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View Full Version : Do all DAWs sound different?


GarretGraves
10-23-2009, 02:03 PM
Sounds stupid but let me explain. Do you find that some recording quality is different or worse between different DAWs? No plugins. Just bare. Cause I'm wondering if Adobe Audition isn't cutting it anymore.

EDIT: Follow up question. I just installed Cubase and for some stupid reason I cant get the audio tracks to pan. I'm sliding this thing that says "pan" left and right and all it does is turn the volume up and down. I tried recording both mono and stereo tracks. same effect. what gives?

The Vagrance
10-23-2009, 04:52 PM
More than likely, but ultimately it won't be a very noticeable or noteworthy difference.

Yoozer
10-23-2009, 04:53 PM
Worrying about the sound of a DAW is the least interesting thing. Worry about your room acoustics, your soundcard, your plugins and your microphones first.

Personally I thought Audition had a shitty user interface. If you find things you can't do in Audition, switch.

As for Cubase; volume change means there's something wrong with the way your soundcard is configured in Cubase, or you're using the wrong cables, or....

Pretty hard to troubleshoot when you don't mention which version of Cubase or what model & make your soundcard is. ;)

GarretGraves
10-23-2009, 09:31 PM
Im using version 5.1 and my sound card is an SB Audigy 2

conyeezy
10-23-2009, 09:51 PM
every DAW has different code to handle different tasks, and the most important of these (at least to me) is bussing, and so they'll have a different 'sound' to them... it's mostly just the software balancing multiple elements into a stereo mix with the headroom available - this is noticeably different than using hardware, just ask anyone with a summing amp

that said, i agree with yoozer - there are a million elements you should worry about before 'the sound of your DAW', most especially room acoustics and the calibre of your signal chain (mics, outboard gear), the quality of your conversion (A/D, D/A), etc

Yoozer
10-23-2009, 10:07 PM
Im using version 5.1
Is that the ancient Cubase VST 5.1 or the brand new Cubase 5? If it's the old one you have to make sure both output ports of the Audigy are checked in the "ASIO Multimedia Setup" window. For the rest I won't have much of value to contribute, since I dumped Cubase for Ableton Live.

and my sound card is an SB Audigy 2

Look at the plug that you're using to connect to the speakers - it is stereo, right?

GarretGraves
10-25-2009, 05:19 AM
Oh yeah it's stereo. Im not quite sure how ancient Cubase is. I'll look into it when I get back from work.

As for the 'sound of the DAW', I'm not really worried about it so much as I want a better interface than Audition. Audition seems limiting to me now. And it handles certain things differently than other DAWs i've used at school. And people have sworn by Cubase and I have SOME experience with that and Logic through recording arts classes. Since I don't have a mac, I chose to grab Cubase from a friend of mine. I've learned that if you want to progress in this field, Audition will only hold you over as a beginner. So it's time for me to move on.

Thanks for the help guys!

EDIT: Ok It's Cubase 5. The newer one.

Yoozer
10-25-2009, 02:14 PM
An application like Cubase, Logic - and Ableton Live and Sonar and FL Studio too - has a history. Ableton's from 1999 or so (so relatively new), FL Studio started really modest and got all kinds of stuff tacked onto it, Sonar originated out of Cakewalk.

Cubase and Logic however came from the old Atari ages and dealt with a completely different kind of studio back then - all of it pure MIDI. ProTools on the other hand only dealt with audio in the beginning: 4 tracks in 1991.

Musicians have used these systems for a long time; and most people who have Cubase jumped on the bandwagon rather early and were loyal. In fact, the reason I got to SX3 was because I worked with Cubasis (a lite version of Cubase) back in 1998.

Each of the pieces of software has its own philosophy. It expects you to work in a certain way. While concepts such as audio and MIDI tracks kind of work the same, and things like Play/Record/Stop do too (which of course originated on tape recorders; Play simply did nothing but advance the tape, Record enabled another tape head, which is why they're pressed at the same time), there are differences in how MIDI is handled and what you can do with it. Cubase and Logic both used to have (still have? no idea) a wide selection of MIDI tools - if you wanted to randomize velocity over a selection you can do that. Select the notes and then something like Edit > MIDI > Velocity > Randomize, etc.

Ableton takes a different approach: instead of dealing with (destructive) operations you simply put a filter/modifier device on top of the MIDI track which randomizes velocity for you. It changes the operation from "printing" (applying the effects to a track) to something continuous.

Cubase SX3 assumed that you had a regular studio and came from a regular studio background; I can't explain some of the things that occur in that application otherwise. Cubase works really, really well when you've made a complete translation of your setup in the software itself, by using templates.

As an example: SX3 has a limit of the number of insert effects you can use on a single track (6 or so) That would've been understandable if this wasn't the best and biggest version you could use, because the concept of a limit is completely ridiculous when your computer will happily run 120 compressors, equalizers and reverbs at the same time. In hardware studios you don't hook up 6 devices in a row unless you're a guitar player, but that's completely based on 2 things:

- don't overdo your signal chain because of noise and signal degradation
- you simply don't have 6 effects boxes! (the solution was to simply re-record a track with say, 3 effects, then change the settings, and put that effected track through the effects again).

