a buzzing after recording for a while

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tonyspeaks
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a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by tonyspeaks » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:28 pm

Hi all,

Using the latest version of Goldwave, while recording a plain voiceover with a Focusrite USB interface, after recording for a while, the sound seems to degrade. I get a kind of buzzing through the recording that becomes more and more pronounced as I keep recording. This buzzing is subtle but definite and appears especially pronounced through sibilances. It definitely sounds digital/electrical, i.e., not from my mouth or ambient noise. I have a nice quiet setup with a professional, custom-built booth, a Focusrite Scarlett Solo interface, and a Rode NT2-A, which has almost no self noise at all. I have both the system properties for the sound card and the Goldwave Device tab under Control Properties set to 24-bit 48000 Hz for both recording and playback, and record my sounds with a sample rate of 48000 Hz. The problem persists. I tried making the same recording with Windows 10 Voice Recorder, and the distortion doesn't appear. In fact, Voice Recorder sounds really good compared to how Goldwave ends up sounding. I therefore know the problem could very well be Goldwave. I've tried all kinds of things to try and solve this issue, updating the drivers for the interface, buying new interfaces and mics, system maintenance of various kinds, unplugging and replugging the interface, trying the same recording on Audacity and other DAWs, turning on the DC offset filter in the recording tab of Control Properties, setting the system to allow programs to take exclusive control of the audio interface, etc. Nothing helps. I still get that odd and bothersome buzzing sound after a while. The time it takes to start happening varies and is unpredictable. Restarting the computer sometimes helps, but not usually. I'm at my with's end. The next thing I'm thinking of doing is trying to get another computer, but that's going to put a hurtin' on my bank account, so I'd really rather not do it, especially since I'm not certain that would solve the problem. Thanks so much for any assistance.
Tony
www.theblindkind.com/
:wink:

DougDbug
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by DougDbug » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:13 pm

I tried making the same recording with Windows 10 Voice Recorder, and the distortion doesn't appear.
That's weird because the recording software should simply "capture" whatever it gets from the drivers. But, it's OK to record with something else and then edit with GoldWave if that works better for you.
This buzzing is subtle but definite and appears especially pronounced through sibilances.
That's also strange because usually the noise is constant and most noticeable when there is no signal to drown it out. Distortion only exists where there is a signal.

Noise is an analog problem But with a USB-powered interface noise can get into the analog part of the interface through the USB power. A different computer may be better or worse. A powered USB hub may also help. Most people will recommend against using a hub with audio but in your case it might solve a problem.

...Distortion is also an analog problem, unless you try to go over 0dB and digitally-clip.

donrandall
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by donrandall » Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:31 am

Tony -

I have voiced commercials, audio books and various other projects for several years using Goldwave. I've never had a problem traceable to Goldwave. I use an Audio Technica 4040 mic, and either a Focusrite Saffire or Presonus preamp, but have recently decided that a Yamaha preamp in my mixer works equally as well. I get no noticeable extraneous noise from any of them.

Is your preamp solid state or is it a Tube? Sometimes the tube can cause problems, which is one reason I use solid state preamps. I just looked at the website for your interface, it does not appear to be tubed. So... are you using the right input? Is the gain for the unused circuit turned all the way down? I'm sure you are using the right circuit, but hey, I've done some dum stuff over the years. What about the Line/Inst switch? Are you hearing noise only on headphones? Or are you listening also to playback through some decent monitor speakers?

It is also possible that you have a bad or unshielded cable or cables that are not "balanced". Check for cables that might be coiled (which can pick up rf). Mic cables are sometimes too long, and are coiled up to make them more compact. Coiled wires are an ingredient in some electronic component and used to "step up" voltage or signals. Check for cables that cross each other. I've never experienced any problem with that, but have heard from others that such things caused problems for them. Cable connections should be solid and tight.

The noise reduction tool in Goldwave is quite good. I have actually used the Goldwave denoiser on tracks others have recorded but could not sufficiently clean up using their more expensive editing/processing software.

Edited to add: It seems unlikely, but I gotta ask... is there any chance you are using a USB microphone?

tonyspeaks
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by tonyspeaks » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:53 pm

Thank you very much for your reply. I didn't know I had one because I thought I would get an e-mail notification, hence the delay.

We are working out of a sound booth with a really tiny hole for snaking cables through, but we have done our best to keep the cables from touching. The mic gain is not turned all the way down. It's an XLR mic. We have listened to the recordings through multiple sources, even on a phone system once after the voicemail was recorded and uploaded to the system. You should have heard how it mangled the s sounds; it was horrible. The cables are all straight, no coiled cables.

