I recently re-wired my studio and also decided to fix a problem that have been plaguing me for awhile – USB noise.
Now exactly what is USB noise, you might ask. Well it’s a sort of digital, high pitch buzzing noise you can get whenever you have external audio devices connected to a computer via USB. For example my Waldorf Blofeld, XoxBox and LXR Drum machine has it.
It’s pretty easy to get rid of, either by disconnecting USB from the device or by using some sort of Audio Ground loop isolation thingy on the audio out signal from the device. I got a bunch of pretty cheap isolators from a local electronics store. They worked great for my synths. The noise was gone as soon as I connected them.
Recently I got another problem and this time it’s from my Eurorack modules. The two external soundcards I use to get 16 channels of sound into the computer, the Traktor Audio 6 and 10 are both connected to my computer via USB so that’s where the noise comes from. As soon as I connect audio out from any of my modules to any of the audio ins on the soundcards I get that dreaded USB noise on top of the wonderful analog sound. I tried to fix the problem with another cheap ground isolator but that didn’t work as it also cut away all the lower frequencies.
I figured the isolators probably had to high resistance so I looked online for something more sensitive. Today Mr postman brought me three of these from Thomann: The Sirius Pro Cable GL Isojack extension. They work pretty well, but not perfectly. The USB noise is gone, however there is a ca 20 dB drop in volume around 40 Hz, which means there is much less punch to the sound. I can compensate it OK with an EQ but it’s still doesn’t sound exactly what it did without the isolator, minus the noise of course. It will have to do for now, but I will probably get hold of a more professional solution in the near future. Like the Behringer DI800 Ultra-DI Pro, which has 8 channels of wonderful ground-lift.
If anybody knows a better solution please let me know.
I’m finished with re-wiring my studio and it works great, for the most part. All my gear is now plugged into the Behringer PX3000 Ultrapatch Pro. I can very easily select which ones should connect to my sound cards, depending on what gear I want to use and record simultaneously.
Technically I could do this earlier but now it’s so much easier. The thing that works best for me when making music is that when I get an idea I want act on it immediately. Earlier it was such a hassle each time I wanted to record different hardware synths, so I tended to always stick with the same – which is a bit bad for creativity. For me anyway.
The only thing I need to solve now is to get rid of the USB noise / hiss that recently, somehow found a way into the sound from my Eurorack modules. The noise originates from the computer, via the external sound cards. I earlier had the same problems with the sound from a couple of the synths with USB (The Blofeld and the Modemachines Xoxbox) but solved it using a couple of cheap Ground loop isolators.
I tried the same approach with the sound out from the Eurorack modules. The USB noise was removed but so was also everything below 2000 Herz. I’ve ordered different isolators from Thomann. If that doesn’t work I will have to get something more expensive.
The project for today is something I should have done long ago: installing a hardware patch-bay and rewiring my studio.
Right now all of my gear goes straight into two external sound-cards, the NI Traktor Audio 6 and 10. Since there are more outputs from the gear than inputs on the sound-cards I use to switch cables when producing. After doing that for a few years you get to a point where you have no idea which cable goes where and also there is a huuuuge bundle of cables, where some of them are probably never used.
I got the Behringer PX3000 Ultrapatch Pro and 2 x The Sssnake MPP8050, which is a multicable with eight 6.3 mm mono jacks on both sides.
Wish me luck..
Some stuff have been added to my studio and some has been sold. I’ve added more things to my modular and I recently got a great tape delay emulator called Strymon El Capistan. Check out the updated list on my studio page.
The studio is in a constant flux. Sometimes new things are brought in, while older are sold off. Here is a recent picture of me, sitting where I feel the most comfortable. In the center of the studio.
Here’s what the studio looks like at the moment. I have installed my new Adam A7X monitors and switched around the stuff in the rack. Now there should be room for some euro modules as well.