Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

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Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Black Dog Bluez » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:04 pm

I noticed to get my sound right I have to export and listen on my MP3 player then play with the EQ (on the MP3 player) to see what it needs back on the computer with Audacity where I don't here it the same. I have all my computer sound settings flat with no sound effects on but still the sound is not the same as elsewhere. The computer seems to make it sound better than it actually does when actually it sounds really off! I'll guess I need a separate interface/device designed for music editing to get more accuracy and I need to get off the computer which is not designed for music?? This is new territory for me. Does anyone understand what I'm trying to relate here?
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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:43 am

It's not a problem with computers. Almost all commercial music is produced on computers these days, but, to really know what the music on the computer sounds like you need a reasonable sound card and good speakers / headphones.
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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:51 am

How are you listening on the computer? Anything that goes through a normal computer soundcard is suspect. Digital sound inside the computer is pretty robust (given your settings are flat), but the instant you convert to analog, suddenly all the analog rules apply.

One rule that comes to mind is not to have an analog soundcard inside an electrically noisy computer. If you built your computer, the instructions warn you in All Upper-Case Letters to put the soundcard as far as possible away from the video card.

It's super common to want to record internet sound, do it through the analog channels of the soundcard and then forget you did that. That process never sounds very good and if you leave it that way by accident, everything you listen to will sound like that.

I have the story of checking a new Windows machine and having it failed quality control again and again. Turns out it was running a new "Cathedral" sound effect and it wasn't at all obvious that was happening.

Being professionally compulsive, I would be playing pink noise (carefully) through my monitor systems and record it with one single recorder to see if there are any silly-obvious problems. If you use one recorder, it doesn't have to be accurate, it just has to be consistent. Like Surprise, my MP3 player will not reproduce tones higher than 8KHz (as an example).

I don't expect my sound players to all sound different, or if they do, I know why.

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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Black Dog Bluez » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:25 pm

Thanks for the info all-

I'll assume there is nothing I can do short of upgrading sound card or purchasing something separate yet somehow inline with my computer(?).

The question then is what would be the cheapest route to go, sound card (and which brand/type) or some other device (and which brand/type)?

I have an HP PC, older with Windows 7. I have been editing with a line out the 3.5 mm speaker jack in the back of my computer into my home stereo. A Y-type line that goes from stereo (at computer) to left right into the back of my home stereo (using Tape Deck in /this stereo has no auxiliary) but I guess if the sound is not correct from the computer's sound card than the home stereo can not compensate.. (or any other device feeding off of my current sound card/?). So I'm guessing if I don't upgrade the sound card, which seems daunting (??does it involve soldering??) then it seems Audacity would have to function outside this computer with a separate device which would probably be more expensive than just replacing the sound card /I guess(?). Is this correct?

This is very confusing to me. And upsetting that these "sound cards" are so lacking.

Could a speaker or headphones jack device that feeds itself by USB port bypass the computer's sound card issue and provide an accurate sound?
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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:00 pm

Black Dog Bluez wrote:upsetting that these "sound cards" are so lacking.

Most computer users don't require better than telephone quality from their computers (computer sound is just for beeps and Skype isn't it?)
Consequently, in a highly competitive market, computer manufacturers are reluctant to spend more than a few cents for the "sound card" (which usually isn't really a "sound card" but just a few components on the motherboard and a mini-jack socket in the case).

Good quality playback from the computer does not need to be expensive. For high quality playback from my laptop, I use a Behringer UCA-202 USB, connected to my hi-fi.
The UCA-202 just plugs into a USB socket on the laptop, then connects to the hi-fi amp with standard "phono" (RCA) leads. I think the UCA-202 costs around $30 (new).
Of course this would still sound rubbish if played through rubbish speakers, but unless you have a very expensive hi-fi, it's unlikely that the UCA-202 will be the limiting factor on the sound playback quality.

What are you using for recording?
The UCA-202 is good if recording from a mixing desk, but it does not have a mic input, so no good for recording directly from a microphone.
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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:22 pm

You did hit one serious problem. Someone half-joking a while back did a critical analysis of common, popular songs and it turned out to be a match to the Studio JBL Monitor speakers in use during the mix.

A common get-out-of-jail card is headphones, and we can do very well here, but I still wouldn't plug them directly into a PC sound card.

And this is where I admit I don't have a good headphone amplifier recommendation. I know the UCA202 headphone connection is a copy of its Line-Out (amaze your friends), but since everything on that device runs from the tiny 5 volts, nobody will be calling the papers over super high volume.

I settled on a lower than top quality sound system because I can't stand listening to the better system. So there is that too.

