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Buzz off! Cant stop the buzz on my microphone/headphone

Some Luck

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Joined
Feb 10, 2023
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Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to look this over, its really driving me crazy.

The problem:

I am getting a loud buzzing noise, with a noticeable 60-hertz tone in my recordings.

Where I'm at:

First, everything is plugged into a single surge protector (just a bog standard one, although I've tried testing other ones and I have the same problem). My studio space is VERY small, so cable management is very challenging and I only have one AC in my studio. Everything is close, but even when I've tried unplugging everything in my studio (see list below), and turned off all other electronics in my apartment, the buzzing continues. So, I tried plugging my audio interface, with my mic and headphones, into different Acs in my apartment - still buzzing. What I noticed though, is that the buzzing dramatically increases in volume if I move the mic closer to the Twin X power supply, and if I turn the mic around (360 degrees) there are some areas in the room where the noise almost goes away. Also, if I unplug the mic, the buzzing goes away. I had the same issue with another SM57, so I don't think it's a faulty mic.

One last thing... I live in an old Montreal apartment. In the closet of the studio, there is a socket where a light bulb used to be, it makes an audible buzzing noise, even though there is no switch for the light bulb. All to say, it is highly likely that there is some kind of electrical issue in my apartment...

My questions:

1. Okay, so I know that putting cables over a power supply will often cause interference, but this is very very dramatic increase in the volume of the buzzing. Does that mean that the shielding in my cables is either broken or not very good, and getting some quad xlr cables will help with this?

2. I've read that moving the microphone and having a change in sound is a determining factor, but it's unclear to me what that determines. Does that mean it's more likely to be a ground loop, grounding issues, or EMI?

3. Is it possible that the microphone is responding to a weird frequency within the power supply? Could the power supply be broken?

My Setup:

2019 MacBook Pro, Apollo Twin X, shure sm57 with Fetheadinline booster, neutronik xlr michrophone cables, Neumann Kh 150 speakers, ASUS ProArt Display PA279CRV, uplift standing desk, cal digit ts2 (with an ilok, m-audio 61 keystation plugged into it, and running the power for my mac book pro)
 
Have yet to try this, but it is on the top of my list to do. IF it doesn't make a noise somewhere else would that mean its most likely my building?
 
Yep! Guitar players with old guitars, sometimes find that pipes in walls or wires that are separated from their pair, are carrying current and its field is picked up by the guitar.
 
Thanks! What would be a good way to resolve this?
 
Ok, so I did a very inconclusive test. i went to my buddy's place and it still buzzed., Its not surprising because hes also experiencing some buzzing issues with his guitar and asmp. Ill check at other peoples places when more people return from Christmas break
 
SO after doing some more digging, and based on the fact that the sound changes when I move my microphone in the air. I think that it is most likely an EMI issue. The problem is that in my studio several sources make this louder, mainly just different walls. Interestingly one of the quietest parts of the studio is when I point the microphone out the window. On some forums, I have read that there is no way to fix this kind of EMI. IS that true? This has been plaguing me for over a year now and has slowed down my musical output/enjoyment.

Moving, both my studio in the apartment, or my apartment is not an option right now.

Would using a more shielded microphone cable help with this?
 
Would using a more shielded microphone cable help with this?

You could try some new cables made with Gotham GAC 4/1 Ultra Pro 11301. If you can't make your own, WBC sells balanced cables on Amazon made with GAC 4/1. If you still have issues with the WBC cables—and you have the soldering skills necessary to properly terminate XLR connectors with the Gotham cable—you can try some of the Neutrik EMC series connectors with the GAC 4/1 (See below).

emc-explanation.jpg

If all else fails, though, you may have to get different mics.

One more thing, the SM57 has a very low output level—which, of course makes it more susceptible to noise—so you may want to experiment with the input impedance of the Apollo. I believe if you are using the Unison plugin that there is a setting that allows you to change the input impedance of the mic inputs.
 
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You could try some new cables made with Gotham GAC 4/1 Ultra Pro 11301. If you can't make your own, WBC sells balanced cables on Amazon made with GAC 4/1. If you still have issues with the WBC cables—and you have the soldering skills necessary to properly terminate XLR connectors with the Gotham cable—you can try some of the Neutrik EMC series connectors with the GAC 4/1 (See below).
Thanks for this suggestion! I was thinking of getting some Mogami gold because it's available at most of the audio stores around where I live. Do you think that the Gotham would provide superior protection from EMI than the Mogami's? Also, pardon if this is a dumb question, I'm learning a lot right now, but if the Microphone is the one that is picking up the interference, would changing the mic cables impact this at all?

