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Offline cberryh2o

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hiss with preamp
« on: December 11, 2011, 02:30:11 PM »
Hi,

Another newb question...I recorded with a church audio 9100 preamp into a sony pcm m10 with ca11 mics last night and got TONS of hiss on the recording.  I had the volume on the m10 maxed, with the "low sensitivity" switch on in manual and was tweaking the input signal with the preamp...Seemed like a reasonable approach (I've never used the preamp in a loud concert setting) but the sound came out good...but with overwhelming hiss all over it.  2 questions: any ideas on better settings to avoid that hiss next time (lower the input on the m10 and mostly use the preamp?) and...how do I edit out that hiss without screwing up the sound? I've been struggling with edits, but the files always come out warbly/metalic sounding.  Help!
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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2011, 02:39:39 PM »
If you had the gain on the recorder maxed - you were likely running the levels too low on the preamp giving you a bad signal to noise ratio from the get go.

Offline newplanet7

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2011, 03:22:46 PM »
A lot of people here leave the M10 at unity gain, which neither adds gain or attentuates the signal.
I believe that is from 4-5.
Use that and get most of your gain from the church pre.
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Offline Belexes

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2011, 03:24:39 PM »
Get your gain structure from the pre (max it out if need be), that is why you have it.  As another has noted, setting the M10 at around 4-5 is sound advice.
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Offline cberryh2o

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2011, 04:05:59 PM »
Thanks all!  wish I'd checked in before the show.  Any tips on how to edit out that awful hiss or am I sol?
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Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 12:45:06 AM »
And I ran CA14>SP BB/9100>M10s and ALWAYS ran MIC-IN, so maybe try that over line-in. Or were you using mic-in ???
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Offline Belexes

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011, 07:48:34 AM »
Bean, I guess I don't understand having the 9100 if one runs it mic in.  Then you are better off just using a standard battery box.  Not a cut on what you did, just trying to understand is all.
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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2011, 08:55:43 AM »
And I ran CA14>SP BB/9100>M10s and ALWAYS ran MIC-IN, so maybe try that over line-in. Or were you using mic-in ???

How long ago? - perhaps some of the early iterations of the 9000s did output mic level?

They have an output knob now...I always thought they output line level...otherwise why would they call it a preamp?

Offline Church-Audio

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2011, 10:14:32 AM »
Bean, I guess I don't understand having the 9100 if one runs it mic in.  Then you are better off just using a standard battery box.  Not a cut on what you did, just trying to understand is all.

You can actually run my preamp into the mic input thats how quiet it is. There are times when 20 db of gain is not enough when thats the case you can always use mic input provided you are not trying to record Metalica :) it should be fine. This is something I would do for acoustic shows. Or outdoors when you are far away.
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Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2011, 02:16:39 PM »
And I ran CA14>SP BB/9100>M10s and ALWAYS ran MIC-IN, so maybe try that over line-in. Or were you using mic-in ???

How long ago? - perhaps some of the early iterations of the 9000s did output mic level?

They have an output knob now...I always thought they output line level...otherwise why would they call it a preamp?

Just a few weeks ago. I ran LINE-IN for the 1st set, and levels were so low I had to crack my M10. So I switched to MIC-IN for my 2nd and 3rd sets and I'm SUPER GLAD I did!

And FWIW, I was recording FOB/DFC in the "sweet spot" and it still wasnt loud enough. There is a good comp from mk41>Sonosax>M10 & CA14 Cards>9100>M10 for the Papadosio show in the kickdown central :)
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Offline Belexes

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2011, 04:45:06 PM »
Got it. The need for more gain from the Mic input. Makes sense!
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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2011, 05:02:32 PM »
There is another possibility.  Check your battery compartment.



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Offline cberryh2o

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2011, 09:40:13 PM »
And I ran CA14>SP BB/9100>M10s and ALWAYS ran MIC-IN, so maybe try that over line-in. Or were you using mic-in ???

I was using mic in and my 9100 has one nob for gain adjustment, though there's a switch inside which I have no idea of the function.  At this point all my recordings have come out better without the 9100 (mostly loud rock shows and some as loud or louder than Metallica), but I think I need to give it another try with a bit more thought put into the settings, since Church said the mics were specd to work better with that 9v power.
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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 11:10:33 PM »
Quote
There is another possibility.  Check your battery compartment.

