Buzz in recording

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Edahall, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Gear: Earthworks SR71, E-MU 0404 USB
    Piano: Baldwin Baby Grand
    Piano lid removed and 2 mics positioned about 3 ft above the piano, 1 mic pointed down at the treble end of the piano and the other mic pointed down at the bass end of the piano

    I'm getting a very faint buzz in my recordings (heard through my headphones). The buzz is not constant but tends to be most pronounced when recording the higher melody notes on the piano. When converting to MP3, it does cut down the buzz a little but it still can be heard. Any ideas on what is causing this buzz and what can be done about it?

    How it sounds unedited




    Reverb Added
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You need to post your examples on something like Sound Cloud which requires no sign in.

    Buzzing sounds frequently are indicative of plugging your electrical plugs into different outlets within a room. Most of this equipment can all be plugged into a single outlet. Sometimes, you'll have to lift the electrical ground on certain pieces of equipment. Computers are more prone to this issue. I frequently ground lift my computer power supply. The ground is then carried through the audio lines rather than through the computer's electrical plug. You do however have to observe proper phasing out the electrical plugs. You don't want to reverse the thick and thin electrical plugs on anything. Neutral and hot must be observed so as to prevent any chance of electrical shock which can be deadly. Ideally, only one piece of equipment should be the central ground point. It is only where you exceed 20 amps of required power utilizing high powered guitar amplifiers where this could become a problem pulling everything from a single pair of electrical outlets in one location in the room. And there is a difference between buzz and hum. Both generally indicate a disparity of multiple ground points. Hum alone generally indicates a ground loop. Buzz frequently indicates the use of computers switching power supplies, with a ground loop. And that's why it's necessary to sometimes lift the electrical ground on some items. Again, you need to be extra special careful when doing this.

    I got to speak to Buzz Aldrin whose name had nothing to do with a ground loop. He took the second small step for man and other giant leaps for mankind.

    He told me UFOs are for real
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    That site does not allow access to non-members. Please re-post on a non-restricted site such as Soundcloud.
     
  4. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Fixed
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You have to do a little more than change the name to Soundcloud leaving the same link to the Box site!
     
  6. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Got that fixed as well.
     
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Can't tell from what I'm listening on right now but my guess based on your description is that your mics are too close to the soundboard. Likely the mics or preamps are distorting. Also, if you are using any sort of plugin, those can also distort if they are getting too much signal. Even compressors and reverb can be overdriven.
     
  8. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    I moved the mics farther away from the soundboard and it actually got a little worse. Hopefully you can hear the buzz better in this recording now.

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  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    An y one else listening to this? I can hear hiss from your preamps though it's not that bad. I also hear some distortion from the mics/preamps. I'm not sure I'm hearing what you are hearing though. Did you turn up the preamps to compensate? If you did, don't. Don't worry about getting a lot of volume. I hear a lot of other ambient noise and just the sound of the pianist moving. Keep the input relatively low. A piano is a loud instrument. You shouldn't have to boost it that much. You can always raise the volume in the box. Boosting the volume via the EMU's preamps is just going to add noise.
     
  10. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Could you do me a favor and try playing some other media through your system and see if there is still a buzz?
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I have to be honest with you, cranking up the control room monitors, I heard no buzz. I went to headphones and crank my headphones and I heard no buzz. What I did here was gain staging issues. Your preamp may be overloading the input to your computer audio interface? In fact I found it rather dark sounding, on the raggedy edge of overload. It's certainly lacking dynamics and head room. These are common issues which people have trouble understanding when it comes to proper gain staging. And there are those analog to digital converters whose front end cannot accommodate high headroom preamps without clipping. A good example would be my completely underwhelming Avid/Digi design M-Box 2. Avid has told me directly that they have proprietary circuitry and therefore no schematics are supplied. So proprietary in fact, then it doesn't matter what preamp I feed into that piece of crap it clips everything at the input. It doesn't matter if you've included the pad switch and kept your gain low. It still clips everything. And that's because they're front and input is total crap. I only got that piece of crap so as to be able to run ProTools. Out of everything I have ever owned and still own to date, their piece of crap has been the worst piece of crap I have ever owned. Not horrible for playback but certainly horrible for anything you might want to record with it. Which is why I generally don't record with it but instead record with other devices and simply import to ProTools for those that want a ProTools project. People are morons and because ProTools has the word Pro in it, they think it is. Well it's not. Or should I say, well it's SNOT. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE. And I'm sure they're not the only one. So, in your instance it may be the E-MU 0404 USB, that is really letting you down. Capacitors dry up over time and when they do, you generally don't get any headroom even if it still works. Those DPA microphones and the Earthworks microphones are high output, high headroom microphones and I know they don't sound like what I'm hearing from you. I have a couple of industrial B. & K.'s. Not your standard studio fare but units that way upwards of 15 pounds each. Microphones too heavy to even be placed on a microphone stand. And they don't sound like the SNOT which I am hearing in your recording. Your recording sounds like it is suffering from a sinus infection. So, me thinks it might be more advantageous to look into another computer audio interface? Because it sure ain't the microphones. Unfortunate but true. I know Chris (audiokid) loves his Lavery's and probably with good reason. Your interface may have been just fine for an average Joe's rock 'n roll band purposes but certainly not necessarily for your purposes. Sad but true. So you might be fighting windmills? Your recording shouldn't sound this clouded with those microphones. In fact it should be just the opposite from those virtually reference calibration microphones you are using.

