Disastrous White Noise Conundrum (Round 232319)

Hello all,

I’m so sorry to badger, but I am having a bit of a nightmare with this white noise. Admittedly I am a complete newbie but I have read far and wide and looked into as many explanations as possible for this, and I’ve reached the stage where I just have to ask and hope that one of you geniuses can help!

I have a Shure SM58 plugged into a Yamaha MW12cx USB mixer, which is then recording onto my laptop via USB, OR using a line out onto a Roland R05 digital recorder.

My issue is that I’m getting astonishingly loud white noise in any and all recordings. I initially bought the Alesis Multimix 4 USB recorder, and thought that it was the culprit after reading numerous reviews of it online, so returned it and splurged on this much bigger Yamaha that I have now, but the problem persists. Even when the laptop is not involved at all the white noise comes up in recordings onto the Roland, and also when I am just running the microphone through the mixer and listening in through the headphone out.

The strange thing is that the white noise goes up and down with the volume control for the line in. I’ve tried the mic (and a different mic too) on all the different lines in and the white noise persists. Also, when I use the built in mic on the Roland to record it does not pick up on any white noise.

Am I missing something very obvious? This might be ridiculous but I do live under the flight path, could that have anything to do with it? I have the whole system on one loop, the wires are all carefully separated out from each other.

I can get rid of the noise using noise removal on audacity but I have to run it through twice, and then the voice recording starts sounding like I’m recording through a waterfall. I’d much rather find the source and get a clean recording.

Any suggestions or pointing towards relevant reading that might help would be hugely appreciated!

Noise Removal works by inspecting your “profile” sample and carefully generating sharp filters to remove the stuff in the profile from the show. White noise has profile in all frequencies. So it would be accurate to say that Noise Removal is trying to remove everything audible from the show. The newer Noise Removal has gating where you can cause the effect to stop during human voices, words or musical notes. What that does is produce a dead quite show with hissy voices.

I need to read through that again. It’s not unusual for a portable recorder to work much better with its native microphone than a foreign one. The latest issue of Sound On Sound magazine (OCT 2012) has a serious piece on Microphone Amplifiers, so this is not entirely settled technology.


The first knob upper left on the mixer next to where the microphone goes in. Gain. Where is that set?

You are using an XLR to XLR microphone cable like this, right?



Hi, thanks so much for getting back to me

I’m using an XLR to 1/4inch jack like this one:

Also the gain is set to half way (12 o’clock) but I have tried it at other levels too, the white noise pick up just gets worse the higher it’s set

The 1/4" inputs of this mixer are line-level, not microphone level. There is only one Microphone input per section on this mixer and it takes XLR .

That should cure your noise problem.


I’m such a dummy. I ran out and got the right cables today and that’s much better.

The insane white noise is gone, though there is still a hum in the recordings, so now I can go about trying to eliminate that. The major problem, however, is solved. Thanks so much Koz! If you’re looking for any firstborn children, one day you can have one of mine.

  • BKA

there is still a hum in the recordings

Can you hear it if you plug your headphones into the mixer and turn the volume up? The SM58 is a very sensitive microphone and it can pick up hum from CFL fixtures, electric motors and noises from your computer. One of the problems new people have is they’re spent years actively ignoring the noises around them and they’re horrified how loud their refrigerator is when it appears in a recording.

“What’s that buzz in the background.”
“I believe that’s the defrost cycle.”

I was testing a new microphone and I ignored the instructions that it was omni-directional – receives sound from all directions. I got a lovely recording of the dog across the street. That’s normal for this microphone.

While you’re listening on headphones, move the microphone and cable around and see if the hum changes at all.

Is there something that hums in the room behind you while you’re recording? You can use the microphone like a Geiger counter to search the room for problems. I found the power supply on one of my bass cabinets was defective and causing electrical interference.

You can also get into trouble with wall power. Does the hum vanish when you run the computer on batteries – temporarily – instead of wall power?


The SM58 is a cardioid microphone. It receives sound in a fan from the front with very little sound from the rear. That’s why rock bands like it. That and it’s almost impossible to break.

It’s not perfect. Sounds from the rear still make it through, just not nearly as loud as you.

Also, you shouldn’t get too close to this microphone and a blast filter is highly recommended. It’s that round screen thing.

Screen shot 2012-11-05 at 8.14.20 AM.png

One really popular noise source: do you use lamp dimmers? Those are notorious for creating noise. Either run the lights all the way up or all the way off. We have a conference room where you can’t use the pretty “expression lights” along the wall. They make noise.