M-Audio, recordings are off centered - left side is slightly louder.

I recently installed my new M-Audio sound card but i'm noticing with my new recordings that my vocals are now off center. I don't really notice it till I play back the song on another source, like my laptop.
I have no idea how to fix this and I can't seem to find much about it online. My tracks are all centered in both the sound card interface and my music editor and i'm doing nothing differently so what gives?
Have I bought a broken piece of equipment?
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  • Hi,
    Which device are you using?
    How are you recording, what is your hardware chain?

    When you say off centre, you mean slightly, or completely over in the other channel?

    Kind regards
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  • Hi Karliene and thank you for reaching out to us. A couple things if you could for me. What product are you having difficulty with? Are you recording a stereo or mono track? What does your panning look like on the channel strip? Do you have any kind of bus set up that may be panned hard to one side?
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  • Hi guys,

    thank you so much for getting back to me.

    Ok, the soundcard is an Audiophile 2496 - 4 in 4 out Audio card with MIDI.

    My partner was actually the one who installed it all for me.

    I've been recording for years now using a piece an editing program called Mixcraft Pro6. As I said in my earlier posts, all my tracks are centered and if I open the actual soundcard preferences, those seem to be all centered too.

    The only thing i'm wondering about is the options when I go to arm my recording device, it only works on the option "Left channel ( input 1 )"
    I'm pretty sure I used that one before on my old set-up but could that have something to do with the left side being more prominent?

    It's not coming in hard panned, it's a subtle thing that sounds like the left is much louder than the right side. I don't tend to notice it until I listen to my mix on a different device like my ipod or my laptop which again, is kinda odd.

    Am I aloud to link you tube videos in this? I'm not trying to plug my work, just trying to give you an example of what I mean by the subtle panning.
    http://youtu.be/hcWHCiySPwY

    It's probably more noticable on headphones. Once I started noticing it, I couldn't stop noticing it and it's really bugging me.
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  • Hi,
    I just checked out the youtube link (I wouldn't think that there's anything against that for innocent purposes), it sounded fine to me. Vocal was pretty much bang central and that was with onboard sound and also with a USB headset - there's no problem with that audio.

    With the AP2496, I would pan all of the channels in the mixer hard opposite L/R, rather than them all being central.

    I think the reason fro the software only picking up the left to record from is that the track you are recording is probably mono (like a mic). In mono mode the AP2496 generally provides the left input first. This should be able to be changed, it's just that it always is the default, 1 comes before 2, and so does left come before right.

    Here's a VST plugin that will allow squishing everything to centre mono
    http://www.kvraudio.com/product/stere...
    You could drop this on your master bus in MixCraft and test the files out again on a music player/other system.

    Seems strange.
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  • Karliene no worries about the link, people do it all the time for this exact reason. I listened to it l and it sounds good to me, but you know your work better than I. I would like to hear the results that 16bit suggested. I am curious if something subtle may have changed during the bounce, this can happen if you are normalizing or compressing to mp3, and the plugin should determine that.

    I have also heard of iTunes doing some weird things with imaging, so I would maybe check another media player if you are using iTunes.

    Please keep us in the loop, and thank you again!
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  • Thanks for getting back to me again.

    The thing is, I know it's a subtle thing but I also know it isn't in my head. I've been recording for years now so my ears are very sensitive to when something sounds "off".
    When I listen to all my other songs I recorded before installing this soundcard, my vocals do sound dead center, on that song and my others recorded with the Audiophile, they are definitely more prominent in the left. When I turn my headphones around, just to make sure it's not my ears, I still hear it more prominently in the right ear - so I'm pretty confident this is a real issue.

    As I said, I only really hear it when I switch the sound card off or I play it on another device like my ipod, my laptop etc - I've also tried numerous different media players like VLC, Window Media Player etc so it's not just an iTunes thing. This is a definite, weird issue, but one I can't overlook. The perfectionist in me is going crazy.

    I'll have a look into that plugin and let you know how that goes.

    I just thought i'd link a picture of the M-Audio interface so you can see if I have anything set up wrong - i'm pretty sure that's all correct.

    Again, thank you so much for your help on this. I just hope I manage to fix it soon.

