Quality concern virtual instruments

Support and feedback for Acoustica's Mixcraft audio mixing software.

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april1982
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Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by april1982 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:16 am

I've been using the virtual instruments in every song, but I noticed that once I start to turn up the volume, I hear distortion and buzzing in my computer speakers. This will happen even starting a new project, if I use the virtual piano and just turn up the mixcraft volume bar and start playing notes, I can hear the buzzing. The monitor bars are staying in green while i play, yet it sounds like its clipping or just maxed out. If I go to a youtube video, which is already very loud, and turn it up, there is no distortion in the speakers. The projects I have done with all virtual instruments are relatively quiet compared to professional releases, and I know I won't get mine as loud as theirs, but I at least need to get in the same ballpark with my volume without having sound issues. I'm not planning to do my final mixes or mastering myself, unless I have a breakthrough with my knowledge because I have spent countless hours trying to figure out why I can't blend everything to the right levels and still get the volume and quality I want, so I'd rather give that task to someone else. So first question is: Why am I getting this buzzing in speakers when turning up the mixcraft volume, when it is not showing any red or even yellow?

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Acoustica Greg
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by Acoustica Greg » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:23 am

Hi,

Are you using Mixcraft version 7.7 build 316?

Please give us an example of a virtual instrument or two that exhibits this problem for you.

Greg
Mixcraft - The Musician's DAW
Give it a try here: http://acoustica.com/mixcraft/
Check out our Mixcraft University video tutorials.

april1982
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by april1982 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:57 pm

Hi, I have mixcraft7 pro studio 7.1 264 and I also have mixcraft 5. I notice this problem with acoustic piano, but i'm trying to figure out if there are any known issues with the virtual instruments distorting when turned up. It seems I have to keep all of my projects rather quiet or else if I turn them up I get the distorted buzzing in the speakers. This happens in projects where only virtual instruments are used. I'm just skeptical that anyone would be able to take my tracks and make them louder without this problem occuring. If I know the virtual instruments are fine, then is it simply a matter of keeping everything turned down, (i didn't see any red lights just green and some yellow) Or could I need a better soundcard or something?

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by Mark Bliss » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:03 am

Hi April,
I cant say for sure your problem is the same, but I have an issue with a new computer soundcard/driver that may be similar.
In my case, I have to turn either the main output of Mixcraft, or my computers volume way down when using Mixcraft or it distorts the sound when monitoring or playing an instrument or project. Oddly, Mixcraft only works in ASIO mode with the soundcard as well, Core audio and Wave don't work in Mixcraft with this card. Its not the only strange behavior, but we'll stick to what seems relevant for now.
Lets see its a similar condition.

I assume you are using your computers soundcard? What are your sound settings in preferences?

Using my computer soundcard, if I set the main fader on Mixcraft to about -16 dB it plays back at a reasonable level and sounds fine. Of course if you mix down the project at that setting, it would be very quiet.

Assuming its a matter of being too loud like mine, lets try this test/temporary workaround:
Turn your main fader down as needed to monitor your work. Make sure its always down for monitoring/playback during this test to protect speakers, or headphones and of course, your ears.

Insert Voxengo SPAN on the main bus and create a project, using your track faders to set the overall level using SPAN to monitor overall level.
For this experiment I would look for peaks around -1 dB when "finished" with your test project.

Now mix down a copy with the main fader turned back up to 0 dB and see what the file plays like in another media player.

Louder and sound OK now? This wont provide "commercial" levels, that would require some more processing, but it should be much better.

Let me know what happens, now I am curious. 8)

*I would also recommend updating to the latest version of Mixcraft 7, there's a number of bugs and fixes since the version you are using. I don't think any are applicable to this problem, but its still a good idea.
Stay in tune, Mark

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cremley
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by cremley » Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:07 pm

If you are using Win10, your soundcard may only play back at 48khz. This appears to be the "standard" for Win10. I have seen sometimes where playing back 16bit 44.1khz files causes some bad stuff when Windows tries to resample. ASIO4Aall seems to work well and will automatically resample for you (it is in the ASIO4All settings).

