I'm through with buzz

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by maydaynyc, May 26, 2019.

  1. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    Yes, the PA was buzzing as I walked in the venue before I had even set up. I primarily heard it out of the monitors not the FOH but I can't be sure. The sound guy was a sub for the guy we hired, and he confided in us after he couldn't fix it that it was his first live gig and was actually a recording engineer having just graduated from school.

    Including lights? the stage had par cans, LED bars and a set of fluorescent black lights running across the back of the stage (they were off)

    Before I connected to the PA at all I just went gtr > cable > kemper > XLR out to my own active monitor and had much higher than normal buzzing on medium to high gain patches that I couldn't dial out with the noise gate. Next I ran the XLR out to the board and used an unbalanced TS cable from the monitor out of the kemper to my active monitor. Same noise and the ground lift switch did nothing. It was at that point that I powered down the Kemper and plugged my power strip into the HUM-X into the wall. Also did nothing. At this point they were getting ready to open the house doors so I finally disconnected my monitor, ran the xlr out to the board and used the PA's mixer for monitoring. Did not help. I got through the gig by tap dancing patches all night using my clean patch more than usual and riding the volume pedal and gtr volume.

    By the time I did my own troubleshooting I could tell the sound guy was struggling himself even just getting descent monitor mixes for our 4 singers and the house refused to turn down the DJ music because they were "open" despite not one soul being in the club. So I gave up on trouble shooting and knew it was going to be an unpleasant gig. Anyway the place is called the Living Room on Long Island. I wonder if anyone else had played there with similar issues.

    Jmoose unless i missed it i didn't see any mention of airborne noise not related to dirty power. Thoughts on that?
     
  2. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    That's excellent. So with the kid you were basically screwed at the starting line. To be clear you hired a guy w/experience and he sent a total 1st day greenhorn in his place? It wasn't the clubs choice? He couldn't find anyone else?! I'd cut ties with the main guy just for that alone. What a move! Moist pro.

    Airborne noise is all around us all the time. No way to get around it.

    We're constantly bombarded by all kinds of invisible signals and noise... invisible light spectrum stuff.

    AM & FM radio, police scanners. TV broadcast... wifi & bluetooth. How about 4G cell service?

    You want invisible noise? Try leaving your cell phone on top of a 100 watt marshall & 4x12, at a proper volume when you get an incoming call.

    Sounds like nuclear warfare! I only made that mistake once...
     
  3. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    He was dealing with one of our singers who is absolutely clueless for all things PA (she calls anything with a speaker in it - gtr amp, monitor, mains, radio - a "speaker"). Apparently he said told her he was unavailable on the date and was sending a sub. The sub himself lied to our primary contact about his experience. I'm dropping both of them for sure. need to reset with more reliable people and equipment.
     
  4. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Oof. And so it piles on... Maybe a solid idea would be to keep people who know nothing about sound systems from dealing with that end of the business. Not that it'd have made any difference?

    Was it a house PA system or something that was hauled in & out for the gig?

    House rig I'd hope would have the gremlins shook out. If it's tight & right just about anybody should be able to throw the power switchs & plug in microphones.
     
  5. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    Yes, no doubt that's the case and in the past I dealt with the sound, but she always felt like I was so spending too much money on sound so I let her do it this time. Was not easy to hold back the I told you so's. In fact I'm sure a couple got through....

    The pa was hired not a house system.
     
  6. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    if the PA had a loud ground loop hum, without the KPA being plugged in, then there's clearly a grounding issue in the venue. mishmash of LED and old PAR lighting, most likely on rheostat-style dimmers, is a recipe for a bee's hive of buzz.

    first thing to do with buzz is mute channels one at a time, to see if it's being caused by one particular source/channel. then, try to turn devices off (like unplug powered monitors one at a time to see if there's a ground loop between one/more of them and the mixer/mains.) you really just have to methodically turn off/unplug devices until you find the cause.

    MANY times i've played in older clubs with horrendous hum, and we just turned off a random neon beer sign (sometimes on the completely opposite end of the bar, and it instantly silenced.
    if the PA is plugged into a circuit shared or next to a freezer or HVAC unit, that can cause crazy buzz too. it's maddening, but just something that has to be dealt with. good luck!
     
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  7. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Sounds like a lovely evening for all.

    So, to recap... rookie kid, first time ever setting up and running a PA system? Personally I wouldn't be so quick to blame the house wiring. Who knows what the kid did or didn't do. For all anyone knows he could've plugged the mains & monitors (powered? assuming?) into the same circuit as the lighting and created a ground loop right there. Way too many variables.

    You often get 'ya what 'ya pay for... and when you don't get what you want, well, we call that experience.
     
  8. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    So true. My contractor friend always says good job is not cheap and a cheap job is not good. Anyway there was a lot more drama that I didn't even share. This was actually the last gig this band will ever play. Three of us including myself had decided to leave and we were just fulfilling commitments that were already booked. There was a whole lot of other drama that I didn't get into it because I didn't want to derail a technical thread into a can you believe this ******** thread. But just to give you a taste we ended up earning only half of what we expected because the club literally did not bring one single person. The entire audience came by us and we're being paid based on door headcount. They told us don't worry because they were running dinner before our set that was going to attract a lot of people. When we got there there is no dinner but they didn't tell us and the house is completely empty. I was ready to leave but this singer who's the primary Booker for the band was already bought in and did not want to walk out. It was the last gig and I felt bad for her so I went for it, but then all the noise problem started and I was just ready to get the F out. I could write a long thread on how not to book and run a gig based on this one night.

