Dwarf Noise (Solved)

Hey there,

Like many others, I have been locked into a battle with the dwarf over noise.

Generally I don’t bother with trying to squash it because I am not a music professional by any stretch of the word, so the noise issue I just learned to live with by making all my tracks sound like they’re underwater.

However, I was super interested in the troubleshooting aspect of the issue, and saw some really awesome tips and tricks being shared.

I had some cash set aside from a birthday and all that, and just decided to buy a couple of devices from radial.

What you see there are 2 devices from radial.

The green on is a passive stereo DI box with pad/lift options

The grey is a passive stereo isolator with pad/lift.

Now I don’t recommend throwing money at the problem if you have the know how to fix it on your own.

My particular situation seemed to need it.

My bluebox is not a balanced mixer, and I send tracks direct from the mixer into the dwarf.

This has been causing significant noise, at least my fix has solved the issue so I am making a rather large assumption on the root of the issue.

I have also been struggling with getting enough signal out of my dwarf, and it did not matter much on what sort of internal gain settings I messed with. I love the sound of the pedal, but had been getting frustrated with trying to get the volume I needed from it.

I am running a stereo breakout from the Cue out on my bluebox, and into the passive DI box to convert the signal from unbalanced to balanced for the dwarf input. I applied gain lift to the signal, and used XLR to TRS adaptors to the inputs of the dwarf.

From the dwarf, I used short TRS cables to connect to the isolator, applied ground lift, and then plugged in 6.3mm to 3.5mm trs cables from the output of the isolator back into the mixer on channels 5 and 6.

For the first time, my “Main” track on my mixer is silent. No ghost noise, no whine, no gain issue. Just pure, clean audio.

I ended up being able to essentially do a BOGO on those items because I had gift money, and I really hope that others won’t need to spend more cash to fix this.

I think a big culprit is my mixer, and having unbalanced to balanced connections. Dunno though, I’m still a big noob lol

Either way, the dwarf is no longer producing noise other than the ones I want it to, and most importantly, the boxes gave me significant volume increase from the dwarf outputs without adding noise, sucking tone, or peaking.

I do use the pad function on my audio interface, mostly because it’s a cheap one and the preamps actually are noisy if gain is turned up, so I have to fight that noise as I record through the USB out into my iPad.

Now I just need to deal with my noisy right channel output on my deepmind 12, and that should finally make things silent.

Idk of any of this is useful to anyone, but I figured I’d share what I ended up doing to resolve my issue.

I’m back to jamming, and next week I have a behringer arp 2600 grey meanie edition getting delivered. I will be spending quite some time working with that and the dwarf. Hopefully I’ll make some cool vibes to share.

Hope all is well!

9 Likes

I think a big culprit is my mixer, and having unbalanced to balanced connections

Very probably this + ground noise. I looked up your mixer and it seems to have stereo 3.5mm input jacks, so this cable might be the cheapest solution to eliminating ground noise and any need for further adapters in your setup:

It’s actually supposed to be used with the mini jack connected to an output (e.g. laptop audio jack) but the circuit allows connecting it in reverse as well. The cable is basically an unbalanced to unbalanced passive mini DI with ground lift, so it will slightly reduce the output level.

If however you have a mixer with balanced inputs, make sure to use balanced cables (TRS-TRS or TRS-XLR) to connect the Dwarf.

2 Likes

Thanks for sharing that, I had no idea those cables existed.

The solution I used is much more expensive than that, but I’m happy with the results so far.

My recordings are much cleaner now.

Were those cables recommended on the 1010 forums?

I’ve been there a few times for troubleshooting but it’s not exactly the best forum I’ve been on lol.

I may snag a couple of those cables to test.

A big issue with the bluebox is how cramped the rear of the device is. I have to spend a lot of time finding cables with super thin 3.5mm housing sleeves, otherwise ports get blocked off from use on the back.

That was a large reason why I chose the solution I did. I know what cables I have and that they work with my mixer specifically.

Even now with my solution I lost an output on the mixer due to a cable that is improperly sized for the output jack spacing :confused:

So now the search for a slim 3.5mm housing to 6.3 stereo breakout cable will commence.

I have one more cable connection test I need to do today to see if I can create a solution to let me use all of my mixer I/O’s again.

2 Likes

I don’t know that forum nor do I have that mixer :smiley: I just recommended the cable as a cheap option for your situation, even though I can’t 100% promise it’ll work, just quite sure it should.

Anyway for the price of your 2 Radial boxes one could get a simple analog mixer with enough balanced inputs (I used to use the Behringer QX1202 USB for a loong time) so it always depends on the situation and personal/professional needs.

