Constant static/line noise

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Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by thusband » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:21 pm

We recently relocated to a rural area (USA) and are having sound quality issues in a home recording studio my wife uses to record audio books. There’s a constant static (line noise?) in all recordings. She records in an out building and we’ve tried moving the equipment in the house thinking it’s a wiring problem but it’s still there. The Win 7 laptop she uses is pretty old, could that be the problem?

I realize it’s probably not an Audacity issue but would anyone have an idea where to start looking?

Equipment used:

Headphones
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Mike
Rode NT1-A

Computer Audio Interface
M-Audio Fast Track USB 2

Preamp
TubePREv2 PreSonus Mono Tube Mic

Laptop
Dell Latitude E5400 (bought in 2013)

Windows 7

Audacity version 2.0.5

Any help greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.
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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:29 am

If the performance is mono (one timeline wave), drag-select about 20 seconds of reading, File > Export-Selected (this may be different in your Audacity) > WAV (Microsoft) and post it here.

Scroll down from a forum text window > Upload Attachment > Browse.

If it's stereo, (two waves) send 10 seconds.

There are a number of wacky problems that can sound like plain microphone hiss, but aren't.

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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by thusband » Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:40 am

Thanks, I'll do that tomorrow.
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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:56 pm

I did notice an inconsistency in the equipment list.

Computer Audio Interface
M-Audio Fast Track USB 2

Preamp
TubePREv2 PreSonus Mono Tube Mic


Is that the M-Audio with the XLR connection on the front?

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 14.31.38.png
Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 14.31.38.png (44.8 KiB) Viewed 201 times


I'm not sure those were meant to be plugged into each other. You plug your microphone into the M-Audio or the PreSonus.

Leave the PreSonus in the packing box for a second. Turn the M-Audio 48 volt phantom power on, plug the microphone into the M-Audio, turn it up and see if that doesn't work a lot better.

Did you buy the PreSonus because it was part of an equipment list? It's job, besides making the microphone volume louder for production and editing, is to add vacuum tube distortion. I'm sure it's listed as "that warm vacuum tube sound," but it's just non-linear audio distortion. I'd be shocked if you couldn't find a plug-in to do that.

As a completely side issue, vacuum tubes get hot, they're subject to glass envelope breakage and you need to replace them about every two years or so in constant use. I'm sure that doesn't appear in any of the ads. Do you know where to buy a 12AX7 tube?

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 14.49.36.png
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Also a way over on the side issue. The M-Audio doens't have a volume control, so I'm guessing it uses a software package to do it from the computer. That could mean you can't upgrade to Windows 10, because software packages and drivers need to be specifically written for Win10.

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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by thusband » Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:49 am

Thanks very much for the info. I was going to attach a sample of the noise but we're out of town right now. I'll take a look at the equipment when we get back home.

Thanks again for the help.
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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:38 am

I was going to attach a sample of the noise

You should do that anyway. There are some noises that leave fingerprints and are easy to identify.

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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by thusband » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:04 pm

OK, back from the holiday. I've attached two mp3 files. One with the M-Audio and PreSonis hooked up and one with just the M-Audio. To me they both have that noise/static.

Yes, the M-Audio is a few years old and isn't supported for Windows 10. I'd like to get a new Win 10 laptop but that's stopping me.

Any help on that noise is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again.
line_noise_maudio.mp3
(307.75 KiB) Downloaded 6 times

line_noise_maudio_presonis.mp3
(306.12 KiB) Downloaded 4 times
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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by Trebor » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:08 pm

thusband wrote: line_noise_maudio.mp3 (307.75 KiB)

On that you are accidentally recording from the computer's built-in microphone which picks up the sound of the hard-drive clicking.

You can disable the internal mic in Windows recording devices ...

disable internal mic.gif
click on this animation to see it in its entirety
disable internal mic.gif (113.54 KiB) Viewed 104 times

Make sure the USB device is enabled in Windows recording devices,
and selected as the recording device in Audacity preferences.
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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by thusband » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:01 pm

Thanks for all the help. I'm giving up for now. I deselect the microphone but there's no Fast Track mike to select and after fooling around I'm just making it worse. Now I don't have any playback sound. I downloaded a current driver again but the laptop is so old it could be the problem. I think we'll look around for a sound engineer from, perhaps, the local college.

I really appreciate the help.
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Re: Constant static/line noise

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:39 am

there's no Fast Track mike to select

Where did you do that? You have to enable the microphone in Windows (and see the little sound meter jumping) and then, after that is working, open Audacity and look for it there. If you launch Audacity before you plug the microphone in or Windows recognizes it, Audacity won't see it.

which picks up the sound of the hard-drive clicking.


I could not place that sound. Yes, that and the recording sounds like a good day in a boiler factory which is also typical of a built-in microphone.

You can do a simple test to see what you're doing. Launch Audacity and start recording. Scratch each microphone and announce where you are. Only one microphone will explode in high volume. Do you know where your laptop built-in microphone is? Mine is just left of the left-hand shift key.

http://kozco.com/tech/audacity/clips/ScratchTest2.mp3



I bet you thought this was going to be easy.

There is one New User assumption that may not be a particularly good idea. Everybody Knows you have to use a computer to record Audiobooks, mostly because they already have one. There are a number of readers using small personal recorders rather than computers.

As you are discovering personal computers come with their own problems, noise being right at the top of the list. ACX requires you to pass loudness, overload and noise before you submit for publication. Loudness (RMS), overload (Peak) are usually a piffle compared to then passing noise.

No problem, you can park the computer outside of the room so the fan and vent noise isn't as intrusive. Fine, as long as you don't get farther away than about seven feet because that's the distance USB cables start becoming unstable. You'll need to see the screen, too, so you can judge your performance.

And on, and on, and on....

You do have the location going for you. Even though I have a good quiet room, I still have to stop recording when a MetroBus goes by.

There are a number of readers using small personal recorders rather than computers. I'm doing experiments with an iPhone/iPod as the recorder. The down side there isn't the recorder. That works fairly well. I have to go through iTunes services to get the sound file. iTunes is the clear evidence that Apple doesn't do everything well.


Audacity has tools and processes you might find handy for AudioBook production. I wrote a mastering process which will most times get you past the first layer of ACX testing. It's three tools even though the instructions read like an encyclopedia.

viewtopic.php?f=64&t=96103

Buried in there is ACX-Check which is a simple, one-pass tool that will tell you what you passed and what you didn't and by how much.

This is a little Olympus hand-held sound recorder in my quiet third bedroom.

20150823OlympusPost.wav
(898.64 KiB) Downloaded 3 times


Note the loudness of the background noise in the lead-in.

See sentence 2/3 down.

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We do pretty well getting people published; this can be done. The joke is you still have to be able to read out loud. If people run away when you speak, nothing we do is going to help.

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