The Songwriters' Forum - by Songwriters, for Songwriters Home 

Welcome to The Songwriters' Forum - by Songwriters, for Songwriters!
Please log on to view our discussion forum in its entirety.

Home recording quality issues
 Moderated by: Troy33, RainyDayMan, HankTheTank
New Topic Reply Printer Friendly
 Rating:  Rating
AuthorPost
 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2012 10:53 pm
  PMQuoteReply
1st Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
I have been bugging Troy with a bunch of questions, and he's a wealth of information, but somewhere down the line somebody might have the same issues so I'll ask publicly.

My recording setup consists of an HP dv6775us laptop, Samson Meteor USB mic with a new USB cord, and Ableton Live 8.  My recordings aren't horrible IMO, but I have to think they could be better without dropping a ton of cash.

Here's my specific issue as of right now.  My recordings sound pretty darn good when I listen to them straight from Ableton.  I discovered that converting the Ableton set to a .wav causes quite a bit of degradation.  Converting that .wav to an .mp3 causes even more degradation.  I use the Ableton program to convert to .wav and a free download called "WAV to MP3" to convert to .mp3.  I tweaked the settings on Ableton and I can get a little better quality on the .wav file, but there's still quite a bit of degradation.  Any ideas on how to get the Ableton set quality to a .wav file?  My understanding is that .mp3 files aren't going to be as good as a .wav file, but is there any way to decrease the degradation?  I have been looking for answers on the internet, but I haven't found much help.  Any and all ideas or suggestions are welcome.

Another issue I'm having is that when I burn a cd of my music it sounds horrible.  It sounds even worse than the .mp3s I burn them from.  I use Windows Media Player to burn cds.  I haven't tried to burn anything but my own stuff.  Any ideas?



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top 


 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2012 11:50 pm
  PMQuoteReply
2nd Post
just1L
Member


Joined: Fri Nov 20th, 2009
Location: St. Louis, Missouri USA
Posts: 1829
Favorite Artist: Van Halen, ABBA, Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Cheap Trick
I am a: Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
I can't wait to hear the answer to this. Although I have a completely different setup (Mac & Garage Band), I have the same issues. I'm sure a lot of it is my own fault with my poor mixing abilities. I will say, If I could ever get a song to sound remotely close to what the recording sounds like in Garage Band with headphones on, I'd be stylin. For me I have the version that came out with my computer in 2006. But very soon I'll be getting a new computer so at least for the next few days, I'm going to pretend it's all the old computers fault.



____________________
http://www.Just1L.com
Back To Top


 Posted: Fri Jun 8th, 2012 12:34 am
  PMQuoteReply
3rd Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Let me know if a new computer helps.  My computer is a 2007 model.  I'm wanting/hoping to get a new one when they go on sale before school starts.  I have read that a few people are having this problem with Ableton but most aren't.  It doesn't make much sense.



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top 


 Posted: Sat Jun 9th, 2012 04:25 am
  PMQuoteReply
4th Post
Troy33
Super Moderator


Joined: Sun Aug 3rd, 2008
Location: New Hampshire USA
Posts: 4848
Favorite Artist: Rush, Yes, John Mayer, James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Stanley Clark
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Hi Hank,

First off ... thanks for the nice complement!

Here is how I have my Export Audio/Video settings when I export to a WAV file.

 

Attachment: ExportAudioSettings.png (Downloaded 86 times)



____________________
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/another-log-on-the-fire
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/if-it-rains-on-christmas
http://www.reverbnation.com/troydouglas
Back To Top


 Posted: Sat Jun 9th, 2012 04:28 am
  PMQuoteReply
5th Post
Troy33
Super Moderator


Joined: Sun Aug 3rd, 2008
Location: New Hampshire USA
Posts: 4848
Favorite Artist: Rush, Yes, John Mayer, James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Stanley Clark
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
I use this free file converter:

 

Attachment: mp3converter.png (Downloaded 86 times)



____________________
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/another-log-on-the-fire
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/if-it-rains-on-christmas
http://www.reverbnation.com/troydouglas
Back To Top 


 Posted: Sat Jun 9th, 2012 05:04 am
  PMQuoteReply
6th Post
Troy33
Super Moderator


Joined: Sun Aug 3rd, 2008
Location: New Hampshire USA
Posts: 4848
Favorite Artist: Rush, Yes, John Mayer, James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Stanley Clark
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Sound quality is something that can take a lot of trial and error in improving. I still have a ways to go before my music will sound as good as I want it to. I need to put more time into experimenting with input levels and output levels.