    • I'm stumped... You said you only hear it when you switch the card off or on another source. I am curious if something may be wrong or conflicting with your mix independent from the 2496. What kind of pre-amp are you using? Also what are you monitoring this with? I know you mentioned you flipping your headphones, could it be possible that the driver on the right side isn't pushing as hard as it once did? I do apologize I don't have a concrete answer yet, just on the surface everything seems to be ok. But we'll get there, thank you for your patience.
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  • Hi,
    That control panel is fine.
    All that playing with those settings will do is have an affect on how you hear from the AP2496. There's nothing that the AP2496 can do to an analogue signal if you are recording in your DAW using the "M-Audio Delta-AP 1/2" device or such similar (Not monitor mixer).

    That plugin will allow you to narrow everything to exactly centre mono, same thing both sides. If you do a render with that plugin on your master bus, the resulting audio file will be Mono, no two ways about it (unless something after the mix bus is screwing around).

    I could suggest throwing in an instance of Voxengo Mid/Side, but again we are just playing with things.

    What mixer are you using infront of the AP2496 to record your mic/s? Are you using any mixer after the AP2496 into your monitors? Are you monitor gains set in unison?

    So the youtube link you sent, you hear it on multiple devices slightly lefty, but not on the AP2496?
    I'm going to download the audio from that youtube video just so I can run some tests on it myself. It'll be deleted once those are completed. I hop this is OK with you, if not, I'll delete as soon as I get your message to delete it :)

    The only way I can think of this happening is that somewhere along the line in your DAW-AP2496-Monitors chain you have unequal gain. So things you are monitoring are slightly, off. You compensate for this in the mix, and then the mix is now off. Kind of the same thing if you have an anaemic bass light setup, you boost bass, and then someone with a hefty system feels like they are swimming in mud!

    I wouldn't say everything else in your house is wrong...thats just silly ;)
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  • Here's a screen shot from Reaper. I'm running a spectrum analyser and a vector scope. The meters agree with my ears, that there is central correlation. OK, the vector scope does bounce a little to one side or the other, but it's small, and happens just as equally on one side as the other.
    The spectrum is a 2 second average, one colour for each channel. Only tiny differences are shown as would be normal with a central item in a stereo track.

    I don't know what to say, but everything here is fine.

    The vocal sounds dead centre to me no matter what speakers/headphones or what sound device onboard/AP2496 I use. The meters fit with what I am experiencing.

    Perhaps it's the reverb that is making it feel like there is more left pull. Have a look at rendering it completely dry and check that on your other devices.

    Sorry, I'm not being much help here. There maybe something I am missing, so I will keep listening here and there and I may notice something I haven't before, but it should be noticeable based on what you say.
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  • Thank you so much for all your help on this, I'm so appreciative that you're putting in so much time to try and help diagnose my problem.
    I have to say, i'm really stumped here too. The problem is, i'm ok with computers but i'm no tech wizard so trying to fix this isn't easy for me.

    I'll do the dry render and have a listen again and see if that has anything to do with the slight pan.

    I mean, it can't even just be something on my machine as I've listened to the song on different devices and different computers and I still hear that annoying left pull.

    It's just one of those things that once I noticed it, I can't let it go.
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  • Where you able to determine that the issue is not being caused by an outside source independent from the 2496? Did you check your monitoring like 16bit suggested to see if they were indeed in unison and you are not compensating on your system?

    Please let us know about the dry mix, and thank you for your patience with all of this.
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  • I'm assuming the iPod has different ear buds to the headphones you tested with, and you also have monitors.
    You've an iPod and a laptop as well as this system.

    That's 3 monitoring outputs and 3 player devices. I think we've ruled out the monitors.

    Have you asked your partner to check it out on any of these devices in your home?

    I'm out of options, I just don't hear (or see) a problem - your mix is fine and central. You've enough devices to rule out it being a weak driver on something.

    Can you double check against your previous material where you say there isn't this problem? Do you have a link to a clip of this, and I'll see if that is pulling right (thus making it seem central to you, if the left is not actually left - you follow?)

