Author Topic: Guitars picking up noise from PC  (Read 6520 times)

Mikeyboy

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Guitars picking up noise from PC
« on: September 16, 2009, 03:45:25 AM »
Hi all,

This is just driving me mad, so thought I'd ask here and see if anyone's had the same issue....

Basically my guitars (both 6-string and bass) are picking up a lot of background noise from my PC. From my usual playing position (a few feet from the pc) the noise is audible but as I move closer it becomes clear that it's either the PSU the fans or something else generating some electrical interference. I've uploaded a couple of sample files of the noise, it's interesting that there's a brief pause every second or so - maybe this gives a clue as to the exact cause of the noise?

Obviously a simple solution is to move further away from the computer - but with the layout of my room this isn't that easy, and also I'd like to know and hopefully fix the issue completely. It's _really_ frustrating as for the type of music I'm doing (very clean chilled/ambient with a lot of delay/reverb) the noise gets totally out of hand very quickly. Also I installed active EMG's in my guitar hoping this would fix the issue but it actually just made it worse as the output is higher!!!

Here's a couple of clips (first guitar, second bass) that demonstrate the noise...

http://rapidshare.com/files/280499460/noise4.mp3.html
http://rapidshare.com/files/280499806/noise5b.mp3.html

Cheers in advance!
Mike

petekelly

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 06:46:55 AM »
Hi Mike,

Listened to 'noise4'. Yep, thats pretty noisy. Here's some points that may be relevant:

Is there some kind of noisegate in your setup ? May account for the 'pauses' depending on the threshold at which it kicks in.

Are you using an older CRT monitor ?. These alwys caused buzzings, particularly with single coil pickups

Obviously noise comes with a high gain / overdrive setup. How are things with a clean sound ?

Is your guitar earthed properly ? - does the noise increase when you take your hand off the strings ? I've found that liberal amounts of copper tape does the job here.

I presume you know that some noise reduction software can do a pretty good job of guitar noise. Make a slection of the noise itself then apply the NR.


cheers
Pete

Mikeyboy

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 01:39:19 AM »
Hi Pete, many thanks for reply...  :)

Yeah those clips are quite noisy - I was using a tone with plenty of overdrive to demonstrate the noise, and was moving my guitar towards the pc and away again to show that the sound is definitely being picked up from there.

Normally I do use much cleaner tones, but even then the noise is very noticeable when the guitar is put through heavy reverbs/delays etc...

I'm using a flat-screen monitor so it's not that. Like I say when I move the guitar next to the PC the noise level increases massively, so it's definitely something therein. Just don't know where to start to get rid of it though  :(

There's no noisegate here, or nothing that is noticeable - the pauses are being caused by whatever is generating the electrical noise.

I think the noise is always there when touching the strings, I'll check that out.

Actually I have used noise reduction plugins, but I find that they introduce a slight delay, and also the whole idea of getting the EMGs was to reduce all noise!!

Thanks again,
Mike

Altus

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 06:01:58 AM »
I assume you're using your computer as the recording device?  If so, what kind of soundcard are you using?  Could it be a noisy A/D converter or badly shielded input on the soundcard?  Maybe just a bad cable?
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Scott M2

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 08:41:59 AM »
Agree - External soundcards can definitely help - and well-shielded cables.

Can you record to another device (MD or DAT or Handheld digital or whatever)
in your studio and compare the sound with your computer turned on and off?

In general - wherever I record guitar, I look for the quietest spot in the room
and the magic compass-direction to hold the guitar and try to place the remote
or the keyboard there when recording. You know, the voodoo stuff.


Mikeyboy

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2009, 05:57:07 AM »
Cheers guys.. yeah it is an external recorder, and a high quality one.

I am using fairly cheap cables so could try getting a decent one - although I'm sure it's the pickups that are 'picking up' the noise. The noise is worst when I hold the guitar right in front or behind the PC, I'm wondering if it's because the cheap case I've got isn't shielding EMI very well....

I have to be quite near the PC when recording as I'm always playing about with plug-in settings etc...

Frustrated  :(

jeff pearce

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2009, 06:44:58 AM »
Hey Mike,

You've probably done the following, so don't know if this will be helpful or not...

Scott had good advice about moving your guitar around- try positioning it at an angle to your monitor and see if any noise is reduced.

On top of the already excellent advice about using good quality cables, i'd ask you this:  what kind of lighting do you have in your studio?  Fluorescent lighting is notorious for adding noise to guitars, and dimmer switches of all types are evil; if you DO have lights on a dimmer switch, have your lights either all the way on or completely off.

another thing to check for, especially if you're having a pause every second or so, is to see if some sort of pump or motor is on the same circuit as where you're plugged into.  Air conditioners and furnaces can put out stuff for your guitar to pick up, as well as water pumps and refrigerators.

