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Thread: USB audio degradation.. Help!!

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    USB audio degradation.. Help!!

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    I made an interesting, but annoying discovery tonight that my audio signals are being degraded, pretty noticibly through USB. Iím hoping you guys can help me figure this out. This may be long. I apologize!!

    I just bought a Kemper Profiling Amp and was playing with some settings as none of the modeled guitar amps sounded very good inside my DAW. What I realized after hours of tinkering was that the Kemper sounded like crap in the daw, but actually sounded really good through the monitors when they werenít connected to the computer.

    My kemper was plugged into a Tascam US16x8 interface which was plugged into my Windows PC. I use Reaper as my DAW, so kemper to daw, daw out to studio monitors. This gave me a lack luster sound.

    When I eliminated the computer, and just played the kemper into the Interface, and out directly to monitors, it sounded great.

    So I tried a different interface, a Berringher 404. Same exact result. Bad sound in Daw, great sound with no PC connection

    Both interfaces, reaper, and windows audio settings and sample rates were the same. So to rule out a computer issue, I then plugged both interfaces into my MacBook Pro, and had the same result with both. I experimented and played a few songs from an MP3 player into the interface next. The songs sounded fine in the daw, I would have never thought anything of the audio quality, but when I played directly though the monitors, just like the kemper, the audio was MUCH better! This leads me to believe all of my audio, in and out via USB is degraded and although not bad, or even noticeable until I experimented today, itís not nearly the same quality.

    Can anyone explain this? I did try 2 USB cables. Neither are premium, I ordered a higher quality one (cinnamon) on Amazon but itíll be a few days and from my google research it ďshouldnítĒ make a difference either way. Is this just a USB thing in general? Does USB degrade audio signals, and if so, whatís is a better option for home recording?

    Thank you for your time and any suggestions!

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    I would not rule out problems with/in the pc
    could be microslop or could be something with reaper
    have you tried a different DAW?


    What do you think is good
    and
    what is the difference between the pc and direct w/o pc
    Can you state it in numbers db freq and other such parameters or is it all subjective.

    I doubt the usb cable will make any difference although a different usb port on the pc might
    was anything else using that usb cable at the same time eg a hub or other conenctions ?

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    Since the issue was present in both the PC and a Mac, and it was the same Iím not sure it could be a computer issue.

    As far as what I liked/didnít like, the kemper sounded grainy, fizzy, flat, and just not right, which started my down this rabbit hole. Both the kemper and the mp3s had more depth, warmth, and clarity through the monitors directly. The mp3 files played through the computers were just lack luster in comparison. Nothing Iíd have noticed before, but after playing them side by side, it was a very noticable difference. I canít give any numbers, as I have no way of measuring or quantifying what was coming out of the monitors without making that usb connection and sending the audio through it. I did have 2 other people listen, without telling them what I was looking for initially, and both said the monitors alone sounded much better in comparison too.

    Edit: I did try all of the USB ports on both computers, no hubs, and eve disconnected all other USB devices. I felt I was pretty thorough trying to weed this thing out.
    Last edited by Judkins401; 04-01-2019 at 20:30. Reason: Missing info

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judkins401 View Post
    Since the issue was present in both the PC and a Mac, and it was the same I’m not sure it could be a computer issue.

    As far as what I liked/didn’t like, the kemper sounded grainy, fizzy, flat, and just not right, which started my down this rabbit hole. Both the kemper and the mp3s had more depth, warmth, and clarity through the monitors directly. The mp3 files played through the computers were just lack luster in comparison. Nothing I’d have noticed before, but after playing them side by side, it was a very noticable difference. I can’t give any numbers, as I have no way of measuring or quantifying what was coming out of the monitors without making that usb connection and sending the audio through it. I did have 2 other people listen, without telling them what I was looking for initially, and both said the monitors alone sounded much better in comparison too.

    Edit: I did try all of the USB ports on both computers, no hubs, and eve disconnected all other USB devices. I felt I was pretty thorough trying to weed this thing out.

    well if it happened with both of them then it is not likely to be the computer per se but could be reaper and how it was used
    so it is also unlikely that the usb cable will change any of the results

    personally i find almost all mp3 to be terrible so i would never use those for a listening test as they are all lackluster imho
    do you have the same problems with other material ? preferably wav files
    do you have a test cd with wav files that is meant to check how a system works soundwise?

    could the problem be in/with the kemper? were the settings always identical? did you try other settings including none at all?

    hopefully some other folks who have some experience with these will jump in soon with their ideas

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    I'd be interested in finding out a number of things, like . . .

    Does an MP3 or WAV of song played through media player sound ok via interface?
    Load an MP3 or WAV of a song into Reaper and play that back. Is that ok?
    Does Youtube sound ok through interface?

    If the answer to these is no, it sounds like there is an output problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    I'd be interested in finding out a number of things, like . . .

    Does an MP3 or WAV of song played through media player sound ok via interface?
    Load an MP3 or WAV of a song into Reaper and play that back. Is that ok?
    Does Youtube sound ok through interface?

    If the answer to these is no, it sounds like there is an output problem.
    Everything sounds okay in browsers and media players (but I thoight all of my audio did until this comparison enlightened me that it could be much better) audio files loaded into reaper and media players sound the same so I think this rules out reaper as the culprit?

    I canít directly compare YouTube and media player audio through the interface because those files would have to travel through USB to the interface, so I canít test them without the usb connection. Which is where everything else has been shining. I suppose could compare a YouTube video played on my pc to the same video played from my phone to the interface, but since itís a different piece of hardware I donít think it would be a fair comparison. Iím at at a loss here!

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    I'm confused. I have the Tascam interface. I didn't even know you can connect an input to it and have that come out of the output sockets, WITHOUT the computer being connected. I get no sound from it until the computer is connected via USB. On mine the quality of all the inputs, mic/line/instrument are as far as I can tell, identical. Once you use the USB connection, then, this is data from then on. If the data is created well and accurately, it stays that way. I'd skip the USB cable idea - this is audiophool stuff. USB cables might be tougher when they get more pricey - so you can stand on them without crushing, and some have better screening - which to be honest is often more important stopping the data escaping rather than being impacted on by external noise sources. Other than that, with the usual limit on length, a cable is a cable, and spending money on esoteric ones is a Barnum experience.

    I have numerous audio applications on all my computers and I have never found any of them worse or better in audio quality. 44.1 on all of them sounds the same.

    I'll have to look at the Tascam and find out where the direct sound output from the mixer stage is? Probably a knob I've simply never used. Might be interesting to see if I can hear a difference between the direct vs in/out of the computer loop. Might have time later today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    I have the Tascam interface. I didn't even know you can connect an input to it and have that come out of the output sockets, WITHOUT the computer being connected.
    I don't know how the Tascam works. However, I have a Presonus, and I can get audio output without being connected to the computer through its direct monitoring function. In other words, if I was desperate, I could operate it as an extremely basic stand-alone mixer.

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    There's no direct control on my interface - but I discovered mines the earlier model. I compared the manuals, and there is a difference. No knob or button, but with USB disconnected there is I've found, a one to one link when the USB is disconnected - input 1 comes out of output one, and 2 from 2, 3 from 3 etc. I suppose this does mean that there could be a difference in the audio introduced in the analogue to digital stage? Sorry can't be definitive because my one does NOT have this link in to out function at all. I assume, that as you can hear it, the volume control on the output defaults to outputs 1 and 2.

    Sorry can't help more. I googled the model you have and it looked the same, but isn't. Mines been 'archived' now I note! I also didn't know the new model has a software mixer function too!

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    When you say the sound from the Kemper is good when the monitors are plugged directly into it - are you using the same audio outputs as when connected to the interface? Are you plugging into LINE inputs on the interface?
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