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Hey Guys,

If there's anybody out there who can give advice on this issue.. Oh how welcome that would be, as it's driving me nuts! A few months ago I noticed a faint static noise appearing in my recording - my set-up Neumann TLM49, Avalon 737sp, Symphony I/O, iMac El Capitan - ... The issue has gradually got worse, and the static fluctuates from faint annoying sound on some occassions to a loud crackle. The static gets louder when I touch the XLR cable on the mic, and also if I touch the grill and shockmount. Initially I did the obvious and changed my cables, soldered a grounding wire from pin1 to Niftrik latch pin 0, but alas, still there... I've tested another mic in the set-up, still there... Tested an Mbox to replace Avalon and Symphony, still there... Tested a Behringer preamp into Symphony, still there... Switched cans, still there... Unplugged electrical cables in my booth that run my monitor, light and air system, still there.. Essentially, with all these different hard-ware combinations the static is always present, and I have no idea where and why it's appeared... I've had this set-up for approx 4 years with never any problem, I haven't changed anything, so can't figure out what the cause might be... Am I crazy to think that something in my neighborhood might be the cause? Is it possible? Or am I just missing something under my nose? Please if anybody has some knowledge on the subject I'd be really interested to hear from you. Thanks

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Sean G Mon, 02/15/2016 - 00:20

N Maddern, post: 436282, member: 49742 wrote: Sean G, if I do have grounding issues with the premises - and as I'm running my studio with the rest of the building - would having a seperate circuit and individual ground just for the studio be a fix? Thanks for your replies guys...

It could fix the issue, thats where a licensed electrician would be able to tell you if it is a ground issue.

I'd try to eliminate as many possibilities first before going down that old is the building?
- Sometimes things like older style fluro lighting can have that effect also...the ballasts can cause RF interference...but that is usually a low frequency hum-like noise.

N Maddern Mon, 02/15/2016 - 00:25

Yeah, not that old, early 90s... and don't have any old lighting in the building... got some of those eco lights from Ikea in most of the building... you know, the ones that take a few minutes to get bright.... and only led actually in the studio itself... got a friend who's an electrician, doesn't know anything about audio/studio, but I guess he'd know something about grounding of premises... not being able to pinpoint the problem is really frustrating

DonnyThompson Mon, 02/15/2016 - 00:51

If they're on the same circuit, then yeah, it's possible. Dimmer switches are sometimes used in studio environments for aesthetics, but they are the (very) expensive, shielded type, and I'd bet a boat load of money that the dimmers you have in your kitchen are standard $8 home grade switches, and not shielded.

I'm not saying this is the source of your problem for sure, I'm just stating that it's a possibility - if the switch is on the same circuit as your audio gear is.

You'd be able to tell by simply turning the switch off - not just to the minimum lowest setting - but completely off -and if your noise disappears, then voila', you've found your culprit. But if not, then it's somewhere else.

But... I'm not an electrician, so I can't tell you without a doubt where the problem would be. For all anybody knows, it could be at the transformer/pole outside your house.

You could contact your electric company, the worst they would do is say "no, we can't help you", but if you mention that there might be a problem with the transformer outside your building, my bet is that they'd at least send a crew out to check on it. Power companies don't like to take any chances with something that may be malfunctioning on their end... and I'd wager that this is an international thing, too... Regardless of where you live ( unless you are 3rd world, which you are not, you guys are just as hi-tech and current as anyone else is...).

Other than that, you'd probably have to have your electrician friend come in and run some diagnostics. He might not understand your particular problem in detail, meaning he's may not be an audio guy, but if he's an actual electrician, then he'd certainly be able to tell if your power was clean or dirty.

N Maddern Mon, 02/15/2016 - 01:27

Yeah, the light is not always on, and the static is pretty much always there... so I guess that counts that out, unless it's possible even when the dimmer is not being used? I'm also not an electrician, which is why it gets a bit frustrating, but will definitely go down the route of asking my friend and might be worth asking the company supplying the electricity as well..

