Digital: realtime rendering or fast summing

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Freeleance Producer/Engineer/Gtr
Member Since: Aug 11, 2002

Hey, for any of you that know (or have an opinion) here's a question:

I've used Vegas and when i want to render a mixdown to a stereo wav, it is a very quick process. Now, i use Pro Tools on my primary DAW and it renders everything realtime.

With that said, i realize that digital is digital but what about when it involves an app's mix engine?

I think that the quality of the mix engine will greatly influence the end result (a wav file) because of the quality of dithering and such.

Some people think that there is no difference between software multitracker's fidelity, but i want to disagree. What do you guys think?

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bace135 in the house tonight!
Since: Jan 28, 2003

Jun 02, 2004 02:05 am

Hmmm, I'd like to hear what people have to say about this.

Freeleance Producer/Engineer/Gtr
Since: Aug 11, 2002

Jun 02, 2004 01:16 pm

I think i'll setup a blind listening test... import some wavs into each app.. mixdown everything at unity then render the mix and see if there's an audible difference. maybe even open it up to people here.

bace135 in the house tonight!
Since: Jan 28, 2003

Jun 02, 2004 01:35 pm

Just curious, but which do you think would be better, the realtime or the quick version?

Since: Jan 08, 2004

Jun 02, 2004 02:09 pm

It's all relative I think. You have to listen to your finished mix in as many rooms and through as many stereos as possible.
What I mean by relative is that I've been in the situation where I've been asked to change something in the mix as people were listening and not touch anything, nadda and I get a response like.."O.K. that's better"!

I'm hard pressed to be that nit picky as we have had much less in regards to recording possibilities over the years. The only thing that really bothers me is the level at which today's music is mastered at...way to hot! If the song sounds good, I'm not going to over analyze everything to death if someone doesn't like one part.

Freeleance Producer/Engineer/Gtr
Since: Aug 11, 2002

Jun 02, 2004 03:28 pm

coolo, actually i don't know. as far as digital data goes, it shouldn't matter. some people think that a slower burn rate is better due to the reliability of the burn but if the burner is rated at 32X then why shouldn't it be able to handle the same info at higher speeds?

My question is more on the mix engine of a software multitracker. I've read statements by people saying that there isn't a difference and that audio is audio but when it comes down to how an app sums everything to stereo i'm sure that there must be a difference in performance.

My thinking is more along the lines of quality of the programming, kinda like in video games (although it's a VERY loose analogy)... Quake's newest 3D engine has some differences to it compared to Unreal's engine, and also 2 games that use the same engine can perform very differently from eachother depending on the quality of the application, feel me?

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Jun 02, 2004 03:41 pm

There is multitudes of things that can make audio better or worse on any given program...the speed and efficiency of the code is surely one factor. A lot depends on the sound device itself, and the quality of the A/D D/A convertors (obviously, most of us know that) the speed of the machine, the version of Multimedia support on the system (DirectX version, etc if applicable for any given app). Also, different programs have differing support for all the available standards as well. Just because an app says it supports ASIO, doesn't mean they all support the most current standard, or that it supports ALL the features.

All the configration options within Windows and the application matter as well...such as are you specifically selecting your sound card, or letting Windows Sound Mapper map to the default device...

Oh, and lets not forget, when bouncing down to different formats, all the necessary codecs that may be necessary for any given format. If going dow to Windows Media, do you have the most currert WM version? Same for mp3 and RealMedia and many more...

All that said, this is why the more expensive programs are generally better, getting clever programmers to code the cleanest, fastest code and bundling the best (or most current) codecs, all costs good money to do.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Jun 02, 2004 06:27 pm

I agree tottally with the money buys power thing when it comes to the application doing a good job. Also if ProTools, Sonar and Cubase all convert at mixdown in real time or close to it, there must be a very good reason. I noticed long ago in some of the lower priced apps I tried as well as in converting to mp3 or wma that you have the choice of slower format equal higher quality or faster format equals lower quality. It stands to reason that speeding things up takes away some part of the process in making the final audio tracks.

I personally dont buy the resaoning that there is no differance. I know I can hear the differance from a fast format to a slow format file conversion. Especially when doing internet audio such as mp3 or wmv. And any program that just takes all the audio and wacks it out in split seconds is making short cuts somewhere along the processing line. They have to be dropping some ones and zeros some where to make it process faster.

That said I am also not a fan of burning at high speed, unless it is absolutely necessary. Now take that with a grain of salt though. Tuna has been buring several CD's at his burners top speed of 52x and he made me a quick copy of his new Slipknot CD and I didnt notice any thing really disgusting in the audio. But as el musico said, I am thinking I would like to load 2 instances of the same track, one from each CD ie: the original and the copy and look at them in Wavelab to see if there is really any differance.

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