#1
Well, I have this issue that I suspect is due to grounding problems, but I haven't managed to get it checked.

I have the M-AUDIO Fast Track C400 USB-interface for a decent amount of time already. I read some comments of displeasure from past users of their interfaces, but a large amount of them referred to the problematic drivers they had that were updated and (seems to me) fixed by now, while I didn't really see specific complains regarding sound issues.

What happens is that when I apply many of the higher-gain distortion effects from AmpliTube (3.5) it causes unacceptable amounts of base-noise that deters me from doing any actual recordings with it. It's not caused by the guitar being plugged-in as the noise is already apparent when nothing is connected into the interface and a high-gain setup is used.

I don't think it's supposed to happen either way as I didn't find it to be a consensus of a problem searching both AmpliTube and Fast Track resources, but anyway, I came to think that it might be due to grounding issues (*my PC has 2-PSUs), and my immediate thought (that I also found some backing-to online) was that it might eliminate the issue if a battery-powered laptop was used; but I didn't manage to get the drivers to work (don't ask me why) on the laptop I have and I didn't try to fix it since.


Is anyone familiar with this issue and a way of solving it? Is my "diagnosis" most likely correct, and if so is there a way to fix it on the desktop PC?

Thanks in advance.
#2
Quote by TLGuitar
It's not caused by the guitar being plugged-in as the noise is already apparent when nothing is connected into the interface and a high-gain setup is used.
It's caused by amplitube, 'cause amplitube doesn't sound much good and the interface is noisy already and you aren't using a noise gate.

Read the amp sims sticky and try some other amp sim.
Quote by TLGuitar
Is my "diagnosis" most likely correct, and if so is there a way to fix it on the desktop PC?
You may try a power conditioner as well, yeah.
#3
Quote by Spambot_2
It's caused by amplitube, 'cause amplitube doesn't sound much good and the interface is noisy already and you aren't using a noise gate.

Read the amp sims sticky and try some other amp sim.
You may try a power conditioner as well, yeah.


Well, but that's the thing. I'm sure there are other cases where it happens, but I don't think it's generally supposed to because "AmpliTube doesn't sound much good". The program is occasionally even used in professional studio productions, and so much noise on rather many of its digital effects doesn't seem like one of its standard features.

I assume it most likely happens because there's slight grounding noise that is greatly amplified in high-gain setups. The question is if people with different hardware have the same experience. I assume my best way to check it should be finding a laptop that would accept the stupid drivers and run it on battery power, but I'd rather also hear whether others didn't encounter so much noise in the first place.

Edit: I'd also like to add that the noise level is directly affected by the gain-knob of the Fast Track interface. That is, as I already mentioned, with or without the guitar being plugged-in, which means that the circuitry picks up hum from the computer.
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 9, 2014,
#4
Quote by TLGuitar
Well, but that's the thing. I'm sure there are other cases where it happens, but I don't think it's generally supposed to because "AmpliTube doesn't sound much good".

No, Amplitube is terrible. Now, go do what Spambot said and download some of the MUCH better sounding free amp sims.

Also, download a free noise gate VST. There's several good ones out there. Note that the noise gate should go at the end of your VST chain, to clean everything up noise-wise.


Final thoughts: You don't need to crank the gain a ton. If you're double-tracking (which you should), then you can dial it back a bit.

CrazyEdit:
Quote by TLGuitar
Edit: I'd also like to add that the noise level is directly affected by the gain-knob of the Fast Track interface. That is, as I already mentioned, with or without the guitar being plugged-in, which means that the circuitry picks up hum from the computer.

So, along with all the other suggestions that have been made, TURN DOWN THE GAIN KNOB! The gain knob should only be up as high as needed. In other words, it needs to be just below the level where it clips. You should have a light on your interface that indicates when it's clipping. Turn down the gain in slight increments until it stops clipping.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Nov 10, 2014,
#5
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
No, Amplitube is terrible. Now, go do what Spambot said and download some of the MUCH better sounding free amp sims.

Also, download a free noise gate VST. There's several good ones out there. Note that the noise gate should go at the end of your VST chain, to clean everything up noise-wise.


Final thoughts: You don't need to crank the gain a ton. If you're double-tracking (which you should), then you can dial it back a bit.


Well, it might be that it handles noise worse than others, but it still rises from a problematic source signal. I rather prefer to get an initial tone as clean as possible as too much of a noise gate could mud-out the entire tone.

I still suspect it is an electrical issue that is probably possible to resolve, but I have yet to try it with a laptop.

About the gain: I know that, obviously. I always turn it so it would max under the clipping point, but it is still too noisy anyway. That's why I said "unacceptable amount of noise".


And what kind of simulator would you recommend? There were a lot of examples in the sticky. Does any of them also work as a standalone or only as a plug-in to Cubase or something?
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 10, 2014,
#6
Are you using a preset? Check the last 'page' in amplitube - where the rack units are. All the presets have a compressor jacked up on the final stage that will raise the noise floor up to the ceiling.
#7
Quote by TLGuitar
Well, it might be that it handles noise worse than others, but it still rises from a problematic source signal.

