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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => j. hall => Topic started by: rdolmat on December 21, 2005, 11:16:01 am

Title: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on December 21, 2005, 11:16:01 am
Hi folks...

Well, I've been trying to deal with this problem ever since it started getting colder and people are turning on their portable heaters ...(at least I THINK that's the prob).

I have an RME Multiface hooked up to my computer (P4 3.1G) and I would ALWAYS get random click (about every 7 min) into my audio signal. I can even hear the clicks through my Tascam M3500 mains/headphones...

I did a test and recorded all 8 analog ins from my RME, and I would get random clicks on random tracks for each recording...but not clicks when recording through ADAT ins...

I also got the same problem when recording through my MOTU 828MKII.

The clicks even happen when in stop mode (no playback or recording into computer). I've even unpluged my Tascam M3500 fully and still get the odd click recorded into the signal.

So, do you think it's an AC thing? I've been in the building for over 8 months and only started getting this problem in the last month or so. I'm assuming it's because of the weather getting colder and more offices on my floor are using space heaters and hot water kettles. I have two line conditioners on both my racks and the computer is also going through a UPS and line conditioner.

Any tips? Should I pay to rewire the breaker panel so I get my own AC source? (instead of sharing it with the 2nd floor bathroom and hallway outlets and who-knows-what-else?

thanks a million!
rich
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: spoon on December 21, 2005, 11:34:48 am
rdolmat wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 10:16

Hi folks...

I did a test and recorded all 8 analog ins from my RME, and I would get random clicks on random tracks for each recording...but not clicks when recording through ADAT ins...

Any tips?

rich


Unless the AD/DA device is horrible, record thru the ADAT i/o and call it a solution.

Regards,
spoon



Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: archtop on December 21, 2005, 11:41:19 am
I get little clicks here, from anything with a thermostat clicking on/off.

Stove, dryer, etc.
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: Ronny on December 21, 2005, 01:05:13 pm

You can't possibly be getting a better signal through optical, because Hawksford says it's mediocre.

Or you can go by 12 years of experience with ADAT and 15 years experience with SPdif optical and know that it's a very clean medium, as long as you don't exceed the length requirements.

You probably aren't going to get separate AC because the whole building is likely running from the same transformer and it all comes from the same grid. The key may be isolated grounds, at least in one case that I had, where I was getting interferrence from a large band saw when they'd operate it at the mill shop next door. Took 6 months to figure out that one. My building and their's, the breaker panels were grounded to the water pipes, I was getting interference coming through his water pipes, into the water main and up to my building via my water pipes. I bought a new breaker box and ran all of the gear to it, instead of grounding to the pipes, I sunk an 8 foot grounding rod outside and it immediately cured the bleed problem from the mill shop. I'm quite certain that it was a shared ground issue and if you are sharing the same ground as the other folks, than I would suspect that you'll get clicks when their ac and fridge compressors come on, maybe heater fans and microwave ovens which are notorius for introducing hum. Microwaves that use power up down settings to regulate heat are notorius for not only adding hum, but clicks when the power settings shift and an increase in hum level when they are on the higher setting.  
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on December 22, 2005, 09:21:04 am
Thanks folks...

some good solutions to try out there. I've never had this problem in other buildings, so it's a little frustrating. The grouding rod seems like a good solution too...

I guess I'll end up trying them all... Confused
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: dcollins on December 23, 2005, 12:51:55 am
rdolmat wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 06:21



some good solutions to try out there. I've never had this problem in other buildings, so it's a little frustrating. The grouding rod seems like a good solution too...

I guess I'll end up trying them all... Confused


First, you have to be sure that it's not clocking that make the clicks.

Can you correlate the clicks to anything that is cycling on and off?  That's the first place to start.  Are you in proximity to any new neighbors?  With arc welders?

Forget the ground rod for now.  Do you  have any power conditioning/filtering?

DC
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: canada on December 23, 2005, 01:15:36 am
I once did a session in someone's house and whenever the fucking refridgerator would cycle on we'd have to retake.
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: Statick on December 23, 2005, 04:51:12 am
he did specify in his first post that both his racks and the computer are going thru line conditioners, and the computer is on UPS. i'm assuming that means there isnt also an 8 foot console plugged direct into the mains !

i would definitely recommend a ground rod - you can detach your earth from everything/everyone else in the building, and its one more thing you can eliminate if the problem continues - and any problem solving like this is just a case of systematic elimination. its also wont cost the earth (sorry!).
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on December 23, 2005, 09:33:46 am
Statick wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 01:51

he did specify in his first post that both his racks and the computer are going thru line conditioners, and the computer is on UPS. i'm assuming that means there isnt also an 8 foot console plugged direct into the mains !

i would definitely recommend a ground rod - you can detach your earth from everything/everyone else in the building, and its one more thing you can eliminate if the problem continues - and any problem solving like this is just a case of systematic elimination. its also wont cost the earth (sorry!).



