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> Recording, Mixing & Rendering With Reaper, Arghhhh
Berglmir
post Dec 10 2009, 04:19 PM
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Ok, I´m fed up! I give up!! It just won´t work out, so I have to look for some help from you experts out there.

Problem:
No matter how good a take sounds in Reaper with all the subtleties of doubling and panning - the mp3 or wav file which is rendered sounds dull/crappy and most of the times one of the tracks is too loud or too low. mad.gif

SetUp:
Electric Guitar straight into Focusrite Saffire LE (which I use as main and only soundhardware for my PC) which goes into the PC (via Firewire)

I´m just going to ask a couple of questions which might be usefull to help me get on my way to finally getting the sound I HEAR into the audio file! Here we go:

-) The first thing I notice, is, that the sound in Reaper is way louder than the windows standard. I have to decrase volume immediately.
Interestingly enough the waveform of the guitarinput is rather low. Any idea why?

-) What´s the advantage of having a track with FX which recieves the guitar input over applying the FX to the guitar track itself?!

-) I´m rendering the mastertrack with 48000 - is there a specific (obviously hidden feature for me) setting which controls the "quality" of the take?
It´s really my MAIN question: Why (oh why!) can´t I get the same audio quality I hear (over monitors AND Headphones) into the audio file?

Has it something to do with all the track routing stuff? Sends/Recieves/HardwareOutput and so on....I mainly leave them be, but I have tried to play around with them for a bit - the result is mainly the same: crappy audio file!

REALLY would appreciate any help from you guys!

Cheers muchly!
Berglmir
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Berglmir
post Jan 19 2010, 05:17 PM
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Here´s an update to my mentioned problems:
I´m still not able to get a decent rendering from Reaper into mp3, but I have found a work around which works for me, and which I like to share with you:
I´m using the FLAC Codec (http://flac.sourceforge.net/) which is a lossless audio format to rip my classical music CD´s so I can listen to them on my PC in great quality as well.

By chance I found out, that Reaper can render into this format as well and - oh wonder! - this time the audio file generated sounds exactly the same in my flac-player (I use this one: http://www.foobar2000.org/) as I heard it on my monitors/Headphone.
Foobar2000 offers the option to convert a *.flac file into another audio format (with some options to tweak).

When converting from flac to mp3 I notice two things:
-) The tonal difference between lossless and compressed audio format
-) The big difference in file size - also in comparison to Reaper rendering into mp3. (Reaper mp3: 1,2 to 1,8 MB; Flac: 6-9 MB; Flac Converted MP3: 600 - 900KB)

But the great thing is that by this way I don´t loose too much of the original tone while generating/converting a mp3 file of my recording.
I´m really happy with this procedere and maybe some of you can give me feedback if it works for you as well?! laugh.gif

Just wanted to let you know!
Cheers
Berglmir

This post has been edited by Berglmir: Jan 19 2010, 05:18 PM
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 20 2010, 03:28 PM
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Thanks Berglmir, this is useful info. I've heard about FLAC, but never used it, must try to see if the compression is good.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 20 2010, 04:46 PM
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QUOTE (Berglmir @ Jan 19 2010, 05:17 PM) *
Here´s an update to my mentioned problems:
I´m still not able to get a decent rendering from Reaper into mp3, but I have found a work around which works for me, and which I like to share with you:
I´m using the FLAC Codec (http://flac.sourceforge.net/) which is a lossless audio format to rip my classical music CD´s so I can listen to them on my PC in great quality as well.

By chance I found out, that Reaper can render into this format as well and - oh wonder! - this time the audio file generated sounds exactly the same in my flac-player (I use this one: http://www.foobar2000.org/) as I heard it on my monitors/Headphone.
Foobar2000 offers the option to convert a *.flac file into another audio format (with some options to tweak).

When converting from flac to mp3 I notice two things:
-) The tonal difference between lossless and compressed audio format
-) The big difference in file size - also in comparison to Reaper rendering into mp3. (Reaper mp3: 1,2 to 1,8 MB; Flac: 6-9 MB; Flac Converted MP3: 600 - 900KB)

But the great thing is that by this way I don´t loose too much of the original tone while generating/converting a mp3 file of my recording.
I´m really happy with this procedere and maybe some of you can give me feedback if it works for you as well?! laugh.gif

Just wanted to let you know!
Cheers
Berglmir


Flac is certainly a better format than mp3 because it is uncompressed.

Wave is uncompressed and is nominally CDA (CD Audio) and for most purposes is often your best choice since not all devices - inclusing DAWs - can read Flac but pretty much all can read wave. You should use render etc settings for wave that are appropriate for your playback and storage medium. Nominally CD is 16 bit 44.1. Most DAWS run at 24 bit fixed or 32 bit float and the SR can be set usually anywhere from 44.1 to 196 (and some go up to 392). You can use 96 - and higher - but most consumer grade audio cards, playback and and speakers do not merit going above 96k - many only offer 44.1 and/or 48. IMHO for SR unless you have good SRCs then you are probably best staying with 44.1. 44.1 is standard for CDs and 48k is the standard for broadcast.