The only thing that we have not been able to try successfully is recording using the device's attributes because then when we play back the sound, it comes out one speaker only, so we don't even know if that would help. Only shared quality recording makes things play back on both sides. For various reasons we need these recordings to be made in mono. The interface is 24-bit capable, but again, there is the one-channel issue that comes up when we record using the device specific quality. We've even switched to using different computers and still nothing. We've tried with another similar interface (different model) and a Mic Port Pro. The buzz abounds. We have had the device on exclusive mode. At this point we are pretty much out of ideas unless we can get recording with shared quality turned off to play back on both channels. The average option isn't available for some reason with the interface on PCM 24-bit.

We are at our wit's end.
Tony
www.theblindkind.com/
:wink:

tonyspeaks
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by tonyspeaks » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:32 pm

Okay I misunderstood about the gain in the circuit. Pretty sure that with this interface this is not applicable. The strangest thing of all is that this problem is not consistent. Sometimes it sounds wonderful. It's completely unpredictable.
Tony
www.theblindkind.com/
:wink:

tonyspeaks
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by tonyspeaks » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:08 pm

Would it even make a difference whether or not recording quality is set to shared? I'm at such a complete and utter loss.
Tony
www.theblindkind.com/
:wink:

donrandall
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by donrandall » Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:43 am

Tony, I wish I could come up with a surefire answer for ya, but I don't have one.
The problem isn't always there, so that would seem to eliminate the possibility that you are recording at an excessively high "level". I always try to keep it low... always indicate no more than about 50%. It can always be pumped up if necessary--but if you are sending the audio to a producer somewhere else, they often prefer it to be raw and untouched.

Okay... you have checked and eliminated some some of the things that create problems. Focusrite makes good stuff, the Rode mic is good stuff. Have you tried using a different mic, or mic cable? You may have mentioned that, but I don't remember and I can't refer back to your note as I type this.

Are your interconnect cables all "balanced" cables which offer protection from outside interference such as rf? You mentioned XLR connections, so it would seem that you probably have good quality balanced cables, which would seem to eliminate that as a problem.

Are you using a (hardware, not software) mixer? Some voice over people do, many don't. If you are, you should be able to bypass it and monitor via headphones plugged into your Focusrite. That would allow you to eliminate a mixer as the problem. Oh... if you do have a multi channel mixer, make sure any unused circuits are zeroed and not passing any signal.
Make sure everything is plugged into the right place. Believe it or not, it is possible to get sound while plugged into a wrong bus -- but it can be messed up, because some places you plug in may be line level while other are variable.

From what you say, it sounds like the problem is some sort of outside interference. But... If it is not bleeding in from external sources, it would suggest something internal to the computer.

Microsoft Windows has a mixer. Open it and check to see that nothing is feeding into your signal... make sure everything in that mixer is turned off except that which you want. There should also be something in Windows that allows you turn off Window sounds and perhaps certain other things, that might be worth looking into.

Down on the lower right corner of your monitor you should see a pictogram of a speaker. Right clicking it should allow you to look into various things. Check into Recording and Playback Devices. You may have something selected that is not the right, or the best, choice. Click the Communications tab. You will have the option to partially reduce Window sounds (alerts and notices, etc), or silence them entirely. Maybe poking around in there will be productive.

Good Luck To Ya, I hope you can find the problem and solve it... let us know!

tonyspeaks
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by tonyspeaks » Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:23 am

