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PC fan noise on vocals - help!

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PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby kcseb » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:40 am

Hello all

I'm trying to do the final vocal version on some tracks I want to release. I'm recording my own vocals, using a Windows laptop and close-mic recording with an Rode NT-1000. The laptop fan noise is audible on the takes so I wanted to ask:

1) when the fan does kick in it's quite loud, but changing the laptop (although it's an older model) isn't an option right now. Any ideas what else I can do? I don't have a separate vocal booth, and have to be able to trigger/stop recording myself

2) should I just ignore the noise? These are quite busy commercial house/pop mixes, so in context the fan noise isn't audible. Though I wonder if it will still compromise the final quality!

Thanks all
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:58 am

Being pragmatic I'd say yes, ignore it, if you can't hear it on the final mix then it shouldn't affect anything.

But If you do want to eliminate it there may be some tweaking you can do to the laptop to reduce fan noise, firstly clean it, any fluff inside the cooling airways will make the fan work harder. Then look for a free app that will allow you to control the temp at which the fan kicks in (and sometimes it's speed too) I can't help with a specific suggestion though. Reduce the workload on the CPU by mixing down the backing to a spare track so you are not running any VSTi's or processor hungry fx when overdubbing the vocal. You can leave the original multi tracks where they are but muted for the final mixdown sessions.

Finally, do you have a tablet/iPad? There are a couple of remote control apps that will control your DAW over wifi and let you put the PC at a safe and silent distance.

HTH
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby wireman » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:45 am

Just some thoughts...

Could you put a gap at the start to give you enough time to get in position if you use longer XLR/headphone cables and move the laptop further away with some screening.
Also a wireless mouse should work if you can get it in the right position to stop the recording once you start it.
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby ef37a » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:01 am

A standard wired keyboard and mouse is as cheap as chips and can be extended almost ad.inf. Certainly 5mtrs and that should be far enough to loose the wind! (mind you, I hope your eyes are better than mine!)

A spare kbd&mouse is never out the way in any case. Laptop keyboards ALWAYS fail eventually!

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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:04 am

All of the above... But optimising the mic position and acoustic treatment should sort this out.

Make sure the null in the mic's polar pattern is aimed at the laptop to minimise direct sound pickup.

Make sure you have absorbers* behind you and to the sides when you sing to minimise the reflected room noise picked up by the mic.

And place some absorbers* around and above the laptop to minimise the noise getting into the room -- but don't obstruct the airflow, obviously.

*Absorbers can be as simple as suspended duvets etc...
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby kcseb » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:55 pm

Thanks all. I will try moving around the room to minimise the amount of fan noise getting to the mic, and also absorption. I'll also look at if I can get the fan to trigger less as suggetsted (I've checked and the fan and vents are nice and clean).

Also what do people think of the importance of absorption BEHIND the mic rather than sides/rear? A la those reflective filters sold by SE electronics and others which I've had a browse at, but read mixed reviews about!
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:20 pm

I use a Reflexion filter behind the mic and a duvet behind the singer to get the best. I'm just recording some vocals in an echoey corridor adjacent to my office as a demo. Will add a "with Reflection Filter" version to the others and post links later.

BTW, you say you 'close mic' the vocal, how far from the mic are you singing?
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:43 pm

kcseb wrote:Also what do people think of the importance of absorption BEHIND the mic rather than sides/rear?

They can be a useful cherry on the cake once everything else is properly optimised, but the other things I've already mentioned are MUCH more important and effective, and if you get the positioning wrong the rear filter can colour the wanted sound, too!
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Wonks » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:06 pm

Have you tried a steep high-pass filter on the vocal track? Depending on the voice you can often get it up to nearly 200Hz before it becomes noticeable, normally at least 100Hz, and that can remove quite a lot of general background noise.
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:06 pm

Is there a rule of thumb to positioning a rear filter Hugh? I usually try to get my mic on a line across the front opening and in the centre. Also how would polar pattern affect any negative effects (omni/fig 8/cardioid)?
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby kcseb » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:29 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:BTW, you say you 'close mic' the vocal, how far from the mic are you singing?

Hey Sam

Not far, pretty standard 6-8 inches from the mic (Rode NT-1000). I've had the mic donkeys' years and never put a dust cover over it - it sounds ok but I am wondering if it needs any cleaning/servicing.

Am basically trying to get my recording set up upto scratch, after a few years of serious complacency! All the help on here is really appreciated and it's good to be posting again after all these years
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:18 pm

Link to a quick test recording bottom of this page :- https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=60751&view=unread#unread

details in the post.

FWIW I did try using just the Reflection Filter behind the mic but it made little difference on it's own.....
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby resistorman » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:22 pm

I don't think a low cut would be especially helpful for the fan noise... laptop fans tend to be small and therefore very annoyingly high pitched.

You might want to blow some compressed air through the vents, dust can build up on the heat sink where you can't see it.
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby ef37a » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:30 pm

resistorman wrote:I don't think a low cut would be especially helpful for the fan noise... laptop fans tend to be small and therefore very annoyingly high pitched.

You might want to blow some compressed air through the vents, dust can build up on the heat sink where you can't see it.

I jam a small Dyson against me vents from time to time.

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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:32 pm

Ooh er missus.....
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby kcseb » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:03 am

Hi all

OK so I've made some changes. I couldn't get the laptop fan to throttle down, but I have:

- moved the mic away and turned it, so its unresponsive pickup area is facing the laptop

- put duvet and clothes rack in front of the mic (i.e. behind me while I'm singing). It's a big bedroom so hopefully that helps matters

I'm close mic'ing with a pop filter, mouth about 6 inches away from the mic (Rode NT-1000 going into the 'puter via an RME Babyface, using the RME pre-amp). Here are the results totally unprocessed. What do people think of the sound if I might ask?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9h6i9v341pwut ... p.mp3?dl=0" target="phpbbpopup
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:10 am

That sounds very usable, can't really hear any computer noise between phrases 'cos you are breathing.
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Re: PC fan noise on vocals - help!

Postby Wonks » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:05 pm

What Sam said.
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