    Just to re-summarise:

    Recorded using AP2496.
    Mixed in Mixcraft Pro6
    When playing through AP2496 it sounds fine.
    When playing through anything else (iPod, other laptop, PC speakers) it sounds lefty
    When we play it, it sounds fine (so far).

    I thought it might be frequency specific, and the lower end monitoring (iPod etc) may give a false impression that the AP2496 and Monitors didn't. But my onboard SoundMax (AD1988B) and JBL Duets don't show it, nor does the HP Premium (it's not by any stretch, but that's it's name) USB Headset, not the AP2496 and Fostex.
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  • Yeah I tried it on 3 different systems, and even lots of different headphones - my HQ studio ones, those ipod ear bud things and my skull candy headphones I use down the gym. They all gave that lefty feeling to me -

    I just think it's odd that i'm the only one hearing it - which suggests it's all in my head. My partner is away in India on a work trip for the next few weeks so I don't have him around to give me his opinion.
    I may send a wav over to the guy who did my album mastering and see if he can hear it, just to get another opinion. If he says it's fine, then I may have to accept that this is just what it sounds like. I'm just not sure I like it.

    Here's an older song I recorded before I bought the soundcard. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6...

    Could you see if that is centered because it sounds bang on to me.
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  • CHAMP
    I’m very puzzled.
    Hey,
    Thanks for posting a 'before this phenomenon' clip.
    Being completely honest with you and not dismissing, they are both in the centre for me. When I sum to mono, I get no image shift at all - and I would if the stereo was off.
    I think with the last clip you sent, the main vocal actually sounds a little more "in the room" with me - which I think is fantastic! But that's a side note about production and other stuff that's going on.

    For sure, if the album mastering engineer can give it a quick audition on a mastering setup (which should be, by definition, calibrated and truly central for purpose) then that's going to provide you with a pretty strong argument against what you are hearing/thinking you are hearing.

    The thing is though, when you said you listened on the AP2496 through monitors, you didn't hear the lefty-ism. This would kind of rule out your ears being off - as consistency breaks down at this point.
    Maybe there is something in the frequency range (despite the spectrum looking normal) that you are particularly sensitive too and that maybe providing you with a sense of left pull.
    Voxengo SPAN (spectrum analyser) has a free version if you wanted to look at the spectrum in real time and try and identify anything abnormal - but I couldn't.

    I hope you find a solution to this, because I can appreciate it getting very frustrating. I can say if this was one of many of the audio production forums, it would likely have turned into a name calling exercise, rather than being helpful and trying to resolve the issue ;)

    Best
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  • Well thank you so much for your help, truly, I really appreciate it and all the time you so kindly gave to help me diagnose this weird problem.

    I'll probably carry on trying to figure it out as I do feel something is a bit off when I listen to it and now it's in my head, I can't seem to "un-hear" it. This afternoon, i'm going to send a couple of wavs over to my mastering guy and see what he says. It can't hurt to have some more ears on this.

    Ideally, It would be even more helpful to have someone come round my house and listen to it here to see if they hear the lefty thing as I do.

    Anyway, thanks so much again for everything.

    take care and enjoy your weekend.
    Karliene.
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  • Hey Karliene,
    How's it going? Did you get a response from your mastering engineer?
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  • Hi there, I sent a little snippet to my mastering guy and a good friend of mine who is a musician/ producer and both have said it sounds central. My mastering guy couldn't see anything wrong with the vocal track so I guess I'm going to have to accept that.
    Perhaps I'm really just hearing things?

    Thank you so much for all your help and for checking up on me.
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  • Hey Karliene,
    Thanks for getting back. Well, it's good news I guess, because there's more reasons to believe that it is fine (and it importantly confirms your AP2496 output is fine too).

    I think it's worth investigating the other devices where you think you hear the problem. I mean if it's something you hear consistently, it's definitely worth looking into to try and fix - one way or another.

    You could try messing with some synths and manipulate some synthetic frequency narrowed sounds. Pan them all central and mix down. You may detect more of an issue at certain frequencies, and that may tell you some things.

    Well, either way, I'm glad your mix is correct, and that the AP2496 side of things are working as expected. I'm also quite pleased to have my own experience confirmed.

    Best
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