I second that^

The scenario that Bean described above seems crazy to me.  Papadosio is a "techno jamband" that gets good spl's in the sweet spot.  When I was running electret gear, I wouldn't need much gain from the 9100 in a situation like that, at all.  I never needed to run the mic-input... 

Does Chris publish specs for the CA14?  I'd be curious to compare sensitivity to 853's

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2011, 11:18:54 PM »
Quote
There is another possibility.  Check your battery compartment.

I second that^

The scenario that Bean described above seems crazy to me.  Papadosio is a "techno jamband" that gets good spl's in the sweet spot.  When I was running electret gear, I wouldn't need much gain from the 9100 in a situation like that, at all.  I never needed to run the mic-input... 

Does Chris publish specs for the CA14?  I'd be curious to compare sensitivity to 853's



I know, especially after reading that EVERYONE ELSE was running 9100>LINE-IN on the M10[while the M10 was set at unity] ??? But I surely wouldnt lie to ya ;) ;D 8) :)
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Offline anr

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2011, 01:35:25 AM »
Agree with Bean.  I have CAFS and various Sound Pro mics and always go Mic In on M10 using an old Sound Pro SPSB-2 Battery Box.  A typical setting for CAFS would be Low Sensitivity and Record Level at 3.5.  Using Line In the same Mics/B Box would barely register.  And I'm very pleased with the results. 


Offline Church-Audio

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2011, 09:43:36 AM »
And I ran CA14>SP BB/9100>M10s and ALWAYS ran MIC-IN, so maybe try that over line-in. Or were you using mic-in ???

I was using mic in and my 9100 has one nob for gain adjustment, though there's a switch inside which I have no idea of the function.  At this point all my recordings have come out better without the 9100 (mostly loud rock shows and some as loud or louder than Metallica), but I think I need to give it another try with a bit more thought put into the settings, since Church said the mics were specd to work better with that 9v power.
When running really loud shows reduce the gain on the 9100 to about 60% to 80% of the full travel of the pot. Also make dame sure you have a quality battery inside. And last but not least make sure you are using the line input for really loud shows.

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Offline hi and lo

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2011, 11:23:20 AM »
Agree with Bean.  I have CAFS and various Sound Pro mics and always go Mic In on M10 using an old Sound Pro SPSB-2 Battery Box.  A typical setting for CAFS would be Low Sensitivity and Record Level at 3.5.  Using Line In the same Mics/B Box would barely register.  And I'm very pleased with the results.

A battery box is not a preamp.

How anyone can suggest that someone use an external preamp into a handheld recorder's Mic In, in anything but the most desperate of situations, it beyond me. It might make a decent tape, but it completely defeats the purpose of using an external preamp and makes no theoretical sense.

Offline kleiner Rainer

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2011, 01:20:33 PM »
There is another point that irritates me: the obsession with "unity gain". This is only meaningful if you have access to line input AND line output and if you want to use your device in a chain of other devices as a kind of "signal repeater".

For all other purposes, the only relevant level is 0dBFS, the point where hard clipping starts. Whenever I record a sound source, I set the gain control until I have optimum level with enough headroom to 0dBFS to avoid clipping. The *exact* value of gain or attenuation is not relevant for me, because the S/N ratio is specified *at the A/D input*. I use *optimum gain* instead of unity gain, and that concept is also used by all professionals I know.

On my PCM-M10 I set its line input level so that the 0dB test tone from my MixPre D gives a VU meter display of -24dBFS on the M10, this leaves enough headroom for unexpected level excursions even when using the limiter of my MixPre D. I then set the gain on the MixPre D to whatever the situation requires.

Greetings,

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Offline hi and lo

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2011, 01:59:48 PM »
There is another point that irritates me: the obsession with "unity gain". This is only meaningful if you have access to line input AND line output and if you want to use your device in a chain of other devices as a kind of "signal repeater".

