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Topic: VST usage & quality loss (Read 984 times) previous topic - next topic
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VST usage & quality loss

Hi folks,

first my setup:
1) Windows & Tidal desktop client
2) Virtual Audio Device exclusive mode (VB-CABLE HiFi- Cable Virtual Audio Device / https://vb-audio.com/Cable/) -
3) Toneboosters Morphit exclusive mode (VST - https://www.toneboosters.com/tb_morphit_v1.html)
4) USB-connected Fiio K5 Pro (Headphone Amp + DAC - https://www.fiio.com/k5pro)
5) Headphones (Beyerdynamic DT990,1770 Pro, 1990 Pro, Sennheiser 660S)

My questions:
Firstly, I have no knowledge regarding digital audio workstations etc.
a) Can audio quality suffer from using VST?
b) Does e.g. from changing the gain in Morphit audio quality suffer from such changes? Tidal for examples does not allow the volume slider when used in exclusive mode.
c) VB Cable offers the HiFi-Cable which supports ASIO. But the "normal" cable offers WASAPI support. The latter should be a safer option because it has the same quality as ASIO but it has a more native system implementation. Which one should I use best?
d) Do you have a recommendation for a better virtual audio device?

Thanks in advance
supersu

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #1
Quote
a) Can audio quality suffer from using VST?
It's supposed to improve/correct the sound. ;)  i.e. correct headphone frequency response deviations.

You have to be a little careful when you boost digitally because most digital files are already normalized (maximized) you can push the levels into clipping (distortion).   There's a possibility that this plug-in won't allow that.   You can also possibly push the headphone "mechanically" into distortion or overdrive your headphone amplifier...


Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #2
3) Toneboosters Morphit exclusive mode (VST - https://www.toneboosters.com/tb_morphit_v1.html)
Typos, plus the ludicrous claim that there may indeed be any female from the human species actually caring for VSTs (to the point of giving their testimony on the home page) , don't do their credibility any favors, IMO.
Quote
Our scientific research* has shown that headphones vary considerably in their response, causing undesirable coloration and making it diffult to create mixes that translate well to other devices.
Listen to the music, not the media it's on.
Wavpack hybrid -hb4.3x4

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #3
...not to mention that autoEQ apps such as Wavelet on Android or some custom parametric equalization on the desktop can do just that for absolutely zero cost.
Listen to the music, not the media it's on.
Wavpack hybrid -hb4.3x4

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #4
First: Thanks : )

Quote
a) Can audio quality suffer from using VST?
It's supposed to improve/correct the sound. ;)  i.e. correct headphone frequency response deviations.

My question was a more general one. Can audio quality suffer from using VST? The question is not concerning better or worse VSTs. Let's pretend a near perfect[/in] VST. Can the additional processing worsen quality?

You have to be a little careful when you boost digitally because most digital files are already normalized (maximized) you can push the levels into clipping (distortion).   There's a possibility that this plug-in won't allow that.   You can also possibly push the headphone "mechanically" into distortion or overdrive your headphone amplifier...

That's why I use at least a -6db gain. Plus: Morphit already implemented an optional limiter.


Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #6
Questions are still open:

a) Can audio quality suffer from using VST?
b) Does e.g. from changing the gain in Morphit audio quality suffer from such changes? Tidal for examples does not allow the volume slider when used in exclusive mode.
c) VB Cable offers the HiFi-Cable which supports ASIO. But the "normal" cable offers WASAPI support. The latter should be a safer option because it has the same quality as ASIO but it has a more native system implementation. Which one should I use best?
d) Do you have a recommendation for a better virtual audio device?

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #7
a) Can audio quality suffer from using VST?
It certainly can. A VST plugin can alter the audio quality in various ways, both intended and unintended. To be sure you would have to analyze it by running some signals through it... But if it sounds good to you, you don't need to bother.

Quote
b) Does e.g. from changing the gain in Morphit audio quality suffer from such changes?
I don't know about Morphit specifically, but I used some Toneboosters plugins years ago and they were legit, so I would expect them to still be well made and not suffer from a simple gain change (clipping aside).

Quote
c) VB Cable offers the HiFi-Cable which supports ASIO. But the "normal" cable offers WASAPI support. The latter should be a safer option because it has the same quality as ASIO but it has a more native system implementation. Which one should I use best?
Both WASAPI exclusive and ASIO should produce a bit-perfect output, so just use whichever is more convenient. But even the other modes should be fine (see here).


Oh and if you're concerned about audio quality you might want to avoid Tidal's MQA, which is a lossy format.  ;)
(I don't know if they even offer lossless audio anymore.)


Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #9
Thanks a lot Brand.

Oh and if you're concerned about audio quality you might want to avoid Tidal's MQA, which is a lossy format.  ;)
(I don't know if they even offer lossless audio anymore.)
They do - Hifi mode streams FLAC.



Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #12
I mean, audio quality is not some magical property of audio signal that can can be damaged by some "magical" actions"

"Can audio quality suffer from using VST?" -- As if the mere act of passing audio signal through VST can reduce audio quality...

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #13
On Tidal lossless:
They do - Hifi mode streams FLAC.
That is not sufficient. If it has been through lossy processing like MP3 or MQA, you don't recover it by decoding the lossy and then encoding in a lossless format.

Does Tidal anymore stream un-MQA'ed FLAC when they have an MQA?
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #14
Hi folks,
(...)
a) Can audio quality suffer from using VST?
b) Does e.g. from changing the gain in Morphit audio quality suffer from such changes? Tidal for examples does not allow the volume slider when used in exclusive mode.
(...)
Thanks in advance
supersu

What is audio quality to you? Is it - by your definition - retaining the original sound, without introducing errors that would then "hurt" said sound?

Because, as someone else said above, VSTs can produce audible errors like distortions of any kind, flanges and other artifacts. Either because they're badly done, the user using these VSTs abused the settings or because the user doesn't know how to use them properly.
However, regarding the VST you mentioned (Morphit), I assume that you don't need to worry. After all, it's just an equalizer. Though... a badly done EQ will introduce phase errors into any signal and I haven't used Morphit so I don't know if it does something to the signal beyond what you want. You could measure it, you know...

You know, instead of spending money on a software which you don't know how it'll behave you could just do the equalizing yourself. With a player like foobar and any good EQ (foobar has a component that can use VSTs) you could simply use Oratorys presets and apply them yourself.
marlene-d.blogspot.com

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #15
On Tidal lossless:
They do - Hifi mode streams FLAC.
That is not sufficient. If it has been through lossy processing like MP3 or MQA, you don't recover it by decoding the lossy and then encoding in a lossless format.

Does Tidal anymore stream un-MQA'ed FLAC when they have an MQA?
FWIW, according to this post, the albums tagged with "Master" have no actual lossless version (even if you select "HiFi/lossless" you get the MQA'd files), while the albums/tracks that don't have the "Master" label are in fact lossless.

But it's hard to know for sure just based on one post...  my default would be to not trust a company that sells and promotes MQA and to look for alternative sources.

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #16

What is audio quality to you? Is it - by your definition - retaining the original sound, without introducing errors that would then "hurt" said sound?

Totally agree, we're on the same page.

You know, instead of spending money on a software which you don't know how it'll behave you could just do the equalizing yourself. With a player like foobar and any good EQ (foobar has a component that can use VSTs) you could simply use Oratorys presets and apply them yourself.

Thank you. That really helped me. I will take some time to work with all the information in the autoEQ git.  :)
Already got a question when dealing with the most recommended convolution eq.

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #17
It is recommended to set a certain amount of negativ gain. If you import the impuls file in the convolver eq it does only tell you "impulse power" argument. The level adjust in the parameters section is not changed by default. I tested it with around 9 input files. Is it fine to ignore the level adjustment and use it without a negative gain like eg in the photo -7.2db.


share image com

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #18
Quote
Please enlighten me - what does it?
That's complicated...   

"High fidelity" reproduction is supposed to accurately reproduce (play back)  the recording.   In that case we can say anything that changes the sound is reducing quality.   

But as a practical matter, you might like to boost the bass or add reverb or whatever and you might say the sound quality is improved but you are reducing "fidelity" whenever you alter the sound.   

On the other hand if your headphones have weak bass, then boosting the bass (with VST or whatever) is corrective (restoring the original fidelity/quality).

Most digital processing is pretty good and it does what it's supposed to do,  so something like EQ or reverb won't cause distortion or introduce unwanted side effects, unless you get clipping.

VSTs are mostly used in production rather than reproduction.         In audio production anything goes...  For example distortion in your playback system is normally a bad thing but guitar players often like to drive their amps into distortion and VST guitar amp/cabinet simulators can intentionally add distortion.    

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #19
Also, digital processing by VST filters or instruments is always in floating point on the pipeline, so it's to the benefit of an effect or instrument to process everything in floating point internally as well. Therefore clipping shouldn't be an issue, either, as the final mix down can process any volume leveling and clipping prevention the user desires.

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #20
It is recommended to set a certain amount of negativ gain. If you import the impuls file in the convolver eq it does only tell you "impulse power" argument. The level adjust in the parameters section is not changed by default. I tested it with around 9 input files. Is it fine to ignore the level adjustment and use it without a negative gain like eg in the photo -7.2db.


share image com

Does anybody have an answer for me? : )

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #21
If you import the impuls file in the convolver eq it does only tell you "impulse power" argument. The level adjust in the parameters section is not changed by default.

AFAIK if "Auto level adjust" is on, then it's automatically applied (it's easy to hear volume change when you turn it on and off). The "Level adjust" is an additional manual adjustment.

 

Re: VST usage & quality loss

Reply #22
Thanks.

 
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