PhilipL

Noise recording with Rega Fono Mini. Help, please!

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Hi everyone,

I just bought a Rega Fono Mini A2D to digitise some of my LPs. I am using the USB connection to Audacity on my laptop and it is playing from a Rega Planar 3 with the old (not 24V) motor conversion and a fairly new Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.

The problem I am experiencing is at the beginning/end of the record and in silent parts of music; there is a sort of digital twittering noise. It does not occur when recording until the stylus is on the record (though there is a bit of constant background hiss).

I have tried 2 different USB cables (both ordinary computer ones, not mega-expensive "audiophile" ones) but no change. The dealer I bought it from was pleasant but could not offer any help beyond moving things around and changing cables.

I would really appreciate some advice.

Thanks in advance!

Philip

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Hi Phillip,

Are you recording to a laptop or a full sized computer?

Is there any chance this could be a mains born issue? Some pooters can have mains noise issues when fed from an analogue source via a USB interface. Generally the noise will be a buzzing which can vary in intensity depending on the severity. If you are using a Laptop & usually record on mains power try recording a single side of an album you've already recorded but disconnect the PSU & run off the Lappy's battery.

Record this as a new file so you can compare both. If the noise goes away then its a pooter related mains or psu issue. There are some fixes for this which can work.

Do you get any of these noise issues, including the hum you also mentioned, when just playing vinyl normally through your Fono Mini straight into your amp? Also is there any hum at all when just listening normally?

If this is the case but its also an order of magnitude higher on your recording, this could actually be a second issue on top of the mains related issues I've already mentioned. To much gain at the input of the recording device can cause this. If you can't adjust this & it's overloading at the input, even if you trim it below clipping level in your recording S/W you will still get additional noise levels on your recordings as there's to much gain overloading the input & 'Clipping' at that point.

Sorry if all that's a bit in depth, I'm a bit* of a digital vinyl recording dweeb, having been doing this for yonks.:geek:

The 'Twittering' you mention could possibly be digital clipping on your recordings, I presume you've been careful with setting the levels correctly from within Audacity?

I use different S/W which counts/marks all the clipping points in a recorded passage, I'd have thought Audacity did this too? Been quite a while since I used it.:?

Welcome to the wam BTW

BR

C.

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Hi Chris,

Thanks for the quick reply. I am using a laptop with the latest version of Audacity.

The funny thing is that the twittering sound is only when the record is playing - i.e. I set the recording going before putting the stylus on the record and the twittering only starts when the record is playing. There is just a slight background hiss before I lower the stylus. So I am not sure that mains noise is the problem.

I did set the recording levels - pretty much to minimum on the Rega Fono and then on Audacity. I was recording Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture which starts very quiet and then goes VERY loud (cannon etc!). I was just getting a slight overload in the loudest bangs, which Audacity shows as red lines.

I don't think the noise is audible when playing through my amp but I'll check.

Thanks.

Philip

Hi Phillip,

Are you recording to a laptop or a full sized computer?

Is there any chance this could be a mains born issue? Some pooters can have mains noise issues when fed from an analogue source via a USB interface. Generally the noise will be a buzzing which can vary in intensity depending on the severity. If you are using a Laptop & usually record on mains power try recording a single side of an album you've already recorded but disconnect the PSU & run off the Lappy's battery.

Record this as a new file so you can compare both. If the noise goes away then its a pooter related mains or psu issue. There are some fixes for this which can work.

Do you get any of these noise issues, including the hum you also mentioned, when just playing vinyl normally through your Fono Mini straight into your amp? Also is there any hum at all when just listening normally?

If this is the case but its also an order of magnitude higher on your recording, this could actually be a second issue on top of the mains related issues I've already mentioned. To much gain at the input of the recording device can cause this. If you can't adjust this & it's overloading at the input, even if you trim it below clipping level in your recording S/W you will still get additional noise levels on your recordings as there's to much gain overloading the input & 'Clipping' at that point.

Sorry if all that's a bit in depth, I'm a bit* of a digital vinyl recording dweeb, having been doing this for yonks.:geek:

The 'Twittering' you mention could possibly be digital clipping on your recordings, I presume you've been careful with setting the levels correctly from within Audacity?

I use different S/W which counts/marks all the clipping points in a recorded passage, I'd have thought Audacity did this too? Been quite a while since I used it.:?

Welcome to the wam BTW

BR

C.

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Could you post a small sound sample of the noise?

Yup that wuz my going to be my next suggestion too Karl. Although I had been waiting for Phillip to get back, following trying some simple playback comparisons when just played normally through his amp.

Also I still don't think we can totally rule out pooter related mains noise or poor isolation as yet*(these can manifest in a variety of ways, that are audible). Until Phillip actually records a second example of one or two recordings, but does these using battery power as I've suggested, I think we're in the dark on this one.

If any of this is relating to noise on the recording from too 'hot' a level of gain at the input & the noise floor being raised I'm not sure this will show that easily in the recorded waveform for analysis. Saying that tho' this is summat I've encountered before, so may be able to identify it from a listen.

Posting some small samples of these recordings, ideally where any of this noise is worst/most prominent would indeed be helpful, once we've ruled out the most obvious/easiest things too try.

Also a screen shot of a single track/album side with no zoom applied, should show clipping points.....if it's summat that simple.:?

ATB

C.

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Morning, guys.

I'm not sure how to attach a sound file :dunno: The Posting Permissions at the bottom of the screen says I may not post attachments.

I have just tried unsuccessfully to paste a screenshot into this reply but it says that the text is too long >40000 characters. The screenshot shows very occasional clipping at the loudest points - cannon etc (1812 overture)! I thought it was best to allow that rather than have the rest of the recording too quiet.

Philip

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Morning, guys.

I'm not sure how to attach a sound file :dunno: The Posting Permissions at the bottom of the screen says I may not post attachments.

I have just tried unsuccessfully to paste a screenshot into this reply but it says that the text is too long >40000 characters. The screenshot shows very occasional clipping at the loudest points - cannon etc (1812 overture)! I thought it was best to allow that rather than have the rest of the recording too quiet.

Philip

There is no point at which 'Digital Clipping' is good Phil.:nup:

It's always a bad thing & at no point is it benign, as could be the case when saturating tape heads/tape when making analogue recordings. Ideally you should also be allowing yourself some margin below the clipping point to leave some 'headroom'. In this respect, there's simply no margin for error when making digital recordings.:nup:

Get all this right though & digital recording offers superb possibilities that allow high SNR & wide dynamic range even with oodles of recording headroom being allowed for. As long as you also have the gain structure/levels right at the input too, you should also be able to record with a low noise floor & end up with recordings that are very quiet in terms of noise artifacts.:cool:

EDIT

As your Rega allows for adjusting levels properly, you should also always do this at this point & not do this after the fact from within the recording S/W you use* (*Audacity in your case) Retakes can be a little annoying, but with some practice you should develop a decent level of 'Feel' for doing this & should be able to consistently make excellent recordings, without too much fannying aboooot.:^

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OK, progress report:

I have listened normally through amp and speakers to the Rega phono stage and also the amp's built in stage and I cannot hear any twittering on either.

I reduced the record level a fraction more (minimum on the Rega and 0.1 on Audacity) and recorded the whole LP side on the laptop powered by its battery. The twittering is now only just audible at the very start and does not spoil silence in the music - though there is still just a hint of it.

I then did the same again with the laptop on mains power and there is no significant difference.

Hard to believe this was mainly down to the recording level, especially as it was only a fraction over at the peaks, but you live and learn!

Should I filter out the very slight hiss and twittering, or will I lose out on the music? What do you guys do to tidy up a raw recording?

Thanks for the help!

Philip

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Should I filter out the very slight hiss and twittering, or will I lose out on the music? What do you guys do to tidy up a raw recording?

I don't use any filters* at all Phil.....There is simply no need as there is no readily apparent extraneous noise on my recordings & as the noisefloor is v low my recordings are extremely quiet in terms of 'noise'. Pretty much same, same as straight through my phono stage TBH.:stereo:

I mostly do all manual real time cleanup BTW, in terms of declicking etc...I only use the automatics as a last resort & know what I'm doing with them thru' trial & error.