Yes, but ditch it anyway. It's not that good. And when there's better VSTs for FREE...then why not use those free VSTs?

I rather prefer to get an initial tone as clean as possible as too much of a noise gate could mud-out the entire tone.

Then do this: don't use any distortion. Just run your guitar straight into your interface and record in your DAW without plugins. That way, you should be able to hear when it clips without bothering about distortion.

I still suspect it is an electrical issue that is probably possible to resolve, but I have yet to try it with a laptop.

Have you tried with a different cable? Cables go bad (or partially bad) all too often. A lot of us tend to be pretty rough on guitar cables.

About the gain: I know that, obviously. I always turn it so it would max under the clipping point, but it is still too noisy anyway. That's why I said "unacceptable amount of noise".

Fair enough.

And what kind of simulator would you recommend? There were a lot of examples in the sticky. Does any of them also work as a standalone or only as a plug-in to Cubase or something?

Well, since you mentioned high gain, I would recommendsome VSTs I like. The first 3 are guitar amp sims:
LePou's LeCto
LePou's LeGion
Nick Crow's 8505 Lead
LePou's LeCab2 (Impulse Loader, aka "cab sim")
Cartharsis Impulse Responses (these get loaded into your impulse loader)
Ignite Amps' SHB-1 (bass amp sim)

You just use these as plugins, yeah. None of the above work as standalone.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Nov 10, 2014,
#8
There's a gain indicator on the interface so I can see when it clips. I tried with new cables and it still sounds like crap.

I'm adding a recording from AmpliTube to show you what it sounds like. I just chose one of the noisy presents it has, and I recorded the gain-knob increasing from its minimum up to the middle, first with the guitar connected and then (from 00:11) with nothing connected to the interface.

I actually does add a noticeable amount of noise with the guitar just being connected (it was for some reason less prominent in previous tests I tried), but you can still detect quite a lot of noise just from nothing being connected as well - so I also assume that possibly the signal not being clean enough in the first place due to electrical issues is affecting the guitar input when it's connected.

http://picosong.com/fWAg/

The scrambling of sound are only happening when moving the gain-knob (though I don't know if it should happen as well?).
#9
Yeah, it's normal and it's in good part because of amplitube.
And because you're using too much distortion and not a noise gate.

The screeching when you turn the knob is a scratchy pot, don't worry about it.
#10
Quote by Spambot_2
Yeah, it's normal and it's in good part because of amplitube.
And because you're using too much distortion and not a noise gate.

The screeching when you turn the knob is a scratchy pot, don't worry about it.


Hm... Never heard of that term. Google seems to show results results mostly concerning guitar knobs or amplifiers due to (supposedly) dirt accumulation or old hardware. I was talking about the interface, obviously, so I'm not sure if a rather new one should do this?

Anyway - The initial noise is obviously there, whether AmpliTube accentuates it or not. Now another thought I have regarding the guitar-induced noise specifically is the impedance - Guitars output a high-impedance signal and thus need to go into a matching input. From what I read it's termed as a Hi-Z input. The FT C400's line-ins are specifically advertised for such instruments and even have a guitar icon printed next to them, and online it seems to mention that its inputs are classified as Hi-Z. But is there a possibility that it still doesn't work well enough and causes electrical issues?

I also wouldn't say I use "too much distortion" - Considering what an overdriven tone usually sounds like, a rather average hard-rock tone with the gain (as I mentioned) turned down so it doesn't clip already sounds too noisy. My perspective on this is that even a physical noise-gate between the guitar and the interface won't fix it completely as there's still the noise (mains-hum?) present even without a guitar? There's a "Pad" button that reduces the interface's base gain-level, but it shouldn't be used with the guitar as the tone would be too low and then the distortion would barely overdrive the input, so that's not a solution (if I remember correctly it's more of a requirement for microphone-inputs).
#11
Meh, Amplitube is far from terrible, it just takes some tweaking to get a good sound of it, like anything else. It's perfectly capable of getting great results out of.

Honestly, it sounds to me like you have too much gain dialed into your preset, or your guitar has grounding issues. I've never had to use a noise gate on a digital amp simulator and haven't used a noise gate on a real amp in years.
#12
Quote by MatrixClaw
Meh, Amplitube is far from terrible, it just takes some tweaking to get a good sound of it, like anything else. It's perfectly capable of getting great results out of.

Honestly, it sounds to me like you have too much gain dialed into your preset, or your guitar has grounding issues. I've never had to use a noise gate on a digital amp simulator and haven't used a noise gate on a real amp in years.


