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Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

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Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby adammm » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:31 pm

Hi,
I have a new audio interface, the PreSonus AudioBox 1818VSL which i'm using with logic 9 and macbook pro.

I get unwanted pops and clicks alongside my audio when I record acoustic guitar/mandolin with my Beyer M160 ribbon mics, also when i tested the same process with my SM57 instead of the beyer (they produce similar output levels) I also got pops and clicks.

I have ruled out the possibility that any particular lead or channel or specific mic is at fault.

No ambient popping or clicking happens when i am not creating a signal by actually playing. it accompanies playing/producing a recordable signal.

One possible issue is that, with these mics, i do have to set the level on the interface input pretty high, with the input knob turned up to maybe 90% of it's range.

I'm wondering if this is the sort of problem you might expect when using these kind of low output mics without a pre-amp ?

Is some kind a pre-amp generally always needed when using non-phantom power dynamic or ribbon mics with a typical multichannel audio interface?

Previously i used the small, two channel focusrite scarlett interface with these mics, and i had no signal level or signal quality problems - there was always plenty of signal without a pre-amp.
However, when i've tried larger, multi input, 19" rack interfaces, i found that both the new 18i18 larger focusrite scarlett interface and with this presonus interface seem to read mics which have no phantom power as if very low signal. Level was unuseably low for these mics when i tried the 18i18 focusrite scarlett, and now i have to turn up pretty high on the presonus one, and I get this popping and clicking.

Would you expect this kind of problem, or does this imply a fault with the interface ?

Thanks if you have a view on this.

Also, if you believe that i need a pre-amp, could anyone recommend a product that is low cost ? I have been recommended something called the 'cloudlifter CL 1', which is certainly a lower budget product than many pre-amps.

Thanks for any help or views
regards Adammm
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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby damoore » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:42 pm

Clicks are often dropped samples caused by buffer overruns in the computer. Have you tried increasing buffer sizes?
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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby adammm » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:32 pm

sadly that doesn't seem to solve it... i increased the 'I/O buffer range' and 'process buffer range' values in Logic's Audio > Preferences, but the clicking continues.

Thanks for the suggestion
A
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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby grab » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:48 pm

It's not too uncommon for gain controls to have most of the useable gain in the last 10% of travel. Gain *should* usually be controlled with log pots, but linear pots are cheaper and easier to get hold of, so some manufacturers use them instead (especially for cheaper stuff).

I wouldn't say an SM57 was "low output". And that interface already has plenty of preamps - that's what the mic is connected to!

A thought though, looking at that interface. Are you using XLR-to-jack cables instead of XLR-to-XLR? I suspect the line-level jack inputs will treat the signal as if it was line-level instead of microphone-level, and that's not what you want.
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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:23 pm

What is your target level when recording?

Are the clicks happening on loud transients?

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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:43 pm

I believe your PreSonus is a USB device so it might well be worth taking a diversion to the SOS PC Music Forum and having a read through this Sticky Thread that the thoroughly decent Martin Walker started and slaved over.

USB is a funny old thing. It generally works seamlessly but from time to time it can be the cause of problems just like those you described.

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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:04 am

grab wrote:Gain *should* usually be controlled with log pots, but linear pots are cheaper and easier to get hold of, so some manufacturers use them instead (especially for cheaper stuff).

If only it was that simple! It depends on the nature of the gain stage circuit topology, but a lot of common designs actually require reverse-log pots, which are a little more difficult to get hold of. But basically the problem is that in most variable gain stage designs there is no simple correlation between the gain curve and the required resistance curve. So 'gain bunching' towards the high end is almost always inevitable, and why the better designs generally use switched coarse gain, often with a variable trim range.

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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby Richie Royale » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:13 am

Some thoughts: make sure the drivers are the correct and latest ones for your OS. Check the cables aren't causing the popping. Try recording a line level source to see if the interface is causing the issue. Try a different USB cable.
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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:21 am

adammm wrote:I get unwanted pops and clicks alongside my audio when I record acoustic guitar/mandolin with my Beyer M160 ribbon mics, also when i tested the same process with my SM57 instead of the beyer (they produce similar output levels) I also got pops and clicks.

Pops and clicks can have several causes, but the most common are external interference getting into the mic cables (eg from fridges, domestic boilers etc), or interface issues with dropped samples. The latter are usually digital clocking issues or interface buffer/driver issues.

I assume your interface is set up to be the clock master, running on its internal wordclock?
If so, then we can rule out digital clocking issues.

My money is on buffer or driver issues -- or possibly noises created when your computer decides to go off and check the internet or something like that. You'll need to talk with the computer forum guys about that.

No ambient popping or clicking happens when i am not creating a signal by actually playing. it accompanies playing/producing a recordable signal.

This suggests that it's not interference getting into the mics, cables or preamps, but something that is generated only by the computer. Again, this points to buffers, drivers, or some kind of computer incompatibility.

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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby adammm » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:05 pm

Thanks for all these responses.
In fact (duh !) i've realised that all channels with all mics, including condensers, are making some kind of popping.
My first port of call is to contact tech support and see that i have all the right drivers, buffering, and if there are any computer compatibility problems i can solve. I will also change the USB lead.

then see...
regards A
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Re: Popping sounds when using dynamic/ribbon mics - do i need pre-amp ?

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:28 pm

Why not upload a sample of the recorded noise?
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