VST was played from. CB has a slightly fuller low mid, very subtle difference but still definitely audible.

Has anyone experienced this ?
 

A.G

Active Member
Has anyone experienced this ?
You are right, I have noted that a long time ago especially when I create AG product videos using the same Standard MIDI File (demo) and the same VIs loaded into both DAWs .
Cubase and LPX use different Pan law and maybe different way of summing. Logic thins the Master somehow.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Is it possible for you to bounce the two “different” sounding master bus audio and share here for us to compare?

I’m always a little suspicious about these kinds of claims that have been happening for years. that being said, admiralbumblebee did that comparison this year and found specifically that automated fades on different daws were using different algorithms with Inter modulation noise present in some daws.

we also have to be aware that our ears are extremely unreliable measuring devices for this kind of thing.
 

studioj

Active Member
I've used numerous DAW's in my work extensively, switching between PT, DP, Logic, a touch of Cubase... doing heavy projects in all. I have always thought, since I started paying attention to this kind of thing in early 2000's that these audio programs sounded different on playback. I think the only way you'd be able to quantify it though is to take an analog print off identical d-a converter / output. bounced files are identical from each DAW for the most part. Differences only present in playback, and they are subtle... but noticeable as the OP has surmised.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
why would the bounced audio be identical while the actual analog audio different?

That implies that one or more of these DAW's are secretly doing something spooky to the sound before putting audio into the audio buffer and handing it off to the audio device. If any DAW were doing something like that that, which I doubt they are, they would be touting it as a feature. Sorry, no I doubt that.

Its always possible that one daw is using a different pan law by default then the other, but summing algorithms in general are extremely simplistic. its just very very unlikely that one daw is, in the most simple sense, capturing output from a VST one way while another DAW is somehow calculating the result differently. Now if its running through EQ or something...then ok...of course they might sound different. But the basic mixing engine of all DAW's are pretty much the same stuff...in fact on OSX many would argue that they are all using CoreAudio to do most of that for them...so they should in fact be identical. Cubase might interject ASIO stuff in some way....which would make it LESS transparent if anything...but I also doubt that Steinberg would do something like that, I think they all strived for transparency a long long time ago..

AdmiralBUmbleBee did do that rather scientifically measure analysis this year, where he measured discrepancies between DAW's, while automated fades are happening...and something like that is also where different DAW's might calculate a fade in or a fade out, using different DSP methods...and thus might have slightly different sound qualities. But in terms of taking the output from a VST and mixing it to the stereo buss and sending to your sound card...this is highly simplistic and all DAW's have been shown to null test to zero a long time ago...
 

d.healey

Music Monkey
I just noticed the title specifically says this happens with VIs. Does it also happen with regular audio?
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Right so that question would be whether one DAW takes the audio calculated by a plugin....and does more secret DSP on it before including it in the mix...than another DAW that must be more transparent? Its ludicrous to think that any of the DAW's would be doing anything other then striving for exact transparency from plugins. Its up to the plugin to calculate their output.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Also remember that the user settings of various DAW's might not be set exactly equally. For example, what if one of them has some dithering option turned on somewhere, or something like that?
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Alright, i know this topic has been discussed to death and i'm aware of the famous null test but i thought i share a surprising finding while working at my friend's studio last night.

We had LPX and CB open on the same computer (nMP), using the exact same sound card (Dante PCIe) going to a DAD AX32 AD/DA and finally JBL monitors. Basically both software are using the exact same equipment/signal path.

We noticed a difference in sound when a VST instrument is played on LPX or CB. Just to make sure, we did a blindfold test by taking turn playing and switching apps. We both could pick out 100% of the time which app the VST was played from. CB has a slightly fuller low mid, very subtle difference but still definitely audible.

Has anyone experienced this ?
Yes, and when this topic came up years ago it lead to a maelstrom of responses. Then somebody did a null test and blah, blah, blah it went on forever.

But, just by experience I've worked in studios that use Logic, and DP and I have extensive experience with PT and with my Cubase and by God I swear they all sound different. I use to have this condition called synesthesia. It has since gone away but I would confuse sounds with colors. Logic sounded yellow to me, Cubase blue, DP greyish and Protools just sounds like crap :)

But since the condition has abated somewhat in my older years, I just notice differences in the way each platform sounds. Even on my same system, Live, Cubase and Reason all sound different.

But...... I just recently did some resampling, started in Cubase, edited in Reason because Reason will export samples in a nice neat package then built the instrument in Kontakt. Then played back the instrument in both Cubase and Reason via Kontakt and Kontakt colors the sound so much that I couldn't tell the difference.

So there is a lot of variables especially when dealing with samples.

Now my VST synths on the other hand, it's weird but the sound in Reason is much less dark. So, I think your assessment of Cubase having a fuller low mid is correct.