Have you listened to the recorded sample I've added above? The noise is also clearly audible (albeit lower) already when there's no guitar connected to the interface. And I'm using normal gain levels according to the monitors. It's also their pre-made presets, and it would seem strange to me that so many of their official distortion set-ups would sound this noisy.
#13
Quote by TLGuitar
Hm... Never heard of that term. Google seems to show results results mostly concerning guitar knobs or amplifiers due to (supposedly) dirt accumulation or old hardware. I was talking about the interface, obviously, so I'm not sure if a rather new one should do this?
You brought that on yourself when you bought that audio interface - not really the highest build nor sound quality.
Quote by TLGuitar
The FT C400's line-ins are specifically advertised for such instruments and even have a guitar icon printed next to them, and online it seems to mention that its inputs are classified as Hi-Z. But is there a possibility that it still doesn't work well enough and causes electrical issues?
They're high z inputs, the impedance's not the problem.

The interface's less than ideal noise floor is the problem, together with you using too much gain and, in third place, amplitube.
Quote by TLGuitar
I also wouldn't say I use "too much distortion" - Considering what an overdriven tone usually sounds like, a rather average hard-rock tone with the gain (as I mentioned) turned down so it doesn't clip already sounds too noisy.
You should double track your stuff and use a noise gate.
Also possibly compressing your signal after the noise gate.
Quote by TLGuitar
My perspective on this is that even a physical noise-gate between the guitar and the interface won't fix it completely as there's still the noise (mains-hum?) present even without a guitar?
It's not like you must use a noise before the input.

You may as well download yourself a free noise gate plugin and put it wherever in your signal chain you want, that'd be a free and easy solution to part of the problem at least.
Quote by TLGuitar
There's a "Pad" button that reduces the interface's base gain-level, but it shouldn't be used with the guitar as the tone would be too low and then the distortion would barely overdrive the input, so that's not a solution (if I remember correctly it's more of a requirement for microphone-inputs).
It's used to reduce the input gain, no more no less, it's not really designed for any application in particular.

Though anyway you're right, that wouldn't be a solution.
Quote by MatrixClaw
or your guitar has grounding issues.
Yeah check this TS.

Do you hear less noise when you're touching the strings?
Quote by TLGuitar
The noise is also clearly audible (albeit lower) already when there's no guitar connected to the interface.
Yeah the interface picks up some noise.

The guitar on the other hand picks up a shit ton of noise, and since you can't reduce the first you may wanna try and reduce the second.
Quote by TLGuitar
And I'm using normal gain levels according to the monitors.
What?
Quote by TLGuitar
It's also their pre-made presets, and it would seem strange to me that so many of their official distortion set-ups would sound this noisy.
And yet they are part of the problem.

Such a funny world we live in isn't it?
#14
Quote by TLGuitar
Have you listened to the recorded sample I've added above? The noise is also clearly audible (albeit lower) already when there's no guitar connected to the interface. And I'm using normal gain levels according to the monitors. It's also their pre-made presets, and it would seem strange to me that so many of their official distortion set-ups would sound this noisy.

Most presets on any musical device are pretty terrible. Why they even bother is beyond me, they all suck.

I didn't realize the clip included a section where their was no guitar plugged in. Sounds like a hardware issue to me...

Does the interface make noise even if Amplitube isn't inserted on the track? As in, if you have nothing plugged in and just turn up the gain on the interface, does it start to crackle (you might have to record something and then boost the level of it in the software to hear anything or put a heavy compressor on it, since the distortion of the software amp will... amplify it)? I'm going to guess that it does - because despite some of the other's here having a distaste for Amplitube, it shouldn't be the cause of the noise you're getting.

The C400 is USB bus-powered, correct (it doesn't have its own plug for the wall)?

Do you have it plugged into any kind of USB-hub, or is it going directly into a USB port on your computer? If it's on a hub, disconnect it and plug it into its own port. It's possible the preamps aren't getting enough power and they're distorting.

If you're using a direct port on your computer and it's not one of the ones on the back of it, try switching to one back there, as these are the ones that are directly on your motherboard. If you're already on a back port, try a different one.

If that all fails - play around with the buffer on your interface's drivers. It could be digital noise caused by the software.

If doing these don't fix the problem, then I'd take take your interface back. I don't really understand how this could be an issue with Amplitube, or any software plugin, honestly.


Really though, this kind of noise is pretty common with bus-powered devices. They don't have their own dedicated power supply, which means that it's grounded by the connection to the computer and is powered by the measly 5V/150mA draw from the port. Things quickly get dodgy when you have too many things plugged into the computer, too.

Then again, this could simply be an issue with the power in your home. Do you have a physical guitar amp? Chances are if you plug it into your wall and turn it up without anything plugged in, you'll hear a similar hum and static. It's because the power in residential buildings isn't isolated very well. Studios built in homes can actually have some really bad issues with dirty power causing noise in their systems. Usually this would be a playback issue in your monitors, though, not something that would actually record. Hmm...
#15
It is connected directly to one of the USB ports on the back of my computer. I can try a different port later, but I'm not sure it would do anything.

I didn't really follow your next suggestion. I assume you meant directly recording it as a dry tone into a DAW. I currently use it while jamming with the stand alone AmpliTube, but I can try to check that even with Audacity, I suppose. My sample showed it with distortion throughout the recording, so it obviously amplifies it a lot, but I assume the source is just already slightly noisy. I'll test it when I'll be on my computer.