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The "Info and Solutions To Noisy Pedals" Lounge

OliveBridge

Member
Messages
299
I thought this would be one of those "Which pedals are intentionally noisy" thread too. Some good information in here worth reading. Thanks for the taking the time to write all this out.

I'll just add here, though it may be a little off-topic since this is a noisy "pedal" thread.
Getting rid of some hiss and radio noise could be as simple as taking your phone out of your pocket or placing it somewhere else besides on top of your amp (I've seen people place their keys, cellphones, etc. on top of amps).

OP mentioned single coil pickups good at picking up radio noise (sometimes a constant hiss), the source could be from your cellphone in your font pocket that is up against your guitar. Yes, placing your cellphones on top of amps could cause noise also.
 

lefort_1

Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,931
Yeah a "lounge" thread is usually for advocates of something.

I advocate talking about noise issues.

srs

It's a place to come in and shoot the sh!t about a subject.

But if semantics bug you....
 

Hacksaw

Time Warped
Messages
10,217
I have a microphonic (Boss DD6 delay) pedal, what can I do? I can tap on the housing and I can hear it through the amp. I can yell at the pedal and I can hear me through the amp.
 

Phletch

Member
Messages
9,898
I've got a clone of the ZVex Distortron - "JTM 45 in a box". It has a scratchy drive knob which is supposedly inherent to the design of the original Distortron according to the ZVex website, so I guess my clone is pretty accurate in that respect.

But that's not the problem.

The pedal is just noisy. When switched on it's like a sea of white noise.

Is that also "normal" for the original Distortron? Regardless, any ideas on what causes the noise and how to fix it. The pedal otherwise sounds great, but with all the noise it's just unusable in any situation, live or studio.
 

lefort_1

Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,931
I have a microphonic (Boss DD6 delay) pedal, what can I do? I can tap on the housing and I can hear it through the amp. I can yell at the pedal and I can hear me through the amp.
I'd start by tightening the I/O jacks, and make sure any socketed IC's are fully depressed in their sockets. Next I'd look for cold solder joints. Then spray some DeOxit in the pots.

If you have something like a cracked PCB, then it's probably time to buy a new pedal. imo.
 

lefort_1

Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,931
I've got a clone of the ZVex Distortron - "JTM 45 in a box". It has a scratchy drive knob which is supposedly inherent to the design of the original Distortron according to the ZVex website, so I guess my clone is pretty accurate in that respect.

But that's not the problem.

The pedal is just noisy. When switched on it's like a sea of white noise.

Is that also "normal" for the original Distortron? Regardless, any ideas on what causes the noise and how to fix it. The pedal otherwise sounds great, but with all the noise it's just unusable in any situation, live or studio.
I am not familiar with Zvex pedals in general (aside from the old LoFi Loop Junkie). It's a sure bet that others will chime in about the 'standard/expected' noise. This is a box-of-rock, correct? If so, then you are looking at 4 gain stages, which will lift the noise floor considerably. Again, I'll let others share their experience.

But here's some general things to try:

1) If you can run it on battery-power, try that first. It is possibly a power supply issue.

2) rattle the cables...if the noise rattles, change the cable.

3) does the noise rise/fall with the Gain knob? If so, then there's a good bet the problem is in the first gain stage (or input).

I'd do all the classic stuff like check the ground connections and the jacks, the power-in and the wiring to the board. Touch up any cold-looking solder joints.

The last thing I'd try is put it on some long cords, get the white-noise going then walk the pedal around the room. See if the noise gets better or worse depending on the position. If so, it might be an RFI/conducted noise problem.

After all that, I'd start suspecting one of the FETs, assuming it's going bad.
 

Chonny

Senior Member
Messages
3,215
The germanium transistors that were available back in the early 60's are full of "popcorn noise" (the term that was used when I was in school), but it was heard primarily at lower frequency ranges.

The 60's germanium devices were also often numbered by the process used to create them...which was, at the time, full of voodoo, subtle variables and contamination (no Level IV clean rooms back then). Anyway, devices with one common designator (eg OC44) might vary by a factor of 4 or more when it comes to amplification in a given circuit. Imagine the noise you might get if you run a 12AX7 at 4x amplification.
Excellent info.
 

