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I'm Daniel. I'm new here.

I'm recording a synth using the Digi 003.

Everyone tells me it's best to mic an amp for this, but that won't work for me because A) theres too much noise in my house, and B) the only amp I own is a cheapo Behringer bass amp.

So I have to go direct into the Digi 003.

But problem is, I keep getting a hiss. I've turned the synth's volume all the way up, and the Digi's input most of the way down. This has helped decrease the hiss, but its still there. And still audible on the quiet parts when I play.

Can anyone help me?

Any other suggestions for making connections with mics and synth would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

- Daniel


Kapt.Krunch Fri, 05/09/2008 - 15:39

Re: Digi 003 Having trouble making connections / setting le

Elviswaits3 wrote:
I'm recording a synth using the Digi 003.

Everyone tells me it's best to mic an amp for this...

I've turned the synth's volume all the way up, and the Digi's input most of the way down.

Rack or mixer Digi 003?

Which synth?

Who told you it's best to run a synth through an amp? Ain't necessarily so. Some synths can put out a frequency range that a lot of amp/speakers can't reproduce, and they will color it. Most synths are entirely happy going direct. Synths can fire out some hot signal level. And, since you have the Digi levels so low, you may not be allowing them to run at a more optimal level.

Turn the Digi input trims back up to their optimal level. If it's the mixer type, put the channel fader at its optimal level, and then adjust the input trims. Start with the synth at a low volume, and adjust it and the input trim to the Digi, both, as you go so that neither is either too high, or too low. See if that helps. It's called "gain-staging" or "matching input to output levels". Neither should have to be too high or too low, or you have a problem.

Or, maybe you just have a noisy synth? Or, maybe you have the infamous laptop noise problem, if running through a laptop? If running through a laptop, try unplugging it, and run it on batteries to see if the noise stops.

Do all that, and then tell us what happened? :wink:


anonymous Sat, 05/10/2008 - 14:54

Hi Kapt.Krunch. Thanks for replying.

I should've specified.

I'm running a Mac Pro 2.66 Quad processors, 4gb ram, running Pro Tools LE 7.4 with the Digi 003 mixer. My synth is a Roland XV-88 which I'm controlling with a Yamaha P-140 (I don't like the piano action on Roland's keyboards).

The people who've told me to run it through an amp say it gives it more "presence" or something like this.

I did as you said and tried matching input to output levels. It definitely helped a lot, but it didn't get rid of it. It's very very quiet, but I can still hear it in there humming like a vaccume in a distant room.

I read somewhere that for line level instruments you should put the Input gain all the way down.

Adding to the problem, is that my Yamaha P-140 controller plays the sound back quieter so I have to turn up whatever I play to adjust to that as well.

Kev Sat, 05/10/2008 - 16:38

it seems we have a couple of level and impedance issues on the forum at the moment

I don't know the spec of the outputs of the Yamaha P-140
it could also be an internal settings issues agravating the problem

something like this can help

Kapt.Krunch suggested the "gain-staging" ... and this is an important concept to learn
and yes put the Digi003 back to normal levels

the DI box above can have added features to allow for "gain-staging" at the input and the output
therefore changing the level in the transformer
(this can change the tone and some saturation in the transformer can give that presence spoken about above)
the gain of the Mic-pre can be used to get the "gain-staging" just right

jugling these three control areas will help to optimise the noise floor.

the transformer and the ground lift might also help to reduce that " humming like a vaccume in a distant room ".

anonymous Mon, 05/12/2008 - 12:18

I looked on Musician's Friend and couldn't find the model of DI box you specified. Would either of these work?

(Dead Link Removed)

(Dead Link Removed)

If the problem is (as I think it is) I just a noisy synth, what more can be done about that? Will this DIbox solve my problem?

Could this also be what they call "line noise" coming from the outlet in my house? I swaped outlets but i don't have any kind of voltage regulator so there wasn't a difference anyway.

BobRogers Mon, 05/12/2008 - 14:27

Elviswaits3 wrote: ...Adding to the problem, is that my Yamaha P-140 controller plays the sound back quieter so I have to turn up whatever I play to adjust to that as well.

I'm guessing that this is a big part of the problem. You are having to crank the Roland so hard that you are hearing its noise floor. Try to get a good sounding gain structure if you unhook the Yamaha and just use Roland's keyboard. If that works then you can figure out how to adjust the midi crosstalk between the two keyboards so that you get reasonable volume using the Yamaha.

BTW, the DI boxes you mentioned might work if this is an impedance or ground issue, though I would recommend the Whirlwind Imp if you are on a budget, the Whirlwind Director if you have a bit more, and one of the Radial Boxes or a Countryman if you have about $200 that would be well spent. However, if this is a noise floor issue, a DI box will not help, and a bad DI box will hurt.

anonymous Mon, 05/12/2008 - 17:15

Thanks Bob.