DonnyThompson Mon, 02/15/2016 - 01:37

N Maddern, post: 436300, member: 49742 wrote: Yeah, the light is not always on, and the static is pretty much always there... so I guess that counts that out, unless it's possible even when the dimmer is not being used?

Probably not... unless there was something weird going on in the wiring of the switch. If the dimmer isn't on, I truly doubt it's the problem.

Call your friend first, see what he comes up with, and if he doesn't know, call your power company. Explain to them what's happening. They may be able to help - but likely only if the problem is on their end... which, it could be.

The only thing I'm sure of, is that no one here can say for sure what the problem is; all we can do is to provide suggestions based on experience. But without being there, it's impossible to say.

Edit... side note... have you tried using a power conditioner?

DonnyThompson Mon, 02/15/2016 - 01:54

They can.. depending on what model you get and how bad the power is. I've heard some conditioners wipe out all noise entirely, and some that attenuate it from a lot to a little.

Furman makes a variety of models. You may want to research their various models as an option. I don't know a whole lot of studios that don't have a power conditioner somewhere in their power line... if for nothing else than as a protection against potential surges and brown outs; and especially considering that 99% of studios these days are computer-based..

DonnyThompson Mon, 02/15/2016 - 01:58

N Maddern, post: 436310, member: 49742 wrote: No, I've never had one in my set-up... do they really make such a difference?

They can... depending on how bad your power is, and what model you are using. I've seen conditioners that have wiped out all noise entirely, and some that attenuate it from a lot to just a little.

I don't know of any studio these days that doesn't have some kind of a conditioner, somewhere in their power staging; if for nothing else than protection against potential surges or brown outs, especially since 95% of studios are computer-based these days.

Check out Furman's page:

If you're not sure which model you should get, contact them and describe your problem specifically. They'll help you out. I've talked with Furman people in the past, and they are pleasant and helpful.

They make a variety of conditioners for various uses. It may be the most inexpensive and effective answer to your problem. Not that they are really cheap, because they're not... they're not like the cheap surge protectors you can get at any big-box store, because these are actual conditioners. So, when I say "inexpensive" I mean that in relation to versus re-wiring your breaker box or your house's lines. ;)


N Maddern Mon, 02/15/2016 - 04:27

Hi Donny, yeah I always thought of conditioners more for gigging around various locations, rather than to have one in my own studio... but yeah, I asked for some advice and they came back with the Furman PL-8 CE... apparently has something in it called LIFT filtering technology for static... to be honest, I kind of always thought this was always marketing blah, blah... but at this stage I'm willing to give anything a try...

DonnyThompson Mon, 02/15/2016 - 05:42

N Maddern, post: 436327, member: 49742 wrote: I kind of always thought this was always marketing blah, blah... but at this stage I'm willing to give anything a try...

It's not just marketing... those devices have to protect your gear - because if they don't, the company that makes them and claims the protection will have to buy new gear for you if a surge hits and wipes out any equipment.

And they really don't want to have to do that. ;)

As previously mentioned, I can't recall the last time I was in a studio - either audio or video, that didn't have a power conditioner of some kind. But, as Sean mentioned, you get what you pay for. I wouldn't go with one of those cheap surge protectors that the big box computer stores sell. You want something that will protect you from surges, but you also obviously need some kind of power conditioning, too. Those cheap surge protectors won't give you that. Stick with Furman. It's what they do.

dvdhawk Mon, 02/15/2016 - 08:39

The thing about the problem being purely an electrical noise issue is, it wouldn't explain why it gets worse when you touch the mic. And even the best surge protector or power conditioner is rendered almost useless if you don't have a good electrical earth ground.

N Maddern, post: 436282, member: 49742 wrote: … would having a seperate circuit and individual ground just for the studio be a fix?

A separate circuit would be a good thing, a separate ground would not be good. It's best to have one GOOD ground established for the entire house. Two separate paths to ground could potentially make things much worse. There are so many variables in the kitchen remodeling that could cause this. There could a new appliance that emits RFI/EMI into the air or into the wiring, to worst-case-scenario, a contractor nicking a wire. Over time, your wall receptacles can get sloppy too - either the contact made at the plug, or the wires can come loose in the back.

