Recording Hiss

I noticed everything I record have that recording hiss in the background, most of the time it doesn’t bother me because it’s inaudible and lost in the rest of the sound. The problem is I have a quiet moment in a song now and…well, it’s audible and it’s bothering me.

I’m thinking the problem might be with the Behringer mixer I got, the cheapest I could find, I connect it to my crappy integrated soundcard with an RCA and just record with Renoise or sometimes Audacity.

Any fancy homestudio magic tricks I can do to prevent the hiss or somehow reduce it?

What mic are you using? Could be your mic as well…
Though Behringer is indeed not the best choice of mixer…

Tapco Blend 6 is a cheap mixer from the Mackie factory,
so a Rolls Royce for the price of a Fiat Panda. ;)

You said integrated soundcard, so it could also be that you’re not using an audio interface. For one that can fix the hiss/hum.

Also, when I used to not have an audio interface, I used a 3 prong to 2 prong converter on my power adapter for the computer. For some reason removing the ground from the equation reduces the noise substantially.

In the end you can use the noise reduction process in Sound forge, adobe audtion, or any other audio editor. (maybe even audacity)

Use the EQ to isolate the hiss and remove it. Generally with recordings, you can roll off everything at the top and bottom, but its worth sweeping through the frequencies to find which sounds worse/better.
Usually after this is use the mixer EQ to boost a bit more.
I also have the behringer, a small little 4 input jobby, and have the same problem…i hardly use it.

In adobe audition there is a nice “Hiss reduction” plugin.
You could try that. I used it a lot for filtering audio from videos.

Not sure if the demo also has this feature, because it cost some.
CooleditPro is the old version of adobe audition and also has the “hiss reduction”
And that one is very easy to “try before buy” ;)

You’re still using cooledit? I’d recommend upgrading to Audition 3, idk how much it’s changed from cooledit, but I know that there were a few added FXs and more stable multitracking in 3 then there was in 1.5 (both of which I’ve had).

I don’t use it anymore because I switched to mac.
Now I do almost everything in Renoise.

Mac, nice. Don’t they make audition for mac as well? I guess, not (I just checked). I guess you can use pro tools or sound studio or maybe even audacity for editing. Don’t get me wrong, I love renoise but I like to mix things up a little. Every program has it’s advantages. :)

I agree, and Audicity is also for mac, I gave it a try but I didn’t like it.
And I became more and more handy with Renoise so that I don’t really need another application anymore.

Only ableton for live ;)

You should use a gate on the track with the hiss, setup the threshold to close the gate when the db’s of your track go under the level of your music, so when the silent part comes the gate closes and no audio is coming trough.

If the hiss is on all your tracks, you can put a gate over your whole mix offcourse.

But won’t doing that just cut the audio? Cause when it drops below the specified db, the rest is cut off. Which means that the hiss will go on and off through out the track.

Offcourse when you’re music is playing the hiss will still be there, you said that you wanted to take the hiss away in the silent parts, I thought you meant ‘no music’ with silent.

I use it on bassdrums wich go trough a distortion, when the bassdrum is not playing the distortion wil create a lot of hiss, but then the gate sets in en the hiss will be gone.

  1. Use a preamp before the mixer
  2. Make sure to use all good cables… shielded ones
  3. Use a noise gate (multiband is better) to gate out the hiss
  4. If you use DC power supplies for anything, make sure to use regulated ones

Use eq 10, set a band to maximum gain and low Q, sweep through the frequencies to find the spot where it sounds worst - then set the gain to something negative (and ajust Q) until it sounds good. Rinse and repeat with more frequencies if necessary.

Nothing beats or replaces good noise removal software though, IMHO. Audacity has its limitations, but then again: at a certain point it becomes cheaper to spend a few hundred bucks on something like Izotope RX than to buy the perfectly insulated studio. But yeah, the less noise there is initially the better the result - you need both.

Use ReaFir as a final step in your pipeline to guarantee zero noise, though this guarantee might come at the expense of some detail in the quietest frequencies:

I love this plug, works pretty well live too (absolutely indispensable if you like to put distortion on your vocals).

It is just about identical in effectiveness to Cool Edit Pro’s noise removal.

You could tell people that you record completely analog :P

I’m not sure entirely since I don’t really use analog that often, but isn’t there a difference between analog hisses and the in the box digital hisses?

I was joking. Yes there is a difference. Ground noise, digital, analog, etc. are always a pain to track down and eliminate.

Burn your music to a CD or MP3 device and play your song somewhere else. Make sure its not your speakers that are receiving interference. Listen to the output of all your equipment independently. Plug directly into the sound card with headphones. If you hear the buzz then you know its the card. If there is no hum, then hook up a cd/MP3/synth to the mixer and listen directly from the mixer without the computer involved. Eventually you will find the noise.

If you do not find the source that way, then it may be a ground issue. Make sure all of your equipment is on the same circuit.

When I built my computer the motherboard claimed “noiseless” playback and recording, which I found quickly to not be the case. I could hear the fans, hard drives, everything, buzzing in my headphones. Eventually I bought a sound card and that cleared up all the buzzing and humming immediately. I use an EMU 1212m which has decent specs for $150. If/when you buy a card, shop around, there are a lot of options but stick with those specifically designed for music production. M-Audio, EMU on the budget end. Lynx, MOTU, RME on the expensive side.

I have a Behringer FX unit that makes a buzz.

I would try to connect the power without connecting the ground, use a block without ground to put your mains of your mixer in. It could be you have loop and than you hear some noise you do not want to hear, normally it is more of a hmmmmm, but it could be a hssss in your country.

Remove ground?!?

That would depend on where you live and what kind of equipment you use I suppose. If all the equipment shares a common properly working ground and all the equipment is functioning properly, then there should not be a problem with noise. If there is noise, that means there is a problem.

I’m not an electronics expert nor am I an electrician, and removing the ground plug might work in Holland or Finland. I don’t know. However, in the U.S it risks making you dinner. 110v is no joke, and the 230v that you run overseas cannot be any more fun. Unless you are in to that sort pain.

Electricity will find a ground even if that means going through you. Bizztt!

If it is a ground issue, then the audio should show noise generated in the 48-62Hz spectrum. So it would sound like a low frequency humm.

If the issue sounds more like a hisssss, it should appear in the higher frequencies and that, to me anyway, would indicate an equipment issue, not a ground loop.