electronic chatter on recordings

Evening all.

I’m running from a Rode NT1-A to a Focusrite Scarlett Solo into Audacity 2.3.2 on Windows 10 Home. If I sit perfectly still after pressing record, the line is clean. But, with any movement whatsoever, or with speech, there are some digital extras. It’s not constant, like a hum or a whine that I can wipe out with Mosquito Killer 4. I can be perfectly silent between text, and then it’s back on the next time I’m talking.

I can do a decent job getting rid of it in the spaces where there’s no speech, either by pasting room tone or by crushing it with the noise reduction tool, but when there’s speech, that doesn’t do the job and there’s sound left on the edges.

3 samples:
“Whine” is the sound happening when I’m not talking (albeit moving).

“with speech” is an example of how it sounds when I am talking.

“post-edit” is after I apply my ACX Macro for product, plus try to isolate and remove the noise.

Any wisdom is welcome! I pass ACX check but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to listen to these recordings myself.

“whine.wav” sounds like EMI,
possibly from a cellphone, or fluorescent lighting, or from the computer itself.
Your position is affecting the reception of this interference.

I wondered. I’ve been reading off of my cell phone, so it’s not far from the microphone. But the static starts even before I get across the room to sit at the mic. So I need to find a different source to read from and/or turn off the phone? I have one overhead light fixture, I can turn that off… I’m maybe 6 feet away from the desktop, wired laptop, keyboard, and mouse when I’m at the mic.

Turning off the phone / light / (WiFi router ?) should reveal whether they are responsible.

Thank you! I’ll have to give these a go when I get home from work. Appreciate your help.

Do you have one single XLR cable between the Rode and the Solo? No adapters?

If so, you can go “trolling for noise.” Move the microphone around the room listening via headphones as you go. Set Audacity for monitor mode where it activates the microphone without actually making a recording. Or you can actually make a recording and listen as you go.

Cellphones generally make pulsing noises as then negotiate their cell connection, so it doesn’t sound like that. LED or CFL lighting? They can do that.

Windows 10 Home.

Windows 10 Home on a what? Some screens can radiate trash like that. Laptop? Can you run on batteries briefly and see what happens? Completely disconnect the wall power.

How long is the USB cable between the Solo and the computer? You’re only allowed about 6’ (2M) before it starts getting sloppy. The XLR connection between the Rode and the Solo is balanced and shielded and can go for 50-100 feet before running into trouble, not so the USB connection.

Does it change if you touch the Solo or the computer? Both at once? Touch the Rode.


Is the buzz audible on the solo headphone connection? Turn the headphone and microphone volumes all the way up.

The solo has an instrument connection and volume control—Number 2. Is that all the way down?


Are you in the US?


One other note. A spectrum analysis of the buzz has a spectacular peak at 13Hz. Way louder than any of the other tones in the buzz. 13Hz is not audible and so wouldn’t show up on speakers or headphones. It’s also not naturally caused by anything I know of.

I’m more than ever curious what’s causing it.

I can make this worse. Either the Solo or the Rode could be broken. Did you buy them new?


This is my hair standing up.

13 Hz is in the Alpha Brain Wave range. Do you have any enemies in the US State Department? CIA?


Wow, Koz!

The level of, well, everything, is so far beyond my capacity so far.

Let’s see…

Running on a desktop.
One XLR cable from the Rode to the Scarlett, it came with the Rode (20’ cable).
USB from Scarlett to computer is the one that came in the box for the Scarlett. Haven’t measured it, but I’m 6’4" and it’s a lot shorter than me, maybe more like 4’.
No florescent lights, although the fixture has whatever bulb was in it when we moved in 6 weeks ago. I’ll have to remove the dome to see the bulb itself.
Haven’t tried touching things yet, although I can do that as well as trolling for noise when I get home. I haven’t been able to hear the sound when I have my headphones in for direct monitor (AKG), so I’ll have to record and see what we find.
I haven’t even looked at the second/open channel, wasn’t using it. I’ll look.
Yes, US.
I bought solo, Rode, isolation shield, and headphones on Friday, new, from Amazon. They arrived Sunday.
No known government enemies. Could just be my own awesomeness literally pushing out into the universe.

Could just be my own awesomeness literally pushing out into the universe.

It could be, but it could also be a bit more serious than that. This is the kind of thing that makes people in the US embassies sick For No Known Reason. You hit the embassy with high power electrical signals that interfere with nerves and emotions. It would look a lot like what you have…


Well, that’s not unsettling in the least. Oh, wait, it is.

My wife pointed out that we live right by an above-ground power line tower. So there’s a crap-ton of electricity flowing near our house.

Turning off the phone/light/wifi had no noticeable impact.
The 2nd line input is turned all the way down.
Trolling the room indicates that I’m already in pretty much the best spot, although the dangle of the cord/movement thereof vs. not moving the cord when at the table could be a contributing factor.
Touching the mic/solo/computer didn’t change anything.
I can’t hear the buzz via the direct monitor, even when I crank the mic/headphones. So trouble between Solo and computer?
I took the mic off the shock mount and out of the isolation screen, out from behind the pop filter, and had a massive spike in buzz while holding it in my hand but not moving. Restoring to previous position got me back to a more normal-to-low level of buzz.

In other news, I have a huge thunderstorm going on, and my data is certainly effed tonight because of the activity in the air. I’m in the highest room in the house, closest to the storm. You should see the results of lightning flashes on my waveform.

I’m in the highest room in the house, closest to the storm.

…and the power lines.

I would stop shooting there. I know this isn’t popular news, but if someone asked me to design a terrible place to record high quality voice, I would describe your house.

I was called in to help solve buzz and interference problems on a film shoot near my neighborhood. I did not pull a rabbit out of my hat. I went outside the building to get a good look at the 50,000 watt KABC Radio transmitter. Yes, that is the highest power you can broadcast in the US.

I’m surprised the cameras didn’t get warm from the radiation.

I told the Producers to shoot somewhere else, which is pretty much what their own technicians had been telling them.


There is an upside to this. Visualize a 45 degree angle from the top of the power line supports to the ground. That is the cone of protection. If your house is inside that zone, there is 0.00% chance you will be hit by lightning.

We had an antenna “farm” in Washington DC covering the parking lots and green areas. Some of the antennas were in the cone of protection of the broadcast tower and some weren’t. The ones that were outside the cone got smacked regularly. It got to be a joke.

Don’t stand next to the 7-meter dish connections. It’s going to rain.


Missed a piece. The cone goes out at a 45 degree angle to about 100 feet from the tower. Then it drops straight down. It’s been a while since I did that kind of engineering.

Los Angeles doesn’t have rain. I think it’s a state law or something.


So not a cell tower, but power cables. I was walking the push mower underneath it last night at the edge of the half-acre of yard. Barring a Faraday cage (not happening at my house right now), I’m toast? That is an astonishing level of disappointment, but good to know before I get any farther. I guess I just… Pack everything up and try to return it?

“it pours, man it pours …”