Correct! But I do have a 32 ch Tascam M3500 going through one of the line conditioners too (the same one as the computer).

I was back in the studio last night again and didn't hear one single click (because the rest of the offices were closed). But I bet you today when I return, there will be clicks throughout the day.

I'll see about the grounding thing too...have to ask the building management.

What a hassle!

thanks folks.

cheers
rich
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: bobkatz on December 23, 2005, 10:20:49 am
dcollins wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 00:51




Forget the ground rod for now.  Do you  have any power conditioning/filtering?

DC


Good suggestion. I have no use whatsoever for power "regulators" that use a switched relay tap autotransformer, like one Tripplite model. They have been known to put clicks into sensitive Preamplifiers whenever they cycle between high and low voltages.

BK
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on January 16, 2006, 10:03:40 am
bobkatz wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 07:20

dcollins wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 00:51




Forget the ground rod for now.  Do you  have any power conditioning/filtering?

DC


Good suggestion. I have no use whatsoever for power "regulators" that use a switched relay tap autotransformer, like one Tripplite model. They have been known to put clicks into sensitive Preamplifiers whenever they cycle between high and low voltages.

BK


Hi Bob.

Which Tripp-lite model? They seem to be the cheapest (starting at only $500) and pretty much what I can afford now. Is there any other model you can recommend?

thanks!
rich
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: Joe Crawford on January 16, 2006, 11:27:56 am
As a quick test, you might try powering the Multiface off the same UPS as the computer.  If the UPS is the type that always runs power through the battery, about the only noise that can get through would be on the ground line, not on the power lines.

Joe
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: bobkatz on January 16, 2006, 01:28:25 pm
rdolmat wrote on Mon, 16 January 2006 10:03

bobkatz wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 07:20

dcollins wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 00:51




Forget the ground rod for now.  Do you  have any power conditioning/filtering?

DC


Good suggestion. I have no use whatsoever for power "regulators" that use a switched relay tap autotransformer, like one Tripplite model. They have been known to put clicks into sensitive Preamplifiers whenever they cycle between high and low voltages.

BK


Hi Bob.

Which Tripp-lite model? They seem to be the cheapest (starting at only $500) and pretty much what I can afford now. Is there any other model you can recommend?

thanks!
rich



All the Tripp-lites use switched relays. They're dangerous! A Sola or Topaz constant voltage transformer is much more expensive but it does work. There are other methods, much more expensive even than the CV transformer. Try surplus. Warning: CV transformers vibrate like crazy and should not be used in the studio because of the noise. And there is controversy over whether the 3% or so THD they add to the line hurts audio reproduction. We don't have any voltage fluctuations here (just total dropouts) so I haven't had the need and I haven't done the listening test critically. Who has done the test? Is a Sola good for audio?

BK
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on January 31, 2006, 06:12:46 pm
Argghh...

Well, I did go ahead and get the Tripplite before I read your post Bob....(but the clicks were there before I installed it anyway).

But, it's the online double-conversion (which runs off battery 24hr a day) so I'm hoping it's better than their regular ups and conditioners.

Anyhoo, the only clicks I get now are from the fridge (turning on and off). HUGE clicks, but that's once every few minutes. And when I'm tracking, I pull the fridge plug...

Is there anyway to get rid of the clicks from the fridge? Is this an RF interference issue (when the fridge compressor motor kicks in?) The fridge in about 10 feet away from my Tascam M 3500 mixer, and the only inputs to the computer that click are the Tascam DIs, but not my Behringer V-Amp or my ART tube preamp (even though they're on the same circuit).

Is this maybe a Tascam M3500 mixer issue? A Tascam Power Supply issue? Studio grouding?

Do I have a crap mixer then?

I've been fighting these clicks for months, coming up with a multitude of excuses for the clients...

PLEASE help....

thanks in advance!

cheers
rich
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on January 31, 2006, 06:17:05 pm
Joe Crawford wrote on Mon, 16 January 2006 08:27

As a quick test, you might try powering the Multiface off the same UPS as the computer.  If the UPS is the type that always runs power through the battery, about the only noise that can get through would be on the ground line, not on the power lines.