I’m happy you found a solution, feel free to share your recordings here as well :heart_eyes:

2 Likes

Hey mate,

That is super good info, and if it’s alright, I may post your recommendation on their forum if I don’t find it already.

And I do own a big 12 channel Yamaha mixer but it’s absolutely massive.

I struggle really badly with synth space right now as it’s a shared room with my wife haha

Hopefully someone who uses a bluebox will see your post and save some money over my solution!

I’ve been posting too much on the content channel to share more postings (you can only reply to a topic 3 times in a row before being locked out) and I don’t want to be violating any rules of the forums.

Ill share the little track I made yesterday, and then I’ll hold off on sharing on the forums directly until we get some more peeps sharing their jams!

Hope you enjoy!

And if any of the big bosses here see this and want me to take it down, no problem at all!

5 Likes

And one more because I can’t help myself :frowning:

2 Likes

@Elk_wrath,

Thanks so much for posting this. I’m having a hard time understanding your path in full. Tried following your cables in the but didn’t quite get all the routing right. This is as much as I figured out (from pic and your post):

Source => PRO-DI => Dwarf => Stagebug => Mixer

Is that it? If not, could you describe it?

I myself stand by the Radial Stagebug with all of my heart. It was my best stage friend for years. Other than doing conversions to/from balanced and unbalanced in all possible combinations, it is really sturdy. (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Radial Engineering.)

That being said, passive DI Boxes most likely cause some drop in the signal. They employ transformers for impedance conversion and that bites off some of the its strength. The solution to that are active DI boxes, most of which have no transformers. They usually employ batteries instead of a power supply, so as to avoid noise from a power supply.

(I used hand-built active DI boxes for some time. At one time I recorded in a studio and the engineer liked it so much that it bought the two units I was using right there on the spot. Not sure where that schematic is, but it was an easy build, actually.)

Fully in agreement with @cbix here. That might as well be the reason, and I too would recommend a different, analog mixer, footprint allowing. I used a 12-channel Mackie for years, it was really good.

Going from balanced to unbalanced per se is not the issue. It can happen along the chain, but too many passive devices will have a detrimental effect – not in quality if they are good, but in strength.

It might be the case that you can think of your signal flow in a way that your Dwarf sits as an effects bus, so that you can dial it in from the mixer (if that’s not what you’re already doing.)

2 Likes

@Elk_wrath (or anyone reading this message) if this happens any time just ping me and I will try to sort out the issue on the “backstage”. Please don’t hold on posting for this reason.

This is a community forum. You are a community member. There are no “bosses” around here, even fewer big ones :wink: if you feel like something deserves to be shared or discussed in the forum, go ahead! :wink: I think you already showed that you know what this forum is about, so I don’t need to tell you that anything “out of topic” may have a bit less space here. But you are not getting out of topic anyway

1 Like

Hey Marc,

You are correct in my signal path, I just isolated the dwarf in my chain since that was what I was testing for noise.

I’m still dealing with a bit of noise, but it’s really reduced, and I have a few more tests I’m going to run today to see if I can isolate the last bits of the noise.

Since I’m using my IPad to record, it’s at the very end of my chain.

My mixer is plugged into my audio interface, and that was a cheap interface from behringer and it’s pretty noisy.

On my last track, I was diligent to record stems directly into my mixer, as well as a master on my iPad.

I’m gonna listen to each stem today and see if the noise is present in my chain before the mixer, or if it’s from the interface to iPad chain.

My iPad is using a cheap powered port expander, and I’m thinking there might be some RF noise from the USB.

My interface is directly powered with a power supply plugged into my power conditioner, and I applied a USB cable with a ferrite choke to the usb audio out. I heard ferrite chokes in a line help attenuate RF noise (but I can’t confirm if that’s true or not.

I’m still tracking down where the noise is coming from.

I’m thinking it’s between the mixer and iPad.

My cans and monitors are dead silent when listening direct, but as soon as the recording is finished on the iPad, there is a hiss there.

I have one more component coming in today (thanks Apple for price gouging an adaptor you forced us to buy when you removed all your ports) and that will eliminate the USB hub power between my interface and iPad.

That’s good to know about active vs. passive for DI stuff. I just tried to read reviews before I purchased and am already short on plugs in my room, so I went with passive.

Surprisingly, even with ground lift disengaged, my dwarf is coming in crystal clear now.

This is starting to feel like when you use the wrong formula on a math problem but somehow still get the correct answer and no one knows how.

I’m gonna be tinkering and testing today. I’m off due to a holiday here, and I’m hoping Amazon is timely on delivery because my shift starts at 330am tomorrow morning and I have to hit the rack early.

