Why does everything have to add noise??

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by ukepicker, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    All of my favorite pedals are noisy tonesuckers.

    Except this one that I made years ago - it's an overthought, breadboarded Badass Distortion that I cobbled together following Joe Gore's ToneFiend projects. My first try at a circuit. First time using a breadboard. I can crank the gain all the way so that it sounds almost like a fuzz pedal, and it adds almost no noise at all.

    So why can't Earthquaker make their Dispatch Master like that? Instead of that hiss and weird, barely-kept-at-bay oscillation in the background?

    Or my most recent acquisition, an Empress ParaEQ? Why can't it be a little quieter and a little less like I just turned on the water faucet?


    I've got good cables, good power, everything is running on a Voodoo PP2 and ground-isolated. I'm not sure if there's anything else I can do to help it along.

    But I don't hear it in demos very often. That Pedal Show guys will switch between a bunch of pedals - many I've tried - but seldom do I really hear a difference in the noise floor. Maybe I am doing something wrong. Surely I don't need a $2000 switcher just to solve this.

    I understand that things have to be amplified, and amplifiers will add noise. But what about my tonefiend project?? If I can crank the gain on a cheap dirtbox made by me (and I know almost nothing about electronics and soldered it together on vero board) without adding noise, why can't these professional pedal builders design a circuit that doesn't dirty everything up just for turning it on??


    Lately, it's just been a relief to turn the damned things off and plug straight in.

    But I miss my reverb.
    And want a little less 250khz.

    I hate compromises.
     
  2. ShortintheSleeve

    ShortintheSleeve Tele-Meister

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    I've got a couple pedals that are a little noisier than the rest, but it doesn't bother me really since the sound isn't noticeable once I'm playing.
     
  3. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Built a few pedals? Maybe it's time to build yourself an amp.

    I suggest an Allen Sweet Spot kit.

    You mean 250hz not 250khz, no? Even your dog can't hear 250khz.
     
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  4. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Holic

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    I had problems with hiss at the beginning. Realized I didn't know how to use my knobs. On both my amp and pedals.

    But that's just me.
     
  5. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Resistors add noise in a circuit, even passive ones. Higher the resistance, higher the noise. The resistance in your pickup windings adds noise just by sitting there. Semiconductor junctions add noise also, whether a diode or transistor or op amp. Low noise op-amps can be had but are more $$$. Low noise design is somewhat of an art (which I don't presume to know other than this 30,000 foot view).

    In the case of something like a Rat which uses an obsolete LM308, probably not the lowest noise op amp in existence, if you use a modern low noise op-amp instead it doesn't sound the same, because of specific behavior of that chip in that circuit. Slew rate limiting or overload characteristic or something like that.
     
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  6. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Ha! Yep. 250hz. Sorry about that.

    I have a new(ish) amp that I'm very happy with.
    I just like to add that ambient verb/delay sometimes from the Dispatch Master.
    And a few of my guitars can get a little muddy sounding.
    Frankly, I just don't like too much 200-300hz for some reason. Back when I was working FOH a lot, I was constantly working to get things warm enough while staying clear. That frequency range was often the key.
     
  7. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Some pedals do add noise. Most of mine do not seem to add much. One wonders if other things are going on.
     
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  8. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    Boss pedals are usually very quiet.

    It's very dependent on the circuit though, I built a bosstone clone and when that's cranked and I turn the volume down on my guitar it sounds like the sea is coming out of my amp.
     
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  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've been thinking of getting one of the newer gate pedals.
    Reading about them of course the internet has fans of every brand and model, as typically testimonials are seldom technical analyses.
    I try to avoid noisy pedals but some types are just noisy by nature and less noisy versions are generally missing something.
    Struggling with muffs lately and the Blackout Musket and Blunderbuss both have some built in gating that may be related to gated fuzz as opposed to intentional noise gates. Works great for quiet when muting the strings and exploding feedback when releasing the strings, but the overall sound can't get what my favorite muffs do.
    Not sure about buying yet another pedal right now and of course better reps come with higher prices.

    A noise gate might be the only solution if you love some noisy pedals.
     