I have EMG actives on my guitars, and they are pretty quiet for most things, and I know the frustration of noise hunting!  My last suggestion would be to get a battery powered headphone amp of some sort (zoom makes little stomp box things, they can be battery powered and you can use headphones).  Turn off everything in your studio, plug in the guitar to the headphone amp,  pick an appropriately high gain setting comparable to what you've been using on the computer, and listen for the noise.  If you hear noise, you can be assured that it's not the computer, and is probably some strong EMF in the area (like the airconditioner, etc but cell phone towers and cable tv towers can do this if you're close enough.  Same with power lines passing overhead).   If you do NOT get noise, turn on your computer while still "off the grid" with the headphone amp.  If you have noise, you'll know it's something in the computer.

many ideas, most probably useless... :)

Jeff


Wayne Higgins

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2009, 09:06:06 AM »
Do you use batteries in your effects boxes or adapters?  If you use batteries, the cables themselves can pick up or cause interferences.  As far as cables, I make most of mine myself, always use shielded ends.  Also, start at the beginning.  You may want to check your cable input on the guitar.  If it's loose or not soldiered properly, it can cause noise.  Also, get a can of compressed air and clean out everything, knobs, connections, ect.
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Scott M2

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2009, 10:03:50 AM »

I have to be quite near the PC when recording as I'm always playing about with plug-in settings etc...

Frustrated  :(

Can you move your CPU/Hard Drives farther away and keep your Monitor/Mouse/Keyboard
closer to your performance spot?

Then, you could try rotating the CPU for minimum interference.

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2009, 10:38:32 AM »
Cheers guys.. yeah it is an external recorder, and a high quality one.

I am using fairly cheap cables so could try getting a decent one - although I'm sure it's the pickups that are 'picking up' the noise. The noise is worst when I hold the guitar right in front or behind the PC, I'm wondering if it's because the cheap case I've got isn't shielding EMI very well....

I have to be quite near the PC when recording as I'm always playing about with plug-in settings etc...

Frustrated  :(

If you're using cheap cables near a PC with a cheap case and a cheap power supply, then you have three recording studio no-nos all together.

If the problem is the case rather than the monitor, why don't you get keyboard, mouse and monitor extension cables and move the CPU as far away as possible?  Then you can still sit in front of the monitor and keyboard and mouse, and yet you'll be far away from the source of the noise.
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Mikeyboy

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2009, 10:49:31 AM »
Cheers for the replies guys, really appreciate it  :)

Unfortunately my computer is the entire studio at the moment - I sold all my external effects as I do everything through Guitar Rig and various plugins in Cubase now, so I can't really do much without the pc running.
However, I'm 99% sure that the noise is coming from the pc, as when I stand far away it's hardly noticeable (unless I'm going through huge reverbs etc) and as I move the guitar next to the pc the noise is defeaning.

I've never really noticed this before, I suppose it could be something in the room near the pc! I'll have a play around tonight.

I guess life would be boring if it was easy  :)

Mike

Mikeyboy

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2009, 10:58:10 AM »
If you're using cheap cables near a PC with a cheap case and a cheap power supply, then you have three recording studio no-nos all together.

If the problem is the case rather than the monitor, why don't you get keyboard, mouse and monitor extension cables and move the CPU as far away as possible?  Then you can still sit in front of the monitor and keyboard and mouse, and yet you'll be far away from the source of the noise.

I'm thinking that it's almost certainly the cheap case/PSU/fans that I have, but just wanted to be sure and wondered if anyone had the same issue. I think moving the pc as far away as possible is the best solution.....


Wayne Higgins

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2009, 01:29:52 PM »
I record the same way.  Guitar to effects to Omega desktop to computer.  I am on my third computer (the first E-Machines crashed, I got a Compac laptop, and now a Dell Impesio (or something like that.)  The only buzzing I ever got while recording was when I recorded while playing in a restaurant.  Towards the end of the night I figured out that I had a setting on the volume pedal wrong.  What I did record with the buzz, I was able to filter out.

BTW, I just listened, it sounds like you are using a guitar amp in there somewhere, are you?  You could be picking up everything from your wiring to the electric light in the lamp on your desk.

I have never used an amp while recording.  I go directly into the Omega box instrument input.  The night I recorded the live thing, I went from the Omega box to the amp, via the headphone jack.

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petekelly

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2009, 02:48:55 AM »

I still think that you should ensure that the earthing is good on your guitar and that you use
decently shielded cables. Also, ensure the screws to the jackplate are tightened firmly. It's more
likely that this could be the cause of your problem.
Jeff's advice is good.

Pete

cromag

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2009, 12:11:11 AM »
Well, from your description the source sure sounds like the computer -- either the power supply or the motherboard.

If it has suddenly become a problem, could you have damaged the cable or it's connections recently?
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sraymar

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Re: Guitars picking up noise from PC
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2009, 08:56:59 PM »
Although I don't own one I'm considering getting one of these little guys.




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