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Old 03-09-2009, 09:45 AM   #1
ugly_guitar_guy
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Default Mixes sound very different after exporting from Reaper

Hello,

I've been using reaper for over a year now and have only recently been delving seriously into getting full songs recorded )instead of just keeping track of new song ideas) since I finally have the plugins to make life easier for me to record (Amplitube, EZDrummer, Melodyne, to name a few).

Now, my problem that I seem to be running into is that I'll get my song all mixed in Reaper and the whole thing sounds balanced and great and then I'll render a wav file of the project and play it in Media Player or iTunes or even my car and they all sound like complete crap. There's always too much reverb, the vocals are way low in the mix, and the mix as a whole sounds like someone put a blanket over the speaker, when it was crystal clear before. Any thoughts on what I'm experiencing here? Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:06 AM   #2
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Hmmm... what WAV version do you use? I mean bitdepth and samplerate...
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:09 AM   #3
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Hmmm... what WAV version do you use? I mean bitdepth and samplerate...

bit depth is 24, sample rate is 48k. I usually render on the "Better" Resample mode.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:10 AM   #4
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Are you using studio reference monitors???
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:20 AM   #5
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sadly no. I'm using Roland MA-8's because that's all I have the room for. But even so, I'm able to get a great sound with them IN Reaper, but not out of Reaper...
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:29 AM   #6
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bit depth is 24, sample rate is 48k. I usually render on the "Better" Resample mode.

How can you listen to a 24bit/48k WAV file in your car?
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:36 AM   #7
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well, i put the song into my ipod because my truck has an ipod harness (not just the 1/8" cable) and check how it sounds there too. Should I try something less like 16 bit, 44.1k? Would that make a difference?
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:51 AM   #8
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It is not REAPER that is the issue but more likely it is the environment that you are mixing in. A properly treated room and/or a eq'd room for flat freq response & good well placed reference monitor speakers will go a long way to getting your mixes to translate well to a variety of listening settings (boombox, home stereo, car stereo, etc.).
Baring that you will have do a lot of extra work and make notes about what is pronounced/lacking in your mixes when listening to them in various environments and then go back to your mix and make any changes in REAPER and re-render. Then go back, listen again and repeat as many times as necessary.


Cheers,

Billy Buck

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Old 03-09-2009, 11:02 AM   #9
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It is not REAPER that is the issue but more likely it is the environment that you are mixing in. A properly treated room and/or a eq'd room for flat freq response & good well placed reference monitor speakers will go a long way to getting your mixes to translate well to a variety of listening settings (boombox, home stereo, car stereo, etc.).
Baring that you will have do a lot of extra work and make notes about what is pronounced/lacking in your mixes when listening to them in various environments and then go back to your mix and make any changes in REAPER and re-render. Then go back, listen again and repeat as many times as necessary.


Cheers,

Billy Buck

Yeah, this is kind of what I figured would be what i would need to do since I can't really get better speakers or acoustically treat the bedroom (where my computer is). I guess I just don't understand why the mix comes out differently when using the same speakers but only the playback program changes. Shouldn't the mix that I'm hearing out of reaper accurately translate to itunes or Win Media Player? Perhaps I'm missing a concept here or something....
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ugly_guitar_guy View Post
sadly no. I'm using Roland MA-8's because that's all I have the room for. But even so, I'm able to get a great sound with them IN Reaper, but not out of Reaper...
Those aren;t worth mixing on... I spent a miserable summer about 8 years ago trying to mix on a pair of those and they simply don't have the detail necessary to give you a good idea as to what is going on. What you are describing sounds like my experience... everything was poo on other systems.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:14 AM   #11
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Yeah, but it SHOULD sound the same on the same speakers and the same environment. I don't think the speakers/room are the problem (although they will cause other problems).

