I've been trying to burn a demo of my score, which was created entirely from sampled instruments in Kontakt 2 (GPO, JABB, etc.) from Sonar 6. First, I was getting distortion in the mid-bass range. I addressed this by using fewer bass instruments and reducing the volumes of the ones that I used. Now I'm getting it in the treble.
I mix down to "Broadcast" WAV (i.e. CD compatible files) in Sonar. And when I play them back on my DAW, using Windows XP Media Player, it sounds just fine. (I am using Genelec 1029A speakers with a Genelec 7070A active subwoofer). But when I play it back on my home theater system, using Genlec 6020A speakers (the home theater version of the 1029As) & no subwoofer I've been getting the distortion mentioned above.
At first, I thought it had something to do with not using a subwoofer on the latter system. Next I tried rolling off the bass and treble using the switches on the 6020As. But the flat response sounds the best. I tested the setup using commercially produced CDs (classical & cast albums of current Broadway shows) and they all sounded just fine, at any volume level. No distortion.
Let me also note here that the volume levels of the CDs I burn of my own music sounds very low compared to commercial CDs. I have turn the volume up to twice as loud as the commercial CDs to hear my own stuff on the playback system.
So, I'm thinking that I must be doing something wrong in Sonar. From what I have been reading, I'm thinking that I need to use some kind of compression. But the few attempts that I have made to use compression in Sonar were disasterous. I really don't know what I sould be doing with the compression plug-ins (what settings I should use). I've tried Vintage Channel (VC64) with all the various presets and they just seemed to make things worse. I tried fiddling with all the settings, but, admittedly I am groping around in the dark. I also tried the Sontius:fx Compressor and the freeware VST plug- in Classic Master Limiter from KJAERHUS AUDIO with no better luck. If compression is what is needed, I could use some basic help in figuring out how to use one of these.
As for the distortion, my best guess is that I am not using Sonar's peak meters properly. For each instance of a Kontakt2 (and NI Akoustic Piano, which I am also using in my compositions) I let the volume go into the red area as much as possible without hitting 0db. Then I do the same for the master (audio) track, which is all the Kontakt tracks mixed down. I was doing this because I was trying to get the volume up as much as possible without distorting it. Let me stress again, that when I do it this way and play back the WAV files that will make up the CD on my DAW, I don't get any distortion and don't need to set the volume very high.
I am really not sure what is going on here. I'd appreciate any ideas or suggestions.