Dealing with noise issues

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It is common nowadays in modern music setups to have noise issues that require some thought and experience to sort out.

We prepared this short guide to help you troubleshoot some noise issues that you may face using MOD devices.

In this tutorial we will check some common sources of noise on our devices and how should you approach to get it solved.

Gain staging

It's not uncommon to have noise being listenable due to poorly set gain staging settings between the devices connected to your setup.

As gain amplifies each element of an audio signal, a poorly set gain staging can be increasing the noise present in your gear to an unusable point.

Often devices, when you can set one or multiple gains, have colourful LEDs or graphic representations. Optimal gain staging headroom is obtained when you play on the yellow area.

How to tackle issues with gain staging on your MOD device

If the input gain on your MOD device feels a bit too quiet, try to increase the gain on the device on your signal chain before the MOD devices, while decreasing on the MOD device output. You can do that either by decreasing the Master Volume, a gain plugin by the end of your pedalboard.

If by another end you find the output signal on your MOD device too quite perform the opposite as before. So you should increase the output levels on your MOD device (again, either by using a plugin by the end of your pedalboard or the master volume), simultaneously you should decrease the gain in the device connected in your signal chain after your MOD device.

When the output of your device is too "hot" (or loud) for the device that you have it plugged into, it's better for the range to turn down on the codec gain (on the settings of your device) than to do it using a plugin in the pedalboard.

Note: all these adjustments should be done according to your setup and fine-tuning, so you can avoid noise issues.

Pedalboard setup

Some noise issues are caused by the pedalboard arrangement and the plugins that are used. Some amplifiers or tape simulators color the signal with their own programmed distortion and often can be dialed back when necessary. Sometimes developers don't give control to the users on these distortions.

When using a compressor or amplifier in the pedalboard, a Noise Gate plugin should be used to filter out all sounds below a threshold.

Ground loop issues

Ground loops are some of the most common issues causing noise on audio devices. It results often in a modulated hum around 50 and 60Hz. Besides this normal hum, digital noise from all devices connected to your setup can also be introduced on the ground, and become audible when a loop is present. In other words, this means that the noise is not necessarily generated by a particular device, but by the combination of multiple devices.

You can read more about them here.

There are mainly 4 identified causes for ground loops in MOD devices:

Power Supply issues

- Some Devices came with AC/DC power supply that connects the earth pin on the AC side to the ground PIN on the DC side. This could be cause for some digital electric noise on the output if used with unbalanced cable. You can read more about the issue on the forum. In the EU to test this is simple. Just put electrical tape over the ground connectors (on the side of the plugs, not the prongs themslves), and see if the noise disappears.

Multiple grounded audio devices in your setup plugged into different power sockets

- If your issue may fit into this situation you will need to limit the loop size of the power section between your devices.

In order to achieve that try to use the same power strip between all the devices connected via audio to the MOD device or keep the power cables closer together;

- Check if you have equipment connected in the room that may lead to interferences. Common issues can be found if you used dimmed LEDs or fluorescent lights;

- If none of the above helps you experiment connecting to other power sockets. Although this may increase your power loop size, sometimes different sockets can be less prone to interference due to their shape and orientation;

Unbalanced cables between MOD device and grounded gear

- If the device where you have your MOD device connected has a "ground lift" switch (some mixers for example have it), try using it;

- add a passive DI or a ground loop isolator if the receiving device has unbalanced inputs;

- if the receiving device has balanced inputs, use balanced/stereo cables;

- if none of the above works experiment with a passive DI or ground loop isolator and balanced/stereo cables.

USB connection to a grounded device (for example: a computer)

- use the MOD USB provided cable;

- try without a USB connected;

- try a different USB port;

- try through a USB hub;

- add a USB isolator.

For MOD Dwarf users

If you are a MOD Dwarf user and you believe that you are facing a ground loop issue try to use the ground loop compensation feature available for this device.

You can access this feature under "System Behaviour" on the settings of your MOD Dwarf.

Note: enabling this feature reduces slightly the amount of available CPU power on your MOD Dwarf.