Joe


Joe...

I'm doing that now...but I think you may have something about the ground line...

I wonder how I can fix a grounding issue. This is a commercial space (leased), so I would have to bring it up with management.
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: bobkatz on February 01, 2006, 08:21:02 pm
rdolmat wrote on Tue, 31 January 2006 18:12

Argghh...

Well, I did go ahead and get the Tripplite before I read your post Bob....(but the clicks were there before I installed it anyway).

But, it's the online double-conversion (which runs off battery 24hr a day) so I'm hoping it's better than their regular ups and conditioners.




That model might be ok. Can you get a Variac?  If you can get a variac, feed it into the Tripplite. If you hear physical clicks inside the Tripplite as the incoming voltage is varied, then the Tripplite is NOT good for audio.

Quote:



Anyhoo, the only clicks I get now are from the fridge (turning on and off). HUGE clicks, but that's once every few minutes. And when I'm tracking, I pull the fridge plug...




Sounds like RF from a spark inside the Fridge which is not transmitted through the power line, it goes in the "ether". There's likely an RC filter in the fridge that's gone bad. Now that's not much help, but it's a start.

BK
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: scottoliphant on February 01, 2006, 10:05:50 pm
Quote:

As a quick test, you might try powering the Multiface off the same UPS as the computer. If the UPS is the type that always runs power through the battery, about the only noise that can get through would be on the ground line, not on the power lines.



i have an rme multiface for a few things and it grabs it's power off the 'puter through the firewire cable, for what it's worth.

Quote:

I once did a session in someone's house and whenever the fucking refridgerator would cycle on we'd have to retake.


that's awesome, haha. after a while, you get kind of used to the little eccentricities of recording in a not so perfect environment (dogs barking in the distance, neighbor bass-ing his car down the street). if i ever get to where i can "upgrade", I think in a weird way i'll miss some of it =)
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: Joe Crawford on February 07, 2006, 11:13:45 am
rdolmat wrote on Tue, 31 January 2006 18:12


Anyhoo, the only clicks I get now are from the fridge (turning on and off). HUGE clicks, but that's once every few minutes. And when I'm tracking, I pull the fridge plug...

rich


Rich,
Sorry I haven't gotten back sooner. If you haven't already found a fix, here are a couple of more things to try.  Is there a way to move either your system or the frig onto a different branch circuit (i.e. different circuit breaker) of the power panel, possibly using a long extension cord as a temporary test?  This might help to issolate the problem a little more.  Also, how old is the building?  Are all the branch circuits three-wire (hot, neutral & ground), or are they trying to use the neutral or conduit for the ground?  You could also be getting a ground loop between the Tascam and the computer, try lifting the ground on the Tascam as a test.

Joe
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on February 07, 2006, 03:53:29 pm
Joe Crawford wrote on Tue, 07 February 2006 08:13

rdolmat wrote on Tue, 31 January 2006 18:12


Anyhoo, the only clicks I get now are from the fridge (turning on and off). HUGE clicks, but that's once every few minutes. And when I'm tracking, I pull the fridge plug...

rich


Rich,
Sorry I haven't gotten back sooner. If you haven't already found a fix, here are a couple of more things to try.  Is there a way to move either your system or the frig onto a different branch circuit (i.e. different circuit breaker) of the power panel, possibly using a long extension cord as a temporary test?  This might help to issolate the problem a little more.  Also, how old is the building?  Are all the branch circuits three-wire (hot, neutral & ground), or are they trying to use the neutral or conduit for the ground?  You could also be getting a ground loop between the Tascam and the computer, try lifting the ground on the Tascam as a test.

Joe



Hi Joe.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not really sure how the buildings wired up. It's about 30 years old (mid-70s). I bet they're just doing the cold water pipe grounding technique.

Could a ground loop be something other than the 60Hz hum-style ground loop? I thought that was the only type of ground loop (the one with the noise).

A little scared to lift the ground on the mixer...I don't trust the wiring in this building at all...


Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: Joe Crawford on February 09, 2006, 10:12:08 am
Rich,

It’s usually pretty easy to check the AC wiring.  Turn the circuit breaker off at the breaker panel to be on the safe side.  Then remove the cover plate on the outlets for the frig and computer and take a look inside the boxs with a flashlight.  There should be one or two cables (some times up to four) coming into the box.  Each cable should have three wires: one black (usually the hot), one white (usually the neutral), and one bare copper (or sometimes green) ground.  Make sure the ground disappears into the cable and is not just connected to a screw on the outlet box itself (making it a conduit ground).  If each cable coming into the outlet box is three-wire, at least they’re not using the neutral for ground in the branch circuits.  They could still be using the neutral or water pipes for the master ground at the circuit break panel though.  You would have to go back to the breaker panel, remove the cover and follow the ground wiring to see whether they’re using the water pipes, etc. for the building ground.

You should also verify that the outlet plugs are wired correctly, either visually or, alternatively, you could buy/borrow one of those three-prong outlet testers.  Electric motors are notoriously noisy.  I’ve seen things such as vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and even hand power tools cause major noise problems when the hot and neutrals were swapped at and outlet, or the ground not connected.  Many years ago, we were installing about 30 remote computer consoles.  Every time a contractor started up his jig saw the main-frame computers crashed.  Several of outlets were wired backwards.  We wound up buying the jig saw from the contractor to test other sites.

Joe
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on March 02, 2006, 03:04:56 pm
Well...

got my mixer psu completely over-hauled and had an electrician come in and add a separate circuit to a single AC outlet in the studio for my gear. Fridge is on another ciruit.

Ground is running to the water pipe. The building owners aren't letting me run a new ground rod.

But the clicks are STILL there (when the fridge turns on). I have absolutely no clue...

I'm thinking now, it's an RF EMI thing...what else could it be? I'm running a double-conversion online UPS into two rack mount RF filters and AC conditioners...

apart from getting on a stationary bike and generating my own power for the studio, I'm almost certain it's an airborne RF / EMI thing?!!

Confused
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: Teddy G. on March 02, 2006, 05:47:18 pm
I suspect it's your gear, or some piece of your gear(We all have noisy fridges), which is broken, improperly designed, improperly shielded, or even with "wrong" cabling acting as an antenna or "receiver"(Try "subbing" or eliminating, where you can).

"True" RF noise? A friend of mine found his computer's router was causing horrible noise(With his battery-powered, AM radio, tuned to an unused frequency, used like a "geiger counter"!). Replaced the router. All was well. Others have "followed" the RF trail to a "bad"(Arcing) connector on a power company pole, blocks away(Call your power company)!

If YOUR electrician determines YOUR ground rod(Or AC ground system) to be "bad", YOUR landlord should agree to a repair - and PAY FOR IT - AND your cost for the electrician! Or move. Water pipes often, these days, have plastic somewhere in the system, like at the water meter, sometimes with little, thin "jumper wires" - NOT GOOD! An electrician can check for "actual" ground at your rod, water pipe - and your entire ground system. Of course, having TWO grounds - building rod AND pipe is NOT GOOD(More than one ground tends to cause ground loops or even act as an "antenna" for RF)! One good AC ground, with well-shielded gear, is all that's needed.

Point is: If you have a "good" ground system and we all have similar noise sources which don't cause problems, it's your gear or the installation of same...

TG

Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: mr jason on March 02, 2006, 09:17:17 pm
I opened my studio very recently, and when we were testing everything out we found an intermittent hum problem on the master section of my Soundtracs MRX mixer. We traced it to a heater that was plugged into a socket on a partition wall, in a different room. We plugged this heater into a plug socket on a different wall, and the problem dissapeared. It wasn't THAT simple, cos it took a while to trace the problem to THAT particular heater, but it's fine now.
We do get a click when using the kettle or microwave in the lounge, so we stop recording when we're making a brew or heating food, hehe.
Sorry, that was no help to you really, apart from that although it seems stupidly simple, it might be worth trying plugging the fridge into a few different plug sockets, using an extension lead, just to see if it makes the blindest bit of difference.
I'm not amazingly technical, hehe, so that's the best I can do.  Rolling Eyes
Title: Re: Clicks in audio path?!!
Post by: rdolmat on March 13, 2006, 10:00:34 am
SO an electrician came in and strung another AC lead from a new breaker in the panel, with the ground going to water pipe.

Almost solved the entire problem. The clicks (due to the fridge) are about 89% quieter (almost insignificant) and other clicks (from heaters, kettles etc) are completely gone.

So I put a switchable AC powerbar between the fridge and the AC socket and just turn it off when recording vocals.

Problem solved!!! (mostly, I really need a completely new AC layout with the orange plugs etc...but that's another time).

Thanks so much everyone, I learned a lot!!