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High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:55 pm

Edited to add :-

Weak waveform is not an issue, if you record at 24 bit you can just increase the gain digitally in post.

The signal is 'weak' because you are 12" from the mic and not speaking loudly. It's not a problem in itself only because there is noise in the house.

To get a 'close' radio sound you need to be close to the mic, in a quiet, well treated studio.

[/edit]

TBH, changing the mic isn't going to help,* you will still have the same ratio of wanted to unwanted sound unless you can get closer to the mic. The SM58 and SH7B are designed to be used 'up close and personal' i.e. a couple of inches away or less, if you can do that you'll see a big improvement (24dB between 12" and 1½"). But I'm afraid the only other option is to shut the wife and kids up when recording.

* A 'shotgun' mic might improve things but I have little experience of them, what I have is in a live context and none of it was good.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:03 pm

johnr10 wrote:but what concerns me is the signal is so low. It needs to be at 100% gain to get a decent waveform. At 50% it's basically flat

Others might be able to help more, but I think this is a possible key to the problem. It is not uncommon for people to think that they have a poor recording because they can't view the waveform clearly on the DAW screen. And instead of listening properly and managing the gain staging through the DAW, they rely on what they see and start increasing the gain.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:47 pm

With modern budget mic preamps it is perfectly normal to have to have the gain at three or four o'clock on the dial. This isn't a problem. The reason is that the manufacturers try to make things as cheaply as possible so they avoid the use of any additional controls that could bump the price up. In the old days a mic preamp would have had a pad button but these days even a pad button is too expensive so the gain control has to cover the whole range of possible inputs. One by-product of this is that a potentiometer with a special characteristic should be used for this gain control but these are more expensive than a standard pot so many manufacturers just use a standard pot which means that all the gain is bunched up at one end.

If you really aren't happy with this then I'd suggest buying a different interface rather than using a new mixer with the one you have. The reason I say this is that the mic input specification is very vague and I suspect that Roland haven't paid much attention to the mic inputs. If you want decent mic inputs then I'd suggest the Audient iD range or, if you can afford it, something from RME.

Edit to add: As others have said, a healthy digital level is averaging around -18dBFS with peaks around -12dBFS. If you are seeing anything over -6dBFS you are probably recording too high.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Jul 08, 2020 12:02 am

James Perrett wrote:With modern budget mic preamps it is perfectly normal to have to have the gain at three or four o'clock on the dial. This isn't a problem. The reason is that the manufacturers try to make things as cheaply as possible so they avoid the use of any additional controls that could bump the price up. In the old days a mic preamp would have had a pad button but these days even a pad button is too expensive so the gain control has to cover the whole range of possible inputs. One by-product of this is that a potentiometer with a special characteristic should be used for this gain control but these are more expensive than a standard pot so many manufacturers just use a standard pot which means that all the gain is bunched up at one end.

If you really aren't happy with this then I'd suggest buying a different interface rather than using a new mixer with the one you have. The reason I say this is that the mic input specification is very vague and I suspect that Roland haven't paid much attention to the mic inputs. If you want decent mic inputs then I'd suggest the Audient iD range or, if you can afford it, something from RME.

Edit to add: As others have said, a healthy digital level is averaging around -18dBFS with peaks around -12dBFS. If you are seeing anything over -6dBFS you are probably recording too high.

Thanks all.

Just on the mixer, I was thinking of one like the Allen & Heaht Zedi-10 or similar, with a usb interface (that is 4x4 which is why I am drawn to it, but there are a lot more 2x2 choices). If I did get a mixer it would be n the hope the pre-amps are better, and i'd stop using the Rubix 24 for input.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:56 am

Your problem is not to do with your preamps, sure you might be able to improve on the ones you have but more gain will not solve your problem. That is purely related to the relative levels of voice and background. That is what you need to change.

It has been said on her several time before that a better mic will be better at picking up the unwanted audio as well as the wanted audio.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:46 pm

Yes, thanks.

I did some decibel readings using an app on my P30 Pro (so not going to be perfect but hopefully relative). The phone was in roughly the same position as where the mic is.

Also done some recordings using the Tascam 70D both with the computer on and the computer off. I only managed to listen to a few of them on the computer (imported into Logic) before being told to get my arse downstairs... ;) But the ones without the computer were perfectly silent - even when the gain in the menu was set to high, with the input gain knob at a decent level. I've never been able to use it at high due to the background noise ... the PC! And it's still decent at mid, and not totally terrible at low if the knob is 100%.

With the computer on, they were still noisy - perhaps a bit less, but I've not actual been able to compare yet.

Background db level from the monitor app when the computer was on was between Min 31, Avg 34, Max 38, and when the fans kick in more Min 45, Avg 46, Max 49. With the computer off, it went down to Min 22, Max 35, Avg 31.

It has a beefy graphics card with it's own fans, and the cpu is overclocked because of the video work I use it for but I may revert to normal and then I can at least get the main fans in 'silent' mode (it's actually liquid cooled on the cpu but the other fans are still kicking in at the moment and can get noisy).

Bottom line is - surprise surprise - you are all correct, it is background noise, specifically from the PC (although my HS8's have a bit of noise too - connected to the Rubix).

So ideally I'd put the computer in another room if possible - I'll look in to that - if not I'll look at isolating it more (and removing the overclocking so the fans are quieter). We're house hunting at the moment so I'm not going to go crazy with moving to another room - leave that for the new house.

And I'm probably better getting a dynamic mic for this use as that will make quietening the computer less of an issue. I hate the look of the SM58 - yes, I know, it shouldn't matter but this is on video as well as just audio recording... but at least it is tried and tested... If anyone has any suggestions, please shout.

The other issue this has shown is the noise from the HS8's. It's not loud and didn't affect the decibel app readings. But I'll double check that is coming from the Rubix 24 and if so, I'll probably get the A&H Zedi-10 and hope it is better (at least it is 4x4 USB). There is also a quiet, but audible, whine from the Rubix 24 itself for some reason.

Thanks again for all your help, it's really been appreciated and, one way or another, I'll get the background noise removed but at least now I know what it is!
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:41 pm

The Zed 10 is, on paper, quieter than the Rubix but the specs are not particularly clear (at least not to me at this time of night :blush: ) but a whine from the Rubix seems likely to be something earth related rather than internally generated. More investigation needed I think to track down the source of the noise (as you have already started doing). Spending money to solve a problem that is not directly related to the kit being replaced seems a bad idea to me.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:45 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:The Zed 10 is, on paper, quieter than the Rubix but the specs are not particularly clear (at least not to me at this time of night :blush: ) but a whine from the Rubix seems likely to be something earth related rather than internally generated. More investigation needed I think to track down the source of the noise (as you have already started doing). Spending money to solve a problem that is not directly related to the kit being replaced seems a bad idea to me.

yes,I agree but I would like a mixer and especially a multi usb one,even though it's only 4x4 .
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:58 am

That's fair enough, and a perfectly good reason for buying something :thumbup: just as long as you buy it knowing that it may not cure your background noise problem. BTW, according to the A&H website the Zed 10 does not have 4x4 I/O over USB only stereo.

johnr10 wrote:And I'm probably better getting a dynamic mic for this use as that will make quietening the computer less of an issue.

No it won't, a dynamic mic will be less sensitive than your capacitor mic so, if you work at the same distance, you will need more gain which will bring up the level of background noise too. dynamic mic will be better than your NTG4+ for working close up but it can't change the ratio of wanted to unwanted audio if you don't also work much closer to the mic, only working closer will help improve that ratio*.

If you want similar polar characteristics in a 'stage vocal' type mic that is designed to be used close up consider a Shure Beta58A which has a supercardioid pickup pattern.

* The NTG4 is described as a 'super cardioid' so will have a tighter pickup pattern than an SM58/SM7B, that means it will let you work a little further away but still retain the same ratio of voice to background noise. The downside is that it also picks up more noise/sound from anything directly behind the mic than a cardioid. But, see below.

A knowledgable friend read this thread and added the following comment :-

The NTG4+ is a shotgun mic and I really wouldn't use one for the application the O/P is trying to. It's a good mic - I used to own one. However, I would never have used it for close-up voice work - especially indoors.

He could try a close-up hypercardioid, although proximity effect can be marked with some of them. For spoken word you really do need silence... a good mic/signal-chain will mercilessly expose any noises-off - however faint.

(my bold for emphasis)

https://www.shure.eu/musicians/discover/educational/polar-patterns
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby johnr10 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:06 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:That's fair enough, and a perfectly good reason for buying something :thumbup: just as long as you buy it knowing that it may not cure your background noise problem. BTW, according to the A&H website the Zed 10 does not have 4x4 I/O over USB only stereo.

johnr10 wrote:And I'm probably better getting a dynamic mic for this use as that will make quietening the computer less of an issue.

No it won't, a dynamic mic will be less sensitive than your capacitor mic so, if you work at the same distance, you will need more gain which will bring up the level of background noise too. dynamic mic will be better than your NTG4+ for working close up but it can't change the ratio of wanted to unwanted audio if you don't also work much closer to the mic, only working closer will help improve that ratio*.

If you want similar polar characteristics in a 'stage vocal' type mic that is designed to be used close up consider a Shure Beta58A which has a supercardioid pickup pattern.

* The NTG4 is described as a 'super cardioid' so will have a tighter pickup pattern than an SM58/SM7B, that means it will let you work a little further away but still retain the same ratio of voice to background noise. The downside is that it also picks up more noise/sound from anything directly behind the mic than a cardioid. But, see below.