There should be no difference in the sound of the same file being played in reaper and windows media player.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ugly_guitar_guy View Post
I guess I just don't understand why the mix comes out differently when using the same speakers but only the playback program changes. Shouldn't the mix that I'm hearing out of reaper accurately translate to itunes or Win Media Player? Perhaps I'm missing a concept here or something....
No you're right, but try this:

1. Open a project that sounds good when played back in Reaper, turn off any fx on the master track (if any) and set the master fader to zero
2. Render it to a wav-file
3. Return to the project and add a new track
4. Insert the newly rendered file on this track and flip its phase switch

Hit play and you shouldn't be hearing anything. (Since the rendered file with flipped phase should cancel all the other tracks.) If you do hear stuff there's sth funny going on...

Regards,
- Jonas

Last edited by Jonas_Eriksson_Swe; 03-09-2009 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ugly_guitar_guy View Post
Yeah, this is kind of what I figured would be what i would need to do since I can't really get better speakers or acoustically treat the bedroom (where my computer is). I guess I just don't understand why the mix comes out differently when using the same speakers but only the playback program changes. Shouldn't the mix that I'm hearing out of reaper accurately translate to itunes or Win Media Player? Perhaps I'm missing a concept here or something....

You're tweaking the mix to sound good on inaccurate monitors.
So... it sounds good while listening to those speakers.
But... because the monitors are inaccurate, the tweaks you make don't sound good when played on other systems.

This is why you don't want studio monitors to sound "good"... but rather they need to provide an "accurate" representation of the sound.
Otherwise, you're chasing your tail when mixing...

If you have no choice but to use those speakers, you need to learn their limitations... and check your mixes on multiple playback systems (making tweaks as you go). Also, it'll help to reference some commercial mixes that you're really familiar with (in similar style) to see how far off your mixes sound. Try to get your mix in the same sonic ballpark as the commercial mix.
If your mix is radically different in any frequency zone (low, mids, high)... then you need to make some adjustments.


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Old 03-09-2009, 12:52 PM   #14
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Maybe I'm the only one reading the OP's post this way, but it seems to me that he is saying that the exported mix sounds bad ON THE SAME SPEAKERS, as well as elsewhere.

The mix not travelling well I would blame on inaccurate monitors in an untreated room, definitely. However, the exported mix should sound the same on the same speakers.

Must be something about the export settings.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:56 PM   #15
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I've encountered the exact same thing. It's a huge hurdle for the poor uninformed newb.

You're putting this stuff on your iPod? Do you have EQ engaged on your iPod? On your car stereo?

Set everything flat on all systems.

A few things that have helped me tremendously (I'm still learning):

1) LESS IS MORE. Reduce the number of fx per track, and reduce the extremity of those fx.

2) Use fx busses, especially for reverb, instead of individual FX on each track. I had been adding reverb to each vocal track. Now I route all the individual vocal tracks through a master vocal track and apply reverb only to that.

3) Consider trying out a mastering suite. I tried iZotope Ozone and it made such a huge difference for me that I bought it. I don't want to launch a "presets" argument, but I STARTED with the "CD Master" preset and then tweaked it until I got what sounded good to me. This group of settings sounds very plain and dry compared to some of the stuff in Ozone, but when you burn your CD you'll find it works better than the "fruitier" settings.

Most experienced people here will tell you that presets are worthless. I agree in principle, but only in the sense that if you pick a preset and rely entirely on it without ever going beyond those settings, you won't get optimum results. I do, however, think that they make a good STARTING point. I think of them as "advice," such as that provided in tutorial books, not "magic bullets."

4) Consider buying the ReaMix book (http://www.lulu.com/content/2539885). I just picked this up and look forward to learning a lot from it.
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Old 03-09-2009, 01:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nprime View Post
Maybe I'm the only one reading the OP's post this way, but it seems to me that he is saying that the exported mix sounds bad ON THE SAME SPEAKERS, as well as elsewhere.

The mix not travelling well I would blame on inaccurate monitors in an untreated room, definitely. However, the exported mix should sound the same on the same speakers.

Must be something about the export settings.
Sample-rate conversion???

@OP: What happens if you capture Reaper's playback to a Wav file in realtime?
(Instead of using the offline bounce-down)

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Old 03-09-2009, 01:33 PM   #17
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I have certainly experienced what you are talking about before I got reasonable (although budget) monitors.

But like people have been saying, it seems you are getting these results through the same speakers in the same room.

So the question must be, what can cause you to hear the vox (and I guess the top end) so loud when mixing, that it is underplayed when rendered, and to unknowingly hype up the reverb so that it is so prominent after render?

You are not accidentally mixing in mono are you? Maybe have the mono button on the master engaged? I could see that in terms of the reverb, not so sure about the vox though.

Sorry if that is a stupid suggestion but you did say "any" thoughts.

Maybe a screenshot of your mixer would be revelatory . . .
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Old 03-09-2009, 01:53 PM   #18
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Maybe I'm the only one reading the OP's post this way, but it seems to me that he is saying that the exported mix sounds bad ON THE SAME SPEAKERS, as well as elsewhere.

The mix not travelling well I would blame on inaccurate monitors in an untreated room, definitely. However, the exported mix should sound the same on the same speakers.

Must be something about the export settings.
Yes, this is correct. It sounds completely different played back on Media Player or iTunes on the SAME speakers, even though it sounds great in Reaper. I understand that the monitors that I have aren't that great, but I would hate to be in a situation where I get different monitors just to end up with the same problem in the end. I'll post a pic of my export screen when I get home and see if there's something that you guys might catch that I am missing.
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:02 PM   #19
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I have certainly experienced what you are talking about before I got reasonable (although budget) monitors.

But like people have been saying, it seems you are getting these results through the same speakers in the same room.

So the question must be, what can cause you to hear the vox (and I guess the top end) so loud when mixing, that it is underplayed when rendered, and to unknowingly hype up the reverb so that it is so prominent after render?

You are not accidentally mixing in mono are you? Maybe have the mono button on the master engaged? I could see that in terms of the reverb, not so sure about the vox though.

Sorry if that is a stupid suggestion but you did say "any" thoughts.

Maybe a screenshot of your mixer would be revelatory . . .
No, it's definitely in stereo because all of the panning is there. I'll post some screen shots tonight when I get home...
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:15 PM   #20
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I hate to repeat myself (no I don't : ) but:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonas_Eriksson_Swe View Post
(...) try this:

1. Open a project that sounds good when played back in Reaper, turn off any fx on the master track (if any) and set the master fader to zero
2. Render it to a wav-file
3. Return to the project and add a new track
4. Insert the newly rendered file on this track and flip its phase switch

Hit play and you shouldn't be hearing anything. (Since the rendered file with flipped phase should cancel all the other tracks.) If you do hear stuff there's sth funny going on...
Try this and we'll know if it's Reaper or not. Regards,
- Jonas
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:18 PM   #21
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Well there's a couple of things I can think of that might change it so drastically.

One, check if there's any overall EQ affecting the song in iTunes or Windows Media Player.

Two, in REAPER, open the routing matrix (View > Show Routing Matrix or Alt+R).
There could be a track (vocals perhaps) that is routed to go to the speakers our AS WELL AS the master track. This would cause vocals to be louder in REAPER and not be rendered.
I don't think there should be anything going to the speakers (which should be listed along the top of the matrix) apart from your master track.

Hope you sort it out soon,
Pembo.
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:49 PM   #22
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I hate to repeat myself (no I don't : ) but:



Try this and we'll know if it's Reaper or not. Regards,
- Jonas
Yup, I'll give that a shot as well...
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:27 PM   #23
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this comes up every now and then and i think is stickied in the forum somewhere.

things to check:

1. check your routing setup. if you're routing directly to a soundcard output anything going there WON'T GET RENDERED. everything has to go to the master channel to get rendered.
2. itunes and wmp both do "sound enhancement" by default. make sure it's turned off. if in doubt, make a new empty session in reaper with no effects and drag the file in there.
3. you probably want to be targeting 44kHz, 16bit unless you really know what you're doing.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:24 PM   #24
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No you're right, but try this:

1. Open a project that sounds good when played back in Reaper, turn off any fx on the master track (if any) and set the master fader to zero
2. Render it to a wav-file
3. Return to the project and add a new track
4. Insert the newly rendered file on this track and flip its phase switch

Hit play and you shouldn't be hearing anything. (Since the rendered file with flipped phase should cancel all the other tracks.) If you do hear stuff there's sth funny going on...