Phletch

Member
Messages
9,898
I am not familiar with Zvex pedals in general (aside from the old LoFi Loop Junkie). It's a sure bet that others will chime in about the 'standard/expected' noise. This is a box-of-rock, correct? If so, then you are looking at 4 gain stages, which will lift the noise floor considerably. Again, I'll let others share their experience.

But here's some general things to try:

1) If you can run it on battery-power, try that first. It is possibly a power supply issue.

2) rattle the cables...if the noise rattles, change the cable.

3) does the noise rise/fall with the Gain knob? If so, then there's a good bet the problem is in the first gain stage (or input).

I'd do all the classic stuff like check the ground connections and the jacks, the power-in and the wiring to the board. Touch up any cold-looking solder joints.

The last thing I'd try is put it on some long cords, get the white-noise going then walk the pedal around the room. See if the noise gets better or worse depending on the position. If so, it might be an RFI/conducted noise problem.

After all that, I'd start suspecting one of the FETs, assuming it's going bad.
Thanks for that. I'll give it a good once over, but after a bit more research it seems that the original Distortron is a bit noisy; a product of those gain stages. The noise changes with adjustments to both the drive and level controls, and it's the same whether at home or rehearsal space. I've already ruled out the cables, too.
 

lefort_1

Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,931
Zombie Thread Revival here, but it's been a while since I've wanted to open a new can of worms.

Anyway.

Everyone wants to see the death of the incandescent light, right?
Canada has even banned the sale of some-if-not-all wattages, iirc.

In their place, we havea couple options:
a) CFL - but flourescents can contain some bad materials (elemental mercury, for one) and pose a recycling issue.

b) LEDs - Hey, we all love LEDs, amiright?

Eh, it's been shown that it is VERY possible to have electrically noisy LEDs and CFLs, to the point where they not only interfere with our perfectly silent noise floors in our bedroom music factories/tate-o-skins gig venues/legit recording environments, but they can also violate FCC rules and poise potential/real hazards to essential communications and equipment function.

While checking boring links arouns the net, I stumbled into this from 2013:
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/RFI/Light_Bulbs.pdf

a) No, it doesn't give you, Joe TGP, a simple way to check to see if your lighting is the source of your noise problems.
Not unless you have a LowBand HAM radio laying around.

b) Yes, it's put out by the ARRL ('Merican Radio Relay League) which is an organization as old as you great grandfather and likely has less than 2% of it's members identifying as Millennials. But they are good people who take radiated and conducted noise seriously and act, as a group, as watchdogs to make sure our citizen-owned radio frequency bands are free of unnecessary crap and commercial usage. They are also a bunch of old codgers, but that's besides the point.


OK, so the bottom line of that linked article up there is that:

1) LED lighting can be the source of radio interference that exceeds FCC rules. Violations of these levels can directly affect the operation of other gear.
2) Some of the worst offending bulbs are the cheapo, available online, has no FCC seal of approval bulbs. Since people are buying them direct (sometimes from overseas), the consumer is shooting themselves in the foot as it doesn't leave the FCC much recourse other than to say "Stop buying crap from overseas just to save a couple pennies".
3) Often, it can be something as simple as the power source used to operate the LEDS that triggers extremely noisy operation.
Since TGP believes Personal Examples over Scientific Testing, this thread here contains some personal tales of how using a (power wasting) linear supply corrected noise that was heard when using an AC-DC Wall-wart ... the device was a strip of LED lights, which accepted 12 v power.
4 Lastly, the article makes a really good point that: Bulbs are mass-produced in the millions if not billions-quantities, and just cuz a manufacturer gets it right in the batch they tested, does not mean that the next batch will pass muster. It doesn't take much of a change in manufacturing-process to mess up a really good thing.



So anyway, when you are pulling your hair out on the next Noisy Pedal problem, consider the lighting in your area.
EVEN if it has FCC-approval on the packaging, you could have gotten one in a bad batch, one that has a manufacturing problem, or one that simply by it's nature supplies a bit more noise and your fancy-pants LED lightbar acts as an amplifier for the noise.

