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I have been recording sounds like a rubber glove on glass and its going in at -22db. If i turn it up more I get a lot of fuzzy noise. I recorded low then opened it in pro tools. I turned up the volume to make sure it was clean, then I hear that fuzzy noise in everything I have recorded! So the only way I can get it out is with a gate. So my question is do you use a gate in "post recording" or do you record without any noise? I can't seem to get the fuzzy noise out of my recordings during recording. I have my mic trim at 8 out of ten and level set to 5 out of ten. Also do you use a limiter to get a quite sound louder once the sound is all cleaned up?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Shaun, what you're hearing is likely a combination of microphone self-noise and the self-noise of your preamp, as well...a consequence of either not being close enough to the sound, insufficiently sensitive mics, or low-cost preamps. What mic and recorder are you using, and how close are you to the sound source? Usually the answer to such problems are:

  1. Get closer to the source
  2. Get a quieter preamp
  3. Get a quieter mic

...and that's in order of ease and cost, generally. You might be hearing something else, though: What you describe could be anything from traffic noise to RF interference, but if you hear it in all your quiet recordings, the top advice probably still stands.

Details about quiet mics can be found in this thread.

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@NoiseJockey I was using a Fostex Fr2-LE with a Samson c02 small cap condenser at about 4 inches from the source. I think it is pre amp noise. I will try recording the same thing with a different recorder and different mic to see if there is a difference. Thanks. –  ShaunKelly Dec 3 '10 at 5:22
@NoiseJockey I just looked at the specs for the mic I used and found out it has 22dba of noise. It is meant to be used for recording overheads and to be close to a fairly loud source. –  ShaunKelly Dec 3 '10 at 5:58
Also gotta ask the dumb question: Are you listening to the recording on the FR2-LE or on your PC? The FR2-LE's headphone preamp is way noisier than the mic preamps, and can lead you to think the noise floor is way higher than it really is. FWIW! –  NoiseJockey Dec 3 '10 at 6:15
Final thought: The best, cheap mic I've found for quiet sources is the Røde NT1a. There are cheaper, and there are better, but there isn't better for less dough. Large condensers are often overlooked, but they rock for indoor material, esp. close-miked stuff! –  NoiseJockey Dec 3 '10 at 6:21
I have a Rode NTG2 on its way, should get here within the next couple weeks. I have a cheaper mxl large cap I can try out. Thanks for the advice. I was listening on my mac so its not the noisy headphone amp i'm hearing. thanks –  ShaunKelly Dec 3 '10 at 7:21

Also, if you are just starting out, you must relativize. Now, I'm not going to be saying that you should not do whatever is worth to get the best sound, I'm going to be saying you have to know your limits.

If you're not in the position of getting any other/new gear and you're stuck with what you have, you will be learning the limits of your equipment as you're using it. It is probably what you are facing just now. I am in the same situation, except that I'm getting to try and buy new equipment.

Yes, the amount of processing (such as gating/BNR) you and me and our fellow on-a-budget beginners have to apply to our sounds does seem to be a lot. At some point you just can't get as close as you'd like to that other pro recording that you know of. As much as you try, your sound does not feel as raw anymore.

I recently was reading The Sounds of Star Wars and it felt great to read that even in such an epic movie (well I'm not a big fan but many people seem to be), the sound effects were not always perfect. Apparently on some sound effect you'd be able to hear somebody closing the fridge door in the above room...

In the end, it's not the sound of your life that you're recording just now. At some point, trying to look for the perfect sounding thing takes you away from achieving your global vision...

To answer your question, I reckon first compress, then expand... your expanding will be more precise and efficient if you're working on compressed dynamics. Again, be aware you might not get the perfect sound, but it's ok for now ;)

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@Justin Huss thanks for this. It helps to know that not everything will be perfect with any type of gear. Now I can be at ease, instead of getting frustrated that I get fuzz in my recordings. I do buy new gear about every 6 months so a big gap but it gives me time to learn the gear's limits as you said. –  ShaunKelly Dec 4 '10 at 18:36

Everything I would have suggested I have mentioned. You should get better results with the NTG2...just make sure the room is super quiet...the NTG2 picks up too much background noise for my liking.

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While this isn't always possible, another low cost solution is to try performing your sound as loud as possible to help the signal to noise ratio. This can often sound "wrong" as you're performing the sound, but I'm often pleasantly surprised when I play back. If I need to re-perform a sound with more level for s/n reasons, I'll often ditch the headphones as I find I record quieter with them on.

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I've used a gate, multiband compression, and iZotope RX Spectral denoise/repair on sounds that I have recorded. Once, I recorded water drops and when i normalized them, or raised the gain there was a lot of mic-self noise, some room tone, and pre-amp noise. iZotope RX did pretty well with removing the noise.

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