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Topic: Problem with noise

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  1. #1
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    Problem with noise

    I hope it's OK to post this here rather than on another external forum but I'm happy with the company here!

    Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!
    The problem's thisHope it's a simple one)

    Using Sonar 4 everything seems OK. I can mix down OK. I can 'bounce to tracks' OK.I can freeze synths OK. The results are fine - in terms of noise level (i.e. none) & I don't have to tweak levels or anything to get good results.

    However, if I record midi tracks onto audio ones, invariably there's a degree of noise on the resulting audio track. Not enough to be noticeable when the music's there, but certainly in any 'silent' lead in or very quiet passages. I can even see it on the graphical representation of the track. I can't understand why it happens when I set the audio track to record, solo the track(s) I want to be converted to audio (or mute the ones I don't), and hit record.

    I understand it's quite normal practice to convert tracks individually to audio (in the interests of cpu load etc) so I'd like to be able to work this way, at least occasionally but this noise puts me off.

    Could anyone tell me what I'm missing/doing wrong/whatever, or, what I should be doing that I'm not!!??

    Thanks in advance.

    John

  2. #2
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    Re: Problem with noise

    Ok, let me see if I have this straight... Are you saying convert soft synths into audio tracks, or recording hardware synths into audio tracks.... In the case of the hardware synths, the way to eliminate noise is to use a program like Audition, formerly cool edit and either use silence or noise reduction ot elminate the noise...

    If you're talking about soft synths, my guess is you're not recording them at a high enough level... No matter what the level is in your "synth mix" of midi tracks, when you render the midi track to audio, make sure you raise the volume so that the audio version is close to zero, and you should have no noise... Let me know if I misunderstood...

  3. #3
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    Re: Problem with noise

    Quote Originally Posted by tradivoro
    Ok, let me see if I have this straight... Are you saying convert soft synths into audio tracks, or recording hardware synths into audio tracks....
    Hi and many thanks for your reply.
    I certainly mean soft synths because that's what I use mostly at present - in fact it's almost exclusively GPO! But I don't recall whether it does the same with hardware synths. I'll have to check it out.

    In the case of the hardware synths, the way to eliminate noise is to use a program like Audition, formerly cool edit and either use silence or noise reduction ot elminate the noise...
    If you're talking about soft synths, my guess is you're not recording them at a high enough level... No matter what the level is in your "synth mix" of midi tracks, when you render the midi track to audio, make sure you raise the volume so that the audio version is close to zero, and you should have no noise... Let me know if I misunderstood...
    Now you see this is the bit I can't understand! The level has to be determined by the loudest part of the piece, and that means the quietest bits are determined by the dynamic difference you want to achieve. Many of the pieces I hear in these forums have massive dynamic differences and I rarely hear any noise in them - even when the music is very very quiet.

    The other part I can't understand is that all the other methods that I describe above (bouncing-mixing down etc) are at the same levels (no tweaking up or down) and the noise just isn't there in the resulting wave file. It's just a mystery to me.

    It feels that I should be able to get the same result when I record to audio as I do when I bounce or mix down to audio - but it doesn't come out the same!

    Having read through what I've just written I realise I'm not explaining myself very clearly!

    Let's give a simple but perfectly possible example using 1 track of GPO:

    I record say a solo violin line into a midi track - the quietest parts being ppp and the loudest part fff

    I then bounce that track to audio - straight from the menu without adjusting any levels.

    I get a new track with a rendered wave of what I just played. Sounds exactly like the midi track - No noise.

    OR

    I use the freeze synth function and end up with an audio track with a wave.
    I get the same result - an audio track with the same levels as the midi track and again no noise.

    Then, I arm an audio track for record. I ensure that the only playback track is the midi one I just recorded - I disarm the metronome clicks and I hit record.
    The midi track get rendered to an audio one. This time there's noise - particularly noticeable in at the beginning before the music starts (what were the count in bars.)

