VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

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VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Synthetech » Mon May 27, 2013 6:56 pm

is this normal when compared to a real synth?

I've been digging into free VST synths the past couple days and I am a little disappointed at the volume levels I get from them vs. the real instruments I have.

Seems to get a good volume, I have to hear hiss/noise from my amp.
My real synths dont do that hiss sound.

Is there something to improve this noise issue? A better brand of soundcard that is preferred or intended for these VSTi's?

I've found some nice VSTi's, but I'm really disappointed in not only the noise, but glitching in just about any VSTi. I even have seen the OPX Pro II video here..


Watch on youtube.com




....I hear glitches even when he plays a VSTi that you PAY for! A bad one can be heard at 3:05 another at 3:18.
It makes me cringe when I hear those pops/clicks mistriggers, etc.

How do users of these synths get around these issues? I find the above example apalling to use when it's going to glitch like that.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Jabberwalky » Mon May 27, 2013 7:10 pm

You're running your computer into an amp?
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Synthetech » Mon May 27, 2013 7:27 pm

Jabberwalky wrote:You're running your computer into an amp?




Yea.. a fairly decent Yamaha Home Theater stereo.. I have a tape loop for the PC and use the CD input to feed in the hardware synths (thru a mixer).

I get good audio from wav files and the such.. its just when I play a VSTi, it sounds low volume and "tape hiss" when I boost the volume via the amp.

Meanwhile, if I play say a nice sample from my Akai S2000>SP-808 FX>mixer>Amp, I get a nice sharp and clean audio. Same goes for the Roland D2, the MT-300 or even the POS DJXiib.. they all sound much more crisp and clean.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby meatballfulton » Mon May 27, 2013 8:13 pm

Hiss is an analog phenomenon, digital audio doesn't hiss.

What's your sound card/audio interface?

What's the host for your VSTis (DAW)?
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Synthetech » Mon May 27, 2013 8:49 pm

meatballfulton wrote:Hiss is an analog phenomenon, digital audio doesn't hiss.

What's your sound card/audio interface?

What's the host for your VSTis (DAW)?



the hiss is in part my amp turned up (to compensate the low VSTi volume out) with probably some noise from the soundcard's analog preamp.
All volumes on my PC's OS is set to max.. high enough anyways.


I am using this PC

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,18 ... ?tab=Specs
It has the stock soundcard (embedded to MB I think).



Right now I'm using SAVIHost

http://www.hermannseib.com/english/savihost.htm

to host the VSTi's
I have an old version of Cubase they could run in, but to simplify things, I found SAVIHost to be easy to load them up.



Besides the noise/hiss, what about the glitching? Like I showed in that vid for a softsynth you BUY.. why on earth is it GLITCHING??!!?!
I would be pissed if I spent good $$$(or Euros) on a VSTi and have it glitch like that.
Is it just something you have to suck it up and just live with it??
Last edited by Synthetech on Mon May 27, 2013 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Infinity Curve » Mon May 27, 2013 8:57 pm

The glitching is likely due to your PC; that's a fairly old model(almost 10 years old) and the (single core)processor is probably struggling with some of the more power hungry VST's. You are also just using the built in sound card in your PC, which is not the same thing as a proper audio interface.
Last edited by Infinity Curve on Mon May 27, 2013 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Synthetech » Mon May 27, 2013 9:01 pm

Infinity Curve wrote:The glitching is likely due to your PC; that's a fairly old model and the (single core)processor is probably struggling with some of the more power hungry VST's. You are also just using the built in sound card in your PC, which is not the same thing as a proper audio interface.



So the vid of the oriental guy playing the Oberheim simulation is using a struggling PC too?

I kinda doubt that. I think the guy is a pro and would have a PC/laptop that could handle the VST's usage.



If there are appropriate audio interfaces, which ones are good to begin with? This seems to be the part that is not covered well when seeking info on softsynths.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Infinity Curve » Mon May 27, 2013 9:07 pm

That video is 3 years old, so yes, it is quite possible his computer is under powered. OPX Pro II is quite power hungry/cpu intensive. Something else to consider, is as you add polyphony with VST's, it will push the system even more. So on a given patch it might be fine for a single note or a triad chord, but add in a few more notes and watch your CPU spike.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Infinity Curve » Mon May 27, 2013 9:10 pm

Synthetech wrote:
Infinity Curve wrote:The glitching is likely due to your PC; that's a fairly old model and the (single core)processor is probably struggling with some of the more power hungry VST's. You are also just using the built in sound card in your PC, which is not the same thing as a proper audio interface.



So the vid of the oriental guy playing the Oberheim simulation is using a struggling PC too?

I kinda doubt that. I think the guy is a pro and would have a PC/laptop that could handle the VST's usage.



If there are appropriate audio interfaces, which ones are good to begin with? This seems to be the part that is not covered well when seeking info on softsynths.


Do a quick search on any music store that sell interfaces, find stuff in your price range and have a look around at reviews. I personally use a MOTU Ultralite mk3 and have had no issues whatsoever.

