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[Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

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[Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby ExistenceInfinito » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:19 pm

Hey, all!

I came to the forum about 18 months ago when I had some issues, and you were all very helpful. Since then, I've made some gains and strides, but will do my best to help re-explain my situation.

I am a Livestreamer on YouTube, so I work in an at-home studio. Much of my work is done live, but on occasion I will record content. One thing that I am well known for is my high quality audio that came from the last 18 months of special treatments to the studio, ambient noise reduction, and careful adjustments to microphone proximity and the introduction of a Digital Audio Workstation to act as a live voice tool! (I am using Reaper DAW, if you're curious.)

Since then, my situation has changed and I had some inclination to upgrade my setup, since I was sick of using the Blue Yeti Pro's software driver on my PC. This led me to upgrade to a XLR setup and I wanted to introduce a mixing board in to it as well, since some of the premade FX are really cool to do on the fly! Now, since then, I am encountering a LOT of static noise on my system that was never there before.

In my setup chain I have;
Shure SM7B -> Cloudlifter CL-1 -> Xenyx QX1202 FX USB.

The problem is if I drop the gain, my peaks don't go anywhere near (Picture 3) where they should, but if the gain is higher / or I increase the Level of the Channel 1, the background noise is atrocious.

I appreciate all the help. I work in a noise treated room with over 50% of my walls covered in pyramid foam, and have an extremely silent PC. I do not run any Air Conditioning or Fan units in my studio while I am recording, and ambient noise is seriously optimal. This is all on an XLR connection setup, and my previous setup was only using the Blue Yeti Pro Microphone through a USB connection.

Finally, the windows setting for my microphone is set to "70" for levels. Anyways, really appreciate any and all help/suggestions.

Picture 1:
Image
Gain at "about" 1 O'clock. Minimal background noise, but voice not peaking. I am about 6 inches away from my microphone.

Picture 2:
Image
Gain is almost maxed out, peaks are optimal but my background noise is way too much.

Picture 3:
Image
Screenshot of the peaks when switching from picture 1/picture 2. Also the levels seen for ambient sound in the track 1.

Picture 4:
Image
Sound profile of the noise captured. Thought about using this on my audio, but you know how destructive it is to add a subtraction on your audio tracks! Even if it's minimal!

Voice clip:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0tWV ... WMyQW11Q0U
Tried to leave some dead space so you can actually hear the issue / sound I am hearing.
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Agharta » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:35 pm

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:22 pm

Can't see the images, but have listened to the sound....

It's difficult to know where you're aiming for with peaks as I can't see pictures. But generally speaking, in the DAW we aim to average our record settings at about -18/-12 with peaks at about -6.

Also the SM7B is a very low output mic so even with the Cloudlifter the mic pres are probably working quite hard. What are the meters doing on the Behringer mixer? Are they just lighting yellow on the loudest bits?

Sorry to say this, but I didn't hear anything that I surprised me when you wound up the gain. Many budget mixers would do the same. Historically I've had similar issues when using budget mixers of various brands for spoken voice. I got around it by recording at modest levels with the mic pres not working hard and then increasing the level in the DAW as part of post-production. Of course, I realise that may not be an option for you when working live. Only really solved the issue by buying a more expensive pre with more gain before hiss available.

Others may be able to suggest a 'magic bullet' for you... sorry that I can't...
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:53 pm

Dumb question. Do you have all the unused channel faders off and only the channel you are using turned on?
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:55 pm

Mike is spot on in terms of optimal levels. Many people 'overcook' this aspect of recording.

Also, the SM7 is designed to be used quite close, not at 6". When I use it for recording I treat it as I would a stage mic. If there's too much proximity effect you can always wind it out, either at the desk or by engaging the low-cut filter on the back of the mic.

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:01 am

I read your thread of 18 months ago. You were advised to treat your room which apparently you did. Still speaking at 12" to 16" from the Blue mic how was the sound after that treatment?

If the room sound/isolation was now OK at that distance, there was no need to speak closer to the mic.

The Blue Yeti Pro is advertised as USB and XLR. If yours is that model you could plug it directly into your mixer. Probably the result would be a lot less noisy than the SM7 at the same distance.

