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carol m

Noise & Interference When Recording

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I have tracked down the source of the 'noise' I get when I am recording. It's not my CD player or other electrical devices. It's the computer itself. When I use direct 'Line in' from the guitar it is slight and not really a problem, but when I use a microphone it is much worse. And as soon as I start recording, the computer 'does' more, and the interference is worse. If I use enough Noise Removal to make the recording OK, it distorts the sound. This means I can't record from my nylon acoustic guitar or any singing (because these need a mic). Is there a way to insulate the computer from itself??? To me that this question seems like a real curly one, but I have faith in you guys....any takers? :winkthumb:

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Hi Carol, I've had problems with noise as well think it's my hard drive, Kenny reduced the noise on my recording for me but he did tell me that I pay a price in sound quality as you know.

If you want to go into your computer, these guys are worth checking out but it depends on how much money you want to spend, they will give you an idea of what kind of insulators are available, and there are quite a lot of options in that area.:winkthumb:

Sound Dampening Material - Computer Case Insulation

Best Wishes

Chris

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That looks interesting, thanks Chris. I just had a quick look and will read it more now. One thing I wonder about is that its not the noise that I hear from my computer (through the air) that is the problem, its the interference on the recording, and I wonder if they are the same thing or not. I'll read more at that site and see what I find out. Thanks. :)

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That looks interesting, thanks Chris. I just had a quick look and will read it more now. One thing I wonder about is that its not the noise that I hear from my computer (through the air) that is the problem, its the interference on the recording, and I wonder if they are the same thing or not. I'll read more at that site and see what I find out. Thanks. :)

Hi Carol, it is possible that your soundcard might not be up to the job so you might need to upgrade the soundcard, it depends on the specs. of your computer, if it's a standard soundcard it might not cut it, I spoke to tekker about this on another thread, he will have a solution I think, if this is the case it may be a cheaper option than insulation, just a thought:winkthumb:

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Carol, you can try moving the mic as far away from the PC as possible. If it's one of those little desktop mics, sit it on a sponge.....that'll help muffle sound coming thru the base.

And yes, I'm still working on the other thingy:yes: :yes:

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starsailor is right, standard PC sound cards are not meant for audio recording.... They are "gamer" cards for use with headset mics and cheap $3 computer mics.

The line will work better than the mic input because it is not using the awful internal mic preamps that the mic input uses. The mic preamps are very noisy and just overall bad quality, so you are much better off getting a better quality sound card.

The noise in your recordings that you posed in the other thread is not computer fan or hard drive noise. It is noise (static) from the sound card.

Getting a sound card made for recording (such as M-Audio) will make a big difference to improve the sound quality and reduce noise.

-tkr

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Hi Skinny, its quite a long way from the PC itself, maybe 2-3 meters (about 5 feet) and hand held or a mic stand. Its not that its picking up actual sound and recording that, its electrical interference that gets even worse as soon as the computer actually works at doing something.

I hear it as noise only when I play back the blank bit (before playing or singing) which you can hear behind/under the recording too, or when I listen to downloads from the computer either via CD player/speakers or headphones (either directly from PC or via the CD player).

I don't mind it really when listening to downloads, but it really makes it impossible to use a mic (as opposed to Line In with my electric/acoustic) for recording.

As far as the 'other thingy' goes, it continues but only with Kirk's uploads, apart from that one on SlickCat's post, so I expect Clancy will have some ideas.......when she gets back to her proper job! :winkthumb:

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Hi Tekker, does that mean if I get a headset mic it would work better (using a USB port and cheaper than a new soundcard)? And/or would a pre-amp help, as that would give me more options for about the same amount of cash as for a new soundcard, and I wouldn't have to get someone to fit a new soundcard?

BTW, you're up late, unless I've got my time zones wrong :)

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I have a cheap mixer which is plugged into my PC , my mic and guitars plug into the mixer .

I don't get any noises that I don't want anymore except birds chirping dog barking and this horrid noise that comes out of my voice :)

I only have the cheap sound card that came with my PC ...

Hope that helps

Trev..:)

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Hi Tekker, does that mean if I get a headset mic it would work better (using a USB port and cheaper than a new soundcard)?