For all other purposes, the only relevant level is 0dBFS, the point where hard clipping starts. Whenever I record a sound source, I set the gain control until I have optimum level with enough headroom to 0dBFS to avoid clipping. The *exact* value of gain or attenuation is not relevant for me, because the S/N ratio is specified *at the A/D input*. I use *optimum gain* instead of unity gain, and that concept is also used by all professionals I know.

On my PCM-M10 I set its line input level so that the 0dB test tone from my MixPre D gives a VU meter display of -24dBFS on the M10, this leaves enough headroom for unexpected level excursions even when using the limiter of my MixPre D. I then set the gain on the MixPre D to whatever the situation requires.

Greetings,

Rainer

The reason we care about Unity gain with line inputs is pretty simple. It is believed that when running a recorder at the unity gain level it is most transparent and imparts the least change in the sonic signature. This is debatable to some extent and assumes that a recorder sounds best at its unity gain level because it is neither attenuating nor amplifying the signal.

Do I personally assume that a recorder sounds best at its unity gain level? The answer is no. I would need to carefully evaluate any recorder I use at all gain levels to understand where a recorder truly sounds best, but because that is a rather impractical task and highly subjective, the assumption is made for better or worse.

So, I would encourage anyone to run a few cheap handheld recorders at "Optimum Gain" and tell us that the gain provided by the recorder is cleaner than digital gain that would be applied in post to achieve 0dBFS. So rarely, for what we record, do we struggle to achieve an acceptable S/N ratio, so it doesn't matter at all that we are not shooting for "Optimum Gain."

Offline kleiner Rainer

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2011, 03:03:30 PM »
hi and lo,

in engineering "unity gain" means no attenuation or amplification in a circuit block, 0dB gain so to speak. Maybe I do not grasp the tapers concept of "unity gain" because I am more of a design engineer schooled in analog and audio design than an audiophile (and also not a native english speaker). The sweet spot in digital recording as I have experienced it is to set the gain just a few dB below clipping to preserve as much resolution as possible without having to resort to too much (digital) amplification in post. Maybe in the time of 24 bit recording this is less important than back when we had portable DAT recorders with 14 bit effective resolution (yes, I am that old...).

Starting back in my analog cassette tape recording days 30some years ago, I always tried to get best S/N ratio for my recordings, since most of the time it is nature recording that changes to sound pressure levels approaching or surpassing a live rock show when the train goes by. The worst of both worlds, so to speak, without the chance to redo it (and I am not talking about biological and technical noise sources that make "concert talkers" look like a minor problem).

Now back to topic: if you get hiss in the recording when using a preamp, then there is something wrong with your gain distribution (barring mic problems or noisy phantom or plug in power). For a minimum of additional noise, the first stage has to do most of the amplification. Then the noise contribution of the following stages can be neglected. Ask any ham radio operator who does weak signal work on VHF, UHF or SHF. Its physics.

There is one other noise source that a taper friend of mine found: he forgot to turn off the plug in power of his recorder when using a mic with internal battery. The electrolytic caps in the output of the mic were reverse biased and started acting up in the form of white noise and some nasty pops. Maybe this applies here?


Hope this clarifies my last post.

Greetings,

Rainer


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Offline aaronji

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2011, 03:39:35 PM »
How anyone can suggest that someone use an external preamp into a handheld recorder's Mic In, in anything but the most desperate of situations, it beyond me. It might make a decent tape, but it completely defeats the purpose of using an external preamp and makes no theoretical sense.

I agree, but the 9100 the OP is using only supplies 20 dB of gain and the CA-11s aren't very sensitive so it can be difficult to get good levels line-in for quieter shows...I had the same problem (which I solved by getting more sensitive mics run either mic-in or with a pre that has considerably more gain).

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2011, 04:16:04 PM »
hi and lo,

in engineering "unity gain" means no attenuation or amplification in a circuit block, 0dB gain so to speak. Maybe I do not grasp the tapers concept of "unity gain" because I am more of a design engineer schooled in analog and audio design than an audiophile (and also not a native english speaker). The sweet spot in digital recording as I have experienced it is to set the gain just a few dB below clipping to preserve as much resolution as possible without having to resort to too much (digital) amplification in post. Maybe in the time of 24 bit recording this is less important than back when we had portable DAT recorders with 14 bit effective resolution (yes, I am that old...).

