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Noisy PC. Mobile interface?

An audio interface is a piece of hardware that expands and improves the sonic capabilities of a computer. Some audio interfaces give you the ability to connect professional microphones, instruments and other kinds of signals to a computer, and output a variety of signals as well. In addition to expanding your inputs and outputs, audio interfaces can also greatly improve the sound quality of your computer.
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Noisy PC. Mobile interface?

Post: # 404Post MarcoM
Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:43 am

Hi Dana, hi everyone
I have a question regarding audio interface.
I do my recordings in my bedroom, using a closet full of clothes. The problem is that my PC is quite noisy and even if I try to apply some isolation through some heavy blankets...my noise floor never gets quiter than -40/-45 dB.
Using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, my PC must always be on in order to power my condenser microphone (A Rode Nt1a).
In order to get rid of that noise and avoid to make noise reduction or gating in post-production what do you Think of I used Zoom H5 portabile recorder ad interface? It has 2 XLR inputs ... sd card storage....it could solve the problem. But are its preamps good? Or the benefit to have a quiter environment could be substantially reduced by the poorer sound quality?



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Post: # 406Post Dana
Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:22 am

MarcoM wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:43 am
Hi Dana, hi everyone
I have a question regarding audio interface.
I do my recordings in my bedroom, using a closet full of clothes.
That is great. Closets full of cloths are make a great recording environment.
The problem is that my PC is quite noisy and even if I try to apply some isolation through some heavy blankets...my noise floor never gets quiter than -40/-45 dB.
This is bad. When you have a noise floor this high, you are already setting yourself up from a very hard time when it comes to post production. DAWs are made to help enhance a quality recording, not to repair a bad recording. When it comes to recording speech, it simply will not give you the results you need as well as the quality most companies are looking for.
Using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, my PC must always be on in order to power my condenser microphone (A Rode Nt1a). In order to get rid of that noise and avoid to make noise reduction or gating in post-production what do you Think of I used Zoom H5 portabile recorder ad interface?
That is a great idea. But you also need to keep in mind that you will still need to master your audio, on the PC that you say is quite noisy to begin with. Maybe you can get a 20 foot XLR cable and move your PC as far as you can, away from your closet. You can also switch to a dynamic mic. They will pick up less background noise and may be your best choice to begin with.
It has 2 XLR inputs ... sd card storage....it could solve the problem. But are its preamps good? Or the benefit to have a quiter environment could be substantially reduced by the poorer sound quality?
I have no idea how good the pre-amps are as I have never used one. I do know that my Tascam 16 x 8 and DR-40 the pre-amps are very good. I also use the Zoom H6 and their pre-amps are very quite as well. With all said and done, I think you need to switch out your condenser mic for a dynamic mic. Your only other choice is to create as much distance between your condensor mic and the noise source it is picking up, in this case, your PC.
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Post: # 407Post Dana
Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:29 am

Hey Marco, the video below shows how sensitive condenser mics are. The term is called mic bleed. It is when your mic picks up unwanted audio from any outside source. It is normally associated when you have two or more people in the same room and everyone's mic is picking up everyone's conversation at the same time. This makes it very hard to separate each voice to their own track. In your case, your PC is bleeding into your vocal mic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ivNWq7BCd8
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Post: # 408Post MarcoM
Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:01 am

Hi Dana,
first of all thank you for your so detailed and instructional answers.
I am getting back to you here for both the topics I created because I guess the first, main problem of my recordings, including some difficulties in post-production, is the “sound proofing” level of my recording environment.
I am trying to figure out a couple of possible strategies and it is not easy. There will be some trade-off in any case.
In order to decide, I would ask you if the character of my voice (that you know well) would be weakened and impoverished if switching to a dynamic mic?