donrandall wrote:Tony, I wish I could come up with a surefire answer for ya, but I don't have one.
The problem isn't always there, so that would seem to eliminate the possibility that you are recording at an excessively high "level". I always try to keep it low... always indicate no more than about 50%. It can always be pumped up if necessary--but if you are sending the audio to a producer somewhere else, they often prefer it to be raw and untouched.
I'll check into the levels.
donrandall wrote:Okay... you have checked and eliminated some some of the things that create problems. Focusrite makes good stuff, the Rode mic is good stuff. Have you tried using a different mic, or mic cable? You may have mentioned that, but I don't remember and I can't refer back to your note as I type this.
We have tried different cables and different mics; we have several mics from different/competing brands, all very good mics. The Rode one sounds the best except for that audio issue, indistinguishable from the famed Neumann U87.
donrandall wrote:Are your interconnect cables all "balanced" cables which offer protection from outside interference such as rf? You mentioned XLR connections, so it would seem that you probably have good quality balanced cables, which would seem to eliminate that as a problem.
I would say the cable quality is not the issue. We have a shorter cable that we'll be trying today and might invest in an even shorter one if need be. We also have tried using a different interface, the Mic Port Pro.
donrandall wrote:Are you using a (hardware, not software) mixer? Some voice over people do, many don't. If you are, you should be able to bypass it and monitor via headphones plugged into your Focusrite. That would allow you to eliminate a mixer as the problem. Oh... if you do have a multi channel mixer, make sure any unused circuits are zeroed and not passing any signal.
We don't use a hardware mixer.
donrandall wrote:Make sure everything is plugged into the right place. Believe it or not, it is possible to get sound while plugged into a wrong bus -- but it can be messed up, because some places you plug in may be line level while other are variable.
I'm not knowledgeable enough about audio to understand the above. If it helps, the mic is connected via XLR to the interface, which is in turn connected to the computer via USB.
donrandall wrote:From what you say, it sounds like the problem is some sort of outside interference. But... If it is not bleeding in from external sources, it would suggest something internal to the computer.

Microsoft Windows has a mixer. Open it and check to see that nothing is feeding into your signal... make sure everything in that mixer is turned off except that which you want. There should also be something in Windows that allows you turn off Window sounds and perhaps certain other things, that might be worth looking into.

Down on the lower right corner of your monitor you should see a pictogram of a speaker. Right clicking it should allow you to look into various things. Check into Recording and Playback Devices. You may have something selected that is not the right, or the best, choice. Click the Communications tab. You will have the option to partially reduce Window sounds (alerts and notices, etc), or silence them entirely. Maybe poking around in there will be productive.

Good Luck To Ya, I hope you can find the problem and solve it... let us know!
What makes me think this might be external is that we tried more than one computer and still had the same problem. The only thing that those computers have in common is the operating system (Windows 10). We did need to use an unpowered hub with the other computers (laptops) for devices that didn't require powered hubs like the keyboard and mouse. The interface was connected directly in each instance. Even a new power strip/surge protector didn't help. Everything else was the same.

I'll investigate these avenues. Thank you both for taking the time to respond. I'll certainly report back if any progress. I'm also looking at getting a powered USB hub.
Tony
www.theblindkind.com/
:wink:

donrandall
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by donrandall » Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:25 pm

Tony, I'm sorry I couldn't come up with an answer for ya. I'm thinking you are right in suspecting some sort of outside interference. Check the area for shortwave or business band antennas on tall towers, perhaps in someone's back yard, or even on their roof. Are you near any military installation or airport?

I had a problem with that (external rf) some years ago. The neighbor is an amateur radio guy, his stuff used to bleed into my radio, my tv audio and even my studio stuff. The only thing I could do was start a project and hope he didn't come along and mess it up for me. After a few weeks, he installed some filters on his equipment. As a result, I've had no problem since.

tonyspeaks
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Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by tonyspeaks » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:32 pm

Hi Don and Doug,

A lot got done to try and resolve this today. Long story short, it was the monitor that we keep in the booth for reading the scripts and editing the audio. We realized there was a faint but definite multi-toned hum and figured out it was coming from the monitor. Turning it off seems to have fixed the problem. The audio hasn't sounded that good right out of the gate in a long time. Turning off the monitor during recording and using a tablet for the script seems to have made a big difference. We sure hope it lasts.

Don, I especially want to thank you for all the time you took to try and help out. Your assistance in mentally processing the long list of things to check on did help us consider avenues that eventually led to the discovery of the monitor making noise. It was so faint to the naked ear and not really audible in the cording when there was nothing but ambient/room noise coming through, but it was interfering with the sound waves in the booth and causing that distortion.

Again, thank you very, very much. You sharing your expertise is likely going to be helpful with future issues if they crop up. I've learned a lot.
Tony
www.theblindkind.com/
:wink:

donrandall
Posts: 540
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Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: a buzzing after recording for a while

Post by donrandall » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:43 pm

Hey.... That's great!

I'm happy that you solved your problem. RF from the monitor... wow. That's one I never would have thought of. I have two monitors on my desktop, but my computers are on the other side of a wall. I've removed the spinning hard drives and replaced them with solid state hard drives, but hard drive noise is not a problem with 'em on the other side of the wall, the cooling fans will still kick on from time to time.

Best of luck to you sir!

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