Constant static/line noise

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:

Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Rode NT1-A

Computer Audio Interface
M-Audio Fast Track USB 2

TubePREv2 PreSonus Mono Tube Mic

Dell Latitude E5400 (bought in 2013)

Windows 7

Audacity version 2.0.5

Any help greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.

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.


Thanks, I’ll do that tomorrow.

I did notice an inconsistency in the equipment list.

Computer Audio Interface
M-Audio Fast Track USB 2

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
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
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.


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.

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.


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.

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
Make sure the USB device [u]is[/u] enabled in Windows recording devices,
and selected as the recording device in Audacity preferences.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

See sentence 2/3 down.
Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 17.30.30.png
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.


Has the performer read before? There are several nasty things that can happen to first time readers.

They hate the sound of their voice. “Is that really me? Is the microphone broken?”

The first book of any size is the class on theatrical reading. You can struggle to the end over days and then as a test, play your first chapter. Which may suck. It’s not that unusual for First Time Readers to read the first work twice. Only the second one for publication.

Is the performer also the writer? If not, you will need to get used to the ping-pong of submitting for approval before publication. If the two people are in different cities, a file posting service is handy. Maybe something with the word “cloud” in it.

It is Very Strongly Recommended that you export each chapter raw reading as a WAV (Microsoft) as you go. Save it in a safe place away from possible damage. You should never need to read a chapter again because you accidentally destroyed a sound file.

Even though ACX requires posting in MP3, you should do all production in perfect quality WAV. Make their MP3 as a last step.


I have several microphones to choose from in Windows, one being M-Audio line something I think. I thought I should un-enable the Windows mikes. I’ll do the scratch test tomorrow.

My wife, who does the recording, reads the books off the laptop from an organization called EasyBooks on their software so it has to be in front of her.

I’ll look at it again and thanks again.

reads the books off the laptop from an organization called EasyBooks on their software so it has to be in front of her.

Can you sense the stormclouds? The EasyBooks hot keys can’t conflict with the Audacity hot keys. Audacity does not play well with others to quote the grade school report card.

Do either of you have an iPhone?


Nope, we both have Android phones. I’ll have to look at any conflict with EasyBooks but the same noise is heard in EasyBooks too,

the same noise is heard in EasyBooks too,

Did you do the scratch test to see which microphone you’re recording from?


No, not yet. I’ll try to get to that today.