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Audible differences input monitoring in DAW, direct from interface, & recorded audio?
Old 29th April 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
Question Audible differences input monitoring in DAW, direct from interface, & recorded audio?

I can't seem to figure out why input monitoring a mic signal into a DAW is sounding different than directly monitoring from my Apollo Twin MkII. Monitoring in the DAW has some kind of weird low end and a bit of a muddled quality, compared to perfect clarity out of UA's Console app. Furthermore, recorded audio through the mic into the DAW plays back with nearly the same clarity as the direct-from-interface monitoring.

* I've tried monitoring in Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, and Ableton Live 9, and they all have the same muddled quality when monitoring in the apps, until the audio is recorded, where it plays back with proper clarity.

* I am not double-monitoring between Console and the DAW. I'm muting one and listening to just the other in my tests.

* No plugins or extra routing (that I can see) are in the signal chain in either Console or in the DAW's. Sample rates are the same.

Does anyone have any idea what might be going on here?

EDIT: some specs.
Mac mini (2018)
macOS Mojave 10.14.4
Processor: 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM: 32 GB 2667 MHz DDR4
1TB Apple SSD
Projects recorded to a 2TB Crucial MX500 SATA SSD externally connected via Thunderbolt 3 to an OWC Thunderbay 4. (Although I ran this test with locally saved projects as well with the same results).

I'm listening through headphones connected directly to the Apollo Twin headphone port (to prevent feedback).
If it does matter, my monitors are connected directly to the Twin's "Monitor" outputs.
The signal chain is as minimal as it gets.

UA Console's "Input Delay Compensation" setting is set to Medium.
DAW monitoring of course has some amount of delay, but I don't see how that would add a muddled quality in what I'm hearing through the headphones.

Last edited by etudes; 29th April 2019 at 11:25 PM.. Reason: adding info on gear specs
Old 29th April 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

No sure what the rest of your chain is. Is this a Mac or PC?
Where do you connect your monitors, to the interface you are using or to something else
Are your interfaces set for Zero latency monitoring or are you listening the the processed audio which has a processing time delay.


When monitors are connected for Direct monitoring, the signal goes into the interface preamp then right back out to the speakers, never having been converted to digital. The interface acts like a mixer and has drivers which switch and adjust the levels via a DSP mixer.

Processed monitoring is different. Instad of the signal going into the preamp then coming right back out with zero latency, the signal gets converted to digital, run through the port and computer busses, processed by the CPU with any plugins you may have running, a copy gets recorded to the drive in recorded mode, then the signal comes back to the interface, converted back to analog then run to the speakers.

How good the processed signal winds up sounding is a matter of how good your converters. With zero latency monitoring set the digitized signal is hidden from your ears. All you hear is the playback of tracks which Mix with your incoming signal which is 100% analog.

Maybe you're computer is fast enough to monitor the processed signal, I wouldn't know. Out of all the PC's I've used, I've never found one that runs fast enough for the latency to not be a big problem. Even on my latest Quad core 64 but unit with loads of memory and solid state drives, the latency is to high in processed mode to be of any use to me. Of course mixing, all you do monitor is the processed signal. If the track has inputs or even the volume set for mono vs a panned tracking signal can sound quite different from the direct sound. Macs are a bit different. From what I understand they use native drivers which let you run multiple interfaces of different types at the same time. You cant do that on a PC so I wouldn't know if there's anything unique there. I would suggest you check and see if it isn't a driver issues. Sometimes the settings are quite different for different interfaces. Anything else check with a mac expert.
Old 29th April 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
Just updated my first post with all my specs.

That's interesting to know about interface-direct monitoring being analog the whole way through. But if the DAW playback of the digitally processed recorded signal sounds comparable to the interface monitoring quality, then the digital processing itself wouldn't be the problem, right?

Even if there is some latency, the effect should just be a delay in the sound reaching my ears but not a degradation in quality, if the digital playback doesn't have that degradation. Or am I not understanding some element of this?

To be sure, I tried different I/O buffer sizes in Logic to see how different latencies affect the sound, and to my ears, while the latency changes, that strange lower-end slight muddled quality remains with all settings when monitoring.

I'm happy to test if there is an issue with an audio driver, but how would I do that? I'm using the latest UA drivers, and there's not much to do with mac's native Core Audio driver.

Thanks for all the help!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by etudes View Post
Just updated my first post with all my specs.

That's interesting to know about interface-direct monitoring being analog the whole way through. But if the DAW playback of the digitally processed recorded signal sounds comparable to the interface monitoring quality, then the digital processing itself wouldn't be the problem, right?

Even if there is some latency, the effect should just be a delay in the sound reaching my ears but not a degradation in quality, if the digital playback doesn't have that degradation. Or am I not understanding some element of this?

To be sure, I tried different I/O buffer sizes in Logic to see how different latencies affect the sound, and to my ears, while the latency changes, that strange lower-end slight muddled quality remains with all settings when monitoring.

I'm happy to test if there is an issue with an audio driver, but how would I do that? I'm using the latest UA drivers, and there's not much to do with mac's native Core Audio driver.

Thanks for all the help!
I just discovered this phenomenon today. The RME Babyface direct monitoring sounds better, crisper than when I monitor through Cubase or Logic. Not delayed with latency but darker, or "different".

I read on another thread someone said latency may be making us perceive bad sounds not just delay. I don't know. Hopefully we can get some more answers on here this time?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Quote:
I can't seem to figure out why input monitoring a mic signal into a DAW is sounding different than directly monitoring from my Apollo Twin MkII.
That slightest little bit of latency can play trix on you when you monitor through the DAW and not form your audio interfaces direct monitoring.
Quote:
recorded audio through the mic into the DAW plays back with nearly the same clarity as the direct-from-interface monitoring.
So you are recording what you expect, so its prob just an issue with what i said above..
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