Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
sleightmind
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Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by sleightmind » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:47 am

Hey all. So I've been making music in Ableton for a while now, and there's something that keeps bothering me. When I load a track up in Ableton and press play, it sounds great. The sounds are bright and loud and crisp. Then, I export it as a 16 bit wav at 44100 sample rate, and the resulting wav file sounds muffled, muddy, and generally crap. Is there any reason for this? I don't have any EQ or effects or anything in Windows Media Player. I can't find any reason why the track should sound better in Ableton than as a wav. Thanks for the help!

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icedsushi
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by icedsushi » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:05 am

sleightmind wrote:I can't find any reason why the track should sound better in Ableton than as a wav.
What actually is it when it's played in Ableton?

You're calling this a "track" that you load into Ableton. Are you referring to the "track" being just a single summed audio file or a whole Live set containing soft synths and higher bit depth audio files mixed together as a project, etc? If it's just an audio file, what is original bit depth & sample rate?

When you "export" are you dropping the bit depth down to 16 bits or was the original source already at 16 bits? Dropping the bit depth would of course be an obvious reason for a decrease in quality. If it's just a single .wav file at 16/44100 that will already play in either Ableton or Windows Media Player for your comparison, what is the need to export/render it over again?

A little more info about the track's resolution & format before exporting is needed. What changes are you doing to the resolution and format when you export it, and is dithering added too?

sleightmind
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by sleightmind » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:05 pm

This is a track that I've developed using synaths, drum machines, effects, etc.
I use NI Massive, Z3ta+, Ozone, and several other VST's. When I play the whole thing in Ableton, it sounds great, but when I export it to a WAV file, it sounds crap.

Check1-2
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by Check1-2 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:17 pm

I'm not trying to advertise for this company or anything (although I do really want this plugin) but watch this youtube video and I think it will explain to you what's going on and why it sounds worse when you change to a .wav file or .mp3 or whatever.

It's called compression. You're take the file and making it much smaller, thus taking away some of the information. Some of the parts are not even audible after compression. There are certain files you can turn them into that are "lossless", meaning you will hear it exactly as intended.

Really man, watch the video. They are hyping up their product but it will explain perfectly to you what is going on and why that happens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aRjOxvjY1k

Magik_10
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by Magik_10 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:18 pm

Something to try with Z3ta+ - In the Master Section in the bottom right corner, just change RENDER from DRAFT to HIGH.

cacti
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by cacti » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:20 pm

Some say that LIVEs summing enginge is not that great. Or you could argue that no DAWs summing engines are as good as if yo u had an analog summing box. If you are really interested check out some external summing boxes.

icedsushi
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by icedsushi » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:21 pm

sleightmind wrote:This is a track that I've developed using synaths, drum machines, effects, etc.
I use NI Massive, Z3ta+, Ozone, and several other VST's. When I play the whole thing in Ableton, it sounds great, but when I export it to a WAV file, it sounds crap.
OK, so when you play it in Ableton all those VST's are playing directly out of Ableton and they're not rendered to individual audio tracks yet. And then when you render the whole mix down to one track & reduce the bit depth to 16 bits, it sounds worse, is this correct?

The VST's are at a higher resolution than 16 bits when they play back through Ableton, so when you render it down & reduce the bit depth, it's definitely going to sound different. Did you try rendering the mix to a 32 bit audio file & listen to that compared with the 16 bit file just as a test?

googoo
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by googoo » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:48 pm

Why don't you record the master output as it's playing on a separate track instead?

störgeräusche
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by störgeräusche » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:08 pm

do the following test

render a track
resample the same track (create a new audio track, set its input to resampling, monitor to off and record your track in realtime. give the new track the same name as the song title.

open a new project
load the rendered file, switch warp off.
open the track you resampled (that's why you named the track same as the song title, it's now easier to find the "recorded" folder of the song samples, since it will not be 01-27 Audio 0001 but "song name")

now, listen to the two tracks, toggling with the mutes in oder to constantly swith between the rendered and the resampled (or recorded in realtime).

Will you render again? NO! because it sounds crap
will you resample from now on and leave render to disk alone? yes, because it doesnt muds the song.

you can even try the phase revert trick with the 2 tracks and look what's left.
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chris vine
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by chris vine » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:37 pm

There was another discussion about this recently

http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php? ... it=summing

gets heated later on :)


and yes I have noticed this too - maybe it is time for me to do an A/B of render and resample.

sleightmind
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by sleightmind » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:47 pm

Ok so rendering as a 32 bit wav helped quite a bit. So did resampling the entire track instead of rendering. Either of these methods improved the output quality a lot. It's unfortunate I'll have to mash it into an MP3 (even 320kbps) to put it out in the world.

icedsushi
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by icedsushi » Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:52 pm

störgeräusche wrote:Will you render again? NO! because it sounds crap
will you resample from now on and leave render to disk alone? yes, because it doesnt muds the song.

you can even try the phase revert trick with the 2 tracks and look what's left.
Why should there be any difference between which way you do it? I've always used the render function & not bothered with resample. I will have to try this!

Warrior Bob
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by Warrior Bob » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:47 pm

You sure there isn't some option accidentally left on in the rendering menu, such as mono?

invol
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by invol » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:27 am

I would also recommend reading the Audio Fact Sheet at the end of the manual. It explains what is, and is not, a neutral operation in terms of audio. Since Live (and most DAWs) run at 32 bit floating point, rendering to 16 bit will pretty much result in a loss of "quality."
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kb420
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Re: Why do my tracks sound better inside Ableton than exported?

Post by kb420 » Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:22 am

Are you eq'ing your tracks before you export? :?
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