Cubase and Windows play track as if two different mixes!

Hi all.

I am mystified. I have a finished track that plays in Windows (and, dare I say it, in Studio One) and Cubase as if they are two different mixes. In Windows guitar overdubs (for example) are as clear as a bell but in Cubase (and Android on Samsung Player) they are barely audible. The track exists in both WAV and mp3 formats but the discrepancy remains. I am at my wits’ end to see why or to decide which is ‘correct’.

Any ideas, anyone?

Is it possible you have a plugin running in control room which is affecting the sound you hear in Cubase? It wouldn’t occur in the mixdown that plays through windows audio player apps.

Also, is it possible that control room is set to output in mono in Cubase? If both Cubase and Android device exhibit similar playback issues then that is the most likely factor - presuming you’re listening via mono speaker on android(?)

Also, are you using like for like sound drivers in Studio One and Cubase? If you are using a non ASIO driver it’s possible that you may have a sound effect on your Windows/WDM/WASAPI driver.

i.e. i have an MSI laptop that came with an application called Nahimic installed which processes the audio for Windows applications that utilise the main windows driver (It applies EQ/Spatial fx).

This effect isn’t applied to ASIO drivers. So the same file played in Cubase over the ASIO driver is different to the same file played in Windows media player via the windows driver. So be careful if you have any such spatial/3d sound/eq processing setup in windows or third party apps.

Does your PC have “Waves Audio “ (Dell) or “Beats Audio” (HP) or something similar?

Thanks for the suggestions.

I’ll try posting some hand-held test recordings from my phone which hopefully should illustrate the problem adequately. They are using fresh projects in Studio One and Cubase (Control Room set to stereo, thanks for the reminder but it didn’t make a difference), and WMP, all though my Focusrite driver into my Adam monitors. Just to be sure about Windows, I also played back though Winamp (EQ was off) and it sounds the same as WMP.

It’s a Dell XPS PC (pretty old) but I’ve no idea whether it’s got Waves Audio. How do I find out?

This is the original of the above excerpts so you can test it for yourselves on your systems if you like…

Crimewave test excerpt.wav
See later post for a version that doesn’t involve having to access my Google Drive…

I have an XPS laptop that came with Waves Maxx Audio Pro. Most likely yours has it too.
Look in the Start Menu (under “W”) or in the Apps in the Settings manager. Open that App and make sure to turn off the “Playback Enhancement”. If this is indeed why the sound is different, it is because ASIO bypasses the Windows Audio settings. The reason Studio One would NOT do the same thing as Cubase MIGHT be because the driver is set to “Windows Audio” and runs through the Windows audio section (FL Studio has a driver like this that is actually useful for recording videos of Cubase WITH audio in a screen capture software like OBS). I used to have a higher end HP laptop (Envy line?) that had some “Beats Audio” crap that jacked up the bass really badly and what was the worst was that it was built into the internal sound card of the motherboard so there was NO getting rid of it unless using ASIO. I was so pissed that they would design it to add that bass and NO option to turn it off! Anyway, I hope the info helps.

Hi jaslan. No nothing of the sort. As far as I can tell it’s all clean here but thanks for the suggestion.

Right. I’ve realised it’s a driver problem but I’m consequently even more mystified than before! I use ASIO4ALL going to my desktop speakers (SBLive audio) for when I’m just editing or checking a mix but in two apparently identical routings I get two very different levels of guitar: one clear as a bell, one barely audible. I’m finding it hard to describe what I’ve done, let alone work out what’s going on, but herein lies the answer it would seem. At least it’s now reproducible…

I would like to get things set up so I can A/B between my posh and desktop speakers from the CR. (Such is the march of technology that you’ve got to sound good on crappy speakers too, these days. Now that’s ironic, Alanis, not rain on your bloody wedding day! That’s just a crying shame.) I’m sure I used to have it set up to do this…

Wow that was weird, i was then talking to someone about Alanis Morisette and how ‘Ironic’ rain on your wedding day actually is - and here i come to read this 10 minutes later. Think we’ve fallen into the matrix lol.

So, are you saying you are using different speakers? It’s hard to really know what your routing is here.

But just remember that an ASIO driver will have different routing internally than a Windows driver - This means a possibility of different volume level, and also the windows driver could have some form of EQ or spatial effect being applied - either by the windows spatial mode itself, or a third party sound tool. (Check your system tray bottom right).

There’s also the possibility that you have multiple drivers for the same audio interface too.

Trouble is, without fishing around on your machine for you - it’s very hard to say what is up here. Could you take an image snapshot of your sound control panel? Open up ‘Run’ in windows and paste in:-
explorer.exe %windir%\system32\mmsys.cpl

There’s mine as an example, you can see in there that this laptop came with ‘Nahimic’ pre-installed and if i use that device it will have EQ/3D spatial effect applied to anything i play in windows… But using Cubase the ASIO driver will be used so won’t be subject to those effects.

Just curious if your machine has such devices defined too, and you may not be aware.

Is “SBLive” a SoundBlaster card? If so maybe it has built in “enhancements”. Most standard (not exclusively for pro audio) cards have “enhancements” now. Some even not controllable buy the user.

I think it’s about time @jaslan and @skijumptoes got a proper mention (I’m still getting used to this forum). Thank you so much for your help, you have pointed me at doing some serious digging and I have finally cracked it!

It was @skijumptoes who came up with answer: Mono output from the CR. I did check that (honestly) but I think I must have been suffering from general brain/ear failure at the time. But I’ve made a useful discovery: changing VST Connections presets can switch CR between Mono and Stereo remotely! I never knew that was even possible.

I have also discovered a few settings I didn’t know about or had forgotten about so thanks to both of you for that too. None of them made any difference but I’m glad to know they’re there.

So, an embarrassing rookie error but you live and learn, eh? Such as it’s a crap mix (it’s very old, in my defence) and I’m going to have to do it again. It also explains why it sounds so bad on my (mono!) Bluetooth speaker and people’s phones. The clues were all there but I was stuck in the driver rabbit-hole.


Thanks again, peeps, catch you on the ether sometime.

PS: that sure was weird indeed, @jaslan, about Alanis. Six degrees of separation they talk about, don’t they? I think that might be an exaggeration…

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This is to replace the version from earlier, which was on Google Drive. To save reading back, it’s to illustrate the problem, basically a mono/stereo issue on a dodgy mix!