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VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Hey Guys,

anybody noticed that the analog outputs of their VW+ are really noisy? Recently soundguys in my gigs were complaining about quite a lot of noise coming in to the mixer from me so I have done the research and found:

1) There is a noise (like white noise) on both analog outputs, level around -90dB which doesn't seem much but it is annoying live when there is silence between songs, ruins the mood when it should be totally quiet. I'm using balanced connections to the mixer.

2) It isn't caused by cables.

3) No noise on digital out (that's why I hadn't noticed it before in my recordings)

4) Output level (Knob 4) doesn't influence the noise

5) Mic gain doesn't influence the noise.

6) Switching to digital in when there is no digital in connection makes the noise stop (but obviously there is no sound)

7) Switching off FX blocks has no influence on it.

So it looks to me it must be an electrical problem (as the output level doesn't influence it, it's just a constant noise), it's definitely not related to actual signal processing as digital out is totally quiet. Anybody noticed similar problem or have a suggestion how to deal with it? My device warranty has expired so I guess there is no other option but to have it serviced but wanted to check here first. I've had my VW+ for around 4 years and never noticed this issue but it's possible it's been like this from the beginning. But it's true my rack fell over like a year ago so maybe that could have broken something inside.

Thanks for your help!

David
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9 REPLIES 9

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Hi David,

Hmm, I'm not an expert with the VW since it was well before my time, but the manual says 90dB of SNR on the mic input. If you're hearing white noise at -90dB, I'd think that's just the noise floor of the product.

Perhaps the gain staging isn't correct? With 90dB you should have lots of headroom without noise.

Make sure your mic input is set as high as it can go without clipping the mic pre. Set your output level on the VW to maximum (not above 0dB though, if that's an option) and make sure FOH sets their input trim based on that signal. It's common for them to think "a mic should be X level" and ask you to turn down your master out instead of trimming their mic pre down instead.

Cheers,
Craig
Cheers, Craig Customer Solutions Leader - Broadcast & Streaming

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Hi Craig,

thanks a lot for your response. I agree it doesn't sound like a big deal when I say noise at -90dB but it's quite annoying when playing live and unusable for recording. Perhaps I don't read the meters correctly in my DAW so the number might not be that relevant, it's the noise itself and the fact that soundguys are pointing it out.

SNR on mic input is one thing. I have the mic gain set as high as possible to not go into red on the loudest notes. And as I said there is no noise on digital out so it's not about the mic input at all (on the digital out there is freakingly little noise, really nothing!). Also output level (Knob 4) doesn't influence the noise level at all. So it's just the analog output stage itself which is adding a lot of (static) noise. That's why I think it's some electrical problem rather than signal processing problem.

As I said I'm always using balanced output connections, will try unbalanced just to see if the makes any difference but I guess visiting service center is inevitable. I just hope the servicing guys in Prague are up to it!

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Hi David,

Yeah, if it's not there on the digital out, I'd guess that perhaps something has been damaged in the fall or just failed over time.

Could you toss up a recording of the noise for me so I can play it for the dev's? They might have some insight after hearing it.

Cheers,
Craig
Cheers, Craig Customer Solutions Leader - Broadcast & Streaming

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2
Hi Craig,

ok, here is a sample:

http://dave.matfyz.cz/_vwnoise/

I use a recording where I just briefly interrupt the silence with "sss" which is being cut off by the input VW+ noise gate so that it's clear the noise is not coming from the input. You can compare NoiseSample (mono analog output) and Digital (SPDIF Out) and see the noise on the analog is way stronger (digital out is absolutely quiet as expected). I also included "maxed" versions (+40dB) of the samples where it is really apparent.

You may argue that if I can increase the vol by 40dB and not clip the "useful" signal ("sss"-ing in this case) then the SNR is still very good but as the input gain could have been increased by 40dB but as I said I have the input gain maxed in order not to clip at any loud part and still soundguys notice the noise and describe the output as "really noisy".

The noise is static - neither input gain nor output volume of VW+ (Knob 4) affect it.

Thanks for any ideas.

David

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Heya,

I had our lead design engineer take a listen. He said that it sounds pretty normal, considering the 40dB boost to get that hiss on analog.

The reason you don't hear the noise floor on the digital I/O is that we just send zero's when the gate is closed.

If you turn the gate off, you'll hear the actual noise floor of the signal on the digital path.

The only advice they gave is that you should always have your output level maxed to give you the best SNR, coupled with as hot an input signal as you can get before clip.

The VW products are bout 10dB lower in headroom than our current generation. 92 ish dB is pretty good, but perhaps in the systems you're connected to things are more sensitive to that SNR.

Sorry that I don't have any fixes for you on this one!

Cheers,
Craig
Cheers, Craig Customer Solutions Leader - Broadcast & Streaming

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Hey,

no problem, thanks, I appreciate your help. I'm still not sure this is normal and will try comparing to other gear I have but I understand there isn't anything we can do about it here in the virtual world.

I get it that the gate cuts the input to zero when below threshold, just wanted to demonstrate there is nothing on the input causing the noise. Also when the digital out zeros together with the input it means that there is nothing in the signal path bringing in the noise, it's purely the analog output stage.

I'll try to play with input gain to have it as hot as possible but I've done that before. Will also max out the output although sometimes soundguys complain that the signal hitting their mixer console is too hot... oh well.

Cheers

David

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 2

Heya David,

Definitely encourage the sound guys to just trim down their input instead of getting you to turn down the main outs. Sometimes FOH engineers are just stuck on "this is what I expect a mic input to be" and feel weird turning down the input trim. As long as they follow good gain structure principles and have their input trim set so you're getting a strong signal in without clipping, the SNR should improve.

Cheers,
Craig
Cheers, Craig Customer Solutions Leader - Broadcast & Streaming

Re: VoiceWorksPlus - noise on analog outputs, digital out quiet

Contributor - Level 1

So, I have a similar problem with my VoiceWorks - which has prevented me from using it. I bought it hoping it would be a rack mounted Harmony-M (which emits ZERO noise) but the noise my VW emits is unacceptable. Main outs are maxed, input trim to the mixer is as low as possible. Based on this thread it looks like I'm buying a MOTU 2408 to "translate" the spdif into a usable analog signal. If you ever make a no-frills, Harmony-M into a single-space rack unit, I'll buy at least two!!!

noise floor

Contributor - Level 2
Craig:
I had our lead design engineer take a listen. He said that it sounds pretty normal, considering the 40dB boost to get that hiss on analog.

The reason you don't hear the noise floor on the digital I/O is that we just send zero's when the gate is closed.

If you turn the gate off, you'll hear the actual noise floor of the signal on the digital path.

The only advice they gave is that you should always have your output level maxed to give you the best SNR, coupled with as hot an input signal as you can get before clip.


Craig, thanks for the tip, i'll try to figure out the digital way instead of analogue, PS i used a Finalizer 96k for maybe over 12 years, and always thought TC stuff was superb, alas less with the VoiceRack LoL ? ... J
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