Generally speaking, sound quality first depends on the electronic information captured from the source. If mic quality, mic type, and mic placement are not ideal up front, all of the sound processing money can buy will not "fix it in the mix" as they say. 

Next, if the signal is not boosted to the highest levels through the preamp (without reaching distortion), it will likely result in poor sound quality when it gets to the other side. Again, those processers (compressors, EQ, reverb) along the way will not be able to save it because it is too weak to begin with.

Keep in mind that every device in the chain can add noise or distortion. Too many devices, in other words, can hurt the sound quality. If you are having trouble with a track's sound quality, try disabling all of the effects processing devices in that track and then one by one see what they are contributing or taking away.

With Ableton, and most other mixers (whether hardware or software), the output (Master) volume control needs to be just right so your final signals are ready for conversion to tape, vinal, cd or mp3.  Try outputting various Master levels to wav until you find the results you are happy with.

Did I miss your question and just ramble on!

Troy



____________________
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/another-log-on-the-fire
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/if-it-rains-on-christmas
http://www.reverbnation.com/troydouglas
Back To Top


 Posted: Sat Jun 9th, 2012 03:21 pm
  PMQuoteReply
7th Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
I think I see what you're getting at Troy.  I'll monkey around with that and see what I can come up with.  I tried your export setup and the results were a little better but it still doesn't sound near as good as listening straight from the Ableton program.

After our original chat I did another check on the internet and I found a couple of posts on the Ableton forum where people are having the same issue.  Probably the same ones I looked at earlier.  Due to the responses this seems to be a problem that most people don't have.  None of the suggestions helped much.

You mentioned soundcard inputs/outputs earlier.  Since the original recording sounds good, and since this seems to be a rare problem, I'm guessing that this might be a hardware or settings issue.  I think I have found the settings for my soundcard and I have found some different output settings on Ableton.  I'll try goofing around with that as well.  I guess this makes sense since I can get a recording I'm happy with on Ableton, but every step after that goes downhill.

I understand that some degradation is going to happen, but the difference is striking.  The original is clear and sounds close to cd quality in my mind.  Once I convert to a .wav it sounds like an old tape recording.  It's muddy and just sounds lifeless.  I know I'll never achieve pro quality with my recording setup, but I have to think it can be much better.  It's possible that I'm expecting too much, but in the general scheme of things it doesn't matter.  I'm enjoying the detective work!  :D  I'll be happy as long as I don't blow my poor, old computer up.

Thanks again Troy!



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top 


 Posted: Wed Jul 4th, 2012 07:00 pm
  PMQuoteReply
8th Post
michaeltimog
Member
 

Joined: Tue Jun 26th, 2012
Location: San Diego, California USA
Posts: 8
Favorite Artist: City and Colour, John Mayer, Bon Iver, Ben Gibbard, Kenny ...
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Have you tried messing around with the bit rate and stuff? For mp3, try changing it to the highest kpbs setting allowed. Wav to mp3 does sound different "sonicially" but it shouldn't change how it sounds. Changing these settings might also have a weird recording sound so make sure you know your default settings before you change them



____________________
http://www.facebook.com/michaeltimog

http://www.reverbnation.com/michaeltimog
Back To Top


 Posted: Wed Jul 4th, 2012 08:54 pm
  PMQuoteReply
9th Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
I have messed with every setting I can find on my computer, on the Ableton program, and on my wav to mp3 converter.  I have gotten it to sound a little bit better.  I'm not really sure how to explain it.  It just doesn't sound as crisp when I export the Ableton set .wav and then to .mp3.  Kind of like the difference between a recording on cd and a recording on a vinyl disc.

The only thing I can figure is that it's some kind of computer hardware issue.  This is an issue for some people, but it's fairly rare.  Since I have a laptop there's no upgrading it. 

Oh well.  I'm not sure how much longer this computer is going to last.  It has served me well and taken quite a beating in the last four years.  lol

Thanks for the reply.



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top 


 Posted: Tue Jan 29th, 2013 11:41 am
  PMQuoteReply
10th Post
GRiFF
Member


Joined: Tue Jan 29th, 2013
Location: Surrey / London, United Kingdom
Posts: 8
Favorite Artist: 
I am a: Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Hi Hank,

This is a little confusing, there should be no super obvious degradation so if its dramatically different something must be wrong.