In a computer, this simply does not apply. So, by keeping to that "old" philosophy it completely ignored the advantages computers could bring to the table, and if you never had a hardware studio yourself where you had to wire up stuff and had a limit on the number of FX or synths, you would've seen this as completely incomprehensible.

So, summarized; the reason to pick Cubase because it works and thinks like you expect it to do. You don't pick it because other people pick it, because they might think in completely different terms and come from different backgrounds.

Even then, don't "get" your software from your friends; man up and buy it. Cubase 5 Studio does everything you want already. Simply put your usage of it against the time you're going to use it, and when you realize that you can spread out buying it over 2 years by paying $1 a day, you're really getting a lot of power for pocket change.

The Vagrance
10-25-2009, 06:41 PM
So, summarized; the reason to pick Cubase because it works and thinks like you expect it to do. You don't pick it because other people pick it, because they might think in completely different terms and come from different backgrounds.

Even then, don't "get" your software from your friends; man up and buy it. Cubase 5 Studio does everything you want already. Simply put your usage of it against the time you're going to use it, and when you realize that you can spread out buying it over 2 years by paying $1 a day, you're really getting a lot of power for pocket change.

QFT

Also go for an academic version if you can and it'll be even cheaper.

GarretGraves
10-26-2009, 09:14 AM
Yoozer? Man up and BUY it? Of course I'm going to BUY things. But if you had the opportunity to TRY something BEFORE you bought it, wouldn't you take it? Seems logical to me. Besides, I'm not gonna waste money on something I can't use.

But I dunno. I checked in Device Setup and it shows my ASIO TonePort DI-S that came with the GearBox. It's connected through the Line-in on the Audigy 2. (Not sure if there's another or better way to connect it.) I'm lookin it over. I'll try and mess with it. If anyone knows anything please post. Thanks!

EDIT: I noticed something. I recorded on a stereo track (Stereo In/Stereo Out) I can only pan left but it still stays center. Then I made a couple of mono tracks (Stereo Left/Stereo Out) and vice versa (Stereo Right/Stereo Out). Same effect. Pan left and you still get sound. Pan right you get nothing. The panner turns into a volume knob. I also noticed (and maybe i shoulda mentioned this earlier) on the Toneport, there are 2 analog outs (1 and 2) and a D.I. Out. Dunno what the D.I. Out is for (digital? I'll read the manual later) But out of the Analog 1 and 2 outs I'm only using the 1 and not the 2. Is 1 for left and 2 for right? You'd figure they would label them as such if that were the case. And I've only been using 1 and not 2 and I could pan just fine in Audition so it never really crossed my mind til now. Thoughts?

liquid wind
10-26-2009, 10:49 AM
if you're using just wav files at their original pitch/speed with no effects there should be no noticeable difference most of the time, however, internal resampling algorithms and internal plug ins and such obviously differ, this will be especially obvious when using something like reason that relies entirely on its own devices but can be applied to other programs that have a lot of bundled stuff(for instance for many years FL was synonymous with poor quality because it came bundled with things like FL slayer and bad samples). so there is a difference between different programs but not necessarily for the reasons many would assume, a lot of it depends on how much of the stock devices you use

avaris
10-26-2009, 01:30 PM
QFT

Also go for an academic version if you can and it'll be even cheaper.

Just FYI on Cubase; its Academic version does not allow you to use it commercially. Although, you can say upgrade Cubase 5 Academic to Cubase 6 (non-Academic) when it comes out at no extra charge. Kinda the cheapest way to get a retail version IMO.

Not all academic versions of programs have this restriction though.

Yoozer
10-26-2009, 09:53 PM
Yoozer? Man up and BUY it? Of course I'm going to BUY things.

The "of course" is sadly enough not as common as you think, which is why I mentioned it. Good to hear you're choosing the straight & narrow.

LuIzA
10-28-2009, 02:12 PM
when I briefly went to "audio school" last year, my teacher, who is one of the most awesome engineers in the country, said "DAW sounds" are a myth, because when it comes to using the DAW "raw", the algorithms for PLAYING audio are very much the same, your soundcard is the one who handles the D/A A/D conversion. I'd think some of those impressions comes from the way a DAW feels, because of its interfaceand all.

but then again, what the people already mentioned here holds very true, concern about room acoustics, hardware and stuff should be primary. if you like Audition's interface, by all means stick with it, and maybe look into buying a better soundcard. I'd def recommend M-Audio's stuff for that.

but if you're looking to buy a new DAW anyway, I'd suggest downloading any demo versions you can get out there. but like Yoozer said, actually BUY the thing... despite the price, there actually are advantages to owning the real thing.

OverCoat
10-28-2009, 05:52 PM
Just FYI on Cubase; its Academic version does not allow you to use it commercially

Does Steinberg actually check how many of their users are using the academic version and police them accordingly, or are they just trying to scare people into thinking they are?

theshaggyfreak
10-28-2009, 06:18 PM
The only 'DAW' that I know of that has a particular 'sound' to it is Record since the mixer in it was modeled after an SSL board. In the end, though, I still firmly believe that it's the person driving the machine that makes the 'sound'.