There is a big advantage going from 16 to 24 bit fixed but very little in using 32 float. 16 to 24 will improve the nominal noise floor from @-96 dB to -144dB for recording and a nominal dynamic range of 144 dB is more than enough for tracking/mixing/recording. The vast majority of hardware audio devices - including most sound cards - run at 24 fixed . If you use 32 bit then either the DAW or your sound device will have to truncate or dither the file and they may not do it particularly well. If you do use a 32 bit float file/preference setting in your DAW then you should check how it does the truncation/dithering. Also you should try and only ever dither once and since dithering is best left as the last stage for mastering a finished recording it is nearly always best not to dither whilst you track/mix/record. If you're not mastering/having your audio mastered then you should apply dither as the final stage for the render and you should consider what dither type you use and whether or not you apply noise shaping.

Mp3 quality can depend on the encoder you use to convert the file. By default Reaper uses LAME. LAME has been through a number of updates and some versions do not do the conversion particularly well. So you may want to try a different mp3 encoder. You might also want to only use the 320 kbps setting.

Two other things:

1 - if you're audio file prior to conversion is close to clipping, over say -0.4, then LAME will often clip it as it gains the buss by up to 0.5dB and you can end up with a digitally distorted/hard clipped audio recording.

2- many mp3 encoders do a LPF at about 15k. This often can make the recording sound like it has lost sparkle/air.


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Berglmir
post Jan 20 2010, 05:14 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jan 20 2010, 03:28 PM) *
Thanks Berglmir, this is useful info. I've heard about FLAC, but never used it, must try to see if the compression is good.


You´re most welcome and do try it - I think it´s a great audio format!

QUOTE (tonymiro @ Jan 20 2010, 04:46 PM) *
Flac is certainly a better format than mp3 because it is uncompressed.

Wave is uncompressed and is nominally CDA (CD Audio) and for most purposes is often your best choice since not all devices - inclusing DAWs - can read Flac but pretty much all can read wave. ....
Mp3 quality can depend on the encoder you use to convert the file. By default Reaper uses LAME. LAME has been through a number of updates and some versions do not do the conversion particularly well. So you may want to try a different mp3 encoder. You might also want to only use the 320 kbps setting.

Two other things:

1 - if you're audio file prior to conversion is close to clipping, over say -0.4, then LAME will often clip it as it gains the buss by up to 0.5dB and you can end up with a digitally distorted/hard clipped audio recording.

2- many mp3 encoders do a LPF at about 15k. This often can make the recording sound like it has lost sparkle/air.


Thanks for your insights - many things to try out & check.
A couple of questions though:
Any specific mp3 encoder you can recommend?
I´m trying to record my take low enough to avoid clipping because it used to result in buzziness of the rendering.
The second issue you have brought up is exactly what I was experiencing: So I´m coming back to my first question (know any good mp3 encoders?) and where could I check the LPF of my current encoder?

Thanks again for your input!!
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 20 2010, 05:30 PM
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I try not to use mp3 personally but I'll try and look in to what encoder is best for audio quality. Fraunhofer may be better generally than LAME but you'd need a license for it.

Quick way to check if its doing LPF -

either use a spectrum analyser and see if you are getting a reasonable signal range up above 12kHz.

or

record a triangle/gong/crash cymbal etc and see if you can hear the extended high frequency range with the harmonics etc.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jan 21 2010, 06:27 PM
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QUOTE (Berglmir @ Jan 20 2010, 05:14 PM) *
...
Any specific mp3 encoder you can recommend?
...



After checking a bit:

There is a lot of debate and disagreement about this.

Overall the consensus appears to be that LAME is weakest at low kbps (128 and below) but there is disagreement as to what encoder is good above 128. Nonetheless the preferred alternatives to LAME tend to be Fraunhofer (which isn't free): Frh gives a better high frequency spectral match than LAME especially around the Nyquist for a 44.1 using cbr and does apply a LPF at 15k for vbr. There are a few other mp3 encoders about, i.e. Helix/XING/FhG/Blade but I don't know how well they AB against LAME - you could always try an ABX in Foobar2000 if you have the time and inclination smile.gif .

You may also want to try Ogg Vorbis as another lossy format instead of LAME.

Also for rendering with LAME only vbr at V0 is good - VBR set other than V0 produces audible HF artifacts. Or you can try experimenting with using cbr at 320 or abr at 256. VBR generally is best but CBR can work better on occasion with a minority of players.

Ultimately if hard disc space isn't an issue for you then I'd stick with FLAC rather than use mp3 smile.gif .



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