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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Black Dog Bluez » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:07 pm

"What are you using for recording?"

I'm recording with a stand-alone portable recorder (Tascam dr5) totally separate from my computer, ... . I then upload the file recorded (as WAV 44 kHz/24 bit) into my computer to edit with Audacity. --- So it is only during this editing, of these prerecorded songs, where my concern is.. - to get that sound accurate. So does this still fit the recommendation of the Behringer UCA-202 USB being an acceptable fix - for this problem - in the opinions here?

--- Again: My concern is not so much an arbitrary "better quality" but rather an exact sound (during editing on my computer) as it will sound once exported and in the average music player at normal settings. --- a music player of good average quality- .

BTW I realize different types of music players and speakers will vary, delivering slightly different sound when playing the same song --- put that lesser issue aside --- which is not my problem here --- no more than it is for the best produced music.

-- Thank you all --- much appreciated info-
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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:06 am

I noticed to get my sound right
I'm recording with a stand-alone portable recorder

What are you recording? We never established what the show was. The DR5 (they insist it's a DR-05) is a perfectly good live recorder and has provision to plug in modest computer microphones and the instructions claim that if you're really, really careful, you can plug in an external stereo connection.

My impression of the little connection between the two microphones is a Try To Do Everything socket that seems to be gaining in popularity.

Once you record/digitize the show, the quality will stay constant as you move the sound files between machines and locations on the same machine. This is where digital audio is a really big deal. It's hard to break, but you can see the storm clouds gathering. Open the show in Audacity, do some really tiny harmless edits or cuts and export a new show. Because of the way Audacity handles the work internally, a tiny dither (noise) signal is added. So technically, this is the first time the show quality is very slightly less than it was when you started.

The obvious shortcoming we have been talking about above is how do you listen to the show while you're editing. How can you tell what you have? The argument immediately splits into two parties, and you've already run into this: Listen to the show on a perfect monitor system, or listen to it on the devices the client is going to be using. There is no right answer. Many people mix, filter, effect and post produce on perfect speakers and check it on an MP3 player just before they deliver to the client.

Producing only an "MP3 Player Show" can be dangerous. Suppose the client gets a new player? Suppose, as recently happened, Apple starts issuing really sucky earbuds with their iPods that replaced the better, old style. Now what do you do?

If you have several music systems that you expect to all sound the same and they don't, there are tests you can do. That's the pink noise thing. Pink noise is that rain-in-the-trees hiss that contains all audio tones spread out in a precise way over time. If one of your players has trouble with some music tones, this is the test to tell you. But it's not a beginner test. You don't have a beginner problem.

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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:26 pm

Black Dog Bluez wrote:I'm recording with a stand-alone portable recorder (Tascam dr5) totally separate from my computer, ... . I then upload the file recorded (as WAV 44 kHz/24 bit) into my computer to edit with Audacity. --- So it is only during this editing, of these prerecorded songs, where my concern is.. - to get that sound accurate. So does this still fit the recommendation of the Behringer UCA-202 USB being an acceptable fix - for this problem - in the opinions here?

In my opinion (and it's just my personal opinion), the UCA-202 would be a good choice as it fits your description of what you want:
* Low cost
* Easy to use
* "Line level" output, compatible with " Tape Deck in" on your stereo.
* Good playback sound quality ("accurate")

There are other options that could be considered, such as one of the ART, or M-Audio range, but they are in a substantially higher price range.

There are also "USB dongle" type audio devices that are even lower cost, but I've not come across a good one, and I don't like the way that it puts mechanical stress on the computer's USB socket.
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Re: Is A Computer Inaccurate for Music Editing?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Black Dog Bluez » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:34 pm

Steve you mention working with my stereo --- . Will my stereo be necessary to utilize the UCA-202? Currently I've quit using my stereo as it seems to make no difference and is just another device consuming power. The only advantage the stereo has is it's ability to play the computer's-audio-out on good speakers which yes good if the sound were accurate per editing --- but irregardless I prefer using headphones which can just as well come straight from the computer - or the computer through the UCA-202, correct? Or further, if I did want to edit with speakers, then the UCA-202 would be in between the computer and the stereo, correct. --- So basically the UCA-202 (attached to the computer via a USB port) would be the new line-out, however I shall listen, directly with headphones or through a stereo system, correct?

BTW is the updated version of the UCA-202 the UCA-222? --- And/or are these the same? The 222 seems cheaper priced though for some reason. -- Thanks.

Koz, I'm recording acoustic guitar with vocals mainly..

Though I think Steve's reply is more inline with my immediate concerns, though all this info is quite intrigueing and valuable to me to say the least, having a moderate level of experience with all this, thank you.
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