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Neal K

"Ghost" crackles!

I'm just learning Logic Pro, and I'm getting what I call "ghost" crackles in my tracks. They're sort of like the sound you get when a cable is loose or not grounded. I've checked all my cables and switched them, but I'm still getting these arbitrary crackles. Weird thing is, I can hear them through the speakers, but they don't register visually as sounds on the mixing board. They almost sound like the static electricity sizzle you sometimes get if you touch someone wearing a sweater. So I'm wondering, could it be static? My studio is in a spare bedroom with a carpeted floor. I sit in a standard office chair on rollers. And it's a hyper dry climate where I live. Is it possible I'm generating static electricity when I roll from the keyboard to the guitar to the board, etc.

Neal

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And it's a hyper dry climate where I live. Is it possible I'm generating static electricity when I roll from the keyboard to the guitar to the board, etc.

Possible, it could also be your computer isn't grounded properly, all the ground lines on your electrical outlets might also be grounded with the furnace, fridge etc. on the same the same ground wire, when they kick on you may pick up that static charge on all you ground wires in the outlets, I've had that same problem, you may need to isolate your recording equipment with a ground lift.

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Any WiFi on the computer you're using?

Strangely enough after upgrading my studio PC to a 64-bit OS, I find I don't have to disable my WiFi card to eliminate static/pops.

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It's hard to diagnose without hearing it :(

What's your setup?

PC or laptop?

Audio interface? Firewire or USB or ..?

What speed is your disk drive? 5400 or 7200? Cache?

Did anything change recently? Has this problem always been there?

Some possibilities include:

Ground loop (as mentioned by Bruce.. but I'd expect it to be more consistent).

Buffer on soundcard too low (in ASIO setup), causing crackles as the disk drive struggles to keep up.

A plugin that emits intermittent "static" because you have a demo version

Laptop sound being carried via USB

...

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Buffer on soundcard too low (in ASIO setup), causing crackles as the disk drive struggles to keep up.

That was my first thought.

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Oh, these technical replies whistle way over my head. I've isolated the problem to the extent that it only happens on guitar tracks (bass or six sting). When I let a chord or note sustain, just before the sound drops off it distorts into a series of crackles. Or if I'm pausing between playing different passages, when there should be silence, there a crackles. I change the guitar - same thing. I change the cables - same thing. I tray a different channel... same thing. I bypass the compression, the EQ, the amp model... same thing. But if I plug my keyboard into the same channel with the same cable, no crackle. I know it's not the guitar - I've used my Taylor, my LP, my new ES339, and my bass. They all crackle. I'm starting to wonder when Snap and Pop are going to show up.

Neal

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Alistair already asked a few pertinent and potentially helpful questions. I'd just like to add a few more. :)

Is this happening on recording, playback, or both?

If you hear it while recording, say, a guitar track, do you hear the same thing in the same place when you play it back?

Are you running any VSTi (virtual instruments)? If so, which ones?

Are you running any effects processing (reverb, delay etc)? If so, which ones?

How many tracks have you recorded in this project?

What kind of soundcard are you using?

If you don't know the answer to any of these just say so, but the more info you can provide, the more likely it is that someone around here might be able to help.

While it is possible your problems are due to static, I think they're more likely to be to do with buffer size. Your answers to the above questions (and Alistair's) should help in determining this. Then we can take it from there in terms of attempting to fix it.

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Alistair already asked a few pertinent and potentially helpful questions. I'd just like to add a few more. :)

Is this happening on recording, playback, or both?

If you hear it while recording, say, a guitar track, do you hear the same thing in the same place when you play it back?

Are you running any VSTi (virtual instruments)? If so, which ones?

Are you running any effects processing (reverb, delay etc)? If so, which ones?

How many tracks have you recorded in this project?

What kind of soundcard are you using?

If you don't know the answer to any of these just say so, but the more info you can provide, the more likely it is that someone around here might be able to help.

While it is possible your problems are due to static, I think they're more likely to be to do with buffer size. Your answers to the above questions (and Alistair's) should help in determining this. Then we can take it from there in terms of attempting to fix it.

I didn't mean to sound dismissive with my earlier answer... I just don't know the answer to the questions about sound cards, speed of disc drive, etc. I'll try to get the answers and come back.

Here's what I know:

- I'm using a Macbook, laptop

- Audio Interface??? Umm, I plug into a Tascam USB 2.0 Audio/Midi interface. The crackles happen with the audio inputs (haven't started using midi yet)

- This sound wasn't always there, it has just started recently. I haven't changed anything that I know of

As for your questions.

- Happens on recording and playback

- I hear the same thing in the same place when I play it back

- No virtual instruments - I'm plugged straight in

- I am running effects, but it happens even when I turn them off

- The number of tracks doesn't seem to make a difference.

