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Cascade Fathead NOISE!!! Dynamic Microphones
Old 15th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

I'm getting too much noise when using Ribbon Mics

Hi all,

EDIT: THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE CASCADE MIC. Turns out it was my interface. Got it repaired and now everything is working perfectly. Michael, the owner of Cascade was very helpful in diagnosing the problem with me over the phone.

----------------------------------------------------

I just purchased a Cascade Fathead with Lundahl transformer and seem to be getting a heck of a lot of "hiss" noise out of it despite being at a very low db level on the preamp (Apogee Duet). The noise is present as soon as the preamp is boosted enough to pickup any sound really, and it is perceived as being about %25 percent as loud as the signal.

I spoke to Michael (of Cascade) on the phone today for maybe 15 minutes to figure out what it is and he says that it can't be the mic, rather the preamp causing the noise. He recommended asking here about possible solutions. (He also recommended their product "The Cloud", a 25 db clean boost) but that is an "if all else fails" scenario because it is quite pricy)

Some things to mention: I'm recording on garageband, I'm using Mogami Cable. On channel 2 of the interface I have a condenser and am getting no noise at all at these recording levels (close to -20 db in the DAW). There is no running air conditioning or anything. I moved the mic around the room to see if there were spots where it was better/worse, no change. I tried this mic on vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle so it's not coming from an amp or anything.

Any help would be greatly appreciated because this mic sounds awesome (except for the noise)

-Ahren
Old 15th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Seems like you shouldn't have to run the gain way up on normally healthy sources like those.
Do you have a dynamic mic to compare it to?
Old 15th September 2011
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
rogerdodger's Avatar
 

If you are using phantom power for the condensor, make sure the switch on your interface doesnt engage +48v onto both inputs...i think some interface have the power engage pairs of inputs.

ribbon mics are already noisy to begin with.

You can also crack open the "HEAD" and see if the metal ribbon is sagging badly.

This mic is way overrated. i only use it for overhead supplemental tone. I was a sucker for the hype a few years ago.
Old 15th September 2011
  #4
Gear Head
 

Using a 58 (and the same cable) I'm actually getting less signal from the 58 than the Fathead at the same preamp level and actually similar noise on both. Would that imply that I need the "cloud" to raise the signal 25db, or is there a problem somewhere else in the chain?
Old 15th September 2011
  #5
Gear Head
 

Rogerdodger,

I'll crack it open this weekend. So far, no phantom power was applied (tuber powered condenser)

As for hype, what ribbon mic would you suggest (same price range)? Thanks!

I guess at this point, it's not really a problem with the Fathead, more with the duet or something in the chain. I've tried to search for people getting noise when recording with dynamic mics into the duet but haven't really found much of anything. Maybe I need the "cloud"?. Any other possibilities?
Old 15th September 2011
  #6
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitfiddler View Post
Maybe I need the "cloud"?. Any other possibilities?
A Fethead for your Fathead - that's the solution. Around $100 or so.
Old 15th September 2011
  #7
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitfiddler View Post
(He also recommended their product "The Cloud", a 25 db clean boost) but that is an "if all else fails" scenario because it is quite pricy)
Can you return the Cloud if you don't like it? The Cloud, or Fethead, and Power-Plug, are all just fixed-gain preamps. If you the noise is coming from your Fathead, then they're just going to amplify that noise. If it's coming from the preamp, then if you still have headroom, you can lower the preamp gain and decrease the nosie.

While I don't see how Cascade could rule out the Fathead as being the source, I have to say that I've never thought of my Fathead or Fathead II* as being noisy mics. I also agree that the output of the Fathead isn't really all that low compared to other dynamic mics. So, maybe there is a problem with the mic, and you're just cranking the Apogee gain to the point where the noise becomes apparent.





*just an aside, Cascade asserts that these are the same mic, and I have to agree. I really can't tell the difference between the two at all. So if you want to save a couple of $$, just get the Fathead.
Old 15th September 2011
  #8
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
While I don't see how Cascade could rule out the Fathead as being the source,
Easy from my point of view. There's no active electronics in a fathead, and the OP is experiencing "hiss". That pretty much rules out the FH. Many preamps become exponentially more noisy in the upper end of their range. And that's where you'll end up with a ribbon lots of times. I'd suspect that's what's going on here.
Old 15th September 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerdodger View Post
..This mic is way overrated. i only use it for overhead supplemental tone. I was a sucker for the hype a few years ago.
Not sure about 'hype and all. Gee the mic is just one of those really nice low cost options we have now that does what it does.
..'Fathead, Vintec, R121 here. '121's more forward voiced, a little leaner, but really at $150 and sure a bit different but very usable.
Old 16th September 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

I'm really starting to think that the problem is with the Apogee preamp because there is a considerable amount of noise with dynamic mics too (The duet is new to me and until this point I had only used dynamics on guitar amps so I didn't notice the noise floor on quieter instruments)

I'm going to order a two channel cloud from a retailer that has a return policy so I can test and see if insufficient pre gain is truly the problem. Thanks for the responses!
Old 16th September 2011
  #11
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitfiddler View Post
I'm going to order a two channel cloud from a retailer that has a return policy so I can test and see if insufficient pre gain is truly the problem. Thanks for the responses!
It's absolutely the problem. There are no active electronics in a Fathead to create "hiss" noise. A fethead or cloud will help you with approx 20dB more gain or so.
Old 22nd September 2011
  #12
Gear Head
 

PROBLEM SOLVED!

I got the Cloudlifter today and it solved the problem. Now the Fathead and 58's have as much output as my tube condenser (and the noise is gone)!

