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Limiting Noise In Recording Modular
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Limiting Noise In Recording Modular
jambirn
Hi,
I'm plugging the output of my modular straight into my Antelope Audio Zen Studio, and also plugging into my Mackie Mixer on occasion. The noise it generates is just too loud for comfort in recording. Any ideas what I can do to clean up the signal?
Jim
abelovesfun
Not a ton of info to go off of, but there is nothing inherent in modular that causes noise. My system's output is clean enough to go direct straight from a VCA or in-rack mixer.

Do you have a noisy switching power supply? I would look there. If you have a nice clean linear supply, or if the switching is not causing the noise, then try unplugging (esp) digital modules one by one and testing until you see a difference.
lisa
If anything the very hot signal from most modulars mean that the noise floor isn’t much of an issue, in general. Can you post a sound clip?
thetwlo
jambirn wrote:
Hi,
I'm plugging the output of my modular straight into my Antelope Audio Zen Studio, and also plugging into my Mackie Mixer on occasion. The noise it generates is just too loud for comfort in recording. Any ideas what I can do to clean up the signal?
Jim


What level is the Antelope expecting?
Astrolabe23
Is the noise present when you only have your modular "output" plugged into your interface or mixer? By modular "output" I mean mixer module, output module vca module or similar. Is the noise present before you start to wire up a patch, or does it come in from another specific module when you start patching, or does it increase gradually as you add more to your patch? Using process of elimination to isolate where exactly the noise is coming from will help greatly in finding advice on the right solution. Let us know if you need a more detailed walk through on how to test each of the components in your setup to find the noise source.
Graham Hinton
lisa wrote:
If anything the very hot signal from most modulars mean that the noise floor isn’t much of an issue, in general.


In general you gain about 10dB at the top of the range and loose 20-30dB at the bottom, which becomes an issue when you plug it in to something with a low noise floor. The signal to noise ratio of most synthesizers is a lot worse than most recording equipment and some modules are particularly noisy.

If it is a problem there is a choice of using a noise gate, processing recorded tracks with something like iZotope Rx or being more discerning about the spec of your modules.
lisa
I use SoundSoap (VST) for cleaning up sound files now and then, mostly for acoustic recordings. Works well.
jorg
The specs for your aduio interface are pretty vague about input level. If it can handle full 10Vpp synth output voltage, then feed it a nice hot signal and use the attenuator on your interface. If that's distorting, try to insert passive attenuation at your synth output. That should ameliorate the possibly high noise floor of whatever module you're using for output. Some modules will have a constant noise floor, even if you turn down their gain. Some will also turn down the noise when you turn down the signal. You could do a quick check to see which is the situation with your specific output module. Just connect it to ground or (depending on the module's function) connect no audio input. Then turn the level/gain/output knob on the module up and down and listen to the noise floor. If it goes up and down, you can use the module's attenuator. If it's constant, run the module at full blast and attenuate external to it (passive or in your interface).
Pelsea
One tip-- arrange your patches so the VCAs come last in the signal chain.
jorg
Pelsea wrote:
One tip-- arrange your patches so the VCAs come last in the signal chain.


I've been happier putting the filter last - cleans up distortion from my VCAs. But do try both on your synth.
rustedimac
I had similar issues with noise, but swapping the flying bus cable to something more solid and noise repellent really improved it. Then I started using DIs to even further eliminate noise. My synth is practically noise-free now.
sutekina bipu-on
Yeah i was able to cut out noise almost 100% just by going from a flying bus board psu to a proper doepfer psu3. I was gonna do the mean well thing but then i saw Mr Hinton's and Mr Doepfer's harsh criticisms of the mean wells (even gave up on considering 15v mean wells going into a 12v regulator at that point). I used to have a lot of cross talk between certain modules, but then again, the manual for the uzeus tells you not to plug in stuff like lfo's right next to oscillators and try to keep all those things on separate bus boards. I did not do that. (had 6 VCO's, what was i supposed to do?)

on the recording end of things, i'll make sure to get a moment of pure signal noise, no gear making any sounds otherwise, at the start or end of my recording. I use REAPER as my DAW, so i use ReaFir in subtract mode to sample in a moment of the noise and then have it remove that from the whole track. It works very very well. I used to use izotope demo versions years ago, i didn't really know what i was doing then as well as i do now, but this works great for me and the results are excellent. I don't even bother with outboard noise gates anymore. I just do ReaFir on every track.
akaye
Related in topic: I recently bought the uClouds Monsoon and for a few hours thought that I had possibly received a faulty unit, because there was a very high noise floor and a piercing 18k constant noise. After further digging it turned out that the clouds was set on the lowest audio quality option. Once set to the highest, all the noise went away. Sometime really hard to track down things like this when you have many modules!
Alphaman
do not use the Mackie Mixer between the Euro and the Audio interface (if possible). and make sure you have a interface with low Noise-floor. this Antelope thingy is probably crap
xenosapien
Alphaman wrote:
do not use the Mackie Mixer between the Euro and the Audio interface (if possible). and make sure you have a interface with low Noise-floor. this Antelope thingy is probably crap


Antelope is actually really high quality "crap"... that´s not the issue.