In general the Auto cleanup tools can be v 'hit 'n miss' & simply aren't capable of making the best decisions/placement of corrections, compared to having a person who knows wut they're doing at the helm. In short the algorithms & S/W H/W currently available to the public simply 'aint smart enough.:nup:

If the quality of an LP wuz ropey enough, then some of the filters*, applied sympathetically, may offer some improvement....TBH tho' I mostly wouldn't bother & would try & find a better example/simply buy it in another format. Most of my LP's having being owned by me from new, are pretty tip-top in any case & I also have a Moth Pro vacuum RCM. These are a really good idea for anyone serious about vinyl & totally invaluable for getting the cleanest transfers possible.

If a record wuz rare enough or if I have enough emotional investment, I'm fairly happy to put a good deal of real time effort into getting it just so. I'm fairly serious about this tho.:geek::geek: However thru having lots of experience, I'm now also better able to judge when the efforts involved become a waste of my time. In the case of albums less important/emotive to me, I may use a mixed method for cleanup, making use of both the auto's & manual tools in combination to save time.

EDIT

If you can try & allow at least 8 or 9 D.B.'s between the highest peaks of the recording & the 0 D.B. digital clipping point. As said due to the dynamic range/SNR possible when recording digitally....even if only recording at 16bit 44.1khz the amount of headroom possible whilst still allowing for making excellent recordings is enormous, when compared to recording using a cassette deck. I aim fer 'nudging the red during occasional peaks in my recordings but staying well below the 0 DB clipping point. In general I aim for not hitting peaks any higher than 92 on the meter in my VinylStudio recording S/W . I'm generally pretty happy if getting close to around 89 on t' meters@ the occasional peaks of a recorded album side.

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Thanks for the help. I need to spend some more time experimenting! How do you do your "manual real time cleanup"?

How do you feel about USB cables? Is it worth getting a more expensive one, such as QED or Chord?

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I use VinylStudio recording S/W,

Once I've made a recording, I just press a button* from within this S/W & there are alternative views available to split tracks & place the track breaks**(**Split Tracks view), the second alternative***(***Cleanup Audio view allows accurate cut 'n splice options to remove any over-recording time from at any point within the recording for general neatening of your recordings. You can access all the manual + auto cleanup tools from within this view too including a range of filters that are automatic. These have a range of pre-set choices eg "Badly damaged Vinyl" , "Remove lots of Crackles/Pops" etc, you can also add some custom presets of your own as you can change various parameters for these filters manually.

It's the same deal for the auto click removal tool too, you can set the number of passes + adjust the sensitivity & what you want it to try:) & ignore. Again there's quite a lot of parameters that can be adjusted here & when considering all the different combinations possible, there's a large range of options. You can do one channel at a time too if needed & much else besides.

To use the autos, once you have the presets set up how you want them, it's as simple as 'drag/highlighting' a small section at a time if its only bad enough in parts & then set it off to run a sweep/s, according to how you've set it up or alternatively you can have it do a side at a time. If I ever use them I have my own preset starting point which is minimally intrusive & I'll gradually ramp up the sensitivity & change some parameters if subsequent passes are needed.

For manually declicking most of what you are looking for*(*obvious spikes in the waveform) is pretty readily apparent, more so when you have your eye in. To remove individual clicks, you move your cursor to the spot where the click is, then use extremely high levels of zoom to be able to position/insert a manual repair. You place the repairs width correctly, by dragging it from either side.:cool:

In crude terms it's somewhat similar to airbrushing a blemish on a photograph so it can't be seen. Done well you can mostly completely remove quite nasty noise artifacts altogether. Obviously this can be a time consuming/painstaking process, although a very satisfying one too at times.:^

There are also a suite of 'Patching' tools too, for when any nasties are to severe to effect an auto or manual click repair. These can sometimes work very well for worst cases, but are limited in their scope when summat's simply too far gone to improve or too large to patch.