In terms of buying a mixer, you’re right, I probably should get something that is better suited to my needs, unfortunately I need the space. The form factor on the bluebox can’t be beat but it’s starting to show some limitations that I’d love to see improved.

if push comes to shove, a mixer may be something I look at. I think it’d be wiser for me to invest in an actual decent audio interface rather than scraping by on this cheap one.

My massive Yamaha mixer that I have recorded audio through USB directly from the powered mixer so I could plug it directly into the iPad to record.

If my solution today doesn’t solve the last bit of noise, I’ll test with my old mixer and see if it’s still there.

At this time, other than a really strange popping noise coming from the dwarf, the dwarf is not producing any noise other than from the plugins. I’ll be experimenting with my gain settings on the dwarf to see if it’s hard ware popping, or my gain plug-ins (someone else mentioned really bad pops while using the gain plugins in another thread)

2 Likes

Thanks Jon!

I just wanted to make sure that I was respecting the backend rules, I know that the posting limit is to encourage others to engage, and I’m on a weird creative kick right now so I’m recording pretty much daily or every other day.

I’ll be at home on vacation for a little over a week starting on the 10th, and provided I’m not too jacked up from my wisdom tooth extractions, I am hoping to sit down and keep making stuff.

1 Like

So to follow up,

I haven’t done the exact testing that I need, but I’m starting to consider it’s my mixer making noise.

The noise is only prevalent on the master track from some reason.

1010 uses a switching transformer USB wall wart with a beefy usb-b cable. What is interesting is that you are required to use their power supply and cable, otherwise the device freezes and bricks.

On their page they recommend using a cable that is not one they provide in the box. So I ordered the recommended cable which has a double ferrite choke. It’ll be here Wednesday.

To be honest, the clarity of my recording has skyrocketed even doing some simple changes, so I doubt I’ll keep digging into this noise issue much longer.

It would be nice to know exactly what is causing the noise but I’m starting to lean towards the USB powered mixer a bit. I’ll find out Wednesday or Thursday when I install the cable and new synth

3 Likes

This is a really great post - thanks EW. Your mention of a struggle with noise and not getting enough clean, sufficiently loud output from the Dwarf exactly describes the struggle I’ve been having. I had initially thought I may have resolved these things simply by paying attention to errant input/output settings, but that was wishful thinking on my part, as I subsequently realized that to take the levels down low enough that I heard no noise, my electric bass signal was way too low to record the way I want and conversely, if I nudged the Dwarf’s Input Gain (and whatever else) just enough to make the signal in Ableton barely loud enough for my liking, I ended up with distortion/clipping, particularly in the lower frequency range, not surprisingly.

So I read your post with great interest. I’m waiting for delivery of a Bluetooth Dongle to see if that might eliminate some of the hum I hear any time I connect my Dwarf to my Focusrite 2i2 audio interface (interestingly, the Dwarf on its own produces very little background noise, and running my bass signal straight into the 2i2 likewise produces very little; it’s only when the Dwarf is connected to the Focusrite and I’m using headphones connected to the Focusrite balanced headphone jack when I seem to run into this problem). But over the past few days I’ve been reading up on the topic of balanced vs. unabalanced audio connections, which is just something I never paid attention to before because I didn’t feel like I needed to. And I was already wondering if part of the problem I have might be that the Dwarf sends balanced audio, but on both its inputs and outputs I’ve been using unabalanced TS cables (not TRS cables). Or - whether a DI of some kind as you described - might be worth looking at.

So I don’t want to rush out and spend money before I know it’s necessary - as you rightly suggest - and one big difference between your setup and mine is that your noise issues seemed to stem from sending a mixer to the Dwarf, if I understand correctly. I don’t have an external mixer, I just have my 6- string electric bass going into a few hardware pedals on the floor, from which I send the output to the Dwarf and thence into the Focusrite. So, as an electric bassist not using an external mixer, I don’t know if a DI in my situation would make as much sense for me as it would for you, but then again maybe it might.

Again, I feel like such a blithering newb eedgit for having to impose often on others for advice, but I would really love to attain the kind of final convincing resolution as you seem to have achieved, in my case to enable a signal chain that eventually finds its way onto my instance of Ableton Live 10 on my PC - with lots of clean, full, joyous headroom; no noise, no distortion.

I don’t know if you’re inclined to comment on whether inserting a DI between my bass and the Dwarf might make sense. If you do have any suggestions on that topic, though, it would be much appreciated.

