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Audio problem - too much bass in Chrome, exported tracks, etc. (MY SOLUTION)

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Audio problem - too much bass in Chrome, exported tracks, etc. (MY SOLUTION)

Postby mflowerdew » Fri Sep 27, 2019 6:30 pm

After ages of searching for a solution, I've finally found what caused my problem. I'm sharing it here in hopes that it will help someone else who's Googling the same things I did.
[Spoiler alert: the culprit was Waves MaxxAudioPro]

THE PROBLEM:
On my new laptop (Dell XPS 15 9570, Windows 10), I eventually noticed that audio playing through Google Chrome (eg. on Youtube) had a ridiculous amount of bass. Dialogue in videos would sound disgustingly bubbly through my laptop speakers because of the distorted boosted bass that came along with it. Same thing through headphones or external speakers. (I don't think it was a problem since day 1, I think it just started one day.) I later noticed it with the Netflix app on my desktop, and eventually with audio players, too (VLC, WMP, & Groove).

When I mixed tracks in Ableton Live 9, the track would sound distinctly different when I played it again through another program (more bass, and just slightly different in other ways). It wasn't a problem with my DAW export: when I imported the track back into Ableton, it played normally. Naturally, as an audio professional, I found this unsettling. Which version is real? How do I know what my tracks *actually* sound like before I send them off to people?

I dug through my computer's audio settings and turned off any "enhancements" and reset defaults, all in vain. Then one day, after a prayer and a Windows update, I uncovered

THE SOLUTION:
My laptop has this kind of audio control panel called MaxxAudioPro by Waves. (It comes built-in with certain laptops. It's sneaky — I couldn't find it by searching "audio" in the start menu.) MaxxAudio apparently modifies and filters all the audio coming out of my laptop (except Ableton Live? Apparently Ableton bypassed it). It has EQ, a feature adding "dimension," a dial called "MaxxBass"... It might be useful in other listening circumstances, but not when I want to hear what I'm actually listening to. So I turned of all of the "enhancements" (I'm enabling MaxxSarcasm right now), and now everything sounds (almost) normal.

The battle isn't over: I've read that MaxxAudio still affects your audio even with features "turned off." Apparently it's is difficult to fully disable. But hopefully I've helped you identify the first step towards an accurately-sounding future!

I found this helpful thread (once I knew what search terms to use): https://www.dell.com/community/XPS/Doin ... -p/6013794

Let me know if I got my facts wrong, or if you faced this same problem, or if you have any other solution!
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Re: Audio problem - too much bass in Chrome, exported tracks, etc. (MY SOLUTION)

Postby mflowerdew » Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:24 pm

(also, MaxxAudioPro seems to reset its enhancements to "ON" once you restart the PC...)
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Re: Audio problem - too much bass in Chrome, exported tracks, etc. (MY SOLUTION)

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:53 pm

Quite a few laptops come with similar software designed to make the tiny inbuilt speakers sound a bit fuller, or to maximise intelligibility for spoken word in videos - can you tell I had a similar issue? ;)
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Re: Audio problem - too much bass in Chrome, exported tracks, etc. (MY SOLUTION)

Postby The Elf » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:29 pm

Me too, with my current Dell laptop. When I tried to uninstall the Waves stuff it completely broke the audio, so I had to re-instate it. Very annoying,
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