I have an isolation cab with an SM57 running into a Phonic Helix 12 mixer, which is connected to my computer via Firewire. When monitoring the channels using headphones and the channel unmuted, everything sounds fantastic and pretty much as good as I could expect to sound in an apartment studio. When I mute the direct monitoring and monitor through the Firewire return in Reaper, the sound quality is a lot more lifeless and unappealing (flat and with a bit of distortion even). I'm not new to recording, but I'd finally like to actually learn what I am doing here. My guess here is either that the D/A converters (24-bit/96Khz so this would surprise me, but I guess there is probably a wide range of quality) are subpar and it just can't capture the signal properly or I am setting Reaper or my drivers up incorrectly somehow. Should i expect my direct monitoring to sound the same as recorded audio? Everything sounds pretty peachy when I am listening to things as I record, but the playback is pretty disappointing. All I want to do is capture the signal I am hearing in the headphones during recording. Any help appreciated. It is definitely time to figure out what I'm doing.