My initial thought would be that any A/D converters you are relying on may be possibly of poor quality, sorry if I have not read your thread properly but if you are using your laptop to do all the A/D conversion this might be something to do with it, on board Laptop A/D's are going to be poor.

MP3s will crush the sound and remove hi end and low end detail especially, and while there is a a very detectable difference they should be representative of your Ableton session. If you export a WAV however at 44K / 16 bit resolution it should sound 99% at least as decent as the original session.
If you want me to have a listen to your files you can email them to me: jon@griffinpromixing.com I might have a better idea if I can listen on my monitors.

The only other possible thing - make sure all your audio outputs are bouncing to the stereo outs of your mixer software - ie, make sure you have not got elements (such as your effects) assigned to other outputs that are not included in a bounce down.



____________________
Musician / Producer / Mixing Engineer

Great results - for any budget
http://www.griffinpromixing.com
Back To Top


 Posted: Tue Jan 29th, 2013 01:20 pm
  PMQuoteReply
11th Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Thanks for the info Griff.

Since I made this post I have made some changes. I got an audio interface, a couple of new microphones, and replaced every cable with Monster or Mogami, including guitar cables. I have monkeyed around with the settings on Ableton. I have also been given some advice on how to mix. It has been a big improvement.

Now my problem is that everything is too clear. lol The old setup hid a lot of unwanted noise that I had to figure out how to get rid of before recording.



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top 


 Posted: Tue Jan 29th, 2013 01:54 pm
  PMQuoteReply
12th Post
GRiFF
Member


Joined: Tue Jan 29th, 2013
Location: Surrey / London, United Kingdom
Posts: 8
Favorite Artist: 
I am a: Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Often people will say they just want a system they can get their ideas down on but this inevitably becomes a journey into competing with commercial mixes!

If you ever need professional mixing let me know sounds like your music might need some distortion and jiggery pokery to get it in the zone your after.

Best of Luck!
Jon



____________________
Musician / Producer / Mixing Engineer

Great results - for any budget
http://www.griffinpromixing.com
Back To Top


 Posted: Wed May 22nd, 2013 11:39 pm
  PMQuoteReply
13th Post
seriousfun
Member


Joined: Wed Jun 27th, 2012
Location: Rotorua, New Zealand
Posts: 33
Favorite Artist: wow there are just so many of 'em
I am a: Singer/Songwriter
Status: 
Offline
I note in the original post that you are burning you CDs from you mp3 files. This is a big mistake, always burn from wav files. These file types have some distinct differences.

Wav files are very large and record ever single 0 and 1 in the data file. They are known as lossless file types. You can open and resale a wav file as many times as you like and it will never change or lose data.

An mp3 on the other hand, is a compressed file and approximates the sound and doesn't save every little piece. It is referred to as a lossy file type. Every time you open and resave an mp3 file you lose some data due to the file extraction and compression functions. Furthermore, this is effected greatly by the amount of compression which is referred to as the nitrate. 250 Or 320 is a good minimum standard to use but it creates bigger files. For uploading you may want to drop down even lower but each time you do you will loose quality. Mp3 files should reserved for uploading to the Internet, file transferring or for use on MP3 players. For all other instances use wavs as they preserve the sound 100% .

Hope this explanation helps.


Oh my hat, please excuse all the typos I was using my ipad and its self correction has made some dreadfully poor decisions lol.

Last edited on Wed May 22nd, 2013 11:41 pm by seriousfun

Back To Top 


 Posted: Thu May 23rd, 2013 12:40 pm
  PMQuoteReply
14th Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
seriousfun wrote:
I note in the original post that you are burning you CDs from you mp3 files. This is a big mistake, always burn from wav files. These file types have some distinct differences.

Wav files are very large and record ever single 0 and 1 in the data file. They are known as lossless file types. You can open and resale a wav file as many times as you like and it will never change or lose data.

An mp3 on the other hand, is a compressed file and approximates the sound and doesn't save every little piece. It is referred to as a lossy file type. Every time you open and resave an mp3 file you lose some data due to the file extraction and compression functions. Furthermore, this is effected greatly by the amount of compression which is referred to as the nitrate. 250 Or 320 is a good minimum standard to use but it creates bigger files. For uploading you may want to drop down even lower but each time you do you will loose quality. Mp3 files should reserved for uploading to the Internet, file transferring or for use on MP3 players. For all other instances use wavs as they preserve the sound 100% .