Again, we treat the room so we dont have to close mic...
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:05 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Probably the result would be a lot less noisy than the SM7 at the same distance.

Again, we treat the room so we dont have to close mic...

Err..... the SM7 is designed to be used up close, problem could easily be solved by using the microphone correctly.

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:24 am

Obvious question : you are turning on the +48v phantom power on the desk? The CL1 needs it to provide the additional gain.

At the risk of causing offence, I would challenge your purchases. You have paid $250 and for that, you've probably paid less than a 100 for the desk - and that is the critical bit of kit as it is the interface to your computer. That's kind of a strange way of spending your money. TBH, a small audio interface would provide a much better quality mic pre than a (_very_) cheap desk.

Practically, if you can't afford to swap out the kit you now own, I would be looking to try and remove the background hiss from the signal whilst you are not talking by gating it - you should be able to do that in Reaper. When you are speaking, the noise will be less noticeable, so the key is to clean it up when you aren't talking.
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:22 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Probably the result would be a lot less noisy than the SM7 at the same distance.

Again, we treat the room so we dont have to close mic...

Err..... the SM7 is designed to be used up close, problem could easily be solved by using the microphone correctly.

Bob
His original problem was room issues. He apparently treated the room without having to resort to closer micing technique. Hence in his situation using a mic that requires close mic technique seems unnecessary and limiting.

Tim
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:36 am

Tim Gillett wrote:His original problem was room issues. He apparently treated the room without having to resort to closer micing technique. Hence in his situation using a mic that requires close mic technique seems unnecessary and limiting.

Tim

Except that the current question specifically asks about the use of an SM7, which he is currently using and which, if used correctly, will probably sound better than the Yeti, regardless of room.......

What is 'unnecessary' or 'limiting' about using a good microphone correctly?

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:09 am

The Shure .pdf spec sheets give the output of the SM7b as only 3dB lower than the SM57 and so the combination of Cloudlifter and that mixer should give very acceptable results.

I know Behringer kit gets slated (and I have NO love for them ripping 'our' amp designs!) but in my experience their mic pre amps are pretty good. I have a Xenyx 802 mixer which is only marginally noisier than my ZED10 (and the Cloudlifter would make that difference non existent) I had a BCA2000 which had rotten drivers and was V unreliable but the mic amps were bloody good!

No, I think the OP's problem is the usual Windows Generic USB Audio Device Problem. He needs to turn the Win Sounds gain right down from 100% to 5% maybe lower.
This of course means driving the converter harder to get enough level and if that cannot be done (on any mic channel) the Cloudlifter is suspect. Phantom power would also stand measuring. That would require opening up the XLR plug into the C lifter but that is not a worry.

I do agree an interface would probably be a good idea, if only to get 24 bits!

And yes! No pictures but I also cannot open the sound clip. I have joined up with Google drive (under protest!) but still don't get to open the file. I am offered a shedload of Apps, which one do I need?! (can there not be a standard system for sending in sounds?)

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:34 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:His original problem was room issues. He apparently treated the room without having to resort to closer micing technique. Hence in his situation using a mic that requires close mic technique seems unnecessary and limiting.

Tim

Except that the current question specifically asks about the use of an SM7, which he is currently using...

Why did he buy specifically the SM7B? The previous thread advice might give a clue.

Bob Bickerton wrote: ...and which, if used correctly, will probably sound better than the Yeti, regardless of room.......

Except that the OP's current question is not about wanting a mic that "sounds better". He only mentions the noise. The noise he previously didnt have a problem with, with the Yeti at the greater speaking distance.
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:39 am

Ha! Got the .wav (bit of a palava! )

No, not good, an average noise floor of -40dBFS, worse than un Dolbied cassette!

Now, I don't know if that clip was 'normalized' for posting but it averages over -10dBFS and hits a peak of -0.8dBFS. Can the gain not be backed off to a more normal -18dBFS? That would improve the noise considerably, but maybe the rest of the system needs that level?

