Help please: what is this annoying sound?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Alex J, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    So I sat down to record some tracks and immediately was hit with this super irritating sound that I've never noticed before and I can't for the life of me work out what it is.

    - It's constant, like a helicopter or an idling engine (mp3 attached), and is the same whether I am touching metal components or not. It never varies in pitch or intensity.
    - It is directional in that some angles lessen or increase it, but it occurs whether I plug into my Focusrite Scarlett into my laptop or into a Zoom H4N on batteries elsewhere in the house.
    - I tried through my amp and it was very audible out the speakers.
    - I have tried several different cables and turned various devices in my studio on or off.
    - Holding the cable in certain positions can make it worse.

    At first I thought it was a problem with the preamp in my active jazz bass, but I can detect the exact same sound at the same frequency when I use my Stingray so unless they have both gone wrong in the same way at the same time it must be something external, right? I can't hear it when I switch my jazz to passive mode.

    Attached Files:

  2. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    in this very brief sample i'm hearing regular hiss / noise that occurs in just about any home recording situation. no helicopter idling that i can detect.

    that you say the angle the bass is pointed at affects it and that you hear it through your amp says to me that it's either due to poorly shielded basses, "unclean" power in your house (very common), or some combo of the 2.

    how loud is this interference compared to your actual bass signal? because it may be something that will never be audible in a mix.
    Alex J likes this.
  3. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    If you turn the volume up sufficently you should be able to hear the repeating sound under the hiss. I can hear it on cans and out my monitors.

    I think you're right about unclean something, but it happened in a portable headphone amp too so something is kicking out something nasty. Just can't work out what.

    Although it's not audible when I bass is mixed into a track, I'm concerned because I'm recording tracks for someone's (very well produced) album and I don't want the isolated bass I send over to be full of artefacts and weirdness.
    LowRenzo likes this.
  4. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    I had it pretty loud in headphones and didn't hear it. Perhaps a longer clip?

    You might try a power conditioner...

    If whomever you're working with understands that you're working in a home studio, I'm sure they won't worry too much about it. Noise reduction plugins work wonders...
    Rip Van Dan and Reedt2000 like this.
  5. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Its your settings. Most likely a ram drop. Close all other processes on your computer when recording, and re-set up your latency. But, you shouldn't hear it when you mix it down. My computer does this sometimes. People ask me the same question.
  6. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    But it does it when I'm not even plugged into the computer, in a different room, on a headphone amp powered by batteries?

    Here's a longer clip.

    Attached Files:

  7. AceOfBassFace


    Jun 23, 2019
    What's your signal path? I had this same sound when I had too many stomp boxes attached to one power supply. It was fairly loud.
    Alex J likes this.
  8. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    For that clip it was just bass ---> Mogami cable ---> Focusrite. Flat EQ. Does it whether the laptop is plugged in or on battery power.
  9. AceOfBassFace


    Jun 23, 2019
    Tough one to figure out... sounds like RF interference
    I'd try a few things:

    1) different cable
    2) new battery in the bass
    3) look for some other cause - fridge or ac compressors, mobile phones in proximity, etc.
    4) try a different electrical circuit in your house
    5) are you near a cellphone tower
    6) see if it happens in a differnt location

    There are a lot of things it could be.
    wheelsup247 likes this.
  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    upload_2020-8-7_12-39-43.jpeg 'Cause the man from Mars stopped eatin' cars and eatin' bars
    And now he only eats guitars...
  11. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
    This sounds like it could be cell phone interference to me. Do you set your cell phone on top or near the equipment?
    Matty Koff, gebass6, westrock and 2 others like this.
  12. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    Nope, nowhere near. There is a telephone pole pretty close to the front of the house though. I've often eyed it suspiciously.

    In the short term, there is a spot in the room where there is no interference. So I guess that's something :)
    Drucifer likes this.
  13. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    I remember having exactly same sound with my Focusrite Solo. I think is was some kind of interference from other laptop component, like wifi or bluetooth. First remove every external device that is not critical, like mouse, printer, etc. If that doesn't help, open Device manager and turn off one device after another, starting with USB interface.
    Also, if you're using laptop, run it on battery.
    One more thing, do you hear same helicopter noise when nothing is plugged in Focusrite? If so, could be the bass is unshielded. In that case, noise could vary when you face it toward screen and away.
    JMarkD likes this.
  14. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I'm guessing some kind of radio interference. Your only other way of testing would be to set up at a different location.
    Reedt2000 and ObsessiveArcher like this.
  15. BigBear77


    Aug 30, 2017
    Ceiling fan?
  16. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    Tried all that but no change, alas. It only happens when active basses are plugged in, as far as I can tell, but both are much higher output than my passives.

    My Focusrite is a generation 1 and about 8 years old, so if nothing else, it's a good excuse to get something new!
  17. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    I wish; it's way too hot today :dead:
  18. NortyFiner

    NortyFiner Drunken Sailor Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Portsmouth VA USA
    Sounds like some kind of RFI. The fact that it changes as you move around points to an external source that something in your gear is picking up on. I once heard here about a pedal that basically started acting like a crystal radio when a diode went bad...
    Rabidhamster and Alex J like this.
  19. Alex J

    Alex J

    Jul 5, 2011
    This is my prime suspect:

    Rabidhamster and JeezyMcNuggles like this.
  20. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Since you said that you get the noise when using a portable headphone amp, that pretty much rules out everything except RFI or EMI. The good news is that you can take advantage of your portable headphone amp to wander around your house/apartment to see how and where the noise changes, which might help you identify the source if it's in there somewhere. Then take the bass out into the back yard or parking lot, etc. to see if you still get the noise, which would help determine if the source is actually in your house/apartment. If you're lucky it could be as simple as a dimmer switch, television, or other electrical equipment.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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