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Old 16th January 2020
Lives for gear

One reason why one might get different sound from playing back and exporting is the interplay of some instruments that might have different qualities set for Real-time vs off-line (rendering) operation. In itself this means the sources may sound somewhat different. Rendered instruments should typically be improved in this case.

If you are working in a higher sample rate than your target, this is equally true and some plug-ins may sound strikingly different when run oversampled. Typically these do sound better though, though there might be exceptions.

Just exporting a sampled piano (original source 44.1 kHz/16-bits) with an 88.2 kHz project sample rate, then downsampled to 44.1 won't null with the original clip in playback, even though an export with the project sample rate at 44.1 will.

One method to avoid surprises like the ones above is to make everything audio when preparing for mixdown. In its own set typically.