Transformer Buzz audible in room

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alexdingley
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Transformer Buzz audible in room

Post by alexdingley » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:48 am

I've been working to reduce the noise in my control room... First, I got rid of any/all line-hum in my audio returns to the console... which was time-consuming, but it happened, and my signal path is super quiet & clean now.

I run open-control room, and sometimes record vocals right in front of the console (in headphones, obviously)... but I noticed this weekend; a handful of my rack units + my near-field powered monitors all have an audible transformer buzz when they're powered on.

Monitors: Hafler TRM-8 powered monitors
Rack Gear: Ensoniq DP4+ / dbx 160x Compressors (2 of them)

For now, my solution is to track with those units unplugged / powered-off... but what if I want to capture vocals with some dbx comp? It's not like the noise is hugely loud... but it's there, and if I'm doing something more intimate, I'd just prefer to eliminate it.

Is transformer-buzz a sign of age & can be fixed, or is it something that's JUST there on certain units from day-1 and you have to deal with it? I think I've never noticed these buzzes before due to the 60hz hum I was busy concentrating on, and or just perhaps that I wasn't really listening to the room as much.

Thoughts?

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:26 am

Hi Alex,

I recommend that you turn on each of those devices one by one, to try to narrow down if there is only one of them actually making the buzz, or if could be the power strip or outlet.

Also, try using a different outlet, sometimes using different electrical circuits can cause audible hum, especially in semi pro units, like the DBX compressor.

"Believe me", I've wired entirely too many different units, and know that sometimes, even if you have everything else perfect, two different brand units will not like playing together, so one needs to be messed with like with a ground lift or similar fix, in order to get them to play together nicely.

Once you know exactly whom is the culprit, the fix should be easier to come up with.

Cheers!
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Post by joninc » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:43 am

I have the same issue with my FURMAN headphone distribution amp - i think that the transformer is vibrating against the chassis...

it's annoying and lives in the bottom of my rack. when i am not tracking I turn it off so I don't have to listen to it.

see if you problems are at all vibration related by taking the units in question out of the rack and sitting on a piece of foam or something that de-couples it.

not a permanent solution but may help identify the problem.
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Post by vvv » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:11 pm

Nick Sevilla wrote: ... , especially in semi pro units, like the DBX compressor.
A dbx 160X is semi pro?
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Post by Jim Williams » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:12 am

Same issue here. Everything is very quiet except power transformers. I replaced most of them with torrids. That did the trick here.
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:41 am

vvv wrote:
Nick Sevilla wrote: ... , especially in semi pro units, like the DBX compressor.
A dbx 160X is semi pro?
Yep. I love it on electric guitars which are not compressed by their amplifiers.
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Post by Jim Williams » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:40 am

vvv wrote:
Nick Sevilla wrote: ... , especially in semi pro units, like the DBX compressor.
A dbx 160X is semi pro?
Most audio is semi pro. The pro's left the building years ago. If you see the 160X in the racks at the Warner Bros mixing stage it's pro. If it's in your bedroom it's semi pro.
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Post by vvv » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:23 am

8)

FWIW, my starting electric bass DI chain is The Brick into a 160XT.

Actually, that's my starting mic'd chain also.

I usually parallel a DI'd Meek VC3Q.
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Post by vvv » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:25 am

Jim Williams wrote: If it's in your bedroom it's semi pro.
I just wanted to point out my discretion in not commenting [further] on this. :twisted:
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Drone
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Post by Drone » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:44 pm

I had a mixer that had audible hum, and I removed the transformer and housed it in a separate enclosure, there were too many separate voltages to build a new one for me.

If your problem is like wall-wart style transformers buzzing, build one that doesn't or find someone to build you one. Hopefully they are mostly single voltage ones, maybe you'll even be able to power multiple units from one decent power supply.

Someone mentioned toroids which is a good place to start, I think some modern wall warts are actually switching PSU's and not transformers atall, but I imagine they could be replaced with something more robust (and quiet).

Good luck, me, I like a bit of hum, helps me know things are on :D
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Post by vvv » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:11 am

And when the semi pro stuff in yer bedroom is humming ...

:twisted:

Sorry, I couldn't not.
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Drone
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Post by Drone » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:35 am

Can you repot humming mains transformers?

I mean you can pot microphonic pickups, why not transformers, except for the lethal voltages, risk of fire, etc.
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Post by L?Andratt » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:46 am

Strictly amateur

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Post by alexdingley » Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:27 pm

Here's a YouTube Link of how audible it is... it's definitely quiet enough that I wouldn't notice it if I was tracking drums / amps in the room... but a quiet vocal?? During that type of tracking, it definitely adds to the background room tone. I cranked up a mic and recorded the sound difference.

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