    It's your sound card. It's not up to the task.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Yes, this is a recording of a little Acrosonic spinet piano that I just did. I can really hear the buzz / fuzziness in this one.

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  13. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Remy,

    I'm wondering if the clouded sound could be the piano or the room with concrete floors it's in. Could you listen to the following recording and see if you like it better. It should sound more conventional since it was recorded on a Steinway grand. The room that the Steinway is in happens to also be acoustically dead.

    Kinderscenen 2 2 by Edahall on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
     
  14. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Actually, what I meant was listen to a commercial CD or MP3 and see if the buzz is still there? I'm thinking one of your tweeters may be blown or it may simply be that there is something loose on or near your monitors that is causing the buzzing.
     
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    There's a lot of distortion on that last file. It sounds to me like your mics and or preamps are clipping. I'll have to go with your preamps clipping because those mics should be able to withstand quite a bit of sound pressure. On the other hand this could also be drop out if your recording buffers are too low for your computer and interface to handle. Try raising your buffers a bit and see what happens.
     
  16. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    I hear no buzz when listening to a commercial CD. I'm using a pair of Etymotic Research headphones. I even tried a new pair of Etymotic Research headphones and I could hear the buzz with it as well. However, with my cheaper set of headphones, I don't hear it.
     
  17. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    I probably should have not posted this sound file of the Steinway. This piano does not do well with close mic placement. It has a lot of zinging in the treble which is a characteristic of this particular brand of piano. I think this might be what you're hearing.
     
  18. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'll say I've found all manner of debris inside grand pianos. Writing implements, paper clips being the most common. Make sure there isn't something physically vibrating inside the piano. (touching a string, or on the soundboard) It may sound crazy, but it's worth a look.

    I get slight distortion in some of the right hand notes listening with my AKG K240 phones if I turn it up really loud - but that is more likely my computer's mediocre headphone amp and limitations of the headphones. At normal volumes, I didn't notice any buzz.

    Something that does stick out to me like a sore opposable digit is in the stereo image using headphones. Especially as you work into the upper register, certain notes seem to favor the right ear in one phrase, and then notes in the same range favor left ear in the next phrase. If I were listening from the piano player's perspective, those higher notes would favor my right ear the same way every time and not shift around. Might there be comb-filtering causing the noise you're hearing as it shifts/overlaps left to right?
     
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    There is quite a difference between that Baldwin baby grand and the larger Steinway. But I'm still having an issue with the way your recording sounds with those incredibly fabulous Earthworks microphones. They are kissing cousins to the DPA's, B. and K.'s and there should be a lot more air. It's not because of the dead acoustics in the room. I really believe it's your E-MU 0404 USB. What makes you think this is not the weak link? And I did not perceive that buzz you're talking about. Not sure what that is your hearing? I virtually agree with DVDHawk on his observations and hypotheses. It could be the diaphragms in your headphones. Just because one recording doesn't do that doesn't mean yours might not. And believe me, I'd rather record a Steinway than a Baldwin, anytime. There's a reason why most piano recordings are done on Steinways, it's because they don't sound like mud. Of course this is all personal preference we're talking about here. I've never had any problems recording a Steinway, ever, ever. It's your sound card. It can't take the higher output of the Earthworks properly. That seems to be most obvious in your recorded sound with both examples there is something overloading the front end of the E-MU 0404 USB. I'm convinced of that. It's lacking a sparkle, a brilliance a je ne sais quoi that's not coming through. It sounds dead not because the acoustics but because of the E-MU 0404 USB. Otherwise something is rotten in Denmark or China?

    I had Chinese food for dinner tonight and I didn't have to return it. There will be a different outcome tomorrow.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  20. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    I have no way to tell for sure if the lack of spark / brilliance in the recordings are due to the E-MU 0404 USB. I bought the E-MU because I read a lot of good reviews on it and I liked the fact that it was all in 1 package. Do you think I would get better results with the Focusrite Saffire 6 USB? Or if you have any suggestions on what works well with the Earthworks SR71, let me know. Maybe all I need is a better pre-amp.

    The lack of spark / brilliance still might be due to my pianos. Both pianos (Baldwin especially) have very soft (cold pressed with no hardners) hammers installed on them. It might sound mushy to some but intimate to others. Maybe I should try my setup on a very bright piano such as a Yamaha grand.
     

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