You also want to make sure that the refresh rate of the screen in Mixcraft is set correctly. (Settings, display, Limit Drawing During Playback). If you have a low re-draw, then you may not be able to see any overloads/clipping/distortion.

You can try changing it to where Mixcraft will record in 48khz then maybe your problem will go away. Not sure... let us know.

april1982
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by april1982 » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:34 pm

Sorry, I've been away so long, I wasn't expecting to get such thoughtful or helpful replies, and I shifted my focus to lyrics and getting most of the music composed. I'm back on the technical stuff so I'll be trying to work out this problem again. I have windows 7, my computer is about 8 years old. I use my computer's soundcard. I have to use wave rt for my settings in mixcraft. If i try wave, it glitches out all the sound, and if I use ASIO a message comes up and says something like "mixcraft was not able to load audio with these settings....try changing the preferences..." If I keep the volume of my computer speaker's mixer down below 50%, then I don't hear any problems as long as I haven't turned up any of the instruments, but everything is pretty quiet at this point. If I turn the speakers up to say 80%, to hear it better, then I'm already hearing distortion with virtual instruments, and also recorded vocals. If I use headphones in mixcraft, I can turn up everything, even to where it is clipping, and I don't hear any distortion. Mark, I will try what you suggested and let you know how it turns out. Thank you!

april1982
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by april1982 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:15 am

okay, not sure I am following, or rather what I'm looking for, but I did a test project. I used the vox spectrum analyzer. My project didn't go up to -1 peaks, it only got to about -8, and when I turned up the speakers indeed I heard the distortion, so I didn't want to make my project any louder. I was able to turn it down with peaks around -20, and then there was very little distortion when turned the computer speakers up almost all the way. When I exported the project to a wav file and played it in media player, it still had the same problems as it did in mixcraft. Shouldn't the peaks be able to go higher than that withoutworrying about distortion? My speakers are set at 24 bit, 48,000hz. The display in mixcraft has a box checked saying auto-scroll during playback. Is that the correct setting? I'm testing it in both mixcraft 5 and mixcraft pro studio 7. Also what did cremley mean by setting it to record in 48 khz?

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by Mark Bliss » Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:12 am

Auto scroll settings relate to the GUI. One mode for example has the playback cursor centered and the wave forms scrolling, and another mode has the playback cursor scrolling across the screen.
Not relevant to the audio questions/concerns.

I don't think I have many answers on the audio questions because I am still sorting out some oddities on a new computer myself, and after much experimenting I have dug up more questions than answers.
*Also, I should add that the similar issues I have experienced are not exclusive to VSTi but audio quality overall.
Our issues may be different and unrelated.

The difference between speakers and headphones is for me, clearly a soundcard/driver related problem. That is confirmed in my case because it is not just Mixcraft or my audio projects, but much other media, and the fact it is new to this system. And I never had that problem before migrating to this computer.

Next, if I understand correctly, we might share a problem with mix downs that change in sound from what is monitored within Mixcraft. On my previous computer, I could mix down to WAV 44.1/16 and playback in Windows Media Player (WMP) over the same monitors or headphones as used to monitor playback from Mixcraft, and I could not discern any change.
Using my new W10 computer there is a change. In experimenting, I have found that the changes vary noticeably depending on the sampling rate/bit depth I choose. Honestly I have experimented so much that I have lost perspective on the problem, and have been focusing instead on an annoyingly time consuming workaround of mixing down, listening in various players and going back and tweaking the mix and repeating. Again and again. Just to try to get some work done.

Last week I had decided the best results for me was still 44.1/16 after comparing many other format options. Playback on the same soundcard and headphones in the new Windows Groove player is noticeably less "detailed" or "defined" and the mix is subtly different from what I hear monitoring in Mixcraft. Again, new problem on new computer, never had that result before on previous computer. Therefore I don't believe it has anything directly to do with Mixcraft.