Regards,
- Jonas
Ok, I did exactly this and when I inverted the phase of the rendered song and played it back with all the individual tracks I still hear everything but in a different mix. The vocals are really loud and everything else is very quiet (except cymbals all seem to be the same volume for some reason). So what might this mean?... I'm such a newb that I dont even know how to troubleshoot this one :S

Edit: Oh, and if I mute the phase inverted track the mix goes back to normal.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:29 PM   #25
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dub3000 probably had it right with his first guess. If your rendered mix doesn't sound like playback, it's usually because something in your project is being improperly routed direct to hardware output.

Most of the time, you want all of your tracks to end up in the master, and only the master track gets routed to hardware output. (There are exceptions, monitor mixes and so on, but they are for specific situations.) You want to hear exactly what you are mixing on the master.

I suggest going through the IO setup for each track and looking for any sends to hardware output, and removing those sends.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:30 PM   #26
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this comes up every now and then and i think is stickied in the forum somewhere.

things to check:

1. check your routing setup. if you're routing directly to a soundcard output anything going there WON'T GET RENDERED. everything has to go to the master channel to get rendered.
2. itunes and wmp both do "sound enhancement" by default. make sure it's turned off. if in doubt, make a new empty session in reaper with no effects and drag the file in there.
+1 those are the main reasons for those problems.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:04 PM   #27
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+1 those are the main reasons for those problems.
Well here's my routing matrix:



I can't find anything that is routed quirky when I look through track by track...
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Old 03-10-2009, 02:33 AM   #28
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whats your audio interface? My presonus firestudio can get a bit funny with multiple outputs (set via the separate presonus interface control panel). I can get weird phasing when I have certain options selected, where its kinda mixing a delayed signal with itself.

what drivers are you using? is reaper using asio and your other players using direct sound? can you switch reaper to what your other players are using and see if that affects it (better/worse)?

*edit*

am I missing something, or shouldn't your tracks all have the master/parent box selected? the vertical column on the far left? and the master output should be set to one of your soundcard outs on the far right?

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Old 03-10-2009, 03:37 AM   #29
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something definately is setup wrong in your routing matrix. you shouldnt be able to hear anything the way it is, and the meter in your master channel shouldnt show any activity as you arent sending anything to the master...and i am also puzzled that you get any sound at all in exported files. unless i missed something obviously...

is your master meter moving, and do you export via render or bounce?
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Old 03-10-2009, 04:11 AM   #30
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no, it looks alright- i think the highlight colour is very close to the background colour though.
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Old 03-10-2009, 04:12 AM   #31
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is it possible one of your plugins is freaking out on render? what happens if you do a live 1x speed render?
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:48 AM   #32
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whats your audio interface? My presonus firestudio can get a bit funny with multiple outputs (set via the separate presonus interface control panel). I can get weird phasing when I have certain options selected, where its kinda mixing a delayed signal with itself.

what drivers are you using? is reaper using asio and your other players using direct sound? can you switch reaper to what your other players are using and see if that affects it (better/worse)?

*edit*

am I missing something, or shouldn't your tracks all have the master/parent box selected? the vertical column on the far left? and the master output should be set to one of your soundcard outs on the far right?
I'm using an Edirol M-16DX using ASIO drivers. Now, I just spoke with a friend this morning that has more experience with recording in general than I do, and in talking to him I realized that Reaper is playing back through the M-16DX, but Media Player and iTunes are playing through the computer sound card, so that explains the difference in overall sound issues there, which point back to my crappy monitors being the reason that the mix doesn't translate well to other audio systems...

