cacti wrote: ↑
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.
All DAW summing engines are more or less pretty similar to each other. DAW summing is technically just as good (or better) than analog summing in terms of head room but the deal is analog summing can have nonlinearities that some people will like better. Digital won't have the nonlinearities (if proper gain staging is practiced. If not digital will probably tend to sound pretty bad as it isn't its design to be operated in those conditions).
Summing is pretty much just basic math, something computers do pretty easily.
But that said many things (volume, pan laws, stock plug-in quality, GUI/ergonomics, even look of DAW) can play a part in the user experience of mixing.
Theoretically an exported song should sound no different in a mix but in practice, differences can come into play most should be within users control:
1. Sample Rate, Bit depth, export file type
Your exported audio should be exported in the same sample rate as your project. Ideally a 24 bit or 32 bit floating point file should produce no perceivable difference in quality as long as project isn't clipping (watch out for intersample clipping as well), and file format is either uncompressed or lossless. If using 16 bit or mp3, there are more things to watch for (dithering, levels). That said if good practices are followed, even these formats can be pretty hard to discern from original project. This is one area where mastering helps (or learning more about self mastering).
2. Playback medium of exported file
Your media player or website could be doing many things to your audio file such as changing playback level, compressing audio to a lower format, or even applying additional effects such as eq and dynamic range compression. It pays to see what your media player or even Operating System might be affecting audio.
3. Volume differences
Many times this could be one of the biggest and most obvious places to look. Your media player could have a very different playback level than Ableton.
4. Bugs in Plugins
Sometimes bugs do creep in which might cause an exported file to sound different than playback. It usually involves disabling/re enabling plugins to see if there is a difference. Alternatively you can try realtime exports such as Ableton's resampling feature or even recording output into Analog line ins if your interface have them if you suspect this issue. This would be an area most out of your control, but the suggestions give should help (as well as sending bug report to Ableton and plugin manufacterer if possible).