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Tormented by buzz - Possible grounding issue?
Old 5th December 2013
Here for the gear
pkBBS's Avatar
Tormented by buzz - Possible grounding issue?

I'm getting to my wits end with buzz in my studio.

I run a 50 foot snake from the main floor down to the treated room in the basement. I use a MOTU 896 mk3 with a motu 8pre lightpiped in. The 896 is connected to a PC with firewire. I can't figure out if I'm just in a terrible location (lower east end of downtown Toronto, Ontario) for radio interference, or if there's a grounding issue with the building (The building is about 7 years old I think), or what's going on.

First off, guitars buzz here like crazy. I've been here for two years and it's always been that way (although depending on the guitar/day/time of day it can be better or worse). Whenever guitarists come in they always claim it doesn't buzz like that at home. It's an issue where if you face the right direction the buzz goes down, and if I run the guitar through a DI box with a ground loop eliminator before sending into the amp the buzz goes down as well, but not gone. This happens with high end guitars, low end, cheap practice amps, and really nice amps. Dozens of amps and guitars have come through here and they all buzz to some extent. I've been researching for years how to deal with this and have only figured out how to treat the symptoms. I'm fantastic with Izotope RX noise removal now.

The other issue is that I am unable to record dynamic microphones for vocals in this studio. I use MOTU stock pre-amps for the most part, however I was able to afford a cloud-lifter CL-1 in an attempt to be able to use some 57's and other cheapish dynamics for vocals. The result is an unbearable amount of 60 cycle hum, which I can then remove with RX-- but that takes time and degrades the vocal quality. I've looked at the noise floor with condensers here, and they seem to be free of any 60 cycle even when cranked to the max through MOTU preamps. Running a SM58 through the snake up to the MOTU pre amps I found that each channel has a similar but varied amount of buzz. On only one of the 8 channels I found a local Chinese AM radio station is included with the buzz - a radio station I'm familiar with from it's periodic appearance in guitar amps here as well. The most frustrating thing with this kind of dynamic mic buzz is that sometimes it's not there at all, with the same mics, same cables, same everything...

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, just narrowing down some of the issues would help my frustration.
Old 5th December 2013
Gear Guru

at a school where I teach there are buzzing problems with the guitars similar to what you describe. You can improve it by 'rotating' around and becoming less of an "antenna" but it never fully goes away.

we were told it is because of the large amount of power there to provide lights for the TV studio next door. The building is old and several attempts at improving the grounding have done little to improve it. There are just all these conduits everywhere carrying AC to the lights.

I have friends in Manhattan who are near the Empire State Building with its broadcast towers and have similar issues.

You can try building a Faraday Cage, maybe make a small one first to test the idea, if that doesn't work, IMO your best solution is to move.
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

i just repaired my cloud lifter. pin 1 wasnt grounded to the chassis on one of the connectors. solved my buzz issue
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