Old 01-29-2019, 02:31 PM   #1
Sparrisen
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Default Recording Acoustic Guitar (too much noise)

I could use some tips on how to get a cleaner sound.

As you can hear in the beginning here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA7WEoQmbQg

There is noise in the background, even though I did my best to cancel it out with ReaFIr

This comes from the acoustic guitar track, where I play softly, finger picking style. My recording rig is as follows
Mic: Samson C01 condenser mic
->Audiobox usb
->Comp: Alienware laptop

cable from the mic to external soundcard is 2m tops, and the usb cable to the comp is like 40 cm.

For the mic placement, I had it AS CLOSE to the guitar as I could without bumping in to it as I was playing, say 10 cm away from the sound hole of the guitar.

I have tried using another laptop, and I get the identic amount of noise.


I understand this is not the ideal mic placement, you should actually place it farther away - but I just wanted to get as much signal as possible.

What should I improve upon for getting less noise?
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Old 01-29-2019, 02:37 PM   #2
karbomusic
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Considering the circumstances, I think the noise level is plenty acceptable. There is far too much low end in the tone though.
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Old 01-29-2019, 02:43 PM   #3
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That's a nylon string guitar, right? It sounds like it, just asking to be sure.
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:03 PM   #4
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Yes, it's a nylon.

Could I improve on those circumstances?
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:18 PM   #5
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The soundhole is not where to aim the mic although the reasoning is understandable. Try different positions like moving the mic back a bit and aiming at the 12 fret area, or try from above or below aiming at the neck joint.

The neck resonates too, and the st omg resonates most in the middle of its fretted length. keep that in mind for the part you are recording.
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:26 PM   #6
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Ah. Well, it's harder to record a nylon string guitar with certain goals. It puts out less volume when picked gently and if you strum hard it self compresses, so that it just doesn't put out a lot of volume. It's a tricky one : ) You're coming up against the issues that everyone does with this. The only real solution, as far as excess noise in the signal path, is having really good signal to noise ratios in as much of the gear in the chain as you can. IOW, the Samson and Audiobox are both not great at such low levels. They have noticeable self noise if there sound captured is low. The mic will simply be set at what it's giving, and if the Audiobox is turned past a certain point, maybe past 3/4, it starts adding more noise and not giving much more source signal with it. Short of getting ahold of a hotter output and lower self noise mic and a cleaner interface, there are two things you can try:

One is to simply record lower. Position the mic so that it gets the best sound, and don't turn the input on the interface up to where it starts getting noisy. Then raise the level in Reaper, if you even have to. It won't be gain staging the same noise because (probably : ) ) the interface literally is adding noise up there, and turned down will be quieter even when brought back up in Reaper. Another thing is to get a mic level booster, like a Triton FetHead, which will give a clean gain boost of 20 - 25 db. (Have to use the right one for the mic. Dynamic and condensers get different models.) They're often used for lower output mics and work great. Whether the Samson boosted up results in what you need is hard to say, but the idea is that you can run your mic pre at half what it was because it's getting a much stronger level to it. Even a great sounding expensive mic that is low output might sound crummy into an inexpensive interface with the gain turn up to max, and might sound good with an inline booster and the gain reduced.

But try just recording hitting Reaper lower and raising it and see what happens : )
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Old 01-29-2019, 09:58 PM   #7
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That is such a great reply, thanks for your time putting it together.

Basically youre saying that my equipment can't really deal with this. The FetHead is a great suggestion I might try that out - it might just give me the little boost that I need.

But optimally, I'd like to COMFORTABLY capture even relatively low sound. I would like to have the microphone a bit farther away even.

What gear do you recommend? What piece should I replace first?
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Old 01-30-2019, 12:40 AM   #8
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perhaps... ffd to the nylon string version
I have the S model and it definitely provides an option for getting an acoustic sound direct to an interface. The N model sounds really nice in person.




Also works great for live, no feedback like with a full bodied acoustic. i.e. ( https://youtu.be/8JfmVXds4uE )
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:24 AM   #9
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OK, it's best to get this clear. Because you're talking about noise in the background. Are you talking about ambient noise (room reflections, traffic noise, noisy neighbors)? Or are you experiencing continuous static noise or are you picking up fan noise from your laptop?

Actually it would be great if you could post an audio sample without the correction done by ReaFir, so we can hear the noise clearly, so that we hear exactly what you are hearing and referring to.
In the YT video I'm not hearing a huge amount of noise on normal listening levels.. like I wouldn't have noticed it if I wasn't made aware by someone telling me there was some.
Now when I crank up the volume, then yes it's clearly there.
So I totally agree with karbomusic (also on the EQ'ing part of it).

