This F**king Noise, You Know ¹
“I make electronic music ‘in the box’, I don’t record philharmonic orchestras — it’s nice to know there’s the extra headroom for when I record something from outside the box but … as everything is either a balanced signal to begin with, or else gets cleaned up via a DI box before it reaches any recording device … once again, it’s entirely unnecessary.”
See this …
The above is a stylised diagram of the audio routing — none of the MIDI routing is shown, nor are any of the MIDI only…
Every. Single. Device in that schematic is plugged into a power regulator to eliminate all noise from the mains or looping back from the equipment itself … so neither can introduce any into the system — no mains hum, no spikes from fridges turning on, or the neighbours turning on their washing machine (or rebuilding their property with electric piledrivers or whatever the f**k it is they’ve all been doing all day, every day for the last three years … or is it four now!? ² )
The studio monitors are plugged into a power regulator box that is itself plugged into power regulator strip (just to be sure).
Every single connection is from a balanced TRS or XLR port to another balanced TRS or XLR port
the one that goes to the outboard chain… and the one that goes from the outboard chain to the DI box
I have a USB-to-ADAT/ADAT-to-USB audio interface that feeds out to an 8-port digital-to-analog interface.
Two of the connections from that feed into a KORG KAOS Pad, which then feeds on to the outboard chain and, finally, into the passive DI box — this is the unbalanced loop that the DI box is expressly there to clean up before it reaches anything else (that’s what the DI box is for … to clean up any hum or other noise before sending the now pristine signal on its way again).
That in turn feeds into an 8-in/8-out analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog interface.
That then feeds the signal out to an active ADAT splitter/repeater, one feed of which loops back to the ADAT-In on the AD/DA box and the other to the ADAT-In on the USB/ADAT interface..
I’ve got noise on the inputs in my DAW … which shouldn’t be f**king possible! Everything is plugged into power converters to eliminate noise. Everything that can be is connected with shielded, balanced cables, so (again) no noise from there either (no crosstalk, no RF interference, nothing) … and what can’t be (the KAOS Pad, etc.) goes through the DI box to have the noise eliminated first, before the DI box feeds it on (again, via shielded, balanced cables). It’s impossible for there to be any f**king noise in the system!
So,. I did some investigating.
If I turn off the KAOS Pad (eliminating both it and the D/A interface), there’s still noise detected by my DAW — implicating the third (AD/DA) interface.
If I physically disconnect the outputs from the DI box to the inputs to the AD/DA interface, my DAW still detects noise — implicating the AD/DA interface again.
It’s not until I turn off the D/A interface … even with the inputs to the AD/DA interface physically disconnected (so there can be no noise getting to it from the D/A interface) … that (although my DAW still registers noise on the inputs) I can’t hear it any more, when I turn my headphones/monitors up!
If I leave the AD/DA off, the system doesn’t detect any noise and I can’t hear any either, even with my speakers and headphones connected directly to the D/A interface (you know … the thing that makes the audible hum/hiss stop when I turn it off).
Even taking the ADAT loopback out of the equation and routing directly from the AD/DA to the USB/ADAT without going via the splitter/repeater doesn’t eliminate the noise — so it can’t be forwarding any noise on from the AD/DA either.
I can’t troubleshoot that kind of nonsense — it makes no physical, let alone logical, sense of any kind!
It’s not loud noise (around -85dB or so) … but it’s still noise — and I can’t have that.
Especially not if I can’t troubleshoot it and, therefore, can’t eliminate it.
Especially especially not as I configured my system in such a way that only professional sound recordists and engineers appreciate the lengths I went to to eliminate all noise from the system … including from the equipment itself — everyone else thinks it’s over-the-top.
¹ See here.
² I’m far from happy about that either