I'll look into those DI boxes you recommended.

I don't think its the P-140 causing the noise though because even when I just had the Roland plugged in and played it, the problem was still there. It's much quieter on account of it not needing to be turned up as loud as the Yamaha, but discerning ears can still pick out the hum.

By the way, thank all of you for getting back to me so quickly. I'm really loving this forum.

- Daniel

UncleBob58 Tue, 05/13/2008 - 09:02

Another thing to check is the volume level of the synth patches themselves. I ran into this problem with a client who, while balancing the volumes of the four layers of the patch on an XV-3080, had the loudest of the four set at about 50 out of 100, the rest were substantially lower. With all of the effects and what-not this made the patch itself very noisy. You may also want to see if turning off the effects reduces the noise.

Kev Tue, 05/13/2008 - 10:42

UncleBob58 wrote: ... check is the volume level of the synth patches themselves ...

Kev wrote: ... it could also be an internal settings issues agravating the problem ...

that's what I meant but didn't explain it

programming a synth sound can be very complicated and needs good knowledge of the internals and architecture of the synth
it can be a juggle to keep from clipping and the noise floor down
... again it's all about gain structure


anonymous Wed, 05/14/2008 - 13:20

Thanks guys.

I went into the XV-88 to check the Patch Volume. And though I learned a few things about editing patches, I know that's not the problem.

It makes the same noise on every patch.

By playing with the gain I've gotten it so that whilst other instruments are playing, the noise is near silent. But is it too much to ask for a purely clean sound from my synth?

Is it just to be expected that snyths have a buzz or hum of some kind coming off of them?

I'm about to start a recording project and just want my connections to be as clean as possible so I don't get laughed at during the mixing stage.

Kev Wed, 05/14/2008 - 18:44

Elviswaits3 wrote: ... so that whilst other instruments are playing, the noise is near silent. But is it too much to ask for a purely clean sound from my synth?

each synth is different and yes they ALL could be better
all you can do is work with what you have

this is one of the good things about soft synths that are patched inside the DAW

welcome to recording synths

some of the old organs wouldn't sound right without their clicks and pops and drones

BobRogers Wed, 05/14/2008 - 19:25

Lisa! Get in here.... In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

Every electronic device has a noise floor. (At least until we get room temperature superconductors.) Some devices have a higher floor than others. As a friend of mine who was a tube amp freak said, "just play louder than the hum..."

Seriously, I'm not sure that the noise floor of the Roland is the problem, but it's the most likely culprit at this point. I assume that there are no problems recording straight from the P140? Just the Roland giving the problems? Another possibility is a ground loop, but that doesn't really fit your description. A DI box with a ground lift switch would be the way to check that.

anonymous Wed, 05/14/2008 - 20:15

It's not the P-140. I've taken that out of the equation and still getting the hum. I tried pluging that in and no hum. No hum from my Roland XP-10 either.

I bought a new extention cord for the XV-88 and pluged it into a different circuit than the rest of my gear. No change.


No change. Not even a little bit.

Did I get the wrong thing? Do I truly have to live with the vaccuming and the buzzing?

BobRogers Thu, 05/15/2008 - 02:26

Does the direct box have a ground lift switch? Have you tried that? I'm really groping at straws here. Your description sounds like a gain structure problem, not a ground problem.

At any rate we have narrowed the problem to the Roland. And yes, it may be that the noise floor is a characteristic of this unit. Lots of other Roland products that don't have this problem though, so I'm still suspicious that there is something we have missed.

General advice on monitor volumes is (1) "soft as you can stand it" (that is, stop turning up as soon as you can hear everything clearly) (2) keep it consistent from song to song (hard to do if you mix several different genres).

UncleBob58 Thu, 05/15/2008 - 08:23

If the noise is really pervasive it could be a problem with your specific XV-88. Maybe you should check out another one to see if it has the same problem.

I bought a Korg synth many years ago that had, in my opinion, a very bad white noise type of sound. I was told that all synths have background noise - I knew that and accepted it - but this Korg seemed particularly bad. I brought it back to the music store and plugged it in side-by-side with the floor/demo unit and it was indeed just my keyboard.

anonymous Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:34

Yeah. It has a ground lift switch. I even tried using my Mogami XLR cable as an output and that didn't work.

I do have the headphones turned up high.

Am I just worrying over nothing?

I see the hum in the waveform in protools but I have to zoom in close.

Is it possible to record a synth and hear it just totally clean? Even if you have the monitor cranked up all the way?

That's not how I plan to monitor it, but I was just trying to get a clean sound and get rid of what I could.

anonymous Thu, 05/15/2008 - 14:10

I should also say, I've tried plugging into the XV-88's Phones & Line out jack and got the same result.

But the line out sounds totally lifeless compared to the phones jack for some reason. So I stick with plugging it into the phone.s

Also - thank you so much for being so helpful. I really appreciate it.