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Thread: FocusRite vs Mixer Sound Quality Difference

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    FocusRite vs Mixer Sound Quality Difference

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    I've just re-setup my studio, it's basically

    Windows 10
    Sonar X2
    Mackie 1202 VLZ3
    Focusrite Saffire 6 USB

    Yesterday I tried recording an analog sequencer, a Dave Smith Evolver. The stereo outputs of the synth were plugged into the 2 inputs of the Saffire and the Sonar track was set to stereo. I was listening via the Saffire headphone jack. The resulting recording was tinny.

    I shut down Sonar and listened to the synth thru the Saffire only and it was still tinny. I then plugged the synth directly into a stereo Mackie channel and listened via the Mackie headphone jack.

    World of difference. Synth to Mackie gives all the depth and detail that synth to Saffire loses. I ran this comparison many times adjusting the Saffire gain and got some improvement but not enough to satisfy my ears.

    So my questions are

    1. with Sonar shut down, is the synth still routing through my Windows tower or only going only through the Focusrite?

    2. is this a matter of Mackie vs Saffire pre-amps?

    3. any opinions on why the sound is so different?

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    1) You would not usually put a synth through a MIC input. Are you going into the Saffire's LINE or Instrument inputs?
    2) Similarly you would use line inputs on the mixer so again, mic pres should not be an issue (and I doubt they would be anyway)

    If the sound coming out of the F'rite's headphone jack is "tinny" you should be able to record it. Can you post two clips. A 320k MP3 attachement works best for me.

    Dave.

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    The FR has two 1/4 inputs with a line and instrument switch. I've got it set to line, ie it is not depressed which would be instrument (and i think mic). The gain is at 5 but various gains haven't improved the sound.

    The sound out of the FR headphone jack is the same as the recorded wav file in Sonar so I can attach that. But I don't know how to get an MP3 of the sound I'm hearing from the Mackie because I've only got the FR to record with.

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    - Were you using TRS cables (for balanced connection) or TS cables (for unbalanced connection)? The Evolver has unbalanced outputs and as such, TS type cables should be used to connect to other gear. The input circuitry of the Saffire and the Mackie may be different even though their line inputs will accommodate a TRS type of input. The TRS plug ring connection back at the Evolver may not connect to anything in its jack and may not provide the Saffire with a full signal, thus sounding thin for the Saffire. The Mackie may be doing something different with its inputs that allow for this type of mismatch.
    - The INST switch on the Saffire should not be enabled.
    - Were the EQ setting on the Mackie set at 12 o'clock (zero cut or boost)?
    Mark.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticranger View Post
    The FR has two 1/4 inputs with a line and instrument switch. I've got it set to line, ie it is not depressed which would be instrument (and i think mic). The gain is at 5 but various gains haven't improved the sound.

    The sound out of the FR headphone jack is the same as the recorded wav file in Sonar so I can attach that. But I don't know how to get an MP3 of the sound I'm hearing from the Mackie because I've only got the FR to record with.
    Connect the Main Outs of the Mackie into the inputs of the Saffire
    Mark.......

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    bear with me while i do a few tests based on your advice. but for now

    - the connecting cables from Evolver to FR and Evolver to Mackie are cheapo unbalanced

    - the Mackie EQ settings are all at U

    - the INST switch on FR is not pressed down (enabled) since the synth is line level

    - i did previously send the synth into the Mackie and the Mackie main outs into the FR, no change.

    Back in a bit.

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    so i have found out that my Sonar X2 is creating 16-bit not 24-bit files despite the audio being set at 24-bit / 44,100Hz. I test recorded the Evolver thru the FR into Wavepad and that did a create 24-bit file. I've attached the comparison files and the 24-bit does sound a lot more like what I am getting straight into the Mackie.

    Not sure where I will go with this as I am due for a Sonar upgrade but it's become such bloatware and does anyone use it nowadays anyway?
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    What you will need to check is this.

    When you listen to your synth through the Mackie you are most likely getting a stereo sound.

    When you listen through the Saffire, you are most likely getting a mono sound, i.e. the L and R channels of the synth are going into inputs 1 & 2. Saffire doesn't know that you are inputting a stereo signal. Were you to record this in Sonar on a stereo track (or two mono tracks panned L & R), and played it back through the Saffire, you would once again hear the stereo sound.


    My guess is that it's the synth's stereo being collapsed to mono that makes it sound tinny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    What you will need to check is this.

    When you listen to your synth through the Mackie you are most likely getting a stereo sound.

    When you listen through the Saffire, you are most likely getting a mono sound, i.e. the L and R channels of the synth are going into inputs 1 & 2. Saffire doesn't know that you are inputting a stereo signal. Were you to record this in Sonar on a stereo track (or two mono tracks panned L & R), and played it back through the Saffire, you would once again hear the stereo sound.


    My guess is that it's the synth's sterebo baeing collapsed to mono that makes it sound tinny.
    Good point but I'm recording in stereo in Sonar and Wavepad also captured the 1/2 Saffire inputs as stereo. Both attached files s/b stereo. The tinnyness I referred to can be heard in the 16-bit file, it's a sharper less rounded quality. Unless I am hearing things.

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    - The 'Mixer' knob on the Saffire, is that set to 'Input' or 'Playback' when recording the synth and listening with headphones? Set full CCW to 'Input' will give you just the Saffire and nothing coming back from the computer. Setting the knob towards or fully to 'Playback' will send back audio from the software/computer if the DAW software is set to do so. Try the knob fully in each direction and listen for a difference. This may lend an idea if the DAW software is doing something funky.
    - Presuming the 'Mono I/P' switch is not enabled (LED not lit) so you do hear stereo in the headphones and not the two channels mixed together. Try running just one of the synth cables into a Saffire input channel to assure only one side, left or right has signal and audio in just one earphone side.
    - Focusrite drivers are installed and up to date and Sonar is showing the Saffire as the recording and playback device in options(?)
    Mark.......

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