    Anyway, it's over and I'm going to go back to using the PA people I like to use. I know I can do it better myself actually, but I hate hauling gear and there's just no amount of money that makes a gig worth it to me to have to do both run sound and play. I'd rather earn less or nothing and just be able to worry about myself
     
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  9. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    i wrote to Furman asking which product they recommend to address airborne noise. the answer was more honest and clear than I expected. Basically SOL.

     
  10. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Yup. Thought that was touched on here...

    If the noise source is airborne interference all you can do is try to kill the source. Basically unplug the offender if its anything that can be unplugged. Sometimes there's nothing you can do.
     
  11. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    It was, I'm posting this as proof positive that you were right!
     
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  12. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Thanks! But I know that!

    As said there shouldn't be any great mystery or voodoo around AC power but for some reason there always seems to be. Yet its easily repeatable science, stuff that was figured out decades before we were born by people way smarter then me or you.

    In reality AC power is the foundation that audio is built on. All we do in the studio or a gig... a guitar, a microphone... speaker cabs of any sort, anything right? All we're doing is converting air molecules to electrical current and back to air again. Think about that...

    That's why if the AC power is no good, dirty, everything goes to crap real quickly.

    Did you get outlet testers yet? I bought two more today & gave one away last weekend. $7 each at Depot.

    Have a large outdoor event coming up in 2 weeks. Wedding with 2 stages, 3 bands, DJ and multiple tents. Guy who's getting married is a good friend, guitarist who's in a signed band & tours often so music is a big part of things.

    We did our site survey last weekend and previously had been talking about pulling juice from catering which will have generators... never a great option. Power is usually dirty because of refrigerators & lights & such. He was thinking we could pull from the house which is still probably 100 feet.

    Turns out there's a pair of outlets 20 odd feet from the stage! He said he doesn't know if they work & would have to call the owners... said lets find out right now!

    Went to my truck, got the outlet tester from the toolbox... and wham! Look at that kid! Winning!

    He asked if I could buy him one of those magic tricks I said keep it. Throw it in your gigbag w/ the pedals and amps. Might save your ass someday.
     
  13. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    This is great and reminds me of something I always say. My day gig is enterprise software sales. I always tell my dev team in reaction to balking at a customer's request that "all of coding is simply lining up 0's and 1's in the right order. How hard can that be?"

    Yes, had two of them in hand day 2 after your post, then went around my entire house and places where I rehearse testing outlets. They all checked out normal. However I do have a question - if any of the non-normal states light up when plugged in, is there anything i can do to fix the situation or do you simply not use the outlet? Like try a hum-x or line conditioner? i'm not sure i understand exactly what the 3 non-normal reactions mean exactly, other than something is not right.

    Karma owes you some good turns!
     
  14. MiguelDamas

    MiguelDamas Member

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    I'm not an electrician, but let me offer a different perspective. A missing earth or a live/earth reverse can potentially put 230 volts (or 110v in you case) right through you, so at that point it's not about tone anymore, it's about making sure you don't get zapped.

    If the outlet is no good, don't use it or at the very least get one of them plug-in RCDs (GFCI I believe they're called over there) to use in a pinch.
     
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  15. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    I view the outlet testers as go/no go. Pass fail. Real simple.

    If outlets test bad I slap a piece of gaffers tape over it, draw an unhappy face and tell the property owner to call an electrician... they can figure out if its gone wrong at the outlet or at the panel.

    Basically the "non-normal" lights are varying degrees of bad. Bad like, maybe the gear won't turn off... or gear death, or human death.

    GFCI won't do anything if the outlet isn't wired right.
     
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  16. MiguelDamas

    MiguelDamas Member

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    Yep. I'm glad you said that because I really should have been more specific in my previous post. I believe a plugin-in or socket GFCI / RCD will not work as expected in any scenario other than live/neutral wired correctly or live/neutral reversed.

    Definitely don't use an outlet that's not wired correctly. If you're one of those nutters that will do the gig no matter what, at least get an RCD in there as it may offer some protection.
     
  17. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    This actually touches on a really important point that most people don't realize, phase of electricity and 240 volt potential.

    Someone like @amphog can step in and correct me but generally speaking, most power from the pole/street in the USA comes into your house at 240 volts. Its a pair of 120 volt lines that are 180 degrees out of phase with each other.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-phase_electric_power

    Its entirely possible, if things are screwed up enough to create a situation where the gear on stage is on one leg/phase and the PA gear is on another leg/phase to have a situation where there's actually a full 240 volts on tap which would ruin your day real quick.

    Just another reason its important to not use outlets that aren't wired properly.
     
  18. amphog

    amphog Silver Supporting Member

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    Most urban commercial properties are 3 phase, making it a bit more complex. The above is another reason to always use 3 wire grounded cords on your amp, you can become the ground and see 240v between a mic and your guitar.
     
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  19. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    I hope its the script logo 3 phase, those are the best
     

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