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Feral State Sound

Is Cakewalk gaining users/popularity with Bandlab?

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37 minutes ago, Tezza said:

Shouldn't really talk too much about this though, it only results in DAW wars, the "it's all in your mind" brigade and the null police coming after you. So I will just say that for me, I really like the Cakewalk sound engine a lot for my music.

Oh, right, you mean those who believe that for some reason it's inherently not possible for the software methods that two different programs use to mix together multiple streams of digital audio and deliver them to the ear to make an audible difference? Because, "digital?"

I should think the challenge would be to get multiple programs all doing that to sound reasonably similar, that is to sound like a good hardware mixing board doing the same thing.

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I do think marketing had never been top notch even when Gibson or others had us.  Bandlab can sure gear up the marketing now coz its easy to sell "A superior DAW thats free!" But do they really care abt it? coz they are not actually selling it just giving away for free. Gosh! 

Regarding CbB sounding superior to studio one. I had the same experience. Yet all null tests indicates they are same. One thing to notice is that S1 uses different pan law which can influence your mixes. The null tests indicate that the data remains the same inside both daws but either they  do sound different or its all abt the GUI that makes people think so(and thats totally possible!).  To me studio one's interface although great, feels too digital and binary unlike CbB interface which keeps me all inspired while working. 
 

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2 hours ago, Tezza said:

the null police

This is going into my running list of band names (song/album titles).

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2 hours ago, Sonarman said:

Regarding CbB sounding superior to studio one. I had the same experience. Yet all null tests indicates they are same. One thing to notice is that S1 uses different pan law which can influence your mixes. The null tests indicate that the data remains the same inside both daws but either they  do sound different or its all abt the GUI that makes people think so(and thats totally possible!).  To me studio one's interface although great, feels too digital and binary unlike CbB interface which keeps me all inspired while working. 
 

All valid points, and yes, pan laws do make a difference. My last album project had a mix of songs done in Studio One and in Cakewalk. I don't think anyone could tell definitively which was recorded in which. 

But your point about the GUI is spot-on. There have been many studies about how look influences perception. Wine experts were given identical wines to taste, and they invariably said the more expensive ones in the bottles with nicer graphics tasted better. Another good study is when people saw the identical movie, but the sound quality was better in one than the other. People said the video quality was better in the one with better sound! I have no doubt that particular GUIs resonate better with particular musical approaches.

As I always say, right tool for the right job. When I did the Simplicity album (2017), Cakewalk was mostly the right choice. For Joie de Vivre (2018), it was mostly Studio One. It's like being a painter, and deciding whether you're going to start with acrylics or oils. It depends on the type of painting you want to create...and how you feel that day :)  

 

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Something I don't understand about null tests, what are they actually doing? They are saying that the wave forms are the same? So if I record something in 2 different DAW's, we look at the frequecies contained within the wave files and they are the same therefore the sound is the same. What does that have to do with the actual sound you hear as a result of that information leaving the wave file and going through the DAW's audio engine?

I can have a digital photograph or video, put it in 2 different applications, so it is the same in all applications, therefore what I see should be the same? It isn't.

Different applications process that image file differently in Photoshop the image will look different to say Photoimpact. The same video looks different in Vegas video than say Davinci Resolve. Same file information but different images.

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7 minutes ago, Tezza said:

Something I don't understand about null tests, what are they actually doing? They are saying that the wave forms are the same? So if I record something in 2 different DAW's, we look at the frequecies contained within the wave files and they are the same therefore the sound is the same. What does that have to do with the actual sound you hear as a result of that information leaving the wave file and going through the DAW's audio engine?

The tests may be performed on the exported audio files.

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6 minutes ago, Tezza said:

Something I don't understand about null tests, what are they actually doing? They are saying that the wave forms are the same? So if I record something in 2 different DAW's, we look at the frequecies contained within the wave files and they are the same therefore the sound is the same. What does that have to do with the actual sound you hear as a result of that information leaving the wave file and going through the DAW's audio engine?

I think any null test is supposed to be post-master fader, i.e., what goes to the D/A converter. At that point, the only remaining variable is the converter.

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So how do they achieve a valid separation of results, what do they play the file back on? If I save the different images in Photoshop and Photoimpact with no editing at all and then export those images and then look at the exported files, they will be the same, they will null. Still doesn't change the fact that the images will look different when opened in these two programs.

I don't accept at all that the difference I hear is a placebo effect or in my mind or as a result of the GUI differences. I've been a musician for quite some time and have very sensitive ears to these sorts of things, my ears tell me there is a substantial difference (not small) in what I am hearing. I think the GUI might come into it from a practical point of view, everything is bigger and easier to operate in Cakewalk, Studio One I always feel like I am fighting with little boxes.

