Problems with Exporting/Distortion

Hello everybody, i am recording a new album with the band i am playing with. Its the first time i’m recording songs with ardour, apart from jaming and playing around with jack, ardour and other programs.

Here is my situation:

Each song konsist out of several drum tracks (Overhead, Snare, Base…), 2 guitar tracks and 1 bass. Vocals will be recorded in some weeks. I put on each track some effects (EQ, Hall …).

The problem is that after exporting a song to .wav there happens to be distortion ( i mean that scratching sound when a meter is in the red region) on the guitar tracks, but when listening to the song in ardour the peaks are never or maybe just in some cases in the red and there isnt any distorition like on the sound file.

The problem is that i dont see if a track is distorted as long as i push the play button and watch the meters.

I put on each track some effects (EQ, Hall …) and by doing that each track got louder. Therefore i can only see if a track is in the red region by watching the meters go up and down when playing the song. I could bounce each track to see the peaks but if I want to change something I had to bounce the track again. Maybe there is a funktion to see the peaks for a track (post fader) but i haven’t found it yet.

Concerning my problem i think the distortion comes from the master track or from false export settings but i could be wrong. I set the output for each track to master out, and exported master out 1 and 2 to wav. I recorded with 44.1 kHz and 32 fps, but i dont think the distortion comes from the exporting process, especially it is only on the guitar.

At the moment i dont really know how to deal with this problem, maybe someone has a clue.

Thx in advance and for tolerating my bad english.

Ah yes, I was rite :slight_smile:

Some nice tips on tracking:

I'm not 100% sure now, but I think there's never really 'distorion' inside Ardour because it has 'floating point operation' or a similarly professional sounding word and this means that the numbers it can handle are so incredibly big that distortion (clipping) doesn't happen.

Yep, it’s true that there won’t be any clipping in ardour but as soon as you export your project into a .wav file there will be clipping if the master track shows red peaks!

This is how I usually do it:
First of all, I try to get every instrument/track to sound as desired (with adding effects, eq, etc…), always switching between solo mode and listening to it all together.
Then I turn down all the gain meters to the minimum value so that there’s no output to the master track anymore. I then start turning up the volume of the track/instrument that should be predominant in the song (guitar or bass or drums) to a level where it reaches about -10 or -15db and then use this track as a gain-reference for the other tracks. Always keep an eye on the peak meters in the master track: You should leave enough headroom before you reach the 0db mark, otherwise the song will start clipping when you export it.
An easy and secure way to prevent your master track from clipping, even when there are some loud peaks in your songs, is to set a limiter in the master track’s pre fader input. (I usually use the fast lookahead limiter)
If your mix isn’t loud enough or if you want less dynamics (more compression) you can boost the master output by boosting its input signal with the limiter.

You should check if you have the right dither in the export/bounce menu- for a CD file it is 16 bit 44.1 kHz.

Instead of bouncing your master track you could also record it as a new stereo track.
Create a new track and choose on the input for that track master 1+2. Remember on the OUTPUT for your new track to disconnect master-out or you will create a loop.
Export your new “master track”.

A good way of mixing is to put a gain plug-in on every channel and put all your faders to “o dB”.
Use the gain stage to lower you levels to around -12 dB and then mix from there using your faders and gain plug-ins.

I’m not 100% sure now, but I think there’s never really ‘distorion’ inside Ardour because it has ‘floating point operation’ or a similarly professional sounding word and this means that the numbers it can handle are so incredibly big that distortion (clipping) doesn’t happen.

By the way, you should ALWAYS avoid to get the peak meters into the red area! Don’t be afraid that your records will sound ‘not so loud’, volume comes with mastering.

Ok im back now…

I turned down the faders which solved my whole problem with the clipping.

Thx for your help so far.

wow thank you for the great tips

I think my problem is that my song is over all to loud but what makes my curious is that in ardour i can’t hear any clipping where as on the .wav file it is there.

The idea with the limiter on the master track is good, i think its also good to record the master output to see if there is clipping.

Thx everybody for your help, going to test it out now.