DDP distortion

Hello folks

I used wavelab to master a death metal album. Everything sounds perefect inside wavelab but the DDP sounds distorted in the DDP player… Why??

I am applying 16 bit dithering to the 24bit mix files.

Weird thing is, when played back in WAV, the files sound fine.

How do I make this distortion dissapear??

I tried bypassing the master section and the DDP sounds fine, but its pointless because it eliminates the mastering processing.

Any ideas?

Lots of variables here. A screen shot of your master section might help.

How does the DDP sound when you import the DDP into WaveLab instead of using the DDP Player? WaveLab can import a DDP file set and play it back, just be sure the master section is bypassed so you only hear what is truly in the DDP audio.

Have you tried using different playback devices for the DDP Player software to rule out some improper system settings?

Have you tried another DDP Player like HOFA or Sonoris?

HOFA DDP Player is about $10 USD, good to have as an alternate testing tool. HOFA DDP Player Maker is also affordable and easy to send a DDP w/DDP Player to your clients if needed.

When you say “DDP Player” do you mean the WL DDP player or a third party DDP Player like HOFA or Sonoris? The reason being that the players have independent audio settings in their preferences … which would be worth checking.

Thanks for the reply, I´m using Wavelab’s DDP player.


Do you use same audio device for playback in WL contra DDP Player ?
You could test with a sinus tone at -1 dB FS and make a test DDP
it should sound clean and with no distortion !

regards S-EH

Thats a great idea. A test tone!!
I exported several tests. The original file was 44.1/24bit, so I ran created a test tone with the same specs and loaded into a CD Montage, created the CD tracks via the wizard, loaded the same master section preset I used in the mastering project I need to deliver; and finally exported the “test tone DDP” in three different versions:

  1. Dither: Mbit+
  2. Dither: Apogee
  3. No Dither
    After exporting, I played each DDP in Wavelab’s DDP Player 1.0, and all of them present a combfilter kind of distortion

I would really appreciate it if someone could try playing these DDPs with a DDP player and tell me if you hear the same distortion in them??

What can this be?

Also, yes. I´m using the same audio device to play the DDP that the one used to export it.

Hi … I only had time to review the no dither DDP

I was not hearing any immediately discernible difference between WL and two DDP players/WL DDP Player?

What OS are you running?

Hello Rat,

Im on Windows 10.
So, let me see if I understand. You played the DDP “no dither” on your DDP player and heard no noise? When I play them its inmediately noticeable that the sound is not a sine wave, but a distorted sinewave.

I tried to look for an updated version of the DDP player but there arent any updates on the steinberg website.

Any ideas?

You could try uninstalling and reinstalling, or repair. If you’re not using the latest version, I think you can run the latest Wavelab updater and have it update the DDP player.

Well, one annoying “feature” in Windows 10 is: at the bottom right of your screen, near the time/date … there’s a speaker icon. If you click this, there’s a volume level slider … for me, it displays a certain output from the RME AIO card. I have noticed in the past that this can somehow be set to a level different from that set in your soundcard settings (how? I have no idea). At least on my system. Full scale from that icon level setting seemed to create weirdness.

Have you tried closing WaveLab before launching the DDP Player and reviewing the files in that?

Have you closed every other application that might have access to your soundcard and then launch the DDP Player … I have heard distortion from the HOFA player when I accidentally left another app open.

Where I am coming from is that if the files play and sound fine in you WaveLab session (which you say they do), then the likely culprit is an output setting on the DDP player?

I will check outputs from your DDP file sets more carefully compared to importing this into WL and playing it there when I get the chance.

Hesca110, I tried your files in Steinberg DDP and Hofa DDP, and after a couple of tries I hear exactly what you’re saying. Both players I’m using built in notebook Realtek audio. Especially on Track 3 of your DDP, there’s a buzzing distortion in the Steinberg Player that’s not in the Hofa player. Even if you turn down the volume control in the Steinberg Player by a lot, there’s still that slight buzzing distortion on my built in speakers. The latest Steinberg player update 1.0.20 is the same, no better. Your dithered and non-dithered ddps all have the same distortion in the Steinberg player for me.

I think Steinberg probably needs to check this out, if they can download the files, or show them how to create them if they’re not just straight sine waves.

It’s probably worth getting the Hofa Player for you to check this. It’s very inexpensive.

I figured out what the problem is on my end: my notebook built-in audio default settings. But I still consider it a Steinberg DDP Player problem that should be looked into and fixed if possible, because it doesn’t happen with Hofa DDP, or iTunes with test tone WAVs, using the same default settings.

I have an inexpensive Windows 10 notebook computer with built in Realtek HD audio. I haven’t touched the settings for this, so they’re at defaults, no enhancements or processing. On the properties/advanced tab for the audio is a setting for “default format”, which defaults to 24 bit 48000 Hz. With this setting, the Steinberg DDP Player distorts as indicated in this thread. I’ve also made test DDPs with clean sine waves, and they also distort in the Steinberg player with the default setting. 1k @ -12db has a slight distorting “edge”, 10K @ -12db sounds like a buzzsaw, a sweep @ -12db goes crazy and has feedback.

The signals are playing at the right speed, but they’re distorted, and I can see how the distortion might not be immediately obvious on music, although Hesca116 caught it.

In the case of my notebook, this is all cured by changing the built in audio default format to 24 or 16 bit 44.1KHz.

But the point is you don’t have to do that with the Hofa player, or with iTunes. They’re not distorted even with the default 48KHz setting.

None of this happens with the Steinberg Player on the studio computer with another interface. But It might happen with some other interface, I don’t know. But I imagine this will come up again if nothing is done about it.

I neglected to describe the Windows sound settings page where the default format is selected. Its the Advanced tab with settings for shared and exclusive modes. Default settings are shown. The Steinberg player is the only app I have open and I get the distortion. Changing the rate to 44.1 gets rid of the distortion.

And I was wrong about the studio computer. The only reason the studio computer wasn’t distorting was because that Windows setting had been changed from the default 48k to 44.1k at some time in the past. When I switch it back to 48k default, the Steinberg player has the distortion.

Windows SRCs (there are several) are not the best. That in DirectSound is the worst, probably because they wanted the least latency possible for gaming.


Thanks Paul, good to know. Hofa offers DirectSound (haven’t tried it, I just used the default “Windows Audio” in Hofa). The Steinberg player doesn’t offer DirectSound, or ASIO. I would hope and think that Windows SRC would be better in 2018 than it used to be though, but maybe I’m wrong.

My point was that iTunes and Hofa are fine through that same path with the default 48k SRC. The Steinberg Player is not. And it probably has nothing to do with the quality of the SRC. iTunes sounds perfectly clean on any tone, so I think they’re doing something right. There’s a very slight feedback (for my lack of a more correct term) in the Hofa in a sweep, but nothing like the Steinberg. Try a 10k tone, and a sweep and I think you’ll see what I mean. With default Windows 48k settings, coming from 44.1 16 bit sources in iTunes, Hofa, and Steinberg, iTunes is the clear winner (it’s perfect), Hofa could be questioned on the sweep problem, and the Steinberg player is just wrong.

I would say there’s nothing wrong with the Windows SRC, or if it’s not perfect, it has no bearing on the pretty big differences between these 3 players with the default (48k) Windows Audio setup from 44.1 16 bit source.

Hofa also offers ASIO, which I think would probably be perfectly clean (haven’t tried it yet). But you have to tell the client to use it, which you shouldn’t necessarily have to do.

Another player besides iTunes that can reproduce a 44.1 16 bit sweep perfectly (without “feedback” as I’m calling it) through the standard Windows Audio playback set to default of 48k (which would mean Windows SRC to 48k), is Foobar2000. I don’t understand why the Steinberg and Hofa players can’t do it perfectly, but it’s not right that they don’t.