Neal

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Thanks, Neal. The fact that you hear it in the same place on record and playback would seem to indicate that it's (probably) not a buffer issue then (I would expect it to be more random and playback only if this were the case), although it might still be worth exploring that possibility if all else fails.

I'm not sure about the static electricity thing. I certainly haven't come across it in relation to recording before, but I have experienced something like it with my Strat in the past, so I guess it's a possibility.

I think what you need to do here is to work through some sort of process of elimination. For example, do you have other recording software you could use to see if you get the same result? (You could always download something like the free trial of Reaper to test this). What about when you're monitoring while playing without recording? Or simply playing your guitar through an amp? Have you considered buying (or borrowing) and trying one of those earth straps that technicians use and seeing if that makes any difference? Does it make any difference what instrument(s) you're playing or have plugged in?

As annoying and frustrating as these sorts of problems can be, the only way to solve them, generally, is to take a deep breath and work through them as methodically and simply as possible. And, on the bright side, we pretty much inevitably end up learning something in the process. :)

Good luck!

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Random thought.. is there a dimmer switch on the lights in that room?

If so, see if turning it off helps.

Also, have you tried changing cables?

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Another random thought, does it happen at certain audio frequencies, could there be a loose electrical connection inside one of your units that's rattled while you're recording and when you hit a certain external audio frequency ?

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I'm just learning Logic Pro, and I'm getting what I call "ghost" crackles in my tracks. They're sort of like the sound you get when a cable is loose or not grounded. I've checked all my cables and switched them, but I'm still getting these arbitrary crackles. Weird thing is, I can hear them through the speakers, but they don't register visually as sounds on the mixing board. They almost sound like the static electricity sizzle you sometimes get if you touch someone wearing a sweater. So I'm wondering, could it be static?

From what you describe this sounds like a digital click to me. It happens when 2 or more digital devices are in conflict with each other. My guess is that your digital clocks are out of sync. If you are using digital equipment (obviously Logic Pro is) - Check that the clocks are running at the same speed and more importantly that only one is the master. It is best if you can make your soundcard the master clock and any other equipment a slave to it. You don't say how you are recording your guitar is it via a digital mixer/interface if so the clock on it should be controlled by your sound card if possible.

Please keep us posted

Nige

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Hi Neal,

I'm a PC guy. But in googling I found this, which appears to me that you too need an external audio card.

Macbook Snap Crackle Pop Distortion Audio

I also use Cubase.

Maybe you should check a few of the Logic forums to find out what's available for your configuration.

I can tell you from experience that not all DAWs and audio cards play nice together.

So it would be beneficial to get some info from the folks that are using Macbooks.

Hope you find the problem. :(

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Random thought.. is there a dimmer switch on the lights in that room?

If so, see if turning it off helps.

Also, have you tried changing cables?

Also...Which type of lighting are you using? Are there flourescent light fixtures on the same circuit?

"Crackles" brings to mind how a cable sounds when you have a bad connection. "Cracles" could also be caused by oxidation being built up on your connectors.

Logic Pro is the DAW I am considering for my new room so, I'll be listening! "crackles" made me instantly think BEFORE the box.

Which type of speaker cables are you using to connect your monitors? They should be TRS male to XLR male. A lot of people just grab any 1/4" to 1/4" guitar cable thinking they do the same thing...NOPE.

Forget using cheapie cables man... M-O-G-A-M-I gold all day long. Hell yes, they cost more, AND sound WAY BETTER than cheapo cables. Cheap unshielded cables might be the culprit.

OK now the cheapie cable contengent may begin to toss their rocks at me now. LOL...Save the snap...crackle...pop for breakfast...KELLOG'S RICE CRISPIES & MOGAMI GOLD CABLING will put the snap, ,crackle and pop into your cereal bowl where they belong.

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Neal, maybe you could post a sample? You know how it is when a family member says that the car is making a weird noise. You might be able to make a pretty good guess if you heard it, but their description can't reallyconvey it? I would bet that we'd at least recognize what it wasn't and narrow the field. Some hums you just know, some digital bad behavior you've heard before....

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I'd like to tea a sample, too. But if what you are hearing are random single, isolated cracks or pops (and not a electrical buzz or a series of cracks, like wadding up cellophane would produce), then it is most likely clocking problem as NigeQ says.

Do you have more than one digital device connected in a chain? Your computer is one... are you also using an outboard interface, or a digital effects unit or something? If so, then a clock argument between the devices will create "cracks" or "pops" in the audio. As Nige says, you have to designate one device as the clock master, or use a clock generator to feed them all (not necessary in most home studios).

If you're hearing something more like static - that "frying bacon" sound of a short series of a number of cracks - then it's probably something else.

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