All I meant was that cheap $4 headset mics are the "best" mics those type of sound cards expect to see. In other words, the sound cards are built to be low quality because they are expecting low quality mics.

If you plug a better mic into it, it will sound a little better but the sound card will still sound bad.

And/or would a pre-amp help, as that would give me more options for about the same amount of cash as for a new soundcard, and I wouldn't have to get someone to fit a new soundcard?

A preamp would be better than using the sound card's preamp, but a new sound card would be much better.

Adding a sound card isn't too difficult. You could do it yourself, but if you are not comfortable poking around in a computer, do you have any friends who could help?

BTW, you're up late, unless I've got my time zones wrong :)

Yeah, I'm a night owl. :D I don't remember when I posted last night, but I was up until about 2:00am.

-tkr

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Thanks Tekker and Trev, I think I hear the sound of sleigh bells waaay off but heading my way......

BTW I borrowed a headset (USB connection) to try out that sort of mic and there is a lot less interference on Audacity with that than with the mid-range (proper) mic plugged in at the back (Doh!) But I doubt if I could rig up a setup where my non-electric nylon guitar would be close enough to the mic to use it to record using it.

But wait.......'inspiration' has just struck..... I could use my new, expensive, mic stand (which I haven't had a use for yet :brickwall: ) to fix the headset and mic (somehow) in position near the nylon acoustic sound hole and then record......:yeahhh: ....(my family think I'm nuts!....correction....even more nuts than usual).

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I hear you Tekker :yes::winkthumb: - - I just can't help being 'creative', especially if it will save me money!

Just to make sure, I had a close listen to when the interference starts to kick in, and when I press the On button on the computer that caused only a very slight background interference. The culprit interference happens when the Opening Windows (2000) screen is up and the blue progress thingy starts to light up (left to right under the logo). It starts suddenly and at full blast when those blue 'lights' get just past halfway to the end and way before any 'sound' has happened at all. Does that fit in with the 'its the soundcard' theory?

I don't doubt your diagnosis but...(and you've probably guessed it) I would rather spend my money on something ...well....:dunno: .....else, if I can.....even a mixer has more appeal, and I also don't want to have to attack my computer with a screw driver, or organise for someone else to, if a mixer (for example) would fix my problem.

Thanks again for helping me with this, you are in the running for a long-service medal :)

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Does that fit in with the 'its the soundcard' theory?

Yep, the sound card is connected to Windows (through the sound card driver) and there should be no sound going through your sound card when Windows isn't running. You can test this by talking into the mic until windows kicks in.

even a mixer has more appeal, and I also don't want to have to attack my computer with a screw driver, or organise for someone else to, if a mixer (for example) would fix my problem.

Even with a mixer, you will still have to go into the sound card, so the "weak link" is still there. In your case a mic preamp would be better than a mixer as the preamps are typically better quality.... But a sound card would be better yet.

Does your computer have Firewire? There are Firewire recording devices that would also work (but they cost more). No screwdrivers required. :winkthumb:

-tkr

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Aaaaah!! My brain is hurting. I’ve just been on another browse through all your Techy lessons and followed all the links for Firewire, M-Audio, etc and all the others you mention…amps, pre-amps, soundcards, mixers……..I have PM’d you with some more questions about that so I don’t bore the other members too much. Hope you don’t mind - just ignore my PM if its all ‘too much’ and you need a break.

About your last post, you say,

"and there should be no sound going through your sound card when Windows isn't running. You can test this by talking into the mic until windows kicks in".

I'm not sure how that would test if it is the soundcard at fault, because the interference starts before I log in (to Windows) to open Windows (before you get that Windows 'opening' music), so there is no way I can see or hear anything coming from a mic input until I open Audacity (or similar) which I can't do until Windows (and desk top etc) are 'open' to link to Audacity.

I mention this just to make sure we are both talking about the same things, as I can clearly hear when it kicks in - :winkthumb:

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One other thing, but probably of lesser importance, is the cabling between the computer 'sound out' to my CD and sound system etc.