I know just enough about computers to get in trouble it seems, so its no surprise to me, I was unaware that WMP was hidden in W10 somewhere and upon discovering that I spent half of last week comparing Groove to WMP. So far, based on that I think it is not just Groove player.
Comparing in my car, or other playback situations is hard to A/B because the environment is enough different to make me uncertain. If my old computer was functional, I would be able to compare two mix downs to better narrow in on the facts.

So at this stage, I believe that this particular portion of my problems are sampling rate conversion related, which made Cremleys comment about 48K of interest to me. But I can say with some certainty that mixing down to 48K didn't improve playback in Groove or WMP for me. I am currently experimenting with another soundcard and driver, no results to report yet.

I have a big hammer handy just in case. :evil:
Stay in tune, Mark

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by Mark Bliss » Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:50 am

Update:
Again, April, I am not certain this is the same, or has anything to do with what you have described, but-

I just used the file I have been chasing my tail on in Groove and WMP to Soundcloud for a test and low and behold, the detail and definition are back! Bad news is I made the mix too bright trying to compensate for what I was getting before, and there is some exaggeration of some background hiss that I have previously traced to a specific plug in........

Argghhh.
Back up and redo. I am not sure what is going on.

EDIT: April, I just went back and re-read your posts and description. I don't think my audio issue is the same as yours. Apologies if I misled or confused.
Stay in tune, Mark

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Acoustica Greg
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by Acoustica Greg » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:03 pm

april1982 wrote:okay, not sure I am following, or rather what I'm looking for, but I did a test project. I used the vox spectrum analyzer. My project didn't go up to -1 peaks, it only got to about -8, and when I turned up the speakers indeed I heard the distortion, so I didn't want to make my project any louder. I was able to turn it down with peaks around -20, and then there was very little distortion when turned the computer speakers up almost all the way. When I exported the project to a wav file and played it in media player, it still had the same problems as it did in mixcraft. Shouldn't the peaks be able to go higher than that withoutworrying about distortion? My speakers are set at 24 bit, 48,000hz. The display in mixcraft has a box checked saying auto-scroll during playback. Is that the correct setting? I'm testing it in both mixcraft 5 and mixcraft pro studio 7. Also what did cremley mean by setting it to record in 48 khz?
Hi,

Try updating to Mixcraft version 7.7 build 316. Choose "Check For updates" from the Help menu and then quit Mixcraft while the patch downloads, or just download the latest version from the link in your registration email.

If updating doesn't help, which virtual instruments are you hearing this problem with? If you solo a particular virtual instrument track and mix that down, do you hear distortion in that single track? What does the distortion sound like? Is it only in the loudest parts?

Greg
Mixcraft - The Musician's DAW
Give it a try here: http://acoustica.com/mixcraft/
Check out our Mixcraft University video tutorials.

april1982
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by april1982 » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:23 pm

Is the update the same as Upgrade page? I have a confirmation email with reg code but no link to updates there. I try downloading from the help menu but keeps saying I have latest version even though still displaying 7.1 after selecting download.

It's not just one instrument in particular although one project I'm in Used the smashing guitar. I turn off all effects and play it solo at the starting volume of 100% and also keeping the main project slider at 100%. It's monitoring green and yellow at this point and the spectrum analyzer is Peaking highest at -15 but I'm getting intermittent vibration and distortion in speakers. No problems in headphones though. This gets worse as i allow more instruments to play, so I turn down everything. Then, to make sure there is no distortion, I turn up my computers speaker mixer, realtek, but I can hear problems, so I reduce the volume in mixcraft even more until there is no distortion. Now my mixcraft project is very quiet. I go to YouTube and play a music video, leaving my speakers and mixer volume to the same as I was monitoring mixcraft and now I'm hearing a loud, but not distorted, music video.

Could there be some other problem with audio from my computer to speakers that is not related at all to mixcraft, but maybe an inadequate soundcard or something? Also, should I just trust my headphones and watch out for clipping in mixcraft, forget about the speakers?

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Quality concern virtual instruments

Post by Mark Bliss » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:17 pm

Go to your registration email, use the link provided to download and re run the installer. (Mixcraft closed.)
That should install the most current version.

Lets get the update installed first, then maybe try to figure out the rest of your questions.
Stay in tune, Mark

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