You've substituted every out except the iMac itself, so if cleaning up the power with a good conditioner doesn't help, I'd say you're left with trying to exonerate the Mac, and calling in an electrician.

Good luck! and please keep us posted.

dvdhawk Mon, 02/15/2016 - 08:55

I regularly use Furman, ETA, and Wattbox on my installations and occasionally Tripp-Lite. I would whole-heartedly recommend any of them if there's an advantage in pricing in your part of the world. There are others that are probably perfectly good, but I don't have hands-on experience with them, so don't feel I can comment on their effectiveness.

Here's a very straightforward video from Wattbox I've posted elsewhere on this forum. I can't embed the video anymore because it's not from YouTube, Vimeo, etc., but you can follow the link.

Boswell Mon, 02/15/2016 - 15:44

N Maddern, post: 436281, member: 49742 wrote: Hi Boswell, yeah by all means, I'll upload a short file...


I had to give that clip 40dB of gain before I got a proper level to hear what is causing the problem - it's a dry joint. Quite where in the chain it's located is hard to say, given that you report you have changed most of the items and it's still there.

Rather than changing one thing at a time in your existing chain, I suggest the thing to try is to borrow a completely different chain of microphone, cable, pre-amp and audio interface. This chain you would expect to be free of dry joints. You then swap your components one at a time into this working chain to see which one gives you the interfering noise.

N Maddern Tue, 02/23/2016 - 00:28

Hey guys, a week on, I thought I'd update you on the situation... to be frank, it's not good... so, firstly, I got my Furman PL-8C and was really hoping this could clean up the signal, but alas nothing changed whatsoever... in the meantime, a good electrician friend of mine has been to take a look... he tested the grounding of the property with his meters, and said everything was well within the normal range - don't ask me what, I just took him on his word for that - .. I also added a grounding wire to my rack, just in case... but again no change... my studio is however still sharing the ground of the rest of the property, but if things look normal down in the main box, then I'm not sure what to do next... I also wanted to ask, is there any other possibility for this kind of static interference? Last night I was in my booth, and at one stage the crackle blasted out a quick loud beep, and then continued crackling... unfortunately I don't have a recording of this new anomaly, but here's another sound file with a lot of the interference... man, I'm so annoyed with this, it's really, really driving me crazy.. I don't know what to do?


Attached files

Static Noise 23 Feb.mp3 (1.7 MB) 

N Maddern Tue, 02/23/2016 - 00:42

A dvdhawk and boswell, also just read your posts.... for some reason, they were hidden under another tab.... I'm going to investigate a bit more the electricity in the new kitchen, so my friend has to come by again to check everything the workmen did.... and even though I've checked various hardware combos, I'm going to try and borrow some other gear to test... and will definitely try your idea about using only borrowed hardware in one test without anything of mine in the chain... thanks so much fellas for your continued interest

N Maddern Wed, 02/24/2016 - 02:58

Yeah, he still has to look into this... however, this is where it's perplexing, when he was here, we shut down all the other circuits in the property, and put my studio on one circuit by itself, and the sound did become better, however the static was still there - at first nothing at all, and then gradually became more audible.... so the static fluctuates in volume, and I don't really know if it was a coincidence that it was having a quiet moment when we did this... but nevertheless it didn't go completely.... we will probably try it again though.... in any case, just throwing this out there in desperation, but could the noise be somehow caused by my DAW?... in my case PT - I'm connected to a Symphony via USB (have also tried different USB cables in case anyone is wondering).... or am I just grasping at straws?

Boswell Wed, 02/24/2016 - 03:15

You really need to do the front-end substitution checks. If you still get the noise (it's not "static") with different front end gear, then you can start looking at your mains supply and other environmental effects. It would be good for your own peace of mind to show that your rig can be quiet with the mains supply and the conditions in your room.

A DAW cannot make this type of noise. You have shown it's in the printed output, so it's in the recording input and not part of your processing or replay route.