    I hope that makes it a little clearer. Basically - why is there noise when I actively record a track to audio - and there isn't when I mix/bounce etc.

    Thanks again.

    John

  4. #4
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    Re: Problem with noise

    It sounds like your doing an unnecessary step. Bouncing to audio tracks should be all you need to do your MIDI tracks. If you bounce multiple tracks to audio, then you can bounce those audio tracks down to a stereo audio track for your master.

    It sounds like your sending audio out of an audio card output back in the audio card input when you get the noise. If this is the case, then the noise is from the analog outputs and inputs on your sound card. You shouldn't need to do any external bouncing with GPO.

  5. #5
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    Re: Problem with noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn
    It sounds like your doing an unnecessary step. Bouncing to audio tracks should be all you need to do your MIDI tracks. If you bounce multiple tracks to audio, then you can bounce those audio tracks down to a stereo audio track for your master.

    It sounds like your sending audio out of an audio card output back in the audio card input when you get the noise. If this is the case, then the noise is from the analog outputs and inputs on your sound card. You shouldn't need to do any external bouncing with GPO.
    Hello Haydn and thanks for your response.

    I think much of my confusion here is down to my lack of understanding of how this digital stuff really works! I understand what you mean but let me go a step further with my confused argument...

    I read somewhere that it's good (or even preferable) to convert individual tracks to audio before mixdown for reasons of easing the strain on the cpu etc. Now unless I'm mistaken (which is a very distinct possibility!!!) you can't 'bounce' individual midi tracks down to audio - I think I get an error message about no audio being selected if I try. Similarly I can't 'mix down' individual tracks down for similar reasons. That leaves me the only option of recording the tracks like I described before - hence the noise.

    Your description of the sound card outputs being sent to the inputs makes a lot of sense (even to me!) and therefore causing the noise, but how else can I render individual midi tracks down to audio? I've just got GOS and Maestro tools, doesn't work with Rewire so you're stuck with working with individual midi tracks. That's obviously not a problem for the guys whose work is featured on the demo page - everything sounds so perfect. How did they do it?

    It may seem unnecessary but if groups of tracks are rendered down to audio I lose some ability to adjust the sound of individual tracks at final mixdown. Therefore instead of being able to adjust a single track (EQwise or volume wise etc), I have to go back a stage to the original midi tracks, tweak them and rebounce them again. With a big piece with lots of tracks/instruments I can get hopelessly lost if I try to do this and the whole mix often ends up being virtually destroyed after hours of painstaking work. I've lost the will to continue with a couple of pieces because they've finished up so hopelessly unbalanced as a result and I can't get them back to how they were/should be.

    It's obviously necessary to do this with big pieces because the cpu struggles and can't cope with everything that's going on midiwise. (it's a P4 3GHz)

    I know I sound as though I'm disagreeing with what you've said, or ignoring it, but I'm not really. It's probably that I'm missing the point somewhere.
    All I know is what I want/need to do doesn't seem possible - but I know it MUST be because so many people here do write stuff that doesn't display the problems I get.

    God - if you can read through that lot without losing your patience/sanity/mind/will to live then you deserve a medal!! If you can set me straight on where I'm going wrong - either theoretically or practically - then you deserve to be elevated to a position of high power/authority!!
    Cheers,

    John

  6. #6
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    Re: Problem with noise

    Quote Originally Posted by mistersynth
    Hello Haydn and thanks for your response.

    I think much of my confusion here is down to my lack of understanding of how this digital stuff really works! I understand what you mean but let me go a step further with my confused argument...

    I read somewhere that it's good (or even preferable) to convert individual tracks to audio before mixdown for reasons of easing the strain on the cpu etc. Now unless I'm mistaken (which is a very distinct possibility!!!) you can't 'bounce' individual midi tracks down to audio - I think I get an error message about no audio being selected if I try. Similarly I can't 'mix down' individual tracks down for similar reasons. That leaves me the only option of recording the tracks like I described before - hence the noise.

