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Mastering without a DAW?
Old 24th January 2013
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Mastering without a DAW?

Back when digital wasn't around I assume MEs used reel to reel for playback.

So I'm wondering why can't I use a simple but pristine sounding digital software or hardware as a playback device for mastering.

Currently for playback I am using Winamp at 24bits with waveOut driver because to my ears it's on par with Samplitude, so I figured why spend so much on a DAW when a player sounds as good. 32bit float also works with Winamp but the level is increased, which is not a problem since I'm using Scope so I can turn the level down on the channel. I also tried Amarra, which is the best player I've heard, but it's only for Macs

Of course using a player for playback I lose some options like fades, but I can do that manually no problem.

So are there any other pristine sounding players for PC?
Old 24th January 2013
  #2
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
...why spend so much on a DAW when a player sounds as good?
Of course using a player for playback I lose some options like fades, but I can do that manually no problem.
Because Mastering is about control, not about cutting corners.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuebism ➑️
Because Mastering is about control, not about cutting corners.
So you're saying those who still use tape for playback are cutting corners?
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
So you're saying those who still use tape for playback are cutting corners?
No, I'm saying: In Mastering, use the best tool available.

I'm sure mastering studios in the tape age did not use a Fostex machine for playback.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuebism ➑️
No, I'm saying: In Mastering, use the best tool available.

I'm sure mastering studios in the tape age did not use a Fostex machine for playback.
Right, but I'm asking what is the best sounding software player for PC?
Old 24th January 2013
  #6
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Quicktime
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stinkyfingers ➑️
Quicktime
It's been a while since I used Quicktime for PC, but on my Macbook, it doesn't come close to Amarra.

But here it says it supports formats all the way to 64bit float on Macs.

Media formats supported by QuickTime Player
Old 24th January 2013
  #8
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if you're going to be a mastering engineer in 2013 you need a DAW. you can get a copy of reaper for like 60 bucks. c'mon.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by stinkyfingers ➑️


you are a total ****ing idiot...
I don't think you understand my workflow...I'll try Quicktimee as you suggested, maybe it will be better than Winamp.
Old 24th January 2013
  #10
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no, i am referencing your comment about Reaper...
Reaper's the ****...
Old 24th January 2013
  #11
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If your DAW's have different sounds there's a problem. We're not talking about stock plugins, dither options, other processing options. If playback is different from one to another it's changing the 1's and 0's before hitting your converter, and that means something is terribly wrong.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by stinkyfingers ➑️
no, i am referencing your comment about Reaper...
Reaper's the ****...
I totally agree, sound quality is on top. But I'm talking about maintaining sound texture closest to the original source, mostly from mid to highs. That's where most DAWs fail.

Obviously in future I will switch to a DAW, but it will be something like soundBlade, Sequoia, Wavelab, Pyramix, or whichever one I feel has playback closest to the source.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Murray ➑️
If your DAW's have different sounds there's a problem. We're not talking about stock plugins, dither options, other processing options. If playback is different from one to another it's changing the 1's and 0's before hitting your converter, and that means something is terribly wrong.
I swear they do. And I set them all to play the highest quality and always externally clocked by UA2192, using Lavry DA10 and DT770 for monitoring. The sound quality is the same, but the texture is different, could be pan laws, I don't know. I just know for a fact that I'm hearing things differently in different DAWs, and that's with headphones.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
I totally agree, sound quality is on top. But I'm talking about maintaining sound texture closest to the original source, mostly from mid to highs. That's where most DAWs fail.

Obviously in future I will switch to a DAW, but it will be something like soundBlade, Sequoia, Wavelab, Pyramix, or whichever one I feel has playback closest to the source.
But HOW can you tell which Software sounds closest to the "source"??

Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuebism ➑️
But HOW can you tell which Software sounds closest to the "source"??

I do it with DT770 headphones and Lavry DA10. It's harder to do with monitors because headphones are right on your ears, and you can't move them one bit. Then you find the most musical song you can and lock on to a specific part in that song. Then repeat that part in different DAWs. For example I learned that Audition and Pro Tools have the same sound texture. Reaper and Abelton are very close. Logic and Garage Band are very close if not the same. And I'm strictly talking about sound texture, you know the musicality, the warmth, the excitement. Sound quality is a whole different thing. For example something can have great sound quality but also sound sterile or clinical.
Old 24th January 2013
  #16
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🎧 10 years
I'm still missing what you mean, pan laws don't apply if we're playing back a stereo source. Left is Left, Right is Right. If you're talking about bringing up a full mix in one DAW vs. another there's a lot of things that might change in the processing involved, whether it be pan laws, fixed v. float processing, mixer/fade dithering different eq's comps etc. But since we're only talking about playback then any DAW out there should be able to playback audio without processing which means they should be identical. If it sounds different that means something is changing meaning something is terribly wrong.

It really sounds like you're saying playing back the same stereo file from pro tools vs. pyramix vs. reaper vs. sequoia vs. waveburner will all sound different with no processing, same converter/clock etc. This just is not true, can not be true, and if it was then something has gone terribly wrong in your system. Any DAW should be able to playback the source perfectly.
Old 24th January 2013
  #17
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ugh. fine then, buy a copy of wavelab. it costs less than you charge to master 5 songs, so it should be no problem to afford it.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Murray ➑️
I'm still missing what you mean, pan laws don't apply if we're playing back a stereo source. Left is Left, Right is Right. If you're talking about bringing up a full mix in one DAW vs. another there's a lot of things that might change in the processing involved, whether it be pan laws, fixed v. float processing, mixer/fade dithering different eq's comps etc. But since we're only talking about playback then any DAW out there should be able to playback audio without processing which means they should be identical. If it sounds different that means something is changing meaning something is terribly wrong.

