Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
jmbtexas4
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Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by jmbtexas4 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:49 am

Hi,

When I record my vocals using Scarlett 2i2 with Ableton and then listen to the recording through Scarlett 2i2, it sounds great, but when I listen to it through my computer sound card, the bass in my voice is overpowering.

I have listened to my vocals on multiple computers with both Windows Media Player and VLC (with and without headphones), and the same thing happens every time.

Why is this happening, and what can I do to fix it? I am going to be sending vocal tracks to people who don't have Scarlett 2i2, and I am concerned the vocals are going to sound bad with the heavy bass in my voice.

Thanks,

J

jestermgee
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by jestermgee » Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:09 am

Not sure on how you have your monitoring setup but it can often be the case that voice has too much low end and maybe the way you are listening on your Scarlett is not producing the issue. In Live try and add an EQ8 with a low cut filter to roll off the low end below about 100hz. You don't normally want too much low end in vocals.

fishmonkey
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by fishmonkey » Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:09 am

what kind of speakers and headphones are you using?

and is the bass emphasis present on the raw recording with no effects or processing, or have you added processing to the recording?
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yur2die4
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:12 am

Probably Windows audio settings.

jmbtexas4
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by jmbtexas4 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:09 am

I am currently not using any EQ or effects in Ableton. I have a VoiceLive Touch I use for a little delay or reverb. I have tried bypassing the Voice Live Touch entirely, but that didn't fix anything. I am not very proficient with Ableton features, but I will try to add an EQB with a low cut filter. I might come back for some instructions if I can't figure it out! Any tutorials you could point me to would be appreciated.

I have Sennheiser headphones and Cyber Acoustic speakers. The problem isn't as noticeable on the built in laptop speakers, but it's very pronounced with Sennheiser headphones and Cyber Acoustics. Yes, as I mentioned above, I have tried raw recording with no effects or processing, and the problem remains.

I looked at Windows settings, but I don't see any option under Sounds that lets me adjust something that might rectify the issue, and like I said, everything else I listen to sounds just fine.

Thanks for the help!

fishmonkey
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by fishmonkey » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:31 am

upload a sample somewhere so we can have a listen on our systems.
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

Stromkraft
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by Stromkraft » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:56 am

jmbtexas4 wrote: When I record my vocals using Scarlett 2i2 with Ableton and then listen to the recording through Scarlett 2i2, it sounds great, but when I listen to it through my computer sound card, the bass in my voice is overpowering.
Why is it that you don't trust your Scarlett? It does not matter one whit how it sounds without it on your machine. What matters is how a finished track will sound on other machines with a huge variety of playback features beyond your control.

If it sounds the wrong way for someone else, then you should look into adjusting your Scarlett and/or monitoring adjustments. I bought a microphone and software just for the latter.
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Stromkraft
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by Stromkraft » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:08 am

jestermgee wrote:maybe the way you are listening on your Scarlett is not producing the issue. In Live try and add an EQ8 with a low cut filter to roll off the low end below about 100hz. You don't normally want too much low end in vocals.
This is very true, though it's important not to overdo this rolloff.

In this case one question you seem to have answered is which audio playback to trust. I find it somewhat odd that you imply it must be the Scarlett that can't be trusted in this case. Why would you get a dedicated audio interface just to distrust it? Obviously the audio interface and the monitoring need be set up right. When you have done that correctly you should be able to feel confident your monitoring can be trusted.

If one have established this with some mixes, then one would know when there's a problem one need to address and when it comes with the territory.

If it in this case is a problem with the vocal track, verifiable in multiple systems, and if one can't hear it with the audio interface then one need to make adjustments there. In worst case scenario maybe even change audio interface, but Focusrite generally I'd assume are good.
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Shift Gorden
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by Shift Gorden » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:10 pm

I'm a little confused about how you're listening to your recording, mate.

You record your vocal, plug headphones into the Scarlett and playback and everything is fine. Then, when you plug the same headphones into your computer (and/or other people's) and playback the vocal sounds too bassy?

Is it just the vocal, or is it the whole track (assuming there are other parts, which there may not be). You listening at the same volume?

Like these folk have mentioned, typically when you record a vocal there will be too much bass present so it's really normal to apply EQ after to get rid of the boom. For the life of me I can't figure out why the Scarlett sounds fine and all of the other methods do not. On my Scarlett I have an Input/Playback knob, wonder if that might have something to do with it?

jmbtexas4
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by jmbtexas4 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:23 pm

I never said I don't trust Scarlett. I do. I think it sounds great. I just don't understand why the vocals sound bad when not played through Scarlett.

I can try to upload a sample later after work.

