unacceptable levels of noise from computer with Steinberg MR816x
I'm pulling my hair out for a few days now.
The MR816x's are great, low noise floor, until I start up the computer, then all hell breaks loose.
Anytime I hook up an input to record there's all kinds of noise from USB, power supply under load, moving objects on screen w/ mouse, high-pitched whines etc...It's terrible, I can't record anything. I've worked for a couple days with two completely separate computer systems and have same problem.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- System 1 Hardware
Asus Sabertooth X58 Motherboard
Nvidia GeForce 9500GT dual-DVI w/ dual monitors
SIIG PCIe firewire (TI chipset)
Corsair TX650M power supply
6GB RAM, Intel Core i7 2.8GHZ CPU
here is a sample of the best case I was able to achieve (be careful I've recorded some synth bass notes as reference to noise so may be loud).
Basically there's all kinds of noise. Here's some general notes.
1. On System 1 the ($100/650w) power supply was terrible, and actually made noises on its own when under load. These same noises somehow worked their way into the audio. You can physically hear the power supply making these noises right next to you in the room, and then you can hear the same noises coming out the mains as it's somehow coupled into the audio path.
2. The noise here is not normal 60/120Hz line noise or ground loops, it's other hash.
3. When the CPU/power supply is under load the noise can go up and down in level or character. This happens on both systems.
4. I tried to isolate the USB devices by rigging up a separate power supply for these devices (Steinberg Midex8 etc..). This did nothing since you still have to share the grounds of the two independent supplies.
5. The noise got slightly better when using the PCIe Firewire interface versus the built in one but still bad.
6. When I hook up a synth to the Midex8 via MIDI, and then setup to record the same synth into the MR816x, the noise gets much worse when the MIDI cable is plugged in. The Midex8 is connected to the computer via USB, so something is up with that.
7. Concerning grounding I've tried everything. I'm in a dedicated studio...that I built myself. There's separate circuits for computer, audio, lights, utility, eetc.. I've tried many things, connecting all hardware to same circuit at exact same place, isolating certain pieces etc... every combination of grounding scheme you can think of. It's really not that..its the frigin computer, it's noisy as heck, and I think the switching power supplies are terrible.
I'm not a high end fanatic here, I just want to record sources without noise. I was going so crazy I wondered if anyone made a linear power supply for computers. I don't think it's possible because of current energy regulations (too inefficient), and size requirements, but I would die for it.
1. I do have the pads enabled if the output level of the corresponding synth calls for it, which is almost always the case.
2. Midex new driver is for Win7 64bit, I'm on 32-bit XP
3. I've tried one MR816, also tried three.
4. Yes, I have looked into this and will continue to. I actually designed and built the studio myself, actually pulled the wires and everything. The circuits don't meet up until the main panel in front of the house right next to the stake.
5. Same video card yes, different PS though. Close model numbers but completely different layout and design. I actually went to Fry's and bought two more just to try them and they didn't make a difference (now we know why everything at that store seems to have been returned!).
6. Cubase is 5.5.3 correct.
7. The computers have 5 HD's each, various, all SATA. Although in each case I unplugged all but the system drive and the audio drive for my tests.
8. WinXP SP3
10. Internal soundcards are disabled in BIOS.
thanks for suggestions as well. Those are the things I'm doing now, although I haven't covered all of my bases yet. I've got it pretty stripped down.
This is an extremely common problem that I've seen hundreds of times in this and other forums. The 'problem' is that, like the three blind men feeling the elephant, everyone tends to report the problem a little differently.
The problem comes, of course, from contamination of the audio signal with digital signal noise from other circuits. It's a form of ground loop, but instead of a small amount of AC power leaking into the audio chain on its wayward path to ground, its digitized signals, often related to mouse movement/screen events.
Unfortunately, the particular circumstances of occurrence -- and possible solutions -- tend to vary greatly.
For me, the problem arose when I had both my laptop's internal audio and my outboard FW converters both plugged into different, switched inputs on the same amp. Remove either, and the sound would be fine. But with the FW connecting the lappie and the outboard interface and both audio outs connected to the amp, every time I'd move a mouse or there were certain screen events, I'd get odd little whirrings, chirps, and glitchy little noises.
It's often little solace, but, at least in the case of Firewire, FW controller chips from Texas Instruments have largely been trouble free. Unfortunately, at this time, I don't believe there are any laptops or mobo's that have integrated TI FW chips. When I moved back to a desktop computer for music, I made sure to buy a TI-chipped FW add-in card and it's been trouble free.
Man, I feel your pain. I had lived that personal hell about 15 years ago, with an early Yamaha CBX-D3 unit (anyone remember those?). There was a fundamental design problem and I ended up having to build an audio isolation box to get around it.
I have an MR816 which I've used with multiple computers (desktops and laptops) with no noise issues. I can assure you that your experience isn't common with the MR816 - in fact, it's the first time I've heard this complaint with it. I see that you've posted on the Steinberg board as well - if there's an issue with noise, people will be piling on there shortly...
That's not to say that there isn't an issue with your units, either a manufacturing defect or resulting from a recent engineering change. For instance, the unit uses an external power supply - if Yamaha changed where they sourced it from, there could be an issue. However - let me state - this is not likely.
Ultimately, it is a grounding issue. Whether you can do something about it is a different matter. Things I would do to isolate it:
1. Simplify the test case. Plug in the monitor, computer and MR816 into the same outlet. Use a power bar if you have to. Hook up the MR816X with the Firewire cable. No speakers, nothing else attached that needs power (USB is OK) Use headphones. Power up - do you hear noise in the headphone outputs (I'm betting yes).
2. Disconnect the video cable to the monitor at the computer. Noise the same?
3. It could be your wiring in the house (poor grounding) or something funny with the way the computers have been built (I'm assuming they were built by the same person). If possible, try someone else's computer, or ideally, another location.