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Topic: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

Hi All,

I've been using Pianoteq for several years now (still on vers 5).  I decided to upgrade to some nicer speakers.  I picked up some Edifier R2000DB Near-Field studio monitors. In general I'm really happy with them.  The bass is very rich and in general all the piano models sound amazing through them.  But I noticed something strange:  sometimes I hear faint background static when I play certain low-mid-range notes.  It's subtle and not very obvious.  Sometimes I have to be close to the speakers to hear it. Someone standing on the other side of the room may not notice.  I never hear this when listening though headphones.  But in these speakers I can hear it.  It especially happens if I play some low heavy chords/octaves, sustain them, and then very lightly play some mid-range notes. As the low notes fade out, very delicate notes higher up have prominent background static with each note press.  It happens with every piano model. And I confirmed it doesn't happen through my other speakers or with the headphones.  So I'm convinced it isn't the software.

At first I didn't think much of this, but more I play through these, I can't *not* hear this noise and I find it really annoying now. I almost want to switch to headphones only or go back to my old speakers.  Any ideas what's going on here? I tried experimenting with levels.  For example, I turned the monitor volume higher and my audio interface output lower (and vice-versa).  Nothing makes a difference.   Playing regular music through them sounds amazing, so I think they're generally great speakers. I'm wondering if this is just a limitation or they are somehow not suited for something like pianoteq.  Any ideas?

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

If there is any forum dedicated to the Edifier R2000DB monitors and their technical specifications, response to the frequency spectrum, any switches or settings they might have, placement, etc., you might want to check there. My Mackie HR824 studio monitors have more configuration hardware switches than one might imagine they would need. smile

Or perhaps the issue is with your sound card or audio interface.

Last edited by Stephen_Doonan (24-09-2017 01:47)

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

Next test to consider would be to turn Pianoteq's volume down, and then adjust the other levels to compensate. Do you use Pianoteq's limiter? (it's on by default, generally, I think). If it's Pianoteq itself that is clipping, turning the limiter off should make the clipping more noticeable. The problem may not be clipping at all, of course.

Greg

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

JeffV it sounds like it may ba ground hum by your description: is all your equipment grounded to the same ground? Also are you using balanced input cables?
Further it is not unusual for some monitors to have a low hum when no signal is being received - do yours exhibit this?

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

I agree with all the good advice above, and wondering how it's coming along there.

Also considering the feature list of the R2000DB ...

from their website: "built in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and Dynamic Range Control (DRC) to minimise distortion."

I could be wrong but my main hunch is that the processing is splitting focus in that range of frequencies between the tweeter and main speaker, causing noticeable unwanted artifacts (their programmers might want to consider softening that fringe, or they might widen the range capability of the main, the tweeter or both of the speakers).

Maybe you can overcome the issue on these speakers if you set Pianoteq to 'binaural' in case it's having trouble with the default stereo range - less data for the DSP/DRC system to process? This might also be better if using all wired, as opposed to having them hooked up via Bluetooth - all worth a try if you haven't already.

It may just be a case of decent economical cabinets which are otherwise quite acceptable, showing a small but noticeable chink to a discerning listener.

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

Thanks for the suggestion guys.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to resolve this any further.  I'm not sure if it is background hum.  There is no hum or noise at all when I'm not playing anything.  As for equipment being grounded....I suppose maybe there is an issue there.  I'm actually running my audio interface (Presonus audiobox 22vsl) powered just by usb from a laptop, which is usually on battery power while I'm at my keyboard.  The monitors themselves have no ground pin. 

I tried 'binaural' and that didn't seem to make a difference. I couldn't find the limiter options, so I haven't experimented with that. Also, I'm not using the bluetooth feature for this. It's wired directly from the audio interface to the RCA inputs on the monitors. 

Today I practiced for a about an hour and I didn't notice the problem so much, but I think it's because I stopped trying so hard to hear it and was entirely focused on trying to learn some music.  So for now it isn't huge deal I guess.  I'll continue to experiment.

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

A instrument, even virtual like Pianoteq, has a broader dynamic range than recorded music, the processing included in those speakers is maybe not ideal for anything else than playing recorded (= mastered) music. It could include a kind of "noise gate" to minimize inherent noise, but this could be more detectable with a solo instrument... I experienced this on some PA systems. Just a guess. Try also to move any AC/DC adapter in your setup: since your connections are not symetrical, that could help a lot.

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

Sometimes it's just a matter of the source signal being too weak (volume turned too low) while the amplifier volume is turned too high to compensate, which of course amplifies all the "line noise" (radio-frequency static and circuitry noisiness) at the speaker. Sometimes an amplifier is underpowered for the speakers. I suppose there are at least dozens of possibilities.

Last edited by Stephen_Doonan (27-09-2017 17:31)

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

JeffV: The limiter can be disabled by clicking on the little "L" at the right of the level meter in Pianoteq. Don't forget to simply try reducing Pianoteq's own volume as well. It is possible Pianoteq itself is reaching 100% output level, which then causes digital distortion, which then gets faithfully reproduced by the speakers (and as I said, disabling the limiter would make that more audible - the limiter controls the distortion to make it less harsh/less audible)

Greg.

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

JeffV wrote:

Thanks for the suggestion guys.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to resolve this any further.  I'm not sure if it is background hum.  There is no hum or noise at all when I'm not playing anything.  As for equipment being grounded....I suppose maybe there is an issue there.  I'm actually running my audio interface (Presonus audiobox 22vsl) powered just by usb from a laptop, which is usually on battery power while I'm at my keyboard.  The monitors themselves have no ground pin.

Many people have found that laptop USB ports can induce a hum - can you notice a difference when the laptop is plugged into mains power as opposed to running on battery?

JeffV wrote:

I tried 'binaural' and that didn't seem to make a difference. I couldn't find the limiter options, so I haven't experimented with that. Also, I'm not using the bluetooth feature for this. It's wired directly from the audio interface to the RCA inputs on the monitors.

Do your interface and monitors have outputs/inputs for balanced connections? If so try using those instead of RCA connections.

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

- laptop audio output could induce a hum, USB? I don't think so. Maybe I'm wrong. Their audio output does.
- the speakers we're talking about don't have symetrical inputs, only RCA.

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

Luc Henrion wrote:

- laptop audio output could induce a hum, USB? I don't think so.

Yes it can, if USB port has a ground loop, which is very much possible.

http://keyboardwaves.com/remove-usb-noise-audio-output/

Hard work and guts!

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

Good to know, thank you!

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Re: Background Noise with New Studio Monitors

I did more experiments with my setup and I think I'm about convinced this is just a weakness of these speakers.  I did the following:

- played into pianoteq, then played back the midi track it recorded.  Confirmed I could hear the noise in some mid-range notes, then switched to bluetooth input and played back the same recording (still the same hiss).

- Then I decided to try some professionally recorded music again:  I played some solo piano tracks.  I heard the exact same background noise.  It seems I can especially hear it if I'm close to the speaker and there is solo piano playing.  But if I play any music with a full band, I don't notice it at all.  I also played some tracks with solo bass playing and I could notice it as well.  But as soon as the band joined the bass, I didn't notice any more. 

- As my final experiment, I switched to a different device entirely (all the above was done from my laptop).  So I switched to an ipad and played some music over bluetooth...again, I could still hear it with solo instruments. 

I'm thinking these speakers weren't intended to have the listener sitting as close to them as I am.  I'm only sitting close because they are on top of my piano keyboard. But if I were to set these up like most people use, I would probably be sitting further away, turning up the volume more and the background noise would be so subtle I wouldn't notice.