Old 04-15-2019, 04:19 PM   #1
eq1
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Default Multiple tracks + multiple FX = noisy?

I just noticed something. I'm doing a fairly simply audio restoration project, where I have 12 tracks - each with a 'song' and an effect chain of about 16 FX - set up in a mastering-like format, where song 1 is on track 1, and then track 2 has the next song in sequence, etc.

With nothing playing, if all the FXs are disabled, I hear nothing through my monitors. If I enable all the FX at the same time, it introduces quite a bit of 'digital-like' noise - fuzz, I can hear little processing-like sounds, little 'chirps', when my computer must be doing something in the background, etc...

So, I'm wondering, is this normal and will this noise end up in my rendered tracks?

For instance, if I hadn't noticed the noise I probably would have ended up rendering all 12 tracks at the same time - having each track's FX chain enabled, selecting master mix for each track in the rendering matrix, and pressing 'Go'. Now? It seems like I should probably disable the FX chains in all tracks but the one I'm rendering and do each track, one at a time... Does this make sense? Is this the way it's normally done? Or maybe the noise I hear in my monitors won't end up in each rendered track?...

The stuff I'm working with is so noisy to begin with - so I don't think I'd be able to hear this 'digital noise' in the program material once rendered. But, I hear it now, and every little bit probably makes a difference in the end...

For reference-sake, these are the FX I have going, all stuff that came with Reaper:

-7 'RBJ' notch filters
-2 JS parametric eqs
-Rea-X-comp
-ReaEq
-JS Exciter
-JS Exciter (treble enhancer)
-Reacomp
-JS Masterlimiter

I'm working on a circa. 2010 Dell PC, Windows 7, and an E-mu 1616m audio interface (PCIe card with a breakout box) from around that time, 2010 or so, if these matter...

Any insights greatly appreciated...

EDIT: hmm, interesting. I hear nothing, no noise, through my headphones, plugged into the headphone jack on my audio interface, whether the FX are enabled or disabled, even if I crank the volume knob all the way up. Soo, seems like the noise I'm hearing must be mostly due to my monitor amp and monitors, albeit, whatever they're picking up, whatever they're amplifying, has to start with the FX...

Last edited by eq1; 04-15-2019 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:56 PM   #2
Cranky Emu
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Do you have an external audio interface you can use for a short period, the culprit may actually be the PCI sound card.
I've noticed with some of the CLA plugins, they are noisy.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:13 PM   #3
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^No, no other audio interface to try... If it were the PCIe card, shouldn't I hear the noise through both my monitors and my headphones? No noise with the headphones... Or, at least, there must be some noise, just that it doesn't seem to be amplified through the headphone amp circuitry...

I just noticed another seemingly weird thing: even when I'm not playing anything, the track and FX setup I described above uses a ton of CPU - it was around 20% usage (started out at 20-25%, then dropped to around 12%). When I disable all the FX, CPU usage drops to zero. Why would FX use CPU if nothing's playing?
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:49 PM   #4
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I just noticed another seemingly weird thing: even when I'm not playing anything, the track and FX setup I described above uses a ton of CPU - it was around 20% usage (started out at 20-25%, then dropped to around 12%). When I disable all the FX, CPU usage drops to zero. Why would FX use CPU if nothing's playing?
if they are switched on they will be using CPU, i think. Isn't it a bit like switching on an oven? It still generates heat, whether you are baking a cake in it or not.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:06 PM   #5
eq1
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^Yeah, I don't know, I wouldn't think so, especially most of the FX I listed above. Seems like they should only be doing calculations when actual data are passing through them - which means when stuff is playing... I could see how they might use CPU when they load, but then, you'd think they'd just sit there and wait for, at least, PLAY to be hit. I mean, it's 'signal processing' - if there's no signal, what's there to process?...

EDIT: OK, I found an old thread that said you can stop FX from running when 'stopped': Preferences/Audio/Playback and there's a couple options, one of them is "run FX when stopped", uncheck the box. I did that and it works. Simple enough. Still, what are these FX doing when there's no audio, no data, to be processed?? It seems really weird to me...

Last edited by eq1; 04-15-2019 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:37 AM   #6
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I did that and it works. Simple enough. Still, what are these FX doing when there's no audio, no data, to be processed?? It seems really weird to me...
Interesting, mine is checked and never noticed that with Reaper Plugs or any others except the CLA ones.

Which is why I suspect the problem may be in the internal card. A mate had a similar card many years ago and he had the same problem. Although if you recorded a wav file with no input, just armed a track and set it into record you could not hear any noise on the actual recorded track, just through the speakers/headphones. In his case it was generated from the computer.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:39 AM   #7
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^I think I understand the general sweep of the problem, now. There's a few different parts to it, or at least to my misunderstanding of what's going on - which now I think I understand...

First thing is that FX run even without playing anything, unless you have that box UNchecked. I didn't realize that.

Second thing is that FX run even if there's no item to be processed (kind of the same thing as above). The way I have my tracks set up, for this mastering-like project, I've got in essence 12 X 7 FX running simultaneously, even though only one song plays at a time. So it seems like only 7 FX should be running at once. But no. And really, it's even more FX because for whatever reason some of the FX must be counted as multiple FX. Reaper says I've got something like 300 FX going if I have all tracks' FX enabled...

Third thing is that, if all these FX are running, my computer is crunching away - and I probably have either a noisy computer and/or a noisy sound card. Something between card and computer is generating noise.

And finally, my monitor amplifier is picking up this noise and amplifying it. My audio interface breakout box, though, doesn't seem to do that. Maybe it actually rejects the noise somehow - because it's dead quiet...

I think that's about it as far as the noise is concerned...
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:05 AM   #8
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As was mentioned, some plugins will generate noise when they are active whether processing any audio or not. Waves 1176 and LA2A for sure culprits of this. Sometimes Slate VMR creates some noise and I have to remove and reinstance again.

but, the noise you're describing sounds to me like the noise I hear when any wifi is being transmitted near the speakers. If I place my cell phone near one of my monitors the noise comes out instantly, just like you describe; chirpy high pitched whiney/whirring kind of noise, almost like blips. It's not loud and it doesn't actually record, but it is noticeable at low volumes through a mix.
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