On a side note, Reason has made such advances lately that I can finally admit that I use Reason without the stigma associated with it. Yes, I use Reason. I love it! :)
 

josejherring

Senior Member
Is it possible for you to bounce the two “different” sounding master bus audio and share here for us to compare?

I’m always a little suspicious about these kinds of claims that have been happening for years. that being said, admiralbumblebee did that comparison this year and found specifically that automated fades on different daws were using different algorithms with Inter modulation noise present in some daws.

we also have to be aware that our ears are extremely unreliable measuring devices for this kind of thing.
This has been tried and the problem is that once you import the audio into your program it will interpret both files the same way and the test gets void. That's why the files will null.

I swear the only real way to do it is to do what the OP did. You just have to have more than one DAW on your system and playback the same audio file or the same VI synth on both DAWS and the results are apparent. They sound different. Not enough that it will lead to any real changes in mix decisions especially when dealing with samples because there are 1 trillion other variables, but they do sound different.
 

d.healey

Music Monkey
This has been tried and the problem is that once you import the audio into your program it will interpret both files the same way and the test gets void. That's why the files will null.
That doesn't make sense. It should apply the same processing to both the files, it shouldn't make both files sound the same.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
if you have two audio files, we can null them first of all to see if they are different, scientifically. You don't need the original DAWs to do that.

Here would be another useful experiment. Take just one of those two audio bounced files and play it back in both DAW's with that absolutely most transparent DAW settings you can setup, do you hear a difference?

In order to determine if there are differences, our ears make very poor measuring devices, that's why the null test is useful. You could perhaps do other kinds of spectral analysis on the two files, if they don't pass a null test, That would show the results scientifically...not by using your unreliable ears.

Also, in order to validate such a claim, people would need to inspect the project files very carefully looking for anything the user might be doing that they haven't accounted for to produce different sounding mixes. There could be global dithering options in play, for example.

I would also point out that if Cubase is in fact making a bump in the low mid...that is not necessarily a good thing. What you want is transparency without coloration. If you want to produce a mix that will translate to everyone else playing it on their apple ear buds or whatever else they are using...they aren't playing it through Cubase are they, If Cubase is in fact warming up the sound or adding low mid...I would call that a negative, not a positive, even if you think it sounds better in your studio.

But personally I don't think it is doing it unless the user is overlooking something they are doing in the way they have cubase configured or the mix signal chain in some way.

Also, people should bear in mind that in terms of digital DSP, it would be very difficult to accidentally add a little low mid bump to the sound. That kind of DSP change would need to literally be intentional as a form of EQing...with specific DSP targeted to do that. Why would Steinberg or any other DAW manufacture intentionally add distortion of any kind to the signal without the user directing it? They would not.

This kind of thinking is a hold over from the old analog days where electronic components that imparted magical warmth to tone was considered a benefit and a reason to select one piece of gear over another. That is not how its done in digital world now, the name of the game is transparency, and any kind of sonically pleasing warmth that might be added to the signal would have be deliberate and intentionally thought out and formalized with specific DSP calculations to accomplish it. Otherwise, other forms of random DSP differences would appear as noise...not a nice warm mid low bump.

If you make your mix non-transparent somehow...then that is another matter...that is user choice...
 
OP
M

Mishabou

Active Member
Is it possible for you to bounce the two “different” sounding master bus audio and share here for us to compare?

I’m always a little suspicious about these kinds of claims that have been happening for years. that being said, admiralbumblebee did that comparison this year and found specifically that automated fades on different daws were using different algorithms with Inter modulation noise present in some daws.

we also have to be aware that our ears are extremely unreliable measuring devices for this kind of thing.


I will try but no promises as we're in a middle of huge deadlines.

When two people can identify 100% of the time the difference between two DAW (blindfolded), i would not call our ears unreliable :)

Again, the session has nothing but only one simple Midi track routed to SF felt piano (Olafur Arnald), low mid are definitely different between LPX and CB.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
When two people can identify 100% of the time the difference between two DAW (blindfolded), i would not call our ears unreliable :)
sorry no. They are unreliable for this kind of comparison. Extremely.

Again, the session has nothing but only one simple Midi track routed to SF felt piano (Olafur Arnald), low mid are definitely different between LPX and CB.
We would need to look at the actual project files and your DAW's preference settings in its entirety in order to rule out that you aren't setting up your projects slightly differently in some way.
 

d.healey

Music Monkey
When two people can identify 100% of the time the difference between two DAW (blindfolded), i would not call our ears unreliable :)
We should try to verify results with empirical data so that those of us with less sensitive hearing can verify the claims.

I'm guessing a pure sine wave would be the best test.
 
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