At the moment it is a simple thin cord (like a headphone cord) that is 5 metres (16ft) long. I assume this would only affect the quality of the sound I get from the computer, and not the interference problem?

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I have PM’d you with some more questions about that so I don’t bore the other members too much. Hope you don’t mind - just ignore my PM if its all ‘too much’ and you need a break.

You have PM. :D Also, you can post it here since it sounds like others would be interested in hearing it also.

I'm not sure how that would test if it is the soundcard at fault, because the interference starts before I log in (to Windows) to open Windows (before you get that Windows 'opening' music), so there is no way I can see or hear anything coming from a mic input until I open Audacity (or similar) which I can't do until Windows (and desk top etc) are 'open' to link to Audacity.

The sound actually turns on "before" the windows screen finishes loading (when the blue bars are still loading as you described above). I've done this many times myself.

Do you have the mic input muted in your sound card's mixer for playback? You should have done this for recording in Audacity, since you hear the mic through Audacity. But you can use your mic without Audacity or any other software open by un-muting the mic input in the mixer window.

Try un-muting the mic input and then reboot your computer and talk into it while your computer reboots, you'll hear the instant the sound kicks in. This is why you get noise at that time also.

*** You will want to mute this before recording in Audacity again, otherwise you will have sound from the mic input AND when the mic signal goes through Audacity.

One other thing, but probably of lesser importance, is the cabling between the computer 'sound out' to my CD and sound system etc.

At the moment it is a simple thin cord (like a headphone cord) that is 5 metres (16ft) long. I assume this would only affect the quality of the sound I get from the computer, and not the interference problem?

It never hurts to try. One way to test this would be to un-plug it completely and try a test recording with no speakers connected. Then you'll know for sure if it is causing any problems or not.

-tkr

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First of all here is the content of Tekker's pm in answer to some of these questions:

Quote:

I also have a lot of tapes that I would like to be able to convert into mp3 and burn onto CD’s and I see that several software programs will do this (remove hiss etc and convert to mp3). I have an idea that this use was covered by Magix Audio Cleaning Lab, but does this software cover the soundcard upgrade as well.

Answer Software does not usually contain a sound card or interface..... However, the reverse is usually true. Most recording sound cards/interfaces come with some kind of recording software (typically the "light" version of some popular software like Cubase SL or something similar).

Quote:

It would be good if whatever I buy just plugs in rather than have to be physically installed.

Answer Unless you already have Firewire on your computer, you would have to install a Firewire interface.... So either way, something has to be installed. There are USB recording devices also, but I have heard really bad things about USB recording devices.

Quote:

I see also that some soundcards have pre-amps included and maybe, I’m not sure if I saw this while searching the net, that some mixers have soundcards incorporated also?

Answer The mixers have USB or Firewire installed. I haven't used one personally, but the ones I have heard about cannot record any of the onboard effects through the USB/Firewire. The only thing that is used for recording is the preamps. So the mixers aren't any better for recording than a straight interface.... And they cost a lot more.

Quote:

I quite like the idea of a mixer (or maybe a pre-amp – I’m not sure what the difference is in practical terms) so I can have say the guitar, the mic, maybe a keyboard or the CD player with separate inputs so I can switch between them more easily and use effects other than just what the recording program has included

Answer That's the beauty of mulitple input interfaces, you can do exactly this. For example, my recording interface (Aardvark Q10) has 8 inputs and 10 outputs, and each input has a mic preamp so I can record up to 8 separate channels at the same time onto different tracks. Aardvark is now out of business, so the Q10 could probably be bought on ebay for cheaper than most of the new interfaces that have far less inputs/outputs. When I got mine a few years ago is was around $800, but now you could probably get them for under $300. There's a couple on ebay right now....

eBay Search: Find Items... 10&category0=

The main purpose of a mic preamp is to boost the signal of the mic to a level that can be processed by the rest of the equipment. A mixer's main purpose is to take multiple channels and combine them into a single output. Mixers typically will have mic preamps along with other features like EQ, panning, aux sends, sometimes effects, etc.

The quality of a preamp will be much better than a mixer of around the same price, because all of the money goes into just the preamp instead of being spread out among the different components. Preamps are better for recording because they are higher quality and all effects and mixing are typically done in the recording software.