Something else to take into account, on a 10 year old computer like you are using, you will be hard pressed to use any heavy modern VST's, they will choke out your CPU immediately. I would look into upgrading the PC before you even bother with a soundcard, or limit yourself to older VST's or less power hungry modern ones.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Synthetech » Mon May 27, 2013 10:44 pm

took a look at the MOTU Ultralite mk3

nice unit!
So the way to go is a USB audio interface rather than a soundcard's analog output?

seems to make sense.. digital out to a unit more suited to pro audio, rather than the output of a generic soundcard with a wimpy pre amp.
I still dont understand why a CD, DVD, wav and mp3 files sound better than a VSTi.
They all use the same audio path, dont they?



I had a feeling my PC was too aged to keep up with all the newer VSTi's. But it seems even the simpler VSTi's also glitch a little here and there on me.

So there are other's out there who had glitching issues, and after upgrading their PC, eliminated all the glitching??? That I'd like to know!

Thanks for all the replies. I'd really like to give softsynths a try since there are so many out there for FREE that appear to be really good, if they work flawlessly that is.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Infinity Curve » Tue May 28, 2013 2:04 am

Find something you find is glitching out a lot, and if your software host doesn't show CPU usage, load up your task manager and have a look.

Or load a simpler patch, play a note, see the CPU usage, and watch it spike as you hold down additional notes.

If all you are looking to do is play some VST's as if they were actual synths, and not get into elaborate sequencing and totally in the box productions with multiple soft synths, etc, a mid range i5 processor would do you for most things, even the heavier CPU eaters in moderation.

And for the interfaces, if you don't need multiple in's and out's and you are just looking for a simple 2 in 2 out type setup to line out to a mixer with your other hardware synths, those can be had for a lot cheaper than the Ultralite and still come out with good kit.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Tue May 28, 2013 12:55 pm

Synthetech wrote:I still dont understand why a CD, DVD, wav and mp3 files sound better than a VSTi.
They all use the same audio path, dont they?

Those things are final mastered versions who've been made by somebody who knows what they're doing, as opposed to just a single unprocessed instrument.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby meatballfulton » Tue May 28, 2013 2:14 pm

Keep in mind that the max volume of a synthesizer (hard or soft) depends on many factors: osc mix, filter settings, amp envelopes, velocity, effects (esp. waveshaping or overdrive), etc. Not all patches are the same volume, that's one reason for a master volume control.

For softsynths, if you turn on all the oscillators, maximize their volume in the mixer, open the filter(s) all the way with no EG modulation, set the amp EG to a gate (A, D, =0, S=max) and set the master volume to max that's as loud as it can get.
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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby Solderman » Tue May 28, 2013 9:02 pm

I spent less than $300 to get a portable laptop Digital Audio Workstation, recently. I bought an IBM T61 thinkpad running Windows XP and an Echo Audio Indigo I/O sound card off ebay, and I use Cockos Reaper as the host. Turn off System Restore service, ACPI battery, switch off the Wi-Fi, and latency is 6ms with that setup. You shouldn't have to spend alot to get something like OPX-Pro II running smoothly, as it's actually much more processor efficient than any of that horrible sounding Arturia stuff. With the laptop setup mentioned above, OPX-Pro II uses 28% CPU maximum firing 12 voices. For now, you might try the ASIO4ALL driver on your sound card, unless it already supports ASIO. You might also try using DPC Latency Checker to find potential causes of periodic dropouts. But really it sounds like you need a hardware upgrade.

There was a recommendation earlier for an I5 processor. If you want to stick with Windows XP, I would recommend not going above Core2 for a processor. I don't have the experience with Windows 7 to know what's best for it. Some say Windows 7 64 bit gives them significant performance, but I personally don't think you need 64 bit unless you use more than 3GB of RAM.

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Re: VSTi's have low volume/muddy output?

Postby briandc » Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:52 am

You could try changing to a lightweight operating system such as BodhiLinux if you want to have your older PC work faster. It's free (you only need a blank DVD) and you don't even need to install an anti-virus! ;) )
I use it on two PCs without problems with clicks and hissing with the following specs:

Code: Select all
processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 15
model           : 4
model name      : Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.06GHz
stepping        : 9
microcode       : 0x3
cpu MHz         : 3060.742
cache size      : 1024 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 1
core id         : 0
cpu cores       : 1
apicid          : 0
initial apicid  : 0
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 5
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe nx lm constant_tsc pebs bts pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl tm2 cid cx16 xtpr lahf_lm
bogomips        : 6121.48
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 128
address sizes   : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:


(There are two processors, I just listed one; but you get the idea. --About 10 years old, 1GB of RAM.)

If you absolutely need to use VSTi's you can certainly install Reaper to run them, although LMMS is native linux and runs most of them just fine.

Latency: about 11ms, as you can see here:

Image

And yes, your audio card is crucial too.

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Last edited by briandc on Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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