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This lesson is for week 4 of Introduction To Music Production at Berklee College of Music. I will be teaching how to reduce unwanted electrical and acoustical noise when recording.
Let us first get done with the basic definitions. So, what is “noise”? In common use, the word “noise” means any unwanted sound. In audio, recording, and broadcast systems “audio noise” refers to residual low-level sound (usually hiss and hum) that is heard in quiet periods of program. In audio engineering, it can also refer to the unwanted residual electronic noise signal that gives rise to acoustic noise heard as “hiss”.
Now, the concept of “noise” is very important in music production process. Generally, we try to avoid it in a musical context as much as possible. But there are many misconceptions about “noise” itself. For example, nothing ever really gets completely “silent”. We always descend eventually as we get quieter and quieter, down into some type of “noise”. When in an entirely sound isolated anechoic chamber, there is always some kind of “noise”, such as sound of air conditioning, computer fan etc. Even in the absence of all external noise we humans create it just by “living”, which means if it gets really quiet we can hear our own “biological noises” (e.g. sound of nervous system, blood flowing through veins). It is an interesting experience sitting down and listening to what a “silent” room actually sounds like. There are many things going on that you never would have factored in.
When recording music, we try to eliminate two types of noise: 1. Acoustic noise 2. Electrical noise
I am describing them further below:
you will start noticing all those little things. I shall try to explain how to deal with this kind of noise: I. Acoustic Noise: “Acoustic noise” refers to “noise of the space” and everything that comes into it. air conditioning. II. . either deliberate (music. and computers. Listen carefully to the “silence” or “room tone” to identify noise. The cleaner the recording.1.). noise coming through the window. Move away from noisy sources like fans. motor vehicles/aircraft/trains/industrial sources from outside etc. TV in other rooms. the more options you are going to have down the road. speech etc. The best way to understand where the noise is located is simply to sit still and listen.) or unintended environmental noise (fans in equipment. It means any sound in the acoustic domain. As stated earlier. heat. windows. It is very crucial to remember that every time you set up to record you are recording the instrument in a space and you want to get a clean recording. Reducing noise is first about “listening”.
V. Experiment with mic placement. Turn off noisy sources like A/C. VI. Put a blanket/pillow against the window if it creates noise. TV. IV. heating. . Create an isolated space for recording.III. fans. and appliances. Place it in the most silent part of the room. You can really make high quality recordings in most places if you are very careful about isolating the noise of the space (soundproofing).
IV. V. The power system of your studio can also cause electrical noise. anything that might interfere with the signal. If possible use devices that have grounding lift buttons. This is a good post-production tool for eliminating some noise but should be one of the last measures you take to clean up a performance. it is represented as a kind of background hiss. Actual systems use AC (Alternate Current) with 50-60 Hz. Electrical Noise: “Electrical noise” refers to the noise that gets picked up by the instruments and the noise the gear itself creates. For example. To reduce the noise there are several options: I. Use a noise gate. Electrical noise is also present in other household appliances. . This could mean your fridge. Gear made of cheap plastic produce more noise than gear made of metal. VI. the less chance there is to dirty the signal with noise. These can sometimes contribute to “dirtying” the electricity. balanced cables (XLR or TRS). The less equipment you use. the faster the signal gets from point A to B and the less chance there is of noise. Use high quality gear. VII. The shorter the cable. which is known as “self-noise”. A high quality piece of equipment has to earn that tag. If you rely on “fixing in the mix” you limit yourself and can add hours to your workload trying to clean up mistakes that could have been eliminated by simply re-recording. III. II. Use short. TV. Turn non-essential electrical items off. Use less pieces of gear. Turn off appliances and dimmers. dealing with noise and noise reduction is one way in which it does so. Also check “self-noise specifications” on gear manual.2. Every piece of gear does make some kind of electrical noise. in microphones. which is a waveform that generate a “hum” noise.
IX. please visit my YouTube channel. and ambient noise. Move mic closer to the source instead of increasing gain. Choose directional microphone to isolate the source from the noisy.VIII. Take Care and Happy Learning! *Word count: 996 . It will help pick up more sound of the source instead of the room. if you want to know more about my music. J https://www.youtube. It is very important to focus the mic to the source and reject the sound of the room. Boost level electricity as little as possible. Avoid unnecessary gain on input. If you have any questions do not hesitate to discuss with me so we can learn together! Thank you for critiquing. The home studio is a unique place and it will take a lot of experimentation to get the best sound out of your space.com/user/FrenzyPhrenesis Regards. Also. It is definitely possible to get great sounding recording from seemingly acoustically poor spaces when correct steps for noise-reduction have been taken. I hope you enjoyed the lesson as much as I enjoyed making it.