BUT...

That still doesn't answer the phase cancel experiment and why the exported track is obviously not what it is "supposed" to be.

I'll switch the computer settings tonight so that the M-16DX is the main sound card for the computer and that should solve the issue of differences with sound inside the same computer.

I'll also try the real-time 1x render tonight and see what happens when I do that. Would any other screen shots help you guys?
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Old 03-10-2009, 02:20 PM   #33
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i'm not sure if that phase cancel experiment will work if you have anything on your master bus

my current bet is one of your plugins doesn't like being run in full-speed render mode. this can happen with some synthedit plugins apparently.

the other thing to check: import the render into a new blank reaper session and listen to it there. does it sound alright if you do that?
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:55 AM   #34
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i'm not sure if that phase cancel experiment will work if you have anything on your master bus

my current bet is one of your plugins doesn't like being run in full-speed render mode. this can happen with some synthedit plugins apparently.

the other thing to check: import the render into a new blank reaper session and listen to it there. does it sound alright if you do that?
Well the only VSTi I'm using is EZDrummer. Now, when I started this new project I loaded in the track template that I got from someone that had posted their templates here on the forum (same one thats on the resource page I believe). Is it possible that there's something hidden in that track template that is causing this issue.

Yes, if I render anything out of reaper and then put it back into reaper it sounds the same as the original recording project.

Thanks for all your suggestions guys. I think I'm just gonna have to deal with eq issues until I can get some better monitors and pre's to record with. I'm sure now that's ultimately the issue.
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Old 03-12-2009, 12:10 PM   #35
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Getting a mix to,"Sit" right on most playback devices is one of the hardest parts of recording.All the professional studios I've had the good fortune to record in had a 3 way monitor system which they switched between.Studio class monitors,Hi-Fi speakers and usually a couple of small speakers made out of small transistor radios.When they get the mix to sound good on all three they know they have done a good job.

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Old 03-12-2009, 05:36 PM   #36
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When i use "Drumatic 3" vsti in a project i get same result. I dont know why.
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Old 03-12-2009, 06:07 PM   #37
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silly question, maybe: are you using the most recent version of EZDrummer?
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Old 03-12-2009, 06:07 PM   #38
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdied View Post
When i use "Drumatic 3" vsti in a project i get same result. I dont know why.
i think drumatic is a synthedit plugin - some of these are known to have problems in renders on some systems (seems to be fine for me, though)
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Old 03-12-2009, 07:49 PM   #39
Coerce
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This is how i render my mixes :

Create a new track and label it with the name of your song

Arm it for record

Right click on the meter and select record stereo output (you can also choose latency compensated).

ALT + R to the routing matrix and untick the master output on all your tracks (except the new one) and then send all the outputs to your new track.

Solo your new track and chck everything is playing, if it isn't you've not set up a send correctly.

Go to the start of the session, hit record and reaper will record your track in realtime in to the new track.

After you've saved it, open the new wav file of your song in to a different program and convert it to the format of your choice. I personally use adobe audition.

For me this gives the most accurate mix rather than rending it down and also give me the chance to tweak it in audition after and tidy up the start end fade and over all level.
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Old 03-12-2009, 08:01 PM   #40
Lawrence
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Originally Posted by ugly_guitar_guy View Post
sadly no. I'm using Roland MA-8's because that's all I have the room for. But even so, I'm able to get a great sound with them IN Reaper, but not out of Reaper...
Translation. Number one issue of home studio mixes.

At the habit of repeating myself (or others speaking of acoustic treatment, etc which is the best way)... the least expensive way to improve translation from a bad room is to listen to CD's there. A lot.

What happens is that you compensate for the deficienies of the room when you mix to the sound you want in your head. But as you see when you play it elsewhere, that sound isn't really there.

So you have to treat the room (best way) and/or create a new image of that room sound in your brain. Probably a little of both.

Last edited by Lawrence; 03-12-2009 at 08:07 PM.
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