The idea to record through either a Tascam or a Zoom connecting the condenser mic Through a XLR cable and recording into the SD card, leaving PC off, would it be good in your opinion?
Since that mic has a cardiod shape, and since I use to record with opened closet behind my shoulder and carpets behind the mic (hanging the carpets on the library behind the mic), I was thinking to get a couple of Sound absorbing panels to place in both flanks of the mic in order to block echos, reverbs and noise bouncing on the mic from the flanks.
What do you think about that?
I know that even when I edit my recordings, and even if I use good cans, a noisy PC may disturb a neutral listening in order to catch imperfections, but it would be some difficult for me to move the PC in another room and conneting it to the monitor with very long cable.
I guess that raising the volume in my cans I could fix this problem.

As regards dynamic mic…well Dana. Frankly speaking I don’t now. I need help on that because I am not able to detect a trade-off between advantages and disadvantages.

As far as my post-production FX chain is concerned, I never EQ my voice.
Once edited the track for mistakes I usually start scanning Loudness of portions of the track with no narration and then I set a very transparent gate a couple of decibels higher than the detected level.
This usually gets rid of all the background noise.
Then I edit all the breaths, popping Ps, Bs, clicks with volume adjustments of Eqing them out with very sharp actions without affecting the rest of the words or phrase.
Then, I set a very smooth compressor in order to flatten a little bit the peaks in the recording and making the whole track more homogeneous.
At the end I adjust the Loudness level in order to achieve a -18 Lufs limiting at around -1,5.
That’s it.

Probably, improving my recording space, my post-production activity would be far less. I am sure about that.

The point is that I am searching for the best strategy in order to get a very good professional result, even if I had to change some of the gear I started with (microphone?)

Let me know your thoughts my friend. Thanks

Marco

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Post: # 409Post Dana
Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:04 am

MarcoM wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:01 am
Hi Dana,
first of all thank you for your so detailed and instructional answers.
I am getting back to you here for both the topics I created because I guess the first, main problem of my recordings, including some difficulties in post-production, is the “sound proofing” level of my recording environment.
I am trying to figure out a couple of possible strategies and it is not easy. There will be some trade-off in any case.
In order to decide, I would ask you if the character of my voice (that you know well) would be weakened and impoverished if switching to a dynamic mic?
I do not think you need to worry about sound proofing your environment. To me, it sounds like your main problem is that your condenser mic is picking up the noise coming from your computer. The best thing to do is isolate the noise from your PC at the source. As far as your voice goes, using a dynamic mic like the Shure SM 57 or 58 would give you great results. The 58 is used by more stage/live shows, then any other mic on the market, as far as I know.
The idea to record through either a Tascam or a Zoom connecting the condenser mic Through a XLR cable and recording into the SD card, leaving PC off, would it be good in your opinion?
In my opinion, using that type of recording set up is the best way to record speech. By using the digital recorder with the batteries, you now have removed any electrical interference that comes into every home, through the local power company. It also removes the need for what is called a "Power Conditioner". This is a device that helps remove what I just stated above. This system also cuts down on the number of "Steps" that are in your recording chain. The more steps you have, the lower audio quality you get. This is how that works. Each connection is a "Step". So, the XLR cable into your mic is one step. The XLR cable into your digital recorder is two steps.

Now lets look at using a audio interface or mixing board. The XLR cable into your mic, step 1. The XLR cable into your mixer or AI is step two. The USB or mic input into your Computer is step 3. Two steps are better then 3.
Since that mic has a cardiod shape, and since I use to record with opened closet behind my shoulder and carpets behind the mic (hanging the carpets on the library behind the mic), I was thinking to get a couple of Sound absorbing panels to place in both flanks of the mic in order to block echos, reverbs and noise bouncing on the mic from the flanks.
What do you think about that?
I do not think you need it since you are recording inside of a closet. The cloths in your closet should absorb all the situations you just described.
I know that even when I edit my recordings, and even if I use good cans, a noisy PC may disturb a neutral listening in order to catch imperfections, but it would be some difficult for me to move the PC in another room and conneting it to the monitor with very long cable. I guess that raising the volume in my cans I could fix this problem.
You are correct that trying to edit a speech or music recording is very difficult when you have a high degree of noise coming from your computer as well. As far as raising the volume in your cans, this will only make any noise that may be bleeding through from your PC even louder and it is not recommended due to hearing safety as well. Now, you may want to try this, if you can. Set up your PC in another room. Why do you need to see the monitor?