Now whatever the answer on the question about the noise source might be, I know that the Samson C01 is a noisy microphone.
I started out with the USB version, and it was unusable for me later on, because of the self-noise. It was still great though, because it was my first step getting into recording.
I've read in an old SoS review that they also mention the self-noise of the C01 (XLR version). (https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/samson-c01).

Usually I don't like to give people advice that involves throwing money at the problem to make it go away. But if in this case it shows that the mic is causing the noise problem, then I think you'd do well to invest in a better microphone.

But also try some really silly obvious things if you haven't done already. Like disabling/unplugging your nearby Wi-Fi access point or router, Wi-Fi connection on your laptop, air-conditioning, TV and other electronic devices that can introduce noise to your signal chain. I'm not saying that it does, but it's good to make sure and check it out first.

And as mentioned by vdubreeze, don't record too hot (by raising the gain too much on the Audiobox).

Quote:
Another thing is to get a mic level booster, like a Triton FetHead, which will give a clean gain boost of 20 - 25 db.
It's called the FetHead Phantom, which is designed for condenser mics and will give you 18db of gain. I have the dynamic mic version and it works like a charm.
However, this will not solve the problem if the noise comes from the mic itself.
But it is a great solution to add some clean gain when you have trouble to get a strong signal from a quieter sound source.
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:54 AM   #10
Sparrisen
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Alright - so this is the noise.

I'm sitting a meter away from the mic, and the mic is not really facing me. Also I'm not super loud.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=13t...YJdUJbsal1dOod

So. Like this then:
1: Get a new mic!
2: If that doesn't solve it, get the fethead
3: If that doesn't solve it, get a new external sound card

Any specific suggestions for microphone?
Any specific suggestions for external sound card (I do like something a bit mobile)
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Old 01-30-2019, 10:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
In the YT video I'm not hearing a huge amount of noise on normal listening levels.. like I wouldn't have noticed it if I wasn't made aware by someone telling me there was some.
Correct, and the mic being in the sound hole (and the muddy tone that comes with that) is about 100 times louder and will make far more difference to the listener. I'll go back and listen again later but that noise is insignificant in comparison.
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Old 01-30-2019, 12:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Alright - so this is the noise.

I'm sitting a meter away from the mic, and the mic is not really facing me. Also I'm not super loud.
Yeah I'm pretty sure it is the mic itself that produces the noise.

In a normal recording situation you wouldn't be singing or playing your instrument 1 meter away from the mic. Most definitely not in a home recording situation.
It's best to sing relatively close to the mic to have the best signal-to-noise ratio, and to control the room noise level (you probably already know this ).
You will get the proximity effect, where low frequencies are more prominent when singing close to the mic.. but that is what an EQ is for right? .

For demo purposes I wouldn't really worry about the noise floor of your mic. But when your goal is to release your material on YT/Spotify/iTunes, then I totally understand that you want to resolve the issue.

It can be wise to find a good music store locally or at acceptable driving distance, and contact them to see if they can help you out by letting you try out a bunch of stuff. Take your gear with you (laptop + power supply + Audiobox + mic + headphones + all the cables you need) and try different mics and compare them. Maybe even try a different audio interface in combination with your Samson C01.
But I think your Audiobox is not the problem.
But beware the occasional idiot store employee that has no knowledge whatsoever and will give you bullsh*t information or send you home with a $1000,- mic. Prepare yourself by reading up on good information and have a strong idea of what you want and need.

From what I've read is that the RØDE NT1-A has very very low self-noise.
http://www.rode.com/microphones/nt1-a

Also the Lewitt LCT 440 pure seems to have very low self-noise.
https://www.lewitt-audio.com/microph...g/lct-440-pure

A bit more expensive of course (although they're quite reasonably priced), but the quality does get better in the self-noise department.
I will post this link (https://www.neumann.com/homestudio/e...nt-noise-level) where self-noise is explained a bit more so you know what to look for in the specifications of various microphones.

Do some research, read/watch reviews, test some microphones if you can, maybe borrow one from a friend, and see what works best for you..because you need to like the sound of the mic as well. It's not only the low self-noise that is important.

Last edited by Tinus; 01-30-2019 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 01-30-2019, 01:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
In a normal recording situation you wouldn't be singing or playing your instrument 1 meter away from the mic. Most definitely not in a home recording situation.
It's best to sing relatively close to the mic to have the best signal-to-noise ratio, and to control the room noise level (you probably already know this ).
You will get the proximity effect, where low frequencies are more prominent when singing close to the mic.. but that is what an EQ is for right? .
EQ's aren't for fixing problems we had every opportunity to not have to begin with.

