Hissing Noise - Potential bad setup?


I’m a new guy on here. actually just registered considering i had this issue, and i wasn’t able to find anything on it. Then I thought why not make a thread here about it, as i’ve gotten alot of help from here before.
Also i’m “freshman” at this audio thing. i have done some recording before and read up on a great deal of things, but i’m in no way good.

So here goes.

My issue is that whenever i listen to the audio going into my computer there is this massive hissing noise. it’s not higher than my own voice, but it’s there and it’s extreme. more than i’m able to edit out.
I have checked that drivers for my audio interface is up to date, as well as every other driver. I’ve tried multiple microphones, both dynamic and condensers, of various qualities. I tried switching out with different cables, with different heads (the thing you put into stuff), and i even tried with different audio interfaces, adding compressors and mixers and such. nothing have worked.

This is my current setup. Microphone → MDX 1900 → Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 - > Computer → Audacity (tested in Ableton Live).

What could i be doing wrong? the cables going from my MDX 1900 to my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a normal Jack to XLR. the Jack end is hooked up to my MDX 1900. my microphone goes into the MDX 1900 with xlr to xlr.
I also tried different settings on my MDX 1900 as i thought the compression may be the villain, but the ones i tried didn’t work, and the ones i’ve found on the internet didn’t work either.

I’m at a loss here. i have no idea what the issue is. anyone who can help?

What’s an MDX 1900? Do you have a link to the specs and/or user manual?

Have you tried plugging the mic directly into the Focusrite interface?

Are you close to the mic? A strong signal gives you a better signal-to-noise ratio.

Are you speaking/singing correctly into a directional mic? (It might seem like a dumb question, but sometimes people use the wrong side of a side-address mic, or they try to use the end of a side-address mic.)

Does MDX have a microphone-level output or a line-level output? (An XLR connector can be either.) If it’s a line-level output, you need to configure the Focusrite accordingly. That will lower the gain, which should lower the any hiss. It will also lower the signal, so you may have to re-adjust the gain controls on the MDX1900 (if it has any) and on the Focusrite.

Noise is an analog phenomenon. That means it’s coming from your interface, or the MDX1900, or the electronics in a condenser mic. (Some of the noise could be acoustic noise in the room that you are not hearing, but the “amplified” mic picks it up.)

Generate > Silence: 10 seconds.

Does that hiss? That didn’t go through a microphone or amplifiers. It’s not that uncommon to assume your microphone is trash when the problem is really the playback side.

It’s good to stop posting categories of things that didn’t work and settle on one or two examples:
“When I connect a Shure SM58 to my Focusrite 2i2, etc. etc.” You may also find that you missed one setup when you do this. “Now that I look at this, I never tried the Focusright with the …etc.”

A microphone signal is super tiny and it’s always a difficult job to make it big enough to be used in mixing and production with other sound — and that’s if you do everything right. Particularly with a dynamic (moving coil) microphone, all the noise is coming from the preamp (Focusrite), not the microphone. If you find yourself cranking the volumes up to give you good blue waves and bouncing red sound meter, you may be just too far from the mic — or there’s something else wrong.

The object is to sing or perform loud enough to compete with the low level noise (always there), but not so loud that the blue waves hit maximum and the red sound meters smash all the way up. The Focusrite has those lights that turn green when you’re in the middle of its volume range and red when you overload.

Ignore Audacity for a minute, Can you overload if you want to? Ever? Turn everything up and yell into the mic. Can you get the Focusrite lights to turn red? Normal performance volume is a little quieter than that. You probably can’t do a quiet Flamenco solo with the mic 12 feet away. Even the grownups can’t do that.


Thanks for the replies everyone.

I have sadly not fixed my issue yet. tried connecting directly but the problem still continued, and i’m sure that my microphone stands at the correct distance and all that.
I can also overload the sound very easily if i want to, if i put up the settings a little. Normally the sound is very compressed to avoid that though. it only goes green when i speak, and that’s all.

the MDX 1900 is a Compressor that i sent the sounds into when i use my microphone

You put the microphone directly into the 2i2? Did you close down the second microphone channel? This setup gives you sound on the Left of a stereo show, yes? How do you get from that to the finished show?

What happened with Generate > Silence?

[the MDX 1900 is a Compressor that i sent the sounds into when i use my microphone

I’d leave that out 'till you’ve solved the problem. Compression WILL make the noise worse!*

Typically, a compressor is a line-level processor that goes between the mic preamp and the ADC. (There are “channel strips” that have a preamp, compression, and EQ built-in. But, if your MDX 1900 doesn’t have an input labeled “microphone”, you can’t use it with your setup.)

There’s something else you can check… Windows has some audio “enhancement” settings that can boost the digital gain (which will boost noise) or otherwise mess-up the sound. These settings are intended for microphones, but Windows might be affecting the Focusrite…

Depending on your version of windows, [u]these instructions[/u] may help you find those Windows settings.

  • Select the Focusrite (each device will have its own settings)
  • Make sure all of the enhancements are turned-off.
  • The level should be set to 100%
  • Microphone Boost should be set to 0dB.

    Or, maybe the Focusrite is just defective… Some noise is normal, but the electrical noise is usually less than room noise. If you get noise with nothing plugged-into the Focusrite, the Focusrite is the source of the noise. And if you feel you are getting plenty of signal, the problem is the noise part of the signal-to-noise ratio.

Normally the sound is very compressed to avoid that though. it only goes green when i speak, and that’s all.

I have no idea what you are talking about. Does green mean “very compressed?”

***** Compression boosts quiet parts and/or reduces loud parts. Either way, it reduces the signal-to-noise ratio. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use compression. It’s one of the most common effects. But if you have a noise problem, compression is going to make it worse.

BTW - A noisegate is a special kind of downward expansion (the opposite of compression) . Some compressors/expanders have a noisegate option that can be used along with compression, but you’ve got to be careful because it can sound unnatural if you can hear the gate opening & closing.

I have no idea what you are talking about. Does green mean “very compressed?”

The focusrite has lights behind the volume controls in place of a sound meter. If the lights are green, then the sound is in normal ranges. If it’s off the sound is super quiet and it turns red for clipping. Many smaller mixers work the same way except not as artsy. Attached.

Post some normal volume voice and then just open mic by itself. Use WAV.

Leave the compressor completely out of this until we find the problem. Put it in a box under the sofa. Plug the microphone directly into the Focusrite and do the tests that way. I think the compressor is just making the water muddy. I don’t remember complaints of hiss noise with a good microphone and a Focusrite. It’s had computer buzz noises and operation problems.

I need some very specific answers to those questions: What happens to the Audacity playback when you Generate Silence and how are you getting from a Left-Only stereo show (Focusrite output) to the final production?

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Hey Guys,

Back with an update. i managed to fix this issue by ways i’m not entirely sure of.
I tried most of the things you guys talked about, but after i turned on my system today to test away for hours, i just turned down the gain on the Focusrite Scarlett so minimal, which lowered the noise like crazy!
i then decided to turn of my Compressor and microphone, and start it up again, and TADA! minimal noise and extremely clear vocals. (considering my recording conditions the minimal noise is probably not avoidable).

Thanks everyone for trying to help me, i really do appreciate it. and i even learned from it :slight_smile: