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Help getting rid of AC noise

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Sport, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. Sport

    Sport Guest

    I'm temporarily renting an older house and the room I'm mixing in has horrible AC noise on every outlet. Would a Furman or Monster power conditioner reduce or hopefully remove the nasty line noise and power dips? I'm open to any and all suggestions that don't involve getting into the walls since I don't own the place.
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    There are also several different levels of filtering available in conditioners. It sure wouldn't hurt to have one, but it may not resolve your problem. If you're not drawing too much wattage - a UPS unit might be even better if there are dips in the voltage. Most conditioners will not maintain a constant voltage through the brown-outs. For that you need one that specifies it is a voltage regulator.

    ETA conditioners provide a lot of filtering for your buck.
  3. Halifaxsoundguy

    Halifaxsoundguy Active Member

    Also avoid running signal lines parallel with AC, always run Signal adjacent over AC. Pretty Basic but it helps.

    There's always that Hum eliminator plug.

  4. Sport

    Sport Guest

    I'm not familiar with those two types of units. I'll read up on them, thanks.

    The power dips aren't that bad or frequent. The real culprit is the interference/noise/hum (I suppose that's how to describe it). I had the gear in a different room in the same house and didn't have these problems. I'd go back to it if I and the gear hadn't outgrown it. It's too small unfortunately. Another weird thing, my VMK-188 is making alot of noise now whenever I press a key or move a knob or fader. It generates an electrical "grind" similar to a static and is in direct relation to the duration of the fader movement or key press. Again, this didn't happen in the other room.

    Is there a product that maybe...plugs into the wall outlet that kill the filth and THEN I can hook up my surge protectors/powerstrips?
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The symptoms you're describing make me wonder about the receptacle and the integrity of the wiring, particularly the ground.

    A friend of mine has a similar problem and has to pull a heavy extension cord from elsewhere in the house into a TrippLite conditioner for his computer and musical equipment. His old house was a rental, the wiring was terrible to that room, and the extension cord became his only option.

    Do you know any electricians that won't charge you an arm and a leg to check it out? Furman, ETA, Monster conditioners can help, but if the ground, neutral, or hot are shoddy the filtering will have limited effectiveness.

    Do the dips in power coincide with the furnace or fridge kicking on?
  6. Sport

    Sport Guest

    I've only had the power go limp three or four times. Doesn't seem to coincide with anything going on in my place. The house is a two story and the second floor has another tennant. Maybe it's something in his home theater? I'm using the living room as a mix room which is directly beneath his living room. Could be interference from his electrical equipment?
  7. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "I had the gear in a different room in the same house and didn't have these problems. "

    That is interesting to me. This should not happen from one room to another.

    You did say older, so wire can work loose from receptacle contacts if it is old enough. Also the receptacle device can become corroded, fragile and/or broken and have this same kind of effect.

    Depending on just how old we are talking about, the device may not even have a ground pin area in the device. Loose wire at the breaker box and/again/or fuse box if old enough.

    Too many things to consider without seeing it.
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I doubt if it's that kind of interference. If it's a tactile response to touching the VK, I'd be concerned about grounding and polarity issues. I think you should make friends with an electrician (don't count on the landlord helping). Old systems often don't have a ground or a poorly retro-fitted ground, The fact that it occurs in every receptacle in the room is telling. They could very well all be on the same circuit in an old house.

    Like Space is saying, it's going to be difficult to diagnose long-distance.

    Just out of curiousity...

    Have you seen the fusebox or breaker panel?
    Is it screw-in fuses or breakers?
    Is the neighbor on the same meter?
    Is there a basement?
    Can you see the wiring from the basement?
    How modern does the wiring appear to be?
  9. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Is it aluminum wiring?

    Hey, it could happen :)
  10. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I own my own house. It was built in the 50's and I just hired an electrician to put in some new outlets for my studio and at the same time I had him re-tighten every screw in the fuse box and in the breaker panel. It was amazing how many of these screws had loosened up over the years. While he was doing that I went through the house (power off) and re-tightened every switch and every outlet screw. It took a while but now I am sure I have everything as tight as it can be. I also had our local investor owned electric company come out and check the connections from the street to the meter and they found some corrosion on the connectors that feed the house so they replaced them and tightened up the connections in the meter box and checked the grounds. It cost a couple of bucks for the electrician but now I am sure that I have good clean power to all my equipment and I feel much better about the house wiring. In one connection in the fuse box the electrician found a screw that was stripped and could not be tightened. He had to re-tap the threads and put in a new screw. This was the screw behind the fuse and it was about a 16th of an inch from being tight. It was feeding a bathroom light and fan and was arcing for a long long time. The electrician also screwed in all the fuses with a pair of channel locks to make sure they were tight.

    Older houses can have multiple problems and like others have suggested maybe hiring an electrician would be your best bet.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Just to reiterate what's been said... get an electrician in to double check your wiring and replace any questionable circuit breakers and receptacles.

    One of the most common causes of line noise is voltage that is a harmonic standing wave from other users on your line. Commonly referred to as reflected energy, it sometimes cannot be stopped or removed by conventional means of tightening and replacing components. Since it is voltage, it is typically EMF that is pushed into the air up to the RF spectrum. In these cases, a power conditioner and line filter are necessary to clean up the dirty power. And in rare instances, there is no solution but to move out of the RF field or put up a grounded copper screening as a Faraday Shield.

    There are also different types of power conditioning and filtering.

    One thing I would recommend, if after your electrician has done all he can (ESPECIALLY at the service entrance) and you still have issues, is to get a constant voltage transformer. These are often called isolation transformers, so be careful in what you are buying. They are not really the same thing.

    Sola is a reputable manufacturer that I would look at. But again, I wouldn't just run out and buy a product without knowing what you are dealing with. You could be throwing money at the wrong solution.
  12. Sport

    Sport Guest

    I have a carpenter friend who probably knows a good electrician that will give me a good rate. Sounds like the first step in fixing this. I may even be able to recoop some of the expense from the owner of the house. Hey if it needs doing, it needs doing. She won't have to bother with any of the legwork, just pay me for taking care of it. The house is 50+ years old if I had to take a guess. The fuse panel is in my bedroom(the old mixing room) and has screw in fuses. I know the fuses are all new because the radiant heat in one of the other rooms went out recently and we had all of them replaced. Thanks to everybody for coming up with really thoughtful answers :cool:
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    OK, this very much helps identify a few things...

    First, you likely have some end of life electrical outlets, loose wires and maybe a coupla things that could get expensive.

    Next, you run pretty good odds that your structure is only a two wire installation... e.g., you may not have adequate ground wiring.

    It was fairly common in some states to use the conduit as the ground. If your outlets are two wire, then this is definitely the situation... or even the possibility that you have no ground at all... just a hot and neutral.

    Hope it's reasonably harmless stuff and can be quickly resolved.
  14. Sport

    Sport Guest

    Ugh. That sounds...labor-intensive. I'm still going to have someone do a walk through but I'm certainly not going into hock to fix someone elses home. I should only be at this location for the duration of '09. Maybe it won't drive me utterly crazy before then. Besides, the room is pretty funky sounding to begin with (long and narrow with kink in the wall about 13 ft from console) so this is just more incentive to relocate :wink:
  15. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    I am thinking this is something that needs attention from the owner as well.

    Any one of the issues covered here could, at some point, be harmful to equipment/health and structure.

    It's worth mentioning too someone.

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