Thanks slutz!
Old 22nd September 2011
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Is this a common problem with Duets? I thought the apogee pres were meant to be killer? Is it the A/D that people get them for then?
Old 22nd September 2011
  #14
Gear Head
 

Yeah, I thought it was the mic BECAUSE people rave about the duet. Don't know what's up with that...
Old 22nd September 2011
  #15
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
All passive ribbon mics need a LOT of gain. Very few pre's built into converters have enough juice to do the job. Even a lot of dedicated high end mic pre's need some help....
Old 22nd September 2011
  #16
Gear Nut
 

I get that but bad noise on a 58? sounds dodgy to me.
Old 23rd September 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Jimsi's Avatar
 

The CloudLifter just boosted your low output ribbon, most audio interfaces pres dont have the horsepower to boost them properly and hense the hiss when the pre is cranked all the way up, so a Fethead or Cloudlifter is a great tool for ribbons and also low gain dynamics such as the sm7b with those low gain built in preamps ...
Old 23rd September 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by guitfiddler View Post
Yeah, I thought it was the mic BECAUSE people rave about the duet. Don't know what's up with that...
I got curious and poked around a bit..

Jalpuna! | Apogee Duet Noise: The $2 Solution To A $500 Problem

Help!! High Self Noise on Apogee Duet using MBP - MacRumors Forums

It's as if they range from dead quiet and wonderful when things are right, to not..?
Old 23rd September 2011
  #19
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimsi View Post
The CloudLifter just boosted your low output ribbon, most audio interfaces pres dont have the horsepower to boost them properly and hense the hiss when the pre is cranked all the way up, so a Fethead or Cloudlifter is a great tool for ribbons and also low gain dynamics such as the sm7b with those low gain built in preamps ...
Or a 58? I don't want to appear facetious but it sounds like something is wrong with the OPs Appogee.
Old 24th September 2011
  #20
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Easy from my point of view. There's no active electronics in a fathead, and the OP is experiencing "hiss". That pretty much rules out the FH. Many preamps become exponentially more noisy in the upper end of their range. And that's where you'll end up with a ribbon lots of times. I'd suspect that's what's going on here.
Good point. hiss = heat, i.e. a current across a resistance, which doesn't occur in a dynamic, that has been amplified.
Old 24th September 2011
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Tone Laborer's Avatar
It's unfair to companies like Cascade when clueless people start/ title threads like this.

No, the FH is not a noisy mic and in this case of 110% PILOT ERROR it's unfair to create a false and deflamatory title that will come up when ever someone searches for cascade fathead.

Something to consider next time, as you learn the craft.

On a more positive note, now you can move the mic off the source (8" to 15") which is where it shines often times.
Old 28th September 2011
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Laborer View Post
It's unfair to companies like Cascade when clueless people start/ title threads like this.

No, the FH is not a noisy mic and in this case of 110% PILOT ERROR it's unfair to create a false and deflamatory title that will come up when ever someone searches for cascade fathead.

Something to consider next time, as you learn the craft.

On a more positive note, now you can move the mic off the source (8" to 15") which is where it shines often times.
If you like, I would not mind editing the title. How about "Ribbon Mic noise"?
Old 28th September 2011
  #23
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitfiddler View Post
How about "Ribbon Mic noise"?
Nope. Not really a good title if you want to attract solid help. How about...."my mic pre is making noise when I use Ribbon mics", or "I'm getting too much noise when using Ribbon Mics".
Old 28th September 2011
  #24
Gear Head
 

I'm cool with that but I'll let Tone Laborer decide the appropriate name since he is the one who took issue with it.
Old 28th September 2011
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Tone Laborer's Avatar
I'm not a moderator and I have no power to edit your posts or title.

Look, it seems like an honest mistake and I'm not trying to tear you a new one over it, but I'm sure you would not like being blamed for something that wasn't your fault, in public, no less. It's not the end of the world, but you seem like a reasonable person, one that might learn from their mistakes.

I also agree with an above poster, if your speaking / singing into a SM58, you should have adequate clean gain from your duet, cloudlifter, or no cloudlifter.

So there's something screwball here, but I knoweth not what.
Old 29th September 2011
  #26
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Laborer View Post
I'm not a moderator and I have no power to edit your posts or title.

Look, it seems like an honest mistake and I'm not trying to tear you a new one over it, but I'm sure you would not like being blamed for something that wasn't your fault, in public, no less. It's not the end of the world, but you seem like a reasonable person, one that might learn from their mistakes.

I also agree with an above poster, if your speaking / singing into a SM58, you should have adequate clean gain from your duet, cloudlifter, or no cloudlifter.

So there's something screwball here, but I knoweth not what.
Oh, by that I just meant I'll let you suggest an alternative title and i'll edit it. Yeah, I'm just a noob trying to get some recordings off the ground. Thanks for all the help!
Old 4th October 2011
  #27
Gear Head
 

So turns out that I don't know how to change the title of the thread.

I have tracked down the problem to the Apogee Duet of all things! I talked to Apogee tech support today and they told me to send it in for repair.

I did as much research and testing as possible before calling tech support and for others in my situation I'd like to list the problems and exactly what I tried (to no avail)

Problem: Intermittent noise/crackle/pop/hiss on xlr mic input channels. This happened especially when the phantom power from either channel was on. Also, pre 2 seemed to be giving less output than pre 1. Also, this noise was present even if there were no xlr's plugged in

I tried: lifting the ground, reinstalled the driver, used a different computer, toggled the breakout cables, etc.

I also tried turning the phantom power on and off several times, sometimes this worked to clear up the noise but not always. I also toggled the gain from min to max several times, same result.

Jay at Apogee said to just send it in, I've heard horror stories about Apogee repairs but I'll report back when I get the repaired Duet. Thanks for all your help everyone!
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