A knowledgable friend read this thread and added the following comment :-

The NTG4+ is a shotgun mic and I really wouldn't use one for the application the O/P is trying to. It's a good mic - I used to own one. However, I would never have used it for close-up voice work - especially indoors.

He could try a close-up hypercardioid, although proximity effect can be marked with some of them. For spoken word you really do need silence... a good mic/signal-chain will mercilessly expose any noises-off - however faint.

(my bold for emphasis)

https://www.shure.eu/musicians/discover/educational/polar-patterns

Thanks Sam. I'm going to get a new mic anyway - as your friend says, the NTG4+ is not right for the use I want now - and I'd imagine it will be dynamic (I've just had some good news so I can spend a little bit more than I thought on it...). And then once I have that setup through the new mixer preamps, I can set to work trying to minimise the noise in the room.

Sorry, the mixer I'm talking about is the ZEDi-10 not the ZED-10. That is 4x4, the ZED-10 is only stereo (and the smaller channel options in the ZEDi range, such as the ZEDi-8 are also only stereo).

https://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/zedi-10/

But, again, with this good news (it's not great news btw, I've not won the lottery ;) ) I may get something a bit better now. I need to consider some options.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Kwackman » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:25 pm

johnr10 wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:He could try a close-up hypercardioid,

I'm going to get a new mic anyway - and I'd imagine it will be dynamic (I've just had some good news so I can spend a little bit more than I thought on it...)

I'm sure you don't want more decision making problems, but a Beyer M201 might be worth considering. Hopefully other people with more experience will chip in...
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby johnr10 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:33 pm

Thanks, I'll take a look. Not one I've looked at.

Basically, my budget is now about £1000 for a new mic and mixer (and cables and possibly a cloudlifter or similar, if I decided to go for the 'must' have to be 'seen' SM7B and I need extra gain). Previously my budget was about £300. So it's totally widened the options.
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:49 pm

johnr10 wrote:Sorry, the mixer I'm talking about is the ZEDi-10 not the ZED-10. That is 4x4, the ZED-10 is only stereo (and the smaller channel options in the ZEDi range, such as the ZEDi-8 are also only stereo).

Apologies, I did not read you post carefully enough :blush:

SM7B and cloud lifter sounds with the Zed10i seems like a proposition now you have the budget as that will get over the lack of sensitivity issue any dynamic mic will have for your usage.

Anything you can do to reduce background noise (computer, traffic noise, wife and kids, but good luck with that last one ;) ) will be worthwhile but bear in mind 'soundproofing' is difficult and expensive so you just have to do the best you can.

Study the polar patterns and get the computer in the mics null, work close (you may need a pop shield) and get plenty of acoustic treatment, I believe radio studios are usually pretty dry acoustics and much quieter than it is possible to get in a domestic environment.

HTH
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby johnr10 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 1:12 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:
johnr10 wrote:Sorry, the mixer I'm talking about is the ZEDi-10 not the ZED-10. That is 4x4, the ZED-10 is only stereo (and the smaller channel options in the ZEDi range, such as the ZEDi-8 are also only stereo).

Apologies, I did not read you post carefully enough :blush:

SM7B and cloud lifter sounds with the Zed10i seems like a proposition now you have the budget as that will get over the lack of sensitivity issue any dynamic mic will have for your usage.

Anything you can do to reduce background noise (computer, traffic noise, wife and kids, but good luck with that last one ;) ) will be worthwhile but bear in mind 'soundproofing' is difficult and expensive so you just have to do the best you can.

Study the polar patterns and get the computer in the mics null, work close (you may need a pop shield) and get plenty of acoustic treatment, I believe radio studios are usually pretty dry acoustics and much quieter than it is possible to get in a domestic environment.

HTH

No worries ;) You did make me double check ;) even though I've read more about it than any other desk in the last week or two (based on price/availability - other options now include the Zoom L12, Soundcraft MTK 12, Presonus Studiolive AR16 etc etc - maybe - maybe - if I can stretch the budget a bit more, I could go for something like an X32... mmm motorised faders... yes, very much getting into 'want' and 'toy' territory now!)

We're looking to move house (been visiting potential houses all week and more tonight and tomorrow) so certainly not going to do anything more in this room that I can't take with me. The room is already treated (to my own amateur diy standards of course - you're right, can only do the best I can within means etc), but not sound-proofed. Part of the criteria for the new house is a floor - and probably basement - to myself that I can let rip on ;) and also isolate the computers from the recording area (video and audio).
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Re: High noise, low signal on NTG4+ - would a mixer help?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:24 pm

:thumbup: DIY acoustic treatment can be done to a very high standard and the only limiting factor is the size of the room itself. For speech that is not usually a problem as you can HPF a voice to remove most of no all low frequency room issues, not so good for music but a very usable room can be achieved (and it gives much bigger improvements than any amount of GAS so is well worth the effort)*. Soundproofing OTOH is much more difficult to achieve.

* https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=72131#p688297
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