N Maddern Wed, 02/24/2016 - 05:40

Hi Boswell... Yeah, having tried so much over the last few weeks, it gets a bit confusing... Loss of sanity, aaaggghhh... However I did previously try the following set-up: running a new mic cable into an Mbox - so side stepping my normal pre amp to converter config - and straight into the iMac with a different USB cable... The only thing that was the same was the mic... However, I really don't think it's a mic issue having used two others, and all with the same result... Would this be considered a different enough chain? - Makzimia, yeah am using a wireless mac mouse in my booth... Also used another when I used an alternative iMac, with the sound still there... Have you known similar issues?

Tony Carpenter Wed, 02/24/2016 - 07:13

Humor me if you can. Stop the wireless mouse and see if it goes away. I had an iMac with exactly the same issues. Noise when I used a wireless mouse. The noise I hear in that clip sounds very similar minus some swirling when I moved the mouse. My interface was FireWire, but that's neither here nor there. Just a point of interest considering your issue.

N Maddern Wed, 02/24/2016 - 23:49

Just tried it man... no change... I was out recording in another studio yesterday, and one of their technicians told me that even WIFI devices in a neighbourhood can have an effect.. like most built-up areas, when you look on your phone there's tons of WIFI flying around.... not really sure about that theory... but then again I don't know, maybe not WIFI, but something else.. I'm trying to think what kind of devices could possibly be the cause if this were the case... keeping my mind open to every possibility now, pfffffff

paulears Thu, 02/25/2016 - 00:34

I listened to the second sample - it exhibits none of the mains frequency, or harmonics from them noise. It's missing the characteristic buzz of digital interference, and most times I have heard this noise it was down to dried out capacitors (common with tube loving guitarists) and occasionally from severely tarnished connectors in patch bays - especially those that have phantom power running through them at mic level.

Have you tried gradually removing all the devices in the signal path? Remove the source, then it's cable, then the next device, then it's cable, going systematically until you reach the device that connects to the system that you know is quiet. At some point the problem will clear.

Don't randomly swap things - do it very precisely and in an order. Other items to watch for can be power supplies. If any of the devices can run on batteries, then use those and not the power supplies - but again, do it one, by one. One device can also annoy another. I often have to cascade mixers to get extra channels - or just because a visitor wants to use their mixer, plugging into a couple of channels on mine, and that one is connected to the PA. Weird noises like these can be caused on their mixer, by my mixer if the input channels on mine have their phantom power turned on. My big mixer is a Yamaha, sending phantom power UP a mixer's output by mistake can often do weird things. Usually oscillation, or other random noises, or an increase in noise level - a bit like yours, and on Soundcraft's, usually no audible result, but all the LED meters go on full!

RF interference I've never heard sound like this. Your fault finding needs to be systematic - because the noise source could be device A, but actually be caused by device B. If you have some DI boxes, and ground lifting audio cables (always handy for trouble like this) give them a go - but really the best way is perhaps to start with one device, plugged into the sound system - then gradually add your kit. If you get the chance, maybe a video would help - just some phone video showing us how things are connected and maybe somebody will spot something.

Just one thing - if you remove all your kit, and plug something else into the sound system instead - CD player, iPod etc - is it quiet? In your first post you mentioned that touching the mic made it worse, but you also said you tried another and it was the same? Just had one thought. I don't suppose there is a loop system for the hearing impaired running, is there? These are notorious for causing all sorts of grief when either badly installed from new, or running with a damaged loop? Not sure if you are recording in a home studio, or bigger building?

Final stupid question, perhaps. We have the system from mic to computer - you haven't mentioned the monitoring system. I know you said you can hear it in the headphones, running from the interface, but have you tried disconnecting the loudspeaker amp, or powered monitors?

I assume that when you replay old projects from the mac, via the interface, with nothing else connected, it's crackle free? Does the noise actually get recorded? I'm thinking of other things to try. How about if the computer is just connected to the interface - playback a known good track from the computer - does this exhibit the noise? If it does, remove the interface and replay the same track via the macs own audio device. Does that solve it. I did find one comment on the net that commented on the interface's driver being a problem. Nobody else mentioned this - but if all else fails, might be worth just checking you are running the latest driver - you never know! I didn't know this kind of sound could be a driver issue - but worth checking if you are up against a brick wall.