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:43 am

Replying to the OP...
Pictures aren't working for me but the audio is so...
The first half of the recording sounds fine - there is some background noise but no more than I'd expect. Then, when you crank the gain, there's plenty of background noise, but I'm wondering why you're cranking the gain that much? From your comments it seems that you're cranking the gain to get the meters up, not because of the sound quality?
If I recall the mixer does give a 24-bit output on the USB (I couldn't find a specification anywhere) so you can record with loads of headroom and then apply any necessary gain in the box. Aim for your levels to be bumbling along at around -18dB with peaks at -10dB and you should be able to keep the pre-amps in their comfortable working zone.
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:46 am

Tim Gillett wrote:
Bob Bickerton wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:His original problem was room issues. He apparently treated the room without having to resort to closer micing technique. Hence in his situation using a mic that requires close mic technique seems unnecessary and limiting.

Tim

Except that the current question specifically asks about the use of an SM7, which he is currently using...

Why did he buy specifically the SM7B? The previous thread advice might give a clue.

Bob Bickerton wrote: ...and which, if used correctly, will probably sound better than the Yeti, regardless of room.......

Except that the OP's current question is not about wanting a mic that "sounds better". He only mentions the noise. The noise he previously didnt have a problem with, with the Yeti at the greater speaking distance.

Well he did buy an SM7..... and he probably does want the best sounding mic ..... which may well be the SM7 when used correctly ..... and may also solve the problem of noise ..... which is what the OP was enquiring about!

I'm not sure what it is about this you do not understand.

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:04 am

Ok, the other thing is that you still have a lot of low frequency stuff there which is carrying a lot of unnecessary energy. You've got a deep voice so you don't want to go too heavy with a high-pass but the first thing to do is make sure you've got the low-cut on the desk engaged. You could think about applying a high pass filter on the input in Reaper as well.
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:13 am

Drew, looking at the mixer's manual they are careful to avoid mentioning the word length!
They simply state "48kHz" and that tells me it is a bog S 'USB CODEC' at 16 bits.

Not that 16bits is the end of the world of course! OP should still get a no input noise floor of better than -80dBFS (no, you never get the theoretical -90!) . I have an early 16 bit ZED10 and the USB recording (when properly setup in Windows!) gives very good results. Using the mixer to feed a 2496 card improves things by 12dB or so but for most applications that is not needed since the source noise will predominate, e.g. micc'ing a guitar amp.

And yes, gain staging and levels need looking at and sorting.

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:16 am

ef37a wrote:Drew, looking at the mixer's manual they are careful to avoid mentioning the word length!
They simply state "48kHz" and that tells me it is a bog S 'USB CODEC' at 16 bits.
I used to have one and I thought I remembered it being 24bit but I might well be getting confused with the effects unit. I am a bear of little brain...
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:48 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:
Bob Bickerton wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:His original problem was room issues. He apparently treated the room without having to resort to closer micing technique. Hence in his situation using a mic that requires close mic technique seems unnecessary and limiting.

Tim

Except that the current question specifically asks about the use of an SM7, which he is currently using...

Why did he buy specifically the SM7B? The previous thread advice might give a clue.

Bob Bickerton wrote: ...and which, if used correctly, will probably sound better than the Yeti, regardless of room.......

Except that the OP's current question is not about wanting a mic that "sounds better". He only mentions the noise. The noise he previously didnt have a problem with, with the Yeti at the greater speaking distance.

Well he did buy an SM7..... and he probably does want the best sounding mic ..... which may well be the SM7 when used correctly ..... and may also solve the problem of noise ..... which is what the OP was enquiring about!

I'm not sure what it is about this you do not understand.

Bob

Yes he did buy the SM7 but he also had (perhaps still has) the Yeti. He may have also bought the SM7 falsely believing the Yeti had no XLR output and so was useless with the analog input mixer. Believing that it cant be connected, he would not have even tried the Yeti with the mixer. The Yeti into the mixer may well solve his reported problem to his satisfaction. ie: No noise issue, and at the original greater working distance which he seems to prefer. That's all I'm saying.

Tim
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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:55 am

Thank you... now can we leave the petty bickering and presumptions there, and focus instead on answering the OP's specific questions?

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Re: [Gain Issues] New XLR Microphone / Mixer Combination.

Postby Jeanie » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:30 pm

Hi
I notice at the end of the recording there are a couple of beepy sounds. Are they Windows system sounds? If so, you should turn them off, but also, could that suggest that your Windows audio set up is part of the problem somehow? … or it could just be your phone going off …
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