Hope this explanation helps.


Oh my hat, please excuse all the typos I was using my ipad and its self correction has made some dreadfully poor decisions lol.


That's a really good idea! I had read that MP3s were lossy, but it never occurred to me use WAV files on a cd. My step-daughter keeps bugging me to make cd's so she can hand them out at her boyfriend's band's concerts. Once I get enough decent material I'll probably do that.



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top


 Posted: Fri May 24th, 2013 01:09 am
  PMQuoteReply
15th Post
Troy33
Super Moderator


Joined: Sun Aug 3rd, 2008
Location: New Hampshire USA
Posts: 4848
Favorite Artist: Rush, Yes, John Mayer, James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Stanley Clark
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Plenty of good advice and discussion in this thread! Nice!!!!



____________________
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/another-log-on-the-fire
https://soundcloud.com/troy-t-douglas/if-it-rains-on-christmas
http://www.reverbnation.com/troydouglas
Back To Top 


 Posted: Wed Jan 1st, 2014 08:24 am
  PMQuoteReply
16th Post
multicraic
Member
 

Joined: Wed May 29th, 2013
Location: London, United Kingdom
Posts: 300
Favorite Artist: too many to mention
I am a: Songwriter
Status: 
Offline
I'm a bit late picking up on this thread, but for what it's worth here's my couple of cents worth. Firstly, Seriousfun is absolutely right- never use mp3 format to burn cd,s.The loss factor can make a decent recording sound thin,boxy and downright sh*tty. Secondly, even though I don't go the computer route(multitracker,pre-amp and decent condenser mics) I do know that your usb mic isn't really up to the job,particularly for instruments. The usual way computer software musicians work is with condenser mic,pre-amp and audio interface box linked to computer in order to get the kind of results that seem to be eluding you.

ps All the best for 2014

Liam

Last edited on Wed Jan 1st, 2014 08:27 am by multicraic



____________________
Liam Taggart
Back To Top


 Posted: Sat Jan 4th, 2014 02:52 am
  PMQuoteReply
17th Post
HankTheTank
Moderator


Joined: Sun Dec 4th, 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 1114
Favorite Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Rainmakers, QotSA, Nilsson
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Thanks, Liam.

I have learned a lot since I started this thread. I have gotten tons of advice, and I have applied it, but really didn't understand it. Not surprisingly it didn't work out well. lol

To make a long, boring story short, I recently got burnt out on music and took a break. When I was ready to come back all the advice was much more clear for whatever reason. You can hear the results in the Country section of the forum with my song The Ballad of Polecat Slim.

Now I just hope I can keep it up!



____________________
http://www.soundclick.com/loungingmccoy
http://www.soundclick.com/onthetrolley

What do firefighters and policemen have in common?
They both want to be firefighters. :D
Back To Top 


 Posted: Fri Dec 15th, 2017 02:58 pm
  PMQuoteReply
18th Post
Marty Ray Boone
Contributor


Joined: Mon Oct 24th, 2011
Location: Fort Mill, South Carolina USA
Posts: 679
Favorite Artist: "Rev.Jimmy Swaggart" "Owen Hovenden" Kerry Boone
I am a: Singer/Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
Great! We have someone writing in Russian on here. Can any of us read that language?



____________________
Marty Ray Boone, now seeking God's will for my life and asking if I may serve him as a gospel bass singer and singer of harmonies in that form of music! I thank Holy God for my voice! Near perfect pitch as well, guidance for my fingers on that piano, AMEN
Back To Top


 Posted: Fri Dec 15th, 2017 08:31 pm
  PMQuoteReply
19th Post
RainyDayMan
TSF Administrator


Joined: Thu May 17th, 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 4662
Favorite Artist: James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell
I am a: Songwriter/Musician
Status: 
Offline
That was an advertising bot and the post was selling leggings. Mr Google can do a translation for you if you need it. I have deleted the post. If you see others like it let me know. I delete about half a dozen bots a day off our system, but sometimes they slip through. Leggings is likely the least offensive thing the will post about.

Back To Top 


Current time is 01:42 pm

Top



UltraBB 1.172 Copyright © 2007-2016 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.1984 seconds (10% database + 90% PHP). 26 queries executed.