One of the big advantages of the S/W I use is that it's a one stop shop that allows all the above + ripping to ceedee or converting to other formats. I record straight to FLAC using V.S. @24bit 48khz mostly w. some recordings done @ 24bit/96khz.:geek: I also do all the metadata labelling/tagging for Album/Artist/Track no./name + attaching Album Artwork from within V.S this is all done from the "Split Tracks" edit window view. From in here you can link to a choice of different D.B.'s to do this, it's pretty rare I need to do anything using manual input due to an album not being found.:^ Even if I do have to do this, it's all still pretty easy/straightforward.

VinylStudio recording S/W only costs a little over £20 & is killer VFM IMV. http://www.alpinesoft.co.uk/.

If you read this recent thread I've linked to here, you'll see some further discussion from a few of us re vinyl recording, including the S/W & H/W I/others use to do this.>>.http://www.hifiwigwam.com/showthread.php?92515-Recording-vinyl-help.

EDIT

A better explanation of 'Manual De-clicking" repairs would be that you are in effect 'Pulling/Smoothing" out anomalous 'kinks' in the recordings waveform.

Due to the ability to zoom in/out on the waveform using the recording S/W, placement of repairs is extremely accurate.:cool: Done well you're pretty much adjusting the waveform to what it 'should be' & the results will be mostly be pretty much undetectable. If you re-imported the corrected file into your recording S/W a good repair wouldn't be 'seen' at the highest levels of zoom.:^

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On your recommendation I just bought VinylStudio - it looks excellent. I bought it for just over £17 via this link: http://freesafesoft.com/discount/VinylStudio_for_Windows-31353538322d36-coupon-code.php

Now I just need to find some time to keep experimenting!

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Hi everyone,

I'm having the same issue as the OP. I've uploaded a sample of the noise to Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/khhpd22xterby2r/fono-mini-digital-noise-test.wav (17.5MB).

In the sample I am recording from a Rega Planar 1 (RP1) to the Fono Mini, to a 2011 Macbook Pro, via a Chord USB SilverPlus cable. In the sample the Macbook is running off battery power.

I have tried with another USB cable, via a USB breakout box, and using the power supply in two different rooms, all to no avail.

0:11 Needle drop, playing the crackly bit at the end of the record. Input volume set to zero.

0:37 Raising the input volume

0:48 Lowering the input volume

0:57 Raising the input volume again

1:19 Needle raised

1:43 End

I am using a replacement Fono Mini after the first one exhibited this exact same problem. In some earlier tests, it seemed like the noise was only present when using the USB connection, not when recording from the audio out to my USB RME BabyFace. I will charge some batteries tonight to see how things are when recording to my PCMD50 field recorder.

Even if bypassing the USB option works, I still feel like the USB should offer a quality connection, but maybe at this price point in cannot (in which case it should not be marketed as a USB solution IMO).

Anyway, if anyone has heard anything similar to the recording, please let me know.

Cheers,

Dan

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Hi Dan,

Difficult to say without hearing a sample of some actual music you have recorded, what issues you may have.

Where you've raised the levels later in your needledrop, the signal amplitude in the waveform raises dramatically as you'd expect. I suspect if you were recording actual music at this level you would be beyond the clipping point. (* I've imported your sample into V.S.)

No evidence of any noise artifacts or hum nasties on my system for this sample. Although as already alluded, I suspect it would be another story at the higher level you've recorded at if music content were present. Even at high levels of zoom into the waveform* there's nowt ter see, other than a fairly crackly run out track AFAICT.

How are you outputting any recorded files into your system for monitoring? Is there any chance you have a ground loop, if you are outputting analogue from your RME Babyface? Could be worth trying SPdif from the RME into an external DAC. Optical/Toslink would be preferrable, as this should offer galvanic isolation between the Babyface/Your pooter & an external DAC.

It is kinda hard to say without a proper short recorded sample of music that demonstrates a good example of the problem you are experiencing.:nup: Frankly I don't really know if you are having exactly the same problems as Phillip, or whether it is summat else entirely?

TBH as you have a Babyface:love: I wouldn't bother with using the Regas USB output full stop, as for digital recording purposes + flexibility etc, the RME is a tough act to beat.

You really need to offer a better description of the problem as you undestand it too.:^ TBH I'm without a clue at present & unsure it is the same as Phillips earlier issues TBH.:)

ATB & Welcome to the Wam BTW>

Chris.

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