Once you set your proper input level, take your mic with a long XLR cable into your closet. Go back to your PC and click the record button on your DAW. Go back into the closet with your script and record. Once you are finished, stop the recording and do your edits. Please keep in mind that if you do decide to use a digital recorder, you will not have a monitor to look at either. It takes a little getting use to, but once you try it, you will find yourself relying on your PC, less and less.
As regards dynamic mic…well Dana. Frankly speaking I don’t now. I need help on that because I am not able to detect a trade-off between advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest trade off you will notice is the amount of background noise a dynamic mic will pick up compared to a condenser mic. That is why I wanted you to watch the video on mic bleed. The less background noise that is introduced into the original recording, the less work you need to do to remove it in post production.
As far as my post-production FX chain is concerned, I never EQ my voice. Once edited the track for mistakes I usually start scanning Loudness of portions of the track with no narration and then I set a very transparent gate a couple of decibels higher than the detected level. This usually gets rid of all the background noise. Then I edit all the breaths, popping Ps, Bs, clicks with volume adjustments of Eqing them out with very sharp actions without affecting the rest of the words or phrase. Then, I set a very smooth compressor in order to flatten a little bit the peaks in the recording and making the whole track more homogeneous. At the end I adjust the Loudness level in order to achieve a -18 Lufs limiting at around -1,5. That’s it.
You are doing this backwards. All of your plugins, especially your compressor, will act much differently depending on the volume of your audio. In other words, if you have your audio at a -26dbs and you set your threshold on your compressor to react to that setting, it will. But when you adjust the volume of your audio to meet the requirements, as in your case, a -18dbs, you have now raised the volume by 8dbs which now throws off the threshold of your compressor. This will give you a recording that has been over compressed or what we call, "smashed". Keep in mind we are talking about speech, not music. Always try and get your audio close to the required specs BEFORE you start adding any plugin effects.
Probably, improving my recording space, my post-production activity would be far less. I am sure about that. The point is that I am searching for the best strategy in order to get a very good professional result, even if I had to change some of the gear I started with (microphone?) Let me know your thoughts my friend. Thanks Marco
The bottom line is, if you can, pick up a digital recorder and record in your closet with the door shut if possible. If there is no light, invest in a camping light that runs off of batteries and hang it over head. Your biggest challenge at this time is trying to separate the space between your PC and condenser mic. This is the only way you are going to be able to reduce that -40 to -45dbs background noise level.
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Post: # 410Post MarcoM
Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:01 am

Hi Dana,
I just made a drawing of my recording space inside my bedroom, on the right there is a wall with my bed and on the left a big sofa with window.

As you see, it is not really a closet, but an open wardrobe with coat hangers on the doors and all clothes behind me inside the wardrobe.
In front of me the table and the mic on a stand fixed at the table with a clamp…not really in front of me but someway on the right side.
In front of me at the end of the table a library where I put a Blanket on while recording, I also put a big blanket on the table behind the AI just close to the Monitor.
The space is not so much so, the mic is quite inside the space of the open doors while I read.
The PC is under the table.
This is my space.
What do you think?

I am seriously thinking of getting a portable digital recorder, keeping my condenser mic at least for now, so that any electric interference and noise would just be totally off.
Do you think I still don’t need any sound absorbing panel at desk’s flanks or elsewhere?
As regards the dynamic mic, should I get another gear regarding a preamp? Would Scarlett 2i2 be enough?

As regards the Fx chain in post-production, your point is completely logical and I now see the big mistake I made till now.
I should reverse my chain.
First adjusting volume to the desired level and after that, only after that, maybe applying compression if needed and a final volume adjustment with limiting.
Dana, your words are so valuable to me!!!!!

Tell me please what you think about my situation.