Also, saying that people cannot tell the difference between music created in whatever DAW is not evidence that there is no difference. If someone sent me 4 different songs completed in 4 different DAW's I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference because there are so many variables in completed projects, reverb EQ, compression, panning  etc. However, a person who has worked only in Pro Tools for example might be able to determine the Pro Tools one etc.

Perhaps if I were sent 4 different audio files recorded in 4 different DAW's I would say they all sounded like CbB because that is what I would be playing them back on.

I am transferring projects between DAW's, not a problem, just some audio stems, midi files and a bunch of chopping. When I play the projects back in CbB they do sound better and easier to mix, I can pinpoint necessary EQ changes quicker. For me it's like if you have bad vision and you put glasses on you can suddenly see everything a lot clearer which makes the whole process of getting good sound out of a DAW easier.

I guess one test might be to listen to the songs in the songs category of the different DAW forums. One thing I noticed straight away coming to this forum that piqued my interest was that the songs in this forum sounded so much more clearer and more professional than the other DAW forums, at least for the style of music that interests me.

 

Edited by Tezza

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My understanding is that "null tests" are performed by recording simple stereo and mono sine waves into a single channel, then rendering them.

This leaves out two very important elements!

First, playback. That is what we hear when we are playing back a file or a mix or whatever through our computer's speakers in real time, and it's handled through a different engine than rendering. This is HUGE, and a HUGE thing to just hand wave and ignore. Think of how many plug-ins have settings that allow you to separately set the quality for "normal" and "rendering." That's because they know the difference between the two states of the host.

When I came to Cakewalk from Mixcraft my biggest culture shock was beginning to see the Audio Engine as this separate thing that starts and stops, and sometimes stalls out and you have to lean over it and pull the cord and get it going again like a lawnmower.

Turns out that Acoustica are very thrifty with playback compared to Cakewalk by BandLab. I did some poking around with Resource Monitor and found that on my same 4-minute song, one that I started in Mixcraft, exported as stems, then continued in Cakewalk, Mixcraft is not streaming anything from the disk to play it back. Nothing at all. It must be very quickly, during downtime, analyzing and loading the whole thing into memory to stream it, and to do that, it may be compromising the quality.

To be sure, it does some other smart stuff that I would like to see Cakewalk also do, like ignoring files that are only associated with muted clips, but Mixcraft ain't streamin' nothin' from the drive to begin with so who knows how they're doing it.

The null-test ding-dongs, as far as I've seen, ignore this crucial fact: playback ain't rendering.

Second, and perhaps even more critical, summing/mixing. There has to be some algorithm(s) to handle the mixing together of multiple audio streams, and programming decisions must be made, it's never going to be a simple 1:1. If there is some way to do a "null test" on taking 5 sine waves and summing them all together into the Master Bus center panned, I haven't heard about it. And think of 5 different audio streams, one of them panned 50% left, the other 50% left, one at -7dB, etc. Those are all things that fall outside the realm of simple reproduction of 1's and 0's, and there are no rules for how to implement that under the hood. What happens when a signal hits the mix engine too hot? Something has to happen. Hard clip, soft clip?

After this, of course, there must be programming to handle connection of effects, on and on, it can all sound different depending on who is doing the coding and what decisions they make.

So unless all that the null testers are doing with their DAW's is recording single tracks of audio and then rendering the same with no panning, no effects, none of that, and they don't care how their DAW's sound while they're mixing on them, then "null tests" are beside the point. All they do is prove one single thing, that the DAW accurately renders a single track of uneffected audio. Which a DAW should do, to be sure, but there are lots of other things that set them apart from each other sonically.

And BTW, check out this site:

http://src.infinitewave.ca/

Unfortunately it hasn't been updated in quite some time, but it shows that there are, or were, plenty of digital audio programs that couldn't handle the simple task of converting a 96KHz sine to a 44.1KHz sine. Some of those plots are nasty looking. So not even all rendering engines do a perfect job of it.

I can say this: Mixcraft does a lot of things way more easily than Cakewalk. It's taken me a long time to get Cakewalk working as well, a long time, especially with comping and those fiddly tools and the bugs in loop recording. But when I imported my first set of stems (see, rendered stems, the Mixcraft rendering engine sounds great) into Cakewalk from Mixcraft and set up a rough mix and heard how freaking great it sounded when I hit Play, I didn't care how often I had to restart the damn thing, I was going to get it happening in Cakewalk no matter what because it sounded like I wanted my mixing experience to sound. The sound of playback was such an improvement over Mixcraft. There was a smoothness, less "grainy" somehow.

That and the fact that I got a decent mix going in a matter of hours with just the ProChannel FX 😜.

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