Aphex Aural Exciter Type C - Very Noisy Output!

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Electronic Repair Modifications DIY' started by afoundsound, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. afoundsound

    afoundsound Active Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Hey guys

    First time posting here and hoping someone with some gear-fixing pazazzz can help with my little issue.

    I bought an Aural Exciter type C off ebay and when I tested it, I got pretty crappy results.

    For both channels, when the unit is engaged and the Mix control brought up, the noise floor becomes extremely high, rising as the control is increased. Then I bring up the Drive and the noise floor of course becomes even higher. The Tune control seems to work as it should but as the noise floor is so high, it's hard to tell.

    Put the unit into bypass and the noise disappears.

    Upon a basic visual inspection, there doesn't appear to be any burn or scorch marks on the PCB.

    What am I missing? Where could the problem lie? Somewhere on the circuitry involved with the processing, pre-output, im guessing.....

    thanks in advance for your time.

    (p.s. The guy gave me my money back...)
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    There isn't anything wrong with your Aphex Aural Exciter. Yeah, you'll get an incredible amount of noise with the Aphex exciter. That's why you need to start with a clean track. This is why God created downward expanders and gates. The Aphex Aural Exciter, provides for an awesome high-frequency accentuation laden with plenty of Inter-Modulation Distortion (originally just second harmonic), which when used sparingly, adds a beautiful air like quality. Overused and abused, it's really quite horrific sounding LOL. And it's ear fatigue, personified. These things actually only became popular because of Dolby A, Noise Reduction. Even when the machines were tweaked correctly, it took away something from the recording. Aphex was actually a surprisingly discovered mistake due to miss wiring. It was an appropriate processing fluke. There is hardly any need or call for it today with digital recording. Though it's still great for creating an incredible liveliness to an otherwise already good sounding recording. The device was never intended to be used with a console effect send and return loop. At least not this version. That's why this has a mix control. And you need very little of it to be effective. In fact you only turn it up until you can barely sense it and then you back it off a bit. It's not meant to be an effect. It's an exciter, enhancer articulation peaker. Otherwise it's a piece of crap you should probably throw out today? I'm only kidding. It can make a lot of tracks seem to come more alive when lightly used. The problem with this thing is that everybody thinks they need judicious amounts of it. In fact it's just the opposite. The less you use, the better it will sound.

    This device is dual mono with no stereo interconnect. This makes setting the controls for stereo, quite difficult and almost impossible to repeat. This thing can jerk a stereo mix around so badly, left and right will never match. They never released this with a stereo feature where both sets of controls would dual track. Like in a stereo limiter. Go figure? Of course they make a more expensive studio unit that has more professional whizbang features than this consumer unit has. I actually modified my consumer unit so that I could use it as a effect send and return device. Where the input signal would never come out the output unless I threw my magic switch. They wouldn't even give me a schematic so I had to trace everything out because it's all so proprietary. It's like 11 secret herbs and spices and the recipe to Coca-Cola. The original unit from the 1970s was much better sounding than this consumer unit. Though it also had its own problem issues to deal with. It was actually sweeter sounding than the newer consumer unit. It actually generated second harmonic distortion instead of intermodulation distortion. Similar but not the same sounding. Either way it still works and does the job it's designed to do. You just don't know how to use it yet. Like I said, a very little goes a long way. It's definitely one of those Less Is More devices. I know it's pretty shocking to hear all of that raucous noise but it's only doing what it's supposed to do which is enhance all of that stuff. The tune control is just like sweeping an equalizer to find the right set of frequencies you want to affect. So using the device by itself, with the track, is largely a juggling act. It's enhancement versus noise. So if you use a downward expander or gate on your microphone track, it won't have any sludge to accentuate. You can put the downward expander/gate before or after the device. I recommend before this device. Since, if you make it after the device, the noise floor opening and closing will sound obnoxious. So if you do that before the enhancing, it will just have nothing to enhance when there is nothing to enhance. That doesn't mean it will get rid of all the noise. Doing this will get rid of some of the noise. You might need to do this again after the process to reduce the noise yet more?

    This device is particularly effective when you want that very breathy girlie panting kind of I need it now, sound. It provides just the right S E X Y edge. It can make electronic keyboards come alive. It can make finger pickin' on a banjo virtually intolerable. So don't go there. LOL. Don't use it on opera singers either. Good on baritone male vocals to add greater articulation.

    So this device is actually a mistake in assembling something else. It found its place in history because of Dolby. It was a useful tool in the days of analog tape even without Dolby. But when overused on too many sources, it'll virtually destroy your recording. You don't want to use it on anything more than a single source. This device was merely designed to process an entire stereo signal as opposed to using it as a insert. Of course it's quite convenient to use as an insert. It's effective to use on the send to a reverb unit. But you certainly don't want to be processing all of your tracks with the Aphex. It will do nothing more than create horrible screechy recordings for you that nobody will want to listen to. That's why you have a process button on and off. You only want to hear just a little processing compared to none.

    It's also unbalanced in and out but can be used within a closed balanced loop. Unfortunately, the device does not have the output capabilities of most other professional pieces of equipment. It's a little anemic in that department. So I never really passed entire mixes through it. Not anything that mattered at any rate. It can be a gift and a curse when trying to archive old cassette recordings. You know how noisy those already are. This only makes it worse. So ya have to have other ways of dealing with the noise. And that can be dealt with, with hardware or software. But it has to be dealt with. Not something you can let slide with this.

    I created my own Aphex process in 1979. I relied on record/sync head, saturation and cross talk along with EQ. It did the same thing. It was fun trying to re-create it. And it worked. So when you want that extra zing, that's what you use the Aphex for.

    Aphex it for you.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. afoundsound

    afoundsound Active Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Thanks for all the info. What you say makes sense from what others have said about the processing of these units.
    Cheers for the advice on its use.
    Some how I've managed to acquire what seem to be two of the noisiest pieces of outboard in existence....
    The aural exciter and the space echo.....!
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