Marco

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Post: # 411Post Dana
Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:45 am

MarcoM wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:01 am
Hi Dana, I just made a drawing of my recording space inside my bedroom, on the right there is a wall with my bed and on the left a big sofa with window. As you see, it is not really a closet, but an open wardrobe with coat hangers on the doors and all clothes behind me inside the wardrobe. In front of me the table and the mic on a stand fixed at the table with a clamp…not really in front of me but someway on the right side. In front of me at the end of the table a library where I put a Blanket on while recording, I also put a big blanket on the table behind the AI just close to the Monitor. The space is not so much so, the mic is quite inside the space of the open doors while I read. The PC is under the table. This is my space. What do you think?
I always thought you were recording inside of a closet for some reason. As you know, I have listened to many of your recordings. I never heard any reverb or artificial room effects. I really do not think you need to change the space you record in, as you seem to be getting good isolation from outside influences.
I am seriously thinking of getting a portable digital recorder, keeping my condenser mic at least for now, so that any electric interference and noise would just be totally off. Do you think I still don’t need any sound absorbing panel at desk’s flanks or elsewhere? As regards the dynamic mic, should I get another gear regarding a preamp? Would Scarlett 2i2 be enough?
Using a digital recorder is always a good thing to do, if you have the money. You can build a small GOBO as pictured below. They are cheap to build and work great. They are made out of PVC pipe, (plastic rigid water pluming pipe). You can customize them to suit your needs regardless of your room size. When you are finished, just take them apart and slide under the bed. I used one for years to isolate my mic from the room, when I lived in my condo. I have no idea how much gain your 2i2 produces. Can you look through your manual as see what it says?

gobo.jpeg
gobo.jpeg (188.54 KiB) Viewed 727 times
gobo.jpeg
gobo.jpeg (188.54 KiB) Viewed 727 times

As regards the Fx chain in post-production, your point is completely logical and I now see the big mistake I made till now.
I should reverse my chain. First adjusting volume to the desired level and after that, only after that, maybe applying compression if needed and a final volume adjustment with limiting. Dana, your words are so valuable to me!!!!! Tell me please what you think about my situation. Marco
Correct. If you need to do any noise reduction, make sure you do that before using compression. Remember that when using compression, it will always amplify any flaws you have in your audio recording. I will be out of town for the next 5 days and will not be able to respond to you. I will be leaving around 8pm tonight.
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Post: # 412Post MarcoM
Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:07 am

Dana wrote:
Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:45 am

Using a digital recorder is always a good thing to do, if you have the money. You can build a small GOBO as pictured below. They are cheap to build and work great. They are made out of PVC pipe, (plastic rigid water pluming pipe). You can customize them to suit your needs regardless of your room size. When you are finished, just take them apart and slide under the bed. I used one for years to isolate my mic from the room, when I lived in my condo. I have no idea how much gain your 2i2 produces. Can you look through your manual as see what it says?
As far as I can understand from the online specs
https://focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfa ... arlett-2i2
It seems the max gain is 50dB. I don’t know if it is enough for a good Dynamic mic (I saw wonderful reviews about Shure SM7B) and frankly speaking I was not willing to invest also in a preamp….maybe getting a good digital recorder and optimizing a little bit my environment following your suggestion could be enough as for now. But what do you think about that?

I will be writing a PM to you in a while Dana for another kind of message I would like you to have.

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Post: # 413Post Dana
Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:40 am

Hey Marco, I just made this recording using my Shure 7b that was connected straight into my Zoom H6 Digital Recorder. The 7b recommends at least 60dbs of ultra clean gain. It has a gain control for each track numbered 0 to 10. I set track 1, at number 7. This put my input level around the -18db mark with plenty of gain left. This file is raw except for the 80HZ Low Cut Filter I set in the recorder. All I did was bring the file up to the proper output level. No EQ, Noise Reduction or Compression. It was rendered at 44,100 HZ, mono and 64kbps. Tell me what you think.


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Post: # 414Post MarcoM
Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:49 am

Hi my friend,
I am at work now and unfortunately I cannot listen to the file you kindly recorded for me.
I am looking forward to getting back home in a few hours and listening to it.
I will then immediately let you know what I think

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