Thanks so much for your input @Bob99!

If what we found here is true, this DDP player is useless, because you really have no control over the kind of computer your clients use to play the final DDP. Telling them to download the DDP player is like shooting oneself in the foot. The DDP player is supposed to work as an assurance for the client to be able to listen to the final product before approving it and getting it sent to replication, but instead, it generates this noise issues, which equal to a direct hit in my credibility and the quality of my work. And thats just unacceptable.

I don´t know the reason for this issue, but abiding by Steinberg´s products is supposed to be a guarantee that we can attain professional level sound. The DDP player needs to get fixed.

Here’s the problem with audio consistency using Windows & one or more converters:

  1. Different Audio Converters (or more specifically, their drivers) interact with Windows in different ways; some aggressively take exclusive control over the audio path; others need to be set up, taking into account the version of Windows being used, whether or not the Converter will be used exclusively or alongside a ‘consumer’ audio chip (e.g. Realtek), etc. Ideally, a mastering audio path should bypass the internal Windows Audio features, including level, balance, bit depth & Sample Rate. To do that, any ‘consumer’ audio chip or card should be disabled as a 1st step.
  2. Windows will do SRC if the WDM or Direct Sound drivers are engaged and the audio converter is running at a different sample rate than the audio being streamed… Unfortunately, Windows SRC is terrible! If I remember correctly, it was passable (but not remotely Pro) in XP, slightly improved in Vista, then took a big dive in Win 7; regardless, it has never been very good, and I am pretty sure it is no better in Windows 10 (interestingly, Apple has a generally high quality built in SRC that is used for Logic & other applications, though it has varied in quality between OS releases - see the Infinite Wave SRC charts http://src.infinitewave.ca/ ).
    Aside from SRC quality, Windows Level and/or SRC will alter the audio digitally, which means it needs to be re-dithered; unfortunately, there is no re-dither built into Windows AFAIK, so you get truncation down to the bit depth of the audio card and/or the Windows audio settings - combine bad SRC & truncation with a loud (mastered) audio stream and mediocre converter chip and it’s bound to sound horrid…
    The ideal configuration is one where the only audio card & driver being used is the pro converter / diver combo, and that driver detects the sample rate of the audio streamed by any application (be it Cubase, Wavelab, DDP Player or Windows Media Player) & changes the converter clock to match the stream’s sample rate, to prevent any SRC. It should also have it’s own high precision ‘mixer’ and/or ‘router’ to handle level and signal distribution. *
    All that said, I believe the trouble you had with the Steinberg DDP player had to do with the wrong driver being used; sounds like the HOFA player has a more aggressive or restrictive audio setup that doesn’t allow for the audio data to be changed in any way. That doesn’t make the Wavelab DDP Player useless; it does raise the possibility that you should go through your audio setup again to determine what app - driver - converter - etc. the various playback applications use in your system. If the DDP Player can cause SRC, so can Media Player & maybe even a Pro tool like Cubase or Kontakt standalone.
    It’s a good point that sending a client the Wavelab DDP player to check the DDP could lead to problems, but then again, if they are music creators, they should know how to set up their system to some degree (if they don’t, perhaps you could assist them and get a consulting fee)… and besides, a DDP is really for the replication plant. If in doubt, send the client a Reference CD on Taiyo Yuden CD stock (ideally checked by Plextools or Clover for E1-BLER & E2 counts) and send the DDP to the replication plant. They are (or should be) mathematically the same audio. Period.
    * (This is one reason why I don’t use external master clocks; it’s also why I prefer card based converters over USB, etc. My old RME Multiface II has very specific, clear & informative setup info, which includes how to deal with the internal Windows audio architecture to avoid these problems, along w options to handle non ASIO audio streams… and very low latency. The card clock always changes to the sample rate of whatever audio stream it is sent, regardless of player, which avoids any potential for Windows SRC taking place).