Exported my project. Listened in Media Player, WTF?

I’ve just finished and exported my Audacity project as a stereo WAV. Not MP3. Not yet anyway. Using Audacity 2.0.2 on Windows 7.

What the hey? It sounds VERY different in Windows Media Player. Right this second I have both Audacity open with the final mixdown, and WMP open to listen to the WAV I exported. I’m going back and forth between them, and the file sounds like it should when played in Audacity, but has developed a “tunnel” sound in Windows Media. There also seem to suddenly be what I can only call phase issues of some sort, things seem to duck in and out. I don’t hear this at all in Audacity, where I’ve used Mix and Render on the project, listened to the mixdown, and found it satisfying.

There’s another open thread titled “Muddled Audio” or something like that. It seems to be a similar problem. But that’s a recording problem. I’ve been all through the advice given to that person, looking for some sort of effects to turn off in WMP or in the computer, and I don’t see anything I can turn off. Other music doesn’t seem to have this weirdness. This isn’t a recording problem. Everything was good in Audacity, then it got weird after export.

Can I at least blame Windows Media Player for this? Or did the export process reveal some sort of fatal flaws in my work?

This file is not going to stay on my computer forever. The audio will become the audio to a Youtube video, and then out to the universe. Will people hear this weird thing I’m hearing, or will they hear what I hear in Audacity? What I wanted them to hear?

What’s going on with this?

Possible important detail, I listen to playback through an 1/8 inch headphone jack that goes through a 1/8 to RCA stereo cable and into a garden variety home stereo. So I’m listening to the headphone signal as far as the computer is concerned. Used the same setup to do all my Audacity work though. Perhaps WMP is feeding me some sort of headphone mix? I’m going to keep looking for “helpful” effects to turn off, because it sounds like some dingus put a bass boost on my mix and added gratuitous reverb allofasudden.

This is the most obvious explanation if the problem occurs only in Media Player.

If you still question Audacity, import the exported WAV back into Audacity.