You answered your own question and are right on track. With 24 bit recording, it is not as important to preserve as much resolution as possible, so we are afforded an opportunity to use less analog gain from a preamp that may not be of the highest quality. If we were to do a serious listening comparison of the entire gain range of a preamp, we would possibly discover that it has a 'sweet spot' where it subjectively sounds the best. This sweet spot, simply based on the nature of probability, will probably not be the exact gain value that would be needed to hit 0dBFS.

Again, it's purely an assumption that running a recorder at its unity gain is the 'sweet spot.' I don't think it's a bad assumption to make, but is probably not true in all instances as what is sonically pleasing is highly subjective.

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2011, 04:22:28 PM »
How anyone can suggest that someone use an external preamp into a handheld recorder's Mic In, in anything but the most desperate of situations, it beyond me. It might make a decent tape, but it completely defeats the purpose of using an external preamp and makes no theoretical sense.

I agree, but the 9100 the OP is using only supplies 20 dB of gain and the CA-11s aren't very sensitive so it can be difficult to get good levels line-in for quieter shows...I had the same problem (which I solved by getting more sensitive mics run either mic-in or with a pre that has considerably more gain).

Makes sense, but because it was suggested to the OP that he should run Mic In rather than simply get a new preamp with more available gain, I raised the issue. The former is a non-ideal workaround while the later is what is truly needed to resolve OP's issue.

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2011, 09:00:39 PM »
Damn, that is an excellent post mshillarious.


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


I see the following as sane:
"I am going to plug my preamp into my Sony M10 mic input, to capture the very quiet mating call of the Scaly-Sided Merganser bird from 250 yards away."

This seems insane:
"I am going to plug my preamp into my Sony M10 mic input, at the Megadeath show, FOB."
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Offline Church-Audio

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2011, 09:56:35 PM »
Makes sense, but because it was suggested to the OP that he should run Mic In rather than simply get a new preamp with more available gain, I raised the issue. The former is a non-ideal workaround while the later is what is truly needed to resolve OP's issue.

There is not necessarily an issue with taking gain at two stages.  Sometimes it is even preferable*, but the basic requirement is that the output noise of the preceding stage exceeds the input noise of the following stage by a reasonable margin, say 6dB.  Then there is no significant loss in system signal-to-noise ratio.  Let's say the preamp has -125dBV input noise and 20dB gain, that yields -105dBV output noise.  So long as the recorder's mic input noise is less than -110dBV or so (and I would hope that it is) then the system works fine and more gain may be taken in the recorder without degrading signal to noise ratio.




* As you increase gain in a single stage, you will consequently reduce bandwidth and sometimes increase distortion.  That is, a given amplifier will usually have less distortion at a given output level with less gain.  Also, if the stage has DC offset then a very high gain in a single stage will reduce headroom, as compared to two stages with the same DC offset that are not DC coupled.  These problems usually don't rear their head until gain exceeds 40dB, and can be tolerable in a good amplifier at 60dB, but eventually as gain increases the system will perform better with two gain stages than one.  This is what you tend to see in very high gain amplifiers.

Exactly right. Most good quality preamps use more than one stage to get gain :)
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Offline Church-Audio

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Re: hiss with preamp
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2011, 09:59:52 PM »
Agree with Bean.  I have CAFS and various Sound Pro mics and always go Mic In on M10 using an old Sound Pro SPSB-2 Battery Box.  A typical setting for CAFS would be Low Sensitivity and Record Level at 3.5.  Using Line In the same Mics/B Box would barely register.  And I'm very pleased with the results.

A battery box is not a preamp.

How anyone can suggest that someone use an external preamp into a handheld recorder's Mic In, in anything but the most desperate of situations, it beyond me. It might make a decent tape, but it completely defeats the purpose of using an external preamp and makes no theoretical sense.

Theory is fine. BUT in reality most quality preamps use more than one stage. And there is nothing wrong with using an external preamp into a mic input if need be. If the preamp can handle input and the preamp being connected to it is low noise there is no issue. And nothing wrong with it what so ever. My mics are around -30 db to -25 db at 114 db.. acoustical input. So gain is needed in some cases.
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