    Your description of the sound card outputs being sent to the inputs makes a lot of sense (even to me!) and therefore causing the noise, but how else can I render individual midi tracks down to audio? I've just got GOS and Maestro tools, doesn't work with Rewire so you're stuck with working with individual midi tracks. That's obviously not a problem for the guys whose work is featured on the demo page - everything sounds so perfect. How did they do it?

    It may seem unnecessary but if groups of tracks are rendered down to audio I lose some ability to adjust the sound of individual tracks at final mixdown. Therefore instead of being able to adjust a single track (EQwise or volume wise etc), I have to go back a stage to the original midi tracks, tweak them and rebounce them again. With a big piece with lots of tracks/instruments I can get hopelessly lost if I try to do this and the whole mix often ends up being virtually destroyed after hours of painstaking work. I've lost the will to continue with a couple of pieces because they've finished up so hopelessly unbalanced as a result and I can't get them back to how they were/should be.

    It's obviously necessary to do this with big pieces because the cpu struggles and can't cope with everything that's going on midiwise. (it's a P4 3GHz)

    I know I sound as though I'm disagreeing with what you've said, or ignoring it, but I'm not really. It's probably that I'm missing the point somewhere.
    All I know is what I want/need to do doesn't seem possible - but I know it MUST be because so many people here do write stuff that doesn't display the problems I get.

    God - if you can read through that lot without losing your patience/sanity/mind/will to live then you deserve a medal!! If you can set me straight on where I'm going wrong - either theoretically or practically - then you deserve to be elevated to a position of high power/authority!!
    Cheers,

    John

    Well, I am not sure if I understand the problem. So I will tell you the way I do it.

    Once the midi tracks are done to my satisfaction, (which means all gpo players have all options set), I either select export audio or bounce to tracks. Most of the time, I will export to audio. No problems, there it is. Easy then to create mp3 or make an audio cd, or whatever, or import it back to the original file if you wish.

    If you have too many tracks to do this way, look into the freeze function of Sonar, which I have not yet done.

    Richard

  7. #7

    Re: Problem with noise

    First of all, you DON'T want to connect your audio card's in to it's out. I've tried that and the result is absolutely TERRIBLE.

    Now what exactly prevents you from soloing a track and exporting/bouncing that track alone? What exactly does the error message say? Maybe you can fix what the error message is saying is wrong. I have Cakewalk MC 2002 and using the GPO DXi I can do all of that. Are you working with the DXi or VSTi? I'm quite confused at the VSTi realm, so I can't really help you there.

    You mentioned GOS. That runs in Gigastudio, right? I don't know anything about GS2, but I know GS3 at least a little bit. If you're using gigastudio, then why don't you just use the capture to audio feature? Just solo the track you want to audioize and capture to audio. You can do that for all the GOS tracks and for the GPO tracks fix whatever's upsetting your computer with that error message. Of course, if you're using the GPO DXi, then you would just solo the audio track the DXi is on and the MIDI track you want to audioize. Then you can bounce, export, or whatever.

    Another thing: is there anything particularly wrong with the result from bouncing/exporting the entire thing at once? Sure it's stress on the CPU, but does that change the result noticably? Because if it doesn't you should just do that.

    Now, did I make any sence?

    -Chris
    Last edited by cptexas; 07-08-2005 at 10:35 PM. Reason: another idea

  8. #8
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    Re: Problem with noise

    I do all of my mixing before bouncing down my tracks. If certain tracks are using too much power such as harp or piano parts, then I freeze these tracks. BTW, I'm using a 2.8 GHZ P4 so you have a tiny bit more power than I have.

    If I'm using GigaStudio which is on another machine, then I have to bounce audio tracks. The secret here is to have decent sound cards on both machines if doing analog mixing. Plus you want to use the full audio bandwidth for these tracks with the loudest parts hitting 0 db. If the card has at least a 95 db signal to noise ratio then you shouldn't be hearing hiss or noise. The other option is to use sound cards with digital jacks.

