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Unwanted Sound in Recording!

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by johntaylor91, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. johntaylor91


    Oct 6, 2013
    I'm college kid at school right now, so I have a simple recording setup. I record my guitar and my bass through my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB audio interface in my DAW on my laptop.

    Now for the problem. When monitoring and recording my stuff, the actual sound quality coming through is great, except there's this super high pitched sound in the background, almost like a dog whistle. I didn't even notice it at first, but when I crank the volume up, it's very noticeable.

    To make things even more complicated, the sound gets worse when I turn the tone pot on my bass to the treble side. At first I thought it was my bass, but it does it with my guitar, too. I've tested recording at different places in my house, and it's still the same thing, so I don't think it's interference coming from other electronics. I even tried unplugging my power supply from my computer because I know that can cause issues, but it was to no avail. I'm starting think it could be a ground looping issue. I don't have much experience with this kind of stuff, though. I just want clean recordings! Has anyone run into this problem before?
  2. jtz


    Sep 17, 2011
    it's a few things; most likley it's the cables, if you use cheap cables they hiss all the time, you gotta get more expensive ones like monster or mogami or there are some other smaller manufactureres in audio stores that would sell better insulated cables; you need instrument line TRS cables, not stereo the difference is how many rings are on the pin tip;

    another thing is transference from other electrical devices near the interface, which would probably get picked up by the wire of poorly insulated cables; you should move your interface as far away from wall A/C outlets and surge protectors, or any other electrical device that's using wall voltage or turn everything off you dont need, could also be the power supply of your computer if it's expensive; worth investing in a good surge protector they sell them at pro audio stores that are supposed to be quiet;

    third thing it could be from a peddle, some of them hiss no matter what it's why good peddles are cool; so like turn them on and off do diagnostic tests to see if one of them is hissing;

    or you can zap that hiss in two seconds with mastering software; if it's just a consistent hiss the whole time that doesnt change, let it hiss for a second before you start playing your instument; then use noise cancelation software you basically record the noise you dont want for a second (so it has to be isolated) and then it analyzes it digitally and removes every instance of it from the audio file;

    either way if you dont like hiss you're looking at spending money; easiest is just get soundforge even an older version, it's like $300 if you cant steal it online;
  3. johntaylor91


    Oct 6, 2013
    Thanks for the advice!

    I do have an update on the issue. I think I've either found the culprit or at least I'm close to finding it. Whenever my interface is by itself, meaning it's not plugged into my computer, it sounds fine. As soon as I plug the USB cable into the computer, the high-pitched sound comes back. This leads me to believe it's a ground loop issue. My question now is how do you solve a ground loop issue when it's between the interface and the computer? I know you can buy DI boxes or even hum eliminators, but I don't think they would help because the problem is in the connection between the computer and the interface which don't use XLR or TRS inputs and outputs. Any ideas?
  4. Hmm. Assuming you get the noise with only the interface connected to the laptop with nothing plugged into the interface - try using a different USB 3.0 port and try a different USB cable too. If you still get the noise with nothing plugged into the interface, the interface is probably the problem (assuming regular MP3 files play ok without any noise) and needs to be swapped/returned/replaced.
  5. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Laptop, yes?
    Do you get this same interference when the laptop is not plugged in - only running on battery?

    If you have the problem when the laptop is not grounded - it is not a ground loop...
  6. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
  7. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    That's bull
  8. Are you powering the interface through the USB or are you using a DC adapter? I had a similar problem when powering an interface with the adapter on a laptop where it went away powering it over USB... Also, could absolutely be a bad USB cable.
  9. johntaylor91


    Oct 6, 2013
    I think you're right about it not being a ground loop issue. The sound is still there even when the laptop is only running on battery. I think I'm gonna try a different USB cable to see if that makes any difference. I'll post again when I get the results.
  10. DieterVDW


    Sep 19, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    I have the exact same problem right now. Did you ever find a solution for this?
  11. tmdazed


    Sep 29, 2012
    USB is known for phantom sound when recording, the majority reason why I switched to a firewire interface
  12. DieterVDW


    Sep 19, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    No problem when recording line or mic though, only when recording bass straight in input.
  13. Michael B

    Michael B

    Dec 16, 2015
    Lowell, MA
    Unplug one wite at a time. Then follow that path until you narrow it down.

    Probably a wire has gone bad. Once you find it easy fix.

    If a light nearby makes it worse, don't turn it off. Bring it closer to aggravate the bad wire more loudly. Then find where the bad cable is.

    Also, if you are charging your phone nearby stop doing that.
  14. DieterVDW


    Sep 19, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    Yeah I also suspected some kind of switching power supply.
    However the bass was the only instrument plugged in.
    Also going bass -> Fender Rumble -(XLR out)-> FocusRite was dead silent.
    A bit weird, but not really a problem. The line out of that Rumble is also good I guess.
  15. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Not really weird...
    Common-mode noise rejection is exactly why balanced connections are used for long cable runs of input-level signals.
    This is exactly why I use DI-out into my Scarlett when I'm doing any kind of actual recording.
    I may get lazy and just plug directly into the instrument (1/4") jack for just silent practice, but recording always uses the balanced XLR in from some sort of DI - either a pedal, or an amp head.
  16. DieterVDW


    Sep 19, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    But I plugged the exact same cable in my Rumble. Logic would tell me the noise picked up by the cable would also be amplified by the amp. In essence both the FocusRite and the Rumble just contain a preamp right?
    Maybe because the amp is grounded this is less of a problem...?

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