There are also loads of additional effects you can use with your recording program. You aren't limited to what comes with the software.... You may have seen my list of free effects, but just in case here it is again.

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/fo...-freebie-list/

Quote:

I heard that there is about to be a major leap in chip technology that might be available next year so I will wait to see what that is about.

Answer I've heard that a 16-core processor (16 individual processors on one chip! ) is supposed to be released soon-ish, so that maybe what you are referring to.

Quote:

I checked out Firewire, but it looked as if its for Macs? but it wasn’t really clear to me what it actually does from looking at their website.

Answer I think Apple created it, but it is supported by PC's also.

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So now I have re-read a whole lot of reviews etc and before asking about specific units, there are some general things I don't understand.

Phantom power - it seems to be 'desirable' but what is it really and how desirable is it? Does it mean you have to plug it in to a separate power source? (I have learned in my travels through Techy Land that if you want to refer to a wall socket, you call it a wall wart - which works for me on so many levels :winkthumb: ).

PC and PCI - are these terms interchangeable?

ASIO Drivers - do I have one, how would I know, and do the numbers (I assume = versions) matter? Presumably if the device requires ASIO 1 and I have ASIO 2 that would be OK, but not the other way round. (People in Aus will know that ASIO really stands for Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation which is our CIA, so an ASIO Driver is something/someone you really need to understand properly).

Analogue and Digital - do I need both, and do devices that have both have the ability to change one into the other. Does it matter if it is referring to Input, Output, or both?

XLR inputs - it seems to be desirable to have this, but how desirable is it, and do you need special cabling or adapters to connect to guitar and/or mic if the device has this? Do XLR outputs exist, and if so, how desirable are they?

USB 1.1 connection on a device - a couple of the devices I am looking at have this connection as opposed to USB 2.0 which is what I have on my computer. I think it is likely that this won't matter for me because I am running Windows 2000, and, am not looking for very high qualilty audio (don't need it and it makes the device too expensive), just to get rid of the interference (and have a new toy with lights and knobs to play with if possible)

Any info on these things would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance. :)

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This post is about some devices I am considering. I would appreciate any opinions about their various pluses and minuses.

M Audio Mobile Pre USB Interface with Mic Pre amp (Aus$299)

The specs etc can be seen here

This is the most expensive of the possibilities. Plusses = looks cool with nobs and lights(very important!) has phantom power, works with Windows 2000, has analogue and digital I/O, is portable so I can use it if I upgrade my computer, can be used with laptop, has good SNR (yes I do know what it means - amazingly :winkthumb: ) Negative - a bit more than I wanted to pay.

M Audio Transit (about Au$199)

The specs can be seen here

and a review here

This review says that it is virtually as good as the Pre USB above and costs a lot less. Maybe this is all I need?

M Audio Buddy Pre-amp (Au$199)

Specs can be seen here and

here

This one is the one a music store recommended for what I am looking for.

Questions: this isn't USB so does it connect into Line In? It is a pre amp, so will it solve the problem (a noisy and low quality sound card)?

I also found some much cheaper options and wonder if any of these would do the job more or less as well as the more expensive ones:

Creative 5.1 External Sound Card Stereo USB (Au$50) which is a Soundblaster product (Soundblaster Digital Music LX)

Specs can be seen here

This is one that has USB 1.1 and not 2.0. It is also 'bus powered' and I don't know what that would mean practically. The price is attractive!

New Creative Soundblaster Live 24bit External USB (Aus$95)

Specs can be seen here

This one is still USB 1.1 and seems to be a slightly more up-market version of the one above.

If anyone is still reading, thanks for reading......if anyone has an opinion, it would be appreciated....Thanks :winkthumb:

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Hi Carol, great thread here, even if it is a brain bender. I checked out a lot of your terms on Wikipedia and there's a lot of good info on that site. I won't add my interpretations because it looks like Tekker is on the job and I'm sure he'll guide you much better than I can... I'm planning on getting a better sound card on my next comp (one with a better interface to hook up my musical gadgets) so I find this interesting... good luck, I'll be watching... Bones

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