    My normal mixes use submixes for each of the sections to apply different reverbs. I rarely bounce one instrument at a time unless I want something special for it. There are many ways to do mixes but it is not necessary to bounce each individual track to audio to get good results.

  9. #9

    Re: Problem with noise

    Quote Originally Posted by mistersynth
    I use the freeze synth function and end up with an audio track with a wave.
    I get the same result - an audio track with the same levels as the midi track and again no noise.

    Then, I arm an audio track for record. I ensure that the only playback track is the midi one I just recorded - I disarm the metronome clicks and I hit record.
    The midi track get rendered to an audio one. This time there's noise - particularly noticeable in at the beginning before the music starts (what were the count in bars.)

    I hope that makes it a little clearer. Basically - why is there noise when I actively record a track to audio - and there isn't when I mix/bounce etc.
    I've read your posts over a couple of times and one thing escapes me: When you describe that you are able to successfully "freeze" your tracks why are you considering doing anything else? That is the best way to get the most mileage out of your CPU and achieve identical audio results, unless I'm misunderstanding some key point you're making here. I'm with Haydn on this one, it sounds to me like you are accumulating noise through the output/input routing of a soundcard. The soundcard should only function as a means of monitoring what you are doing in your mix but certainly NOT involved in bouncing tracks. That is done internally in your sequencer (at least it should be.) So:

    1. If CPU demands begin to have an impact on your mixing capabilities (pops, clicks, dropouts, or computer freezes) then start "freezing" the most demanding tracks. This converts the output of GPO to audio and unloads the player, freeing up CPU. If necessary, "freeze" all of your tracks. This should bring CPU demands *way* down. If you ever need to do additional MIDI editing then temporarily "unfreeze" the desired track(s), make the changes, and "re-freeze" when you finish with the changes.
    2. Mix the resulting audio tracks, with balancing, reverb, EQ, etc.
    3. When the mix meets with your satisfaction use the "export audio" function in Sonar to internally convert the entire mix to a stereo file.
    4. Done. And everything is accomplished internally with the least amount of added noise contribution.

    You needn't consider any other ways of accomplishing things if you have the ability to do the above.

    Tom

    P.S. Unless you are doing an aux send/return to some special piece of external equipment (like a Lexicon reverb unit) you should never for a moment consider sending your signal the soundcard outs and back in again. Conversions from digital to analog and from analog back to digital always result in a loss of quality.

    P.P.S. I see Haydn just posted about what to do if you are trying to use Gigastudio on a separate machine. What he said. One other approach is to use something like FXTeleport for Giga across a gigabit network. I have not tried this but it is one way to eliminate the need for soundcards between machines.

  10. #10
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    Re: Problem with noise

    Wow guys,

    Thank you all for taking the considerable time you did to step in and help me out here. I'm going to need to sit down and spend a considerable amount of time myself now just going through all your comments and advice and doing a little experimenting to see if I can get this lot straight! So please forgive me for not coming back to you all straight away individually, but I promise I will in due course.

    What I think,after just browsing your comments and suggestions briefly, is that it confirms that there's something along the line that I've misunderstood.

    What I can also say is that all the business about connecting soundcard inputs and outputs together isn't as obvious an error as is suggested in the posts. I do believe that the process I've been going through is one that I've read either in the manual(s) or in an article somewhere. (Or maybe I got that bit wrong from the start).

    The whole issue seems to stem from my reading somewhere too that ALL midi tracks should or could be individually rendered to audio so that they can be individually tweaked at mixdown - but from what I'm hearing, that isn't possible or necessary.

    Once again, many thanks to you all and I'll be back as soon as I possibly can be once I've been able to experiment a little.
    Phew! one day I may be able to just do what I want to to do most ... sitting down with a minimum of fuss and bother and just letting the music flow! - it sure dries up when I get this tangled in the mechanics/electronics.

    Regards,

    John

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