The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Help! I'm being magnetized by the CIA.
Old 14th February 2003
Here for the gear
rubykitty2000's Avatar

Help! I'm being magnetized by the CIA.

There is no other way to explain what is happening in my studio lately. Any advice would be appreciated because I'm on the verge of having to cancel sessions.

Since last week (incidentally the day the US went on orange alert) I have been having the following issues:

1. The guitar buzz was kinda bad before but you could swivel around and find a quiet spot. Now it's totally out of control.

2. The outputs of my tape machine are humming.

3. The image on my computer screen jumps up and down and induces nausea almost immediately.

I had to bring my mac HOME last night and work on mixes WITH A BAND IN MY BEDROOM. Actually it was sort of fun. Anyway, everybody in my (studio) building seems to have vanished and attempts to, for example, ask the guy upstairs if he is pointing a giant magnet at me have led to nothing. I checked my AC with a meter and it's fine (117 V). Please please help me before I go nuts.

Old 15th February 2003
Lives for gear
doug_hti's Avatar

don't forget any lighting sources? that were fine and went bad....i had a friend that had a buzz in the studio, even in the digital domain...
Old 15th February 2003
fabricate a hat out of tinfoil. that will keep alien space rays from getting to your brain.
Old 15th February 2003
Lives for gear
5down1up's Avatar

yall might laugh heh

but i had some strange noises ive never heard before in my room as well ... it comes up , i check anything , cant find a source , then its gone ... 2 hours later , same stuff ...

never had problems with magnetic stuff , sometimes with my old strat in fact of single coils but never with my gibson . last time i recorded d.i with my amek pre ... BUZZZZZZZ bigtime .

i replaced the guitar cables , i checked the pre connections , groundings , a/ds ... still ... BUZZZZZZ , out of the blue it stopped .

my 888s where humming as well , i thought , damn my mixers ****ed , changing wires , checking clock settings , nothing , again ... it was gone and came back .

MAYBE thats something for the X-FILES , hrhrhr

but its true ... strange to read the same here
Old 15th February 2003
Gear Head

Get a hold of a magnometer and check emf
Old 15th February 2003
Gear Guru

I had similar problems in a studio located in a school building. A mystery buzz that would get into everything, go away, come back again. I tried all kinds of experiments - came up empty.

The source of the buzz turned out to be a dimmer for the house lights in the school auditorium. This was in an entirely different part of the building. The entire set of house lights for the whole auditorium were on a single hardware store type dimmer- the kind you would use for your dining room.

All dimmers are potentially a problem for audio, an overloaded dimmer is the worst. I tried to get the school to replace it because it was causing a hum in my equipment. No joy.

I wrote a second memo asking them to replace it because it was a Fire Hazard. Actually true. The RF is often caused by arcing inside the dimmer- sparks.

Nothing like a paper trail! It was fixed right away. A heavy duty dimmer was installed and the hum never came back.

Maybe you can poll your neighbors in your building about dimmers. Maybe they could switch it on and off while you listen. If it turns out to be the culprit, offer to replace their cheap one with good one.
If they don't seem to care about your audio problems remember the magic words : Fire Hazard.
Old 15th February 2003
Lives for gear
5down1up's Avatar

thats right joeq , dimmers are pain , i have dimmers in my studio and the recording room . i have two seperate electricity circles with separate groundings , one for the gear another for the light .
the dimmers in the recording room are effecting the noise floor , the dimmers in the studio dont produce noise at all .

so i installed some other lights in the recording room , and the noise is gone . i tried to replace the dimmers with something else , didnt help .

maybe i am gonna buy some night toggles and leave the lights off heh

anyway i am running miles of cables through my both rooms even if they are small , when ive found my ultimate setup someday i am gonna shorten all my wires . right now i still dont know , so i keep all the possibilities open . shortening the wires may improve the sound by another 10% and probably will reduce the noise as well .

but where those BUZZES where coming from ???
Old 15th February 2003
Here for the gear
rubykitty2000's Avatar


Dimmers, right! I'll check that out today if I can find anybody. There's a Kung Fu studio on the third floor which I've never been in. That should be interesting.

Could it be something as simple as a single halogen lamp somewhere?

Old 15th February 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I doubt it's anything halogen, they usually don't induce noise. Someone once told me a way to check for magnetic fields using a guitar amp and I think a pickup. ****, I'm going to have to think about what the tool was. But, he would sweep it around the room and listen to the output of the guitar amp. When it made a lot of noise that was the direction of the field.
Old 15th February 2003
Lives for gear
5down1up's Avatar

i figured that some cell phones have influence on some gear like preamps as well ... but not all of em ... sometimes somebodys in the studio getting a call on his cell i get that strange sound 2-3 seconds in front ... its kinda like a hum noise .
refrigerators and that kind of electric gear on the same power circuit can cause a lot of noise , too .
it sounds like its getting on and off all the time .
and of course computer monitors in relation with magnetic pickups or speakers ... i guess the tft displays solved this problem ??!!
Old 15th February 2003
Gear Addict
Curious G's Avatar

Where I use to work, the copier from the business above used to audible in studio C. A good electrician was able to sort it out. I'd give the tin foil hat a try first though! heh
Old 15th February 2003
Gear Guru

Don't forget that dimmers can also cause acoustic noise. I have heard some bulbs "singing" way up high (15k?) when the dimmer is around half way down. My house was remodeled by an electrician and there are dimmers on almost every light. They are pretty well behaved, but before I record, I go through the place making sure everything is off or full on. For some reason the hums are more likely when the dimmer is dimming.

Never knew of any trouble from Halogens, but flourescents can sometimes be a problem. And Neon lights are notorious. Any taverns in the building?

I had a client who had one of those cell phones with the walkie-talkie option for his job. When it rang, every guitar amp in the place would freak out.

Someone once gave me a big heavy duty power conditioner but I traded it away before I got a chance to try it out. Has anyone had any luck with one of those?
Old 16th February 2003
Lives for gear
doug_hti's Avatar

well what i was saying before is that a friends non-problematic dimmer went bad all of a sudden, (controlling halogens) so at ALL levels, even full level it was check even the things that were crept into his gigastudio, 888, wireless monitor, etc. YOu would hear it on the tail end of synth notes, it was whacked.

as far as some light dimmers not working unless they are at full tilt or off, you should replace the suspects by transformer dimmers....they're like $60 each or so...fairly reasonable...
Old 16th February 2003
Here for the gear
rubykitty2000's Avatar

Well thanks, folks. I have finally managed to speak to everybody in the building and no one has any dimmers installed or any huge magnets. Apparently an electrician checked the building out a little while back and everything was fine. I checked the voltages myself and nothing was amiss. The problem seems to lie out in the street somewhere, or in a neighboring building. The guy I sublease from is going to call the landlord who is hopefully going to call Con Edison and have somebody check it out. In the meantime I have moved all my sessions to my very generous friend's shop / studio in Queens. He has an Oram and a 1200 so it aint all bad.

Happy protesting,
Old 16th February 2003
Gear Nut
Pricey's Avatar

I had a problem similar to this. I tracked it down by using a single-coil guitar as a directional antenna. (Pickups have a figure-8 polar pattern.) It turned out that the main cold water pipe was picking up a buzz from an electrical company transformer, and conducting it right into my studio. I broke the circuit by installing a short length of PVC pipe right where the water main entered the house. (The cold water pipe was not being used for electrical grounding.)

The first thing you should try is walking around with a guitar to track down the source of the buzz. There may be more than once source.
Old 17th February 2003
Lives for gear

You can also use a portable radio set to AM and tuned between station (static) to find modulations in amplitude around your studio. AM = Amplitude Modulation, as we know.

Wherever there is unstable AC power in your studio, the radio will pick up amplitude contamination and buzz louder.

I used to have dimmers on all my lightswitches until I found they didn't pass the AM radio test. The simple and much cheaper solution (compared to buying expensive variac dimmers) is to just install a 99 cent switch.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump