White Noise is All-Consuming

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White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by fadingvoice » Tue Sep 27, 2016 5:33 am

Hi, all. I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out where all of my white noise sounds are coming from. I have played with the gain A LOT, but I'm still getting awful results.

I recorded a sample according to the guidelines here, which is much louder than I usually do because it makes the hiss so audible (and also that echo...). The sample has the preamp gain set at 85/100 and the audacity recording input level at 90/100.

I am using a Blue Spark mic (the analogue version) with the focus button pressed. The preamp is an M-Audio M-Track. I am using Windows 10 and a Dell XPS 8500.

Any advice on how to improve this situation would be much appreciated. I'm not sure what is failing or how to test things anymore.

Thanks.
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help-levels-85preamp-90aud.wav
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:32 am

It sounds like you might actually be recording from your laptop built-in microphone.
As a test, start recording, then gently scratch the grill on the mic with your fingernail (don't "tap" it - that's not good for mics). The sound of scratching the mic grill should be loud and clear if that mic is on.
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:35 am

fadingvoice wrote: am using Windows 10 and a Dell XPS 8500.

Oh, I notice that is a desktop computer.
Do the scratch test anyway, if the test fails then there must be another mic somewhere.
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by fadingvoice » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:57 pm

Hi! So a few developments:
- Soon after I made that recording, I realized that I had turned the microphone backwards while tinkering with the XLR cable. So the recording you hear is of me speaking into the BACK of the cardioid mic. WOOPS. That is probably why my voice sounds so awful, but I don't think it accounts for all the white noise (which is present in other recordings I have made even with the mic turned the right way).
- I then placed the mic into the correct position and plugged the preamp into my macbook pro. I made a recording (preamp gain at 75/100 or 85/100 and audacity recording input at 100/100), and it did not have any white noise. None that I could detect. It sounded like a very clean recording to me. I almost cried.
- It seems like there is something going on with my PC's set up (sound card???). For various reasons, I MUCH prefer to record on the Dell XPS 8500 if I can figure out a way to do so without the background noise. Based on what I've described above, does this help diagnose the issue any further?

(Also, do let me know if you still think I should do the scratch test.)

Thanks!
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:34 pm

Yes, please do the scratch test and post the result.
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by fadingvoice » Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:08 am

Hi, I have attached the scratch test and also an updated audio sample (with me speaking into the mic correctly). Thanks so much!!
Attachments
scratch-test.wav
scratch test
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help-levels-updated-0.wav
updated audio
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:53 am

The scratch test is certainly working ;) but the huge signal level shows that your recording level is very high.
How close are you to the microphone (lips to mic distance), and how is the "focus control" set?
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by fadingvoice » Wed Sep 28, 2016 7:39 pm

Hi!
- My mouth was ~6 inches away from the mic.
- The Focus button reduces low end sensitivity and instead "focuses" on low and mid frequencies (http://www.bluemic.com/products/spark/). It is literally an on/off button, so there is not much else to set.

I can include a recording from my macbook pro so you can hear the difference if that helps at all? Let me know what you think could be useful.

Thanks again.
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:03 pm

A recording from the Mac could be useful. Is that exactly the same setup apart from the computer?
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Re: White Noise is All-Consuming

Permanent link to this post Posted by cyrano » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:51 pm

I don't hear any excessive noise on your samples. There is some noise, but with gain setting on the M-audio at 85% I would expect that to be present. It's a bit of white noise from the preamp and some ambient noise from your recording room.

Your mic has an output of 28 mV/Pa. That is very high. I'd expect the M-audio not to need 85% gain, more like 50 or 60%. Are you sure you are not recording with the input set at line level?

Are you using the original (Avid) M-Audio M-Track, the current plastic M-Audio M-Track, the plastic M-Audio M-Track+, the newer metal M- Audio M-Track 2X2 , the newer metal+plastic M- Audio M-Track plus II or the newest metal M-Audio M-Track II? (all of these are 2 I/O).

Have you listened back to your recordings made on the PC on another computer?

The original Avid M-Audio M-Track had a driver problem with certain Windows versions that made it noisy on playback. Trying older/newer drivers seemed to fix that. But I haven't seen one of these in many years. And for these drivers, you still need to go to the Avid website.

Don't know about the newer ones from M-Audio, but the specs seem to indicate a lot of difference quality-wise, especially the S/R, which varies from -104 dBu to -96 S/R ratio on mic inputs. 8 dB is a lot, especially as they don't even care to tell us how much gain the preamp offers... The only one I found gain numbers for, the M-Track II, has 55 dB gain for mic, line and instrument inputs... That hardly sounds correct...
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