I have been looking at getting another mic...the only other issue is that I need one with strong off-axis rejection. My Mac fan is very loud, and I record next to it. I know condenser mics are less conducive to EMI, but I they also tend to be more sensitive to ambient noise. Thus, I'm leaning towards an RE20 as it has a good off-axis and good hum buckling, but I don't know if you have any other mic suggestion that would fit this criteria.
 
You could try some new cables made with Gotham GAC 4/1 Ultra Pro 11301. If you can't make your own, WBC sells balanced cables on Amazon made with GAC 4/1. If you still have issues with the WBC cables—and you have the soldering skills necessary to properly terminate XLR connectors with the Gotham cable—you can try some of the Neutrik EMC series connectors with the GAC 4/1 (See below).

View attachment 337304
If all else fails, though, you may have to get different mics.

One more thing, the SM57 has a very low output level—which, of course makes it more susceptible to noise—so you may want to experiment with the input impedance of the Apollo. I believe if you are using the Unison plugin that there is a setting that allows you to change the input impedance of the mic inputs.
Oh and I did try the switch the impedence, it changed the tone but didn't have a huge impact on the buzzing. Great suggestion though, and something I hadn't thought of!
 
Just wanted to give a little bump. Wondering if anyone has had any success with certain kinds of mics?
 
My thought is this.

If you have tried different cables and the problem does not go away,
then the cable is unlikely to be the problem. The cable is balanced
and shielded to reject noise.

I would try putting the power supplies in a metal coffee can or similar
to see if it helps.

The Shure SM57 is a decent microphone. I use them. Still, the way
dynamic microphones work is there is a coil and magnet moved with
respect to each other by a diaphragm. That coil is like an antenna.
Shure did not intentionally make it receive interference, but it could.

If you can borrow a small diaphragm condenser mic, try it to see if
it is less sensitive to this kind of interference. The ambient noise
sensitivity of the small condenser mic is often exaggerated. For
example, look at the cardioid pattern of the Beta 87 compared to
the SM57. In my experience even super cardioid dynamic mics
have not been effective for rejecting off axis noise. Anyway, if
you try it you will find out.

That is my suggestion. I hope you find some solution. It seems
rather frustrating.
 
My thought is this.

If you have tried different cables and the problem does not go away,
then the cable is unlikely to be the problem. The cable is balanced
and shielded to reject noise.

I would try putting the power supplies in a metal coffee can or similar
to see if it helps.

The Shure SM57 is a decent microphone. I use them. Still, the way
dynamic microphones work is there is a coil and magnet moved with
respect to each other by a diaphragm. That coil is like an antenna.
Shure did not intentionally make it receive interference, but it could.

If you can borrow a small diaphragm condenser mic, try it to see if
it is less sensitive to this kind of interference. The ambient noise
sensitivity of the small condenser mic is often exaggerated. For
example, look at the cardioid pattern of the Beta 87 compared to
the SM57. In my experience even super cardioid dynamic mics
have not been effective for rejecting off axis noise. Anyway, if
you try it you will find out.

That is my suggestion. I hope you find some solution. It seems
rather frustrating.
Thanks, rationaltime. I will sniff around and see if I know someone with a small diaphragm condenser.

I will also try the metal coffee can tip. Is that a permanent solution, or just a test?
 
If Your microphone is picking up a Lowe frequency hum. i think something must in the cain is broken.
You Changed out the microphone and had the same issue? so your confident you have a good genuine microphone.!?

Sort out and Disconnect every thing not related to the problem. Use as view parts as you can to make a test recording.
Only the microphone Directly into the Interface. No fedhead no no speakers nothing connected tarts not strictly necessary.

Is the problem persistent?
 
If Your microphone is picking up a Lowe frequency hum. i think something must in the cain is broken.
You Changed out the microphone and had the same issue? so your confident you have a good genuine microphone.!?

Sort out and Disconnect every thing not related to the problem. Use as view parts as you can to make a test recording.
Only the microphone Directly into the Interface. No fedhead no no speakers nothing connected tarts not strictly necessary.

Is the problem persistent?
Hi Lambda,

Thanks for the reply! I have not tried swapping out the fedhead yet, only because I bought it recently and had the same problem before I got it. But your right I should swap that out. I tried my friend's bus-powered interface and turned off the breaker, the sound was different, maybe less loud, but still present. I did record it if anyone is interested in hearing it. I also tried going to my friend's apartment, unfortunately, he too is dealing with EMI and the sound was still present in his apartment. I am not sure what to make of either of these tests. I am going to be getting a couple more mics including a small diaphragm condenser on the 20th. I have tried a different cable (and the problem persisted) but have recently ordered the Gotham GAC cable that Speedskater recommended. I will update you all when I try those new options. All tests have been performed with everything unplugged from my interface except for the microphone, AC power, and headphones.

Thank you all for your help with this. It really has helped!
 
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