Volume difference between track audio, freeze and export

  1. Track audio from an external synth is normal when doing playback
  2. The same frozen track has also normal volume (the same as 1)
  3. when I audio-mixdown this track and reimport it in the media pool as audio, the volume is less than -42dB

Fact and possible cause: the gain (or trim as my MOTU interface calls it, is set to 0dB).

I haven’t been producing for a while, but i remember that this is something I met before and used to solve by after editing the audio and increasing the gain in the audio file.

Nevertheless I’d like to know what happens and try to avoid this additional step.
I have somehow the feeling that the input gain on the interface is kind of ignored when making audio mixdown?
Or is it something in my setup that causes this confusing difference?



The Stereo Out Volume settings affects the export volume.

What does the screenshot says, please?

In Cubase all the faders are actually on 0dB.

On the audio interface the monitor level is high, but I don’t know if that makes the difference.


The Audio Device settings doesn’t pay a role, as far as I know.

What did the screenshot show? Which of the files are shown there, please?

oh, you can’t see the files?

  • The first screenshot shows the exported and reimported audio from the track, with clearly low gain (below -42dB)
  • The second shows a very high trim on the audio interface for the external instrument input (preamp)
  • the third screenshot shows the cubase mix-panel with all meters on 0dB
  • the fourth the audio interface outputs with a high Monitor level

Now as I continued as is, with giving additional 40 Gain to the audio files I’ve noticed that there is a difference on how the gain shows in cubase mix-panel and how it sounds through the monitors.
Apparently it seems that the audio processed in cubase has a lower gain compared to how the instruments sounds through the monitors.
It is as if when the synth plays, the input gain is only applied to the monitor signal, but cubase processes the signal raw.
I am not sure about the conclusion itself, but the phenomenon is that cubase is processing the same audio at a much lower gain than the soundcards audio to the monitors; as if the input trim is only applied to the direct out signal to the monitor, but not to the signal sent to cubase.

I use a MOTU Ultralite mk3 by the way…


What happens on your master bus?
Which export settings do you use?

Of course it is ignore…normally it has nothing to do with a mixdown…

Yes, I agree, but what confuses me is that MOTU labels them as preamps.
So I assume a preamp is used before the signal is processed so the same gain should reach Cubase as well as the monitors, at least in my humble opinion.

But I will open a ticket at MOTU to clear this,

do you use the recorded signal of the external instrument or do you try to mix it with the real input in real time?

  • real time: Track audio from an external synth is normal when doing playback
  • freeze track: The same frozen track has also normal volume (the same as 1)
  • export audio: when I audio-mixdown this instrument and reimport it in the media pool as audio, the volume is less than -42dB

OK… after opening a ticket at MOTU and chatting I think I understand the full signal flow:

synth-> MOTU InputTrim->Cubase->CoreAudio->MOTU Output

So the low meter signal in cubase was effectively due to a low master out setting on the synth itself, which is, as I have read: set to be at max -10dB. The meter in cubase shows what is coming from the synth paired with the MOTU Input trim.
I am not quite sure if the Apple Core Audio Controls where additionally responsible for a loss of gain as the volume on the Mac Core Audio was additionally below half.

The synth sounded louder, because in the MOTU Mix console, the output of the synth channel was not muted, so in fact I was hearing the synth twice: once from direct synth->MOTU Input Trim ->output (high gain) and once through cubase (low gain).

So that’s more or less the issue…