Someone may mic that close when they want the proximity effect and/or want a very in your face sound, or in bedroom situations where the room is not treated or has bad acoustics where close micing is trying to remove the room from the equation (which is the best of a bad situation anyway) I often mic acoustic 12-30 inches away because my room doesn't make things worse.

Secondly with acoustic guitar, there is little or no room for the sound to develop when that close - when we hear an acoustic, the sound from all the parts of the guitar converge on the way to the ears, with a mic crazy close it's more like a microscope on that piece of the guitar - lastly, get the mic out of that sound hole for goodness sake, it's far, far worse for the end result than that tiny amount of hiss. We should really prioritize things that have more weight and as I said in post one, that hiss isn't the thing ruining the sound so I'm unclear as to the hyper focus on it.

Is the goal a good guitar sound or just no hiss?
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Old 01-30-2019, 03:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrisen View Post
That is such a great reply, thanks for your time putting it together.

Basically youre saying that my equipment can't really deal with this. The FetHead is a great suggestion I might try that out - it might just give me the little boost that I need.

But optimally, I'd like to COMFORTABLY capture even relatively low sound. I would like to have the microphone a bit farther away even.

What gear do you recommend? What piece should I replace first?
Not really that your equipment can't handle it, just that judging by what they are there's likely some weak links in the chain to record low level sounds reasonably quietly. I'm not familiar with the Samson, but I'm sure Tinus is right about it, which is not to say it's terrible, but it's a low cost mic likely not up to this task for the critical ear you have developed. Excellent advice from everyone about mic placement and other points.

Money's tight, it sucks to have to spend it to solve a problem : ( But I would say that if doing these nylon string guitar recordings with this gear doesn't give you results that are free enough of distracting self noise, a mic that is specifically high output and low self noise would make you very happy : ) Audio Technica has a good choice for low budgets good output and low noise (I would skip the $100 AT2020) and they get better sounding as you go up. The AT2050, 4040 and 4033a, which go from $230 to $400, are all worth considering. I use a Shure SM32 when I need high output and low noise. These are around $500 new. I've seen it's little brother, the SM27, which is around $300, but haven't used it.

I
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Old 01-30-2019, 08:36 PM   #15
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Tune the bottom end of that out a bit. Kinda boomy.

I don't hear a whole lot of noise, given how you recorded it. And as noted, try moving the mic away from the tone hole. Mic the bridge or neck, or both if you've got enough mics.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:53 AM   #16
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In the "putting money where mouth is" category I did a quick test of my SEI Magneto condenser mic (very cheap but well reviewed https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews...ronics-magneto).
It seems boominess is a real issue with classical guitars (mine is a student's low end Musima from East Germany). The recording you hear has a high pass filter applied but I still hear some excess low end? I was interested to do it as I rarely record nylon strings (and given the performance some might say that is a very good thing!)

Maybe it needs a decent room and some distance with the mic for best results?

https://youtu.be/ApAuFK5K2j8
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Old 02-05-2019, 06:36 PM   #17
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One quick note on the Fethead...

I believe that there is more than one design. The main Fethead powers itself with phantom power while passing none of it to the microphone itself. A second design(if I am recalling this correctly) is designed to do the same while passing phantom to condensers to power them.

If the plan is to use it with a condenser, I might take a close look at if this is indeed the case.
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Old 02-18-2019, 06:07 PM   #18
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Sparrisen, the guitar playing was well done. Nice writing and singing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerome_oneil View Post
...bottom end... Kinda boomy.
I agree. Your problem isn't noise. Two problems I hear: 1) Proximity effect from a very close cardioid mic = BOOM.(You can only get that close if you're using an omni mic unless you want the boom.) 2) cardioid mic positioned near the soundhole = BOOM. (You can only do that with an omni.)

I suggest retracking the guitar with the mic 2 ft away. 3 ft - even better. Or get an omni mic if you like the close-up-inches-away sound.

Or EQ the low end of the guitar track you have already. EQ automation would be best. That's what I'd do. I'm assuming you have the guitar tracked separately from the vocal.
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:20 AM   #19
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FWIW I'm in my office with a couple of computer fans going, so not the ultimate listening conditions, but didn't hear any obtrusive noise.
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:22 AM   #20
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That sounds really nice. It doesn't sound like a miked acoustic guitar to my ears but could be convincing enough in a mix. Pretty sweet sounding.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Not_Here View Post
perhaps... ffd to the nylon string version
I have the S model and it definitely provides an option for getting an acoustic sound direct to an interface. The N model sounds really nice in person.




Also works great for live, no feedback like with a full bodied acoustic. i.e. ( https://youtu.be/8JfmVXds4uE )
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