Neither is the Mackie (though that is somewhat up to taste), I am using a Mackie mixer as a submixer for my modular and never once had any noise issue.

What I´m saying is - look at all the factors, including your Antelope and your Mackie, but don´t let people tell you "do not use [blah blah]" etc. just from looking at your (really really short and uninformative) post.

my guess is along with others that probably your unnamed modular PSU is at fault here - at least, that is statistically most often the cause for (unwanted) "modular noise" wink
Shledge
Use a proper PSU.
batch
Antelope are really nice audio interfaces. I have the Orion 32+ and couldn’t be happier. Super clean, no noise issues whatsoever. I use nw2s:o16 to send a line level balanced out. And am using switching PSUs.

Can you do trial and error? Put modules in one at a time and figure out if it’s your PSU, a particular module, etc.
PompeiiRuler
Yep , iZotope Rx is a lifesaver for this issue. Good to know you can quickly clean up the noise without removing too much of the top end. Balanced out will help also but I often resort to mono patch to 1/4 cables straight from a vca if multi track recording and end up with noise. Shielded cables I think not
hamildad
learningModular has been doing a series of blog posts on reducing noise in a Eurorack system.

I think most are Patreon subscriber only.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/learning-modular-23481757

Take a look at if it looks like the sort of thing you might benefit from, think of joining his Patreon.
Flexyflier
lisa wrote:
I use SoundSoap (VST) for cleaning up sound files now and then, mostly for acoustic recordings. Works well.


Going to check that out
goom
I sometimes have noticeable noise when recording my modular. I tracked it down to a spring reverb module in my system. Everything else is dead quiet.

Also a possibility is your gain staging throughout your patches.
Shledge
I still get some noise with a few problematic modules (my geiger counter has a pretty high noise level regardless, but it's for distortion so I don't really mind).

Otherwise it's fine, I can only really hear a small hint of it if I whack the gain up to ridiculous levels - think two VCAs chained with +20db amplification each.

The new case has helped a lot with previous troublesome modules like my ladik panner, which no longer outputs any noise.
monads
Experienced similar with a Trogotronic m/277 Tube VCA in the chain and high gain settings. Drove me nuts trying to troubleshoot until I started to remove items one at a time.
Pelsea
We've been down this road a few times. Judging from similar threads and complaints a modular system can be noisy for a lot reasons, which boil down to one or more of these:

Bad PSU-- Difficult to diagnose without an oscilloscope. Test by mounting one simple module in the buss position closest to the PSU connection. If there is no noise, the PSU will be good until it reaches its load limit. Repeat the test with another module to confirm. The only fix is to replace PSU.

Overloaded PSU. Get on modulargrid and do the math. Stay under 80% of the PSU rating on all three wires. Fix is to add a second PSU and power bus.

One bad module that is injecting noise into the signal path. Easy to diagnose, you will only hear noise in patches that use that module. Get it repaired or junk it.

One bad module that is injecting noise onto the power bus or ground. These are usually digital modules, or the occasional oscillator. (Anything with a 555 in it is suspect.) Find it by disconnecting one module at a time. Get it repaired, or power it from its own PSU.

Poor quality bus. Avoid flying bus cables, get something with filtering and as heavy duty wiring as possible.

Poor ground connection between separate power systems. Your first clue is pop or buzz when you put the first patch cable in. Diagnose by connecting a heavy wire to the ground of one PSU, then (carefully!) touch the ground of the other PSU. Fix is to make this connection permanent somehow. (Note: this is a hack, not approved by many members of this community. Proper fix is to rebuild your system with heavy duty power and ground distribution.)

RFI or EMI from nearby electronic gear (including wall warts). Diagnose by moving things around or unplugging them. Banish such gear from your modular area.

Computers connected by USB cables are a particular problem. USB ground and +5 are usually contaminated by all kinds of digital hash. Don't power anything from such USB cables (QuNexus is notorious for this). If noise is still present, use an isolated USB cable.https://www.amazon.com/SMAKN-Isolator-Digital-Isolation-Industri al/dp/B00XXPO4UG/ref=asc_df_B00XXPO4UG/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hva did=309818716690&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4676370690956302549&hvpone= &hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9032155&hvtargid= pla-569151513483&psc=1
jorg
Pelsea, thanks for the tip about the USB isolator. That might let me use the USB input on my Doepfer MIDI interface. As is, it injects a ton of noise.
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