It really sounds like you're saying playing back the same stereo file from pro tools vs. pyramix vs. reaper vs. sequoia vs. waveburner will all sound different with no processing, same converter/clock etc. This just is not true, can not be true, and if it was then something has gone terribly wrong in your system. Any DAW should be able to playback the source perfectly.
Exactly, no processing, just simple playback of a 24 bit file. Pan laws and programming code usually is different with different DAWs. They do play back perfectly in sound quality, but not in sound texture. What I'm saying is that some DAWs will change the texture of the source a little bit. For the source I used a dynamic EDM track.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
Exactly, no processing, just simple playback of a 24 bit file. Pan laws and programming code usually is different with different DAWs. They do play back perfectly in sound quality, but not in sound texture. What I'm saying is that some DAWs will change the texture of the source a little bit. For the source I used a dynamic EDM track.
What do you mean by texture as opposed to sound quality?
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #20
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by haberdasher ➑️
What do you mean by texture as opposed to sound quality?
Musicality, warmth, excitement, color...
Old 24th January 2013
  #21
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🎧 10 years
You can get a demo of samplitude for 30 days. You'd only need to master a couple of albums in those 30 days to buy the full version which you can later upgrade to Sequoia for the difference in cost (I think?!)

The same goes for Sadie, although upgrade options are probably less flexible from the new cheapo edition.

I'm not 100% on Pyramix demo options these days.

Any of those sound absolutely fine and actually have sophisticated editing capabilities.

I use foobar2000 as a player to check back audio, but I only choose that over anything else because it has useful tools/plugins.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haberdasher ➑️
You can get a demo of samplitude for 30 days. You'd only need to master a couple of albums in those 30 days to buy the full version which you can later upgrade to Sequoia for the difference in cost (I think?!)

The same goes for Sadie, although upgrade options are probably less flexible from the new cheapo edition.

I'm not 100% on Pyramix demo options these days.

Any of those sound absolutely fine and actually have sophisticated editing capabilities.

I use foobar2000 as a player to check back audio, but I only choose that over anything else because it has useful tools/plugins.
Thanks for the foobar2000, will have to check that out and waveburner. I believe in Sequoia too and assume Pyramix is just as good or better, but too expensive for me now.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
Musicality, warmth, excitement, color...
Those all sound more or less like qualities of sound to me
Old 24th January 2013
  #24
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quantummastering .... why don't you do a null test (using phase reversal) with each DAW and see if anything shows up? That will tell you and us for sure if the differences you hear are real or imagined. There will be no room left for any arguing. It will just be facts and people will have to deal with it.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by haberdasher ➑️
Those all sound like qualities of sound to me
Ok maybe what I am trying to say is that I'm hearing different color from different DAWs. And color has nothing to do with sound quality. If something doesn't have any color, to me it's sterile. This is exactly why I use Winamp for playback, because it preserves the musicality or color (in my world). Samplitude also does the same. Reaper does not.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins ➑️
quantummastering .... why don't you do a null test (using phase reversal) with each DAW and see if anything shows up? That will tell you and us for sure if the differences you hear are real or imagined. There will be no room left for any arguing. It will just be facts and people will have to deal with it.
Will try that, even though I only trust my ears for comparison.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #27
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narcoman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
I do it with DT770 headphones and Lavry DA10. It's harder to do with monitors because headphones are right on your ears, and you can't move them one bit. Then you find the most musical song you can and lock on to a specific part in that song. Then repeat that part in different DAWs. For example I learned that Audition and Pro Tools have the same sound texture. Reaper and Abelton are very close. Logic and Garage Band are very close if not the same. And I'm strictly talking about sound texture, you know the musicality, the warmth, the excitement. Sound quality is a whole different thing. For example something can have great sound quality but also sound sterile or clinical.
The output engine of most DAWs (PT being the exception) is the SAME audio driver operating system. So Reaper, Logic etc on a Mac use Core audio. ASIO drivers on Windows are OEM systems. The only thing that changes are the OTHER things in the DAW - so the playback isn't different. For your uses you should have no issues using any system for playback (pan law set the same) BUT as soon as you start to do things like change gain, fades etc, things will start to have differences.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
Will try that, even though I only trust my ears for comparison.
If the null test shows up empty, your ears are wrong. This is scientific and much more accurate than anyones ears.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
Exactly, no processing, just simple playback of a 24 bit file. Pan laws and programming code usually is different with different DAWs..
There is only one way to playback audio from a DAW - pass the data stream of the audio to the output audio system/codec. Generally these are OEM ASIO or Core Audio systems.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quantummastering ➑️
Obviously in future I will switch to a DAW, but it will be something like soundBlade, Sequoia, Wavelab, Pyramix, or whichever one I feel has playback closest to the source.
I was waiting for you to catch my drift. So let me explain the paradox in the above statement:

Unless there is a way to inject the source directly into your brain, it is impossible for you to assess which DAW has playback closest to the source.
BECAUSE how do you know what the original, unaltered source sounds like??

By listening to it.

And how do you listen to it?

Via playback.

And what do you choose for playback?

The cat is chasing it's tail here.
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