I do remain committed to making the Dwarf a permanent fixture in my setup; I just wish these issues were all fully documented for new users so I didn’t feel like I had to step outside my comfort zone of being a non-tech-engaged simpleton user to now having to explore and research and understand all sorts of nuances about balanced vs unbalanced, XLR/TRS, DI boxes and all that stuff, LOL. Oh well, it forces to you learn about audio science I guess.

Thanks again for sharing your insights.

Cheers
Frank

3 Likes

Hey Frank!

I want to dig into this post a bit more in detail tomorrow when I’m not running on fumes and am in the mood to tinker.

It’s interesting that we both have had very similar issues and I wonder what makes ours so similar.

I’m gonna think on this a bit and experiment a little on my end. Tomorrow I should have the last bit of kit I’m willing to spend money on, and I’ll tinker a bit this week to see what’s up in my particular situation.

1 Like

Thanks so much, EW. Looking forward to hearing any further ideas you have on this scenario.

Cheers
Frank

1 Like

For me the problem boiled down to the Dwarf’s power supply. I’m in the UK and we have a 3 pin plug, one of the pins being earth. In theory there should be no current flowing to the earth pin but I’ve noticed that some power supplies (the dwarf’s included) have a slight high frequency leakage to earth (this is a different thing to a ground loop). Although it’s only tiny it’s enough to be picked up by other gear, and it’s really hard to eliminate.

The easiest solution is to buy a different 12v, 2A (or greater) regulated power supply that doesn’t have this problem. The easiest way to check this is to go for one with a plastic earth pin (to guarantee that no current can flow to earth!). It will be double-insulated (look for the box-within-a-box symbol, which indicates this) so still electrically safe to use.

Here’s what I went for - it completely cured the high frequency noise problem for me: 12V 12 VOLT AC DC MAINS POWER ADAPTOR SUPPLY PSU REGULATED 2A DC PLUG 2.1MM | eBay

4 Likes

@ianr Interesting you mention that, I had noticed a change in noise if I wiggled the power cable.

That is also going on my list of tests

@Frank_Paul if I don’t mistake your Focursrite 2i2 is USB powered (right?).
Assuming that you are using a laptop with a working battery, do you still have the noise issue with the Focusrite and the MOD Dwarf if you unplug the power from your computer?
Maybe something basic to try, but sometimes we forget the basics (at least I do :sweat_smile:)

Hi Jon. Thanks for your reply. Yes, my Focusrite 2i2 is USB powered, via a type C. For me, that doesn’t go into a battery powered laptop, but rather a Dell workstation PC with standard AC power cable. What’s so beguiling about all of this noise stuff, is that the Dwarf works perfectly well for me on its own - I can get the volume I want, and aside from any artifacts that might occur if cranking up a gain stage too high (which is manageable and to be expected), very little noise. And, similarly, when deferring to my “old” signal chain before I got the Dwarf (bass->h/w pedals->Focusrite->PC->Ableton), minimal problems. It’s only when I connect the Dwarf to the Focusrite via a standard TS cable that I have issues. Somebody recently pointed out that this might in fact be more of an issue of Ableton being too sensitive to hot audio lines in than anything else. But I need to be able to use the Dwarf within the Ableton chain, as that is core to my recording and mixing workflow.

Cheers
Frank

I ordered a new power supply based on your recommendations and will be trying it out tomorrow if I can.

Hey Frank,

I’m touching base with you about this issue.

I am still waiting on 2 pieces of kit to arrive (today and tomorrow) so I can sit and do a full experiment on this issue.

I plan on having several configurations for testing.

I’ve already somewhat tested the DI box stuff, and guarantee I made a noob mistake in this solution, but it’s working for the most part.

My goal is to test and record the “silent” results of the following controls.

Supplied power cable:

Dwarf with no DI and no isolator

Dwarf with DI

Dwarf with isolator

Dwarf with both

Mixer with current cable (on all testing controls)

Mixer with new cable (on all testing controls)

With new purchased power cable:

Dwarf with no DI and no isolator

Dwarf with DI

Dwarf with isolator

Dwarf with both

Mixer with current cable

Mixer with new cable

I think this should give me a good idea of what may or may not be contributing to the problem.

I’m really interested in the new power supply option.

I’m probably not going to be productive or in the mood to attempt all this while I’m recovering from some medical stuff next week, but if I’m feeling good, I’ll put some time into this. Otherwise I’ll do it the following week.

I’m hoping to be able to isolate this issue and verify the results of @ianr

If it does end up being a power supply issue, we might be able to squash all future noise complaints if we are successful and the MOD team makes adjustments to further included power supplies.

Let’s crush this issue!

3 Likes