All I have is vocals, so yes, that is the only audio on the track.

I will try to figure out how to use the EQ to lessen the low end bass. I have Live Lite 8, so I don't know if that feature is there.

Thanks!

yur2die4
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:06 pm

You're going to have to learn how to find the middle ground.

Your Scarlett probably is honest in the recording of the sound. The Windows and VLC probably reflect how 40% of listeners will hear your work. Others might hear it off a phone/tablet speaker, through headphones, in the car, or maybe some kind of club.

So, you'll have to take all this into account and basically learn where to find the balance between what will happen on other people's setups and how your production sounds directly through Live. Even if you fixed the problem with your windows media player, etc. you can't expect every person who cues that track up to do the same in their situation.

The best you can do is get experience, learn, make a lot of music and listen to it everywhere. Develop the ear for knowing how the decisions and compromises you make when producing will affect the way your music will sound in various situations.

Stromkraft
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by Stromkraft » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:43 pm

jmbtexas4 wrote:I never said I don't trust Scarlett. I do. I think it sounds great. I just don't understand why the vocals sound bad when not played through Scarlett.

I can try to upload a sample later after work.!

OK, That's good then as you need a reference. I do recommend you purchase or borrow a fitting microphone and get analysis software for adjusting the playback with different means (including physical absorbers and placement) so you can trust your speakers in your room or and/your headphones. While you can write songs and create tracks sooner or later you need to be able to trust that what you hear is a fair and balanced reproduction that can inform you to make the proper decisions you actually need.

You might not be at that point just now. Maybe you need to focus on creating and can live with smaller issues when you share work. At some point you need to focus on trustable reproduction in your monitoring system.

Could you describe your whole audio chain with the Scarlett and compare that in more detail with the built-in audio card sound chain including driver versions and any processing? It's somewhat odd that the same speakers in the same room would sound as different as you indicate.

Have you analyzed this track with Span or similar?

I don't think your version of LIve has EQ8, and even if it does it's not as good in Live 8 as in the current version I think. You'd have EQ3.
I really like these plug-ins for EQing that comes in powerful free versions:

TDR VOS SlickEQ
TDR Nova
Blue Cat's Triple EQ
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jlgrimes
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by jlgrimes » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:08 pm

Is the only difference the soundcard?

Is everything level matched?

Volume can play a huge difference in how one device sounds over another.

Shouldn't be a big difference between soundcards quality other than level. Unless you are talking old soundcards.

Windows mixer could be doing some extra processing as well you might not be aware of.


There is a free program called room EQ wizard that can test freq response of soundcards.

Usually the difference is in the 20hz rolloffs and high frequency above 15khz.

I have a Scarlett 18/20 and it is pretty linear until you get above 20khz where it had a weird spike at like 21khz at 44.1khz. At 48khz, the spike wasn't there but the quality was just as linear between 20 to 20k.

On a cheaper and older Yamaha Audiogram 3, I started to get some rolloff after about 15khz but even that wasn't that drastic, it got to about 2-3 db down at 20khz.

outsidesys
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by outsidesys » Thu Jun 09, 2016 12:26 am

jmbtexas4 wrote:I am going to be sending vocal tracks to people...
I wouldn't worry too much about the vocal tracks having some low end presence.

If you're sending your vocal tracks to an audio engineer, they'll know how to fix them, if needed. The changes you make with your limited knowledge of EQ might make things worse. So only experiment with copies.

If you're sending your vocal tracks to another artist, then I would think they would be more interested in the emotion of your vocals and how they work with their music.

Anyway, you know more about how your target audience is going to use the vocal tracks than we do, but keep in mind that sometimes we tend to over think things because we're so invested in the outcome.

Have you played them for someone you trust to give honest, constructive criticism?

jmbtexas4
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Re: Audio Question: Scarlett 2i2 vs. Sound Card

Post by jmbtexas4 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:06 am

Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the "feedback." 8O After doing some research, it seems I might be a little too close to the mic causing the proximity effect (even though it's only really prevalent outside of Scarlett).

I never liked backing away from the mic much because I have to turn up the gain on the input which resulted in a hissing noise I didn't like.

Does Ableton have a "Noise Reduction" feature similar to the one in Audacity?

I have a Shure SM57 mic. I have been told it might not be the best for vocal recording and bass.

Any suggestions for good vocal recording mics that can filter out lows better?

Live Lite 8 does have EQ 8, and I have been experimenting with it a little bit tonight. I see how it can help to reduce bass.

I'm new to creating and recording, so I haven't really shared anything yet, but that is my plan once I get things sounding acceptable in my mind.

Thanks!

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