Does anyone have a good LED-lighting noise story to tell?
 

lefort_1

Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,931
Last edited:

RiverDog

Member
Messages
158
Zombie Thread Revival here, but it's been a while since I've wanted to open a new can of worms.

Anyway.

Everyone wants to see the death of the incandescent light, right?
Canada has even banned the sale of some-if-not-all wattages, iirc.

In their place, we havea couple options:
a) CFL - but flourescents can contain some bad materials (elemental mercury, for one) and pose a recycling issue.

b) LEDs - Hey, we all love LEDs, amiright?

Eh, it's been shown that it is VERY possible to have electrically noisy LEDs and CFLs, to the point where they not only interfere with our perfectly silent noise floors in our bedroom music factories/tate-o-skins gig venues/legit recording environments, but they can also violate FCC rules and poise potential/real hazards to essential communications and equipment function.

While checking boring links arouns the net, I stumbled into this from 2013:
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/RFI/Light_Bulbs.pdf

a) No, it doesn't give you, Joe TGP, a simple way to check to see if your lighting is the source of your noise problems.
Not unless you have a LowBand HAM radio laying around.

b) Yes, it's put out by the ARRL ('Merican Radio Relay League) which is an organization as old as you great grandfather and likely has less than 2% of it's members identifying as Millennials. But they are good people who take radiated and conducted noise seriously and act, as a group, as watchdogs to make sure our citizen-owned radio frequency bands are free of unnecessary crap and commercial usage. They are also a bunch of old codgers, but that's besides the point.


OK, so the bottom line of that linked article up there is that:

1) LED lighting can be the source of radio interference that exceeds FCC rules. Violations of these levels can directly affect the operation of other gear.
2) Some of the worst offending bulbs are the cheapo, available online, has no FCC seal of approval bulbs. Since people are buying them direct (sometimes from overseas), the consumer is shooting themselves in the foot as it doesn't leave the FCC much recourse other than to say "Stop buying crap from overseas just to save a couple pennies".
3) Often, it can be something as simple as the power source used to operate the LEDS that triggers extremely noisy operation.
Since TGP believes Personal Examples over Scientific Testing, this thread here contains some personal tales of how using a (power wasting) linear supply corrected noise that was heard when using an AC-DC Wall-wart ... the device was a strip of LED lights, which accepted 12 v power.
4 Lastly, the article makes a really good point that: Bulbs are mass-produced in the millions if not billions-quantities, and just cuz a manufacturer gets it right in the batch they tested, does not mean that the next batch will pass muster. It doesn't take much of a change in manufacturing-process to mess up a really good thing.



So anyway, when you are pulling your hair out on the next Noisy Pedal problem, consider the lighting in your area.
EVEN if it has FCC-approval on the packaging, you could have gotten one in a bad batch, one that has a manufacturing problem, or one that simply by it's nature supplies a bit more noise and your fancy-pants LED lightbar acts as an amplifier for the noise.

Does anyone have a good LED-lighting noise story to tell?
This is excellent info. Thanks so much for sharing! Ever since I moved into my new place in 2017 (which is new construction) I've noticed occasional noise interference. The builder installed LED bulbs in every fixture and after seeing some of the cheaper materials they used and reading your link about light bulbs and RFI, I'm pretty confident these bulbs are low quality and are part, if not all, of the issue. I'm going to try swapping out the cheapo LED bulbs with better quality ones and see if it helps.

Great stuff!
 

lefort_1

Nuzzled Firmly Betwixt
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,931
Just adding a bit I found myself typing into another thread... it belongs here as well:

RE: Noise encountered when handling cables, bending/stepping-on, getting pinched, etc


Noise when handling is the often caused by an insulator or dielectric + another material touching/rubbing then being separated (e.g cord being stepped on/off).

aka "Triboelectric effect".
Guitar Cable Microphonics and The Triboelectric Effect


There is also a piezo electric effect in some polypropylene materials that shows up when compressed.

Some people may hear this as a STATIC-like sound, but it comes from the cable materials itself and is not related to static.
 




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