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  10. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I've had a bunch of boss pedals. Currently I have a RV5 and a SD1 laying around. They are both noisy when in the circuit, on or off - but especially on.

    Maybe I'm just extra picky.
     
  11. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Gates only work when there's no (or almost no) sound coming from the guitar (oversimplification, I know).

    I think the issue for me is that I play alone. And I like to leave space when I play. Dynamics. Nuance. (I'm not good at it, but -hey - I try!) I come at the electric guitar from an acoustic fingerstyle-type background. And when there's space, I don't like hearing the hiss of my pedals. I want to hear a beautiful reverb decay, not slowing be overcome by electronic hiss.

    I don't hear it on recordings. I don't hear it on gear demos very often. I wish I didn't have to hear it at home.

    For instance, I wrote a song a while back that was intended to have delays and a washy reverb underneath. But there's enough space in it that I can't get past hearing the hiss. And often I'll just forgo the texture of the delays to hear the beautiful pure (but dry) sound of the amp. (Have I mentioned that I really like my amp?)
     
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  12. Antmax

    Antmax Tele-Meister

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    Wireless helps reduce noise since the long guitar cable antenna is taken out of the equation. Only problem is that you get a buffer in front of your pedals which isn't always ideal. Helps my single coils be noticeably quieter.
     
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  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yeah I like to leave space and don't like the loud hiss coming from certain pedals ruining the quiet.
    Some gates have a loop so the guitar goes into the gate first for sensing input signal, then into the noisy pedal(s), then back into the gate for attenuating the guitar signal without being influenced by pedal noise or induced feedback.

    Some gates also allow an adjustable ramp down instead of instant on to off.

    Recorded music has the added ease of an engineer sitting at the desk pushing faders.
    Hard to pull off live.

    So choose pedals that are quiet but don't satisfy?
    Or pedals that really satisfy but need extra noise management?

    First world problem...
     
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  14. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    In my spare time with my spare money

    (Big joke. Cue laughter.)

    In my spare time with my spare money I'm going to do a tube conversion on a cheapo solid state amp that gets no respect. It its simplest form it's two tubes, Volume, TMB, Master Volume but for giggles I might add a buffered FX loop or reverb. I have limited chassis space available. The idea is to keep it cheap, simple and fun. All the better if I can elevate a POS to boutique status.

    I'll do a spread in the Shock Bros sub forum.

    It's time for some fresh ideas....
     
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  15. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I'm starting to think this is more of a problem with me than with my equipment.
    I mean, I will test by unplugging the guitar cable from the input of the pedal board, then turn the pedals on and off (or in and out of a true bypass looper) and listen to the difference. There's no single coil noise or RF picked up before the pedalboard, I'm just listening to the sound of the pedals (and the power/cabling/etc that they require).

    And I just wish they were cleaner.

    Again, the thing that amazes me most is that my dirt box is almost undetectable whether it is on or off (true bypass). But a "nice" EQ pedal blows white noise through everything almost to the point that it's not worth the little benefit of using it (also funny - I can't even EQ the white noise to lessen it with the EQ pedal!).

    The biggest help I have is a switch on the amp - 3 positions for varying negative feedback. I lose highs, but I can really take some of the noise down with that switch. I'm hoping that a little more time with the EQ pedal might help me find a way to give me back the highs I want (and attenuating that pesky 200hz that I hate) without adding too much noise.

    Muchxs may be onto something - an amp that includes a big reverb and is voiced just so (or has a mid control - can you focus those around 200-300hz???) might be the way to go.

    I just really, really like my amp and don't want to change it or part with it.
     
  16. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    You have my interest!
     
  17. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    Well it's not about being picky, it depends on the situation you are playing in I guess. They all add noise (or the potential for more noise) so the less pedals in your signal the better.
     
  18. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Some components, mainly anything mosFET-based, simply tend to have more thermal noise.

    And in many gain/drive type pedals, it's usually the first gain stage that determines your noise floor. To get those quiet usually means optimizing that gain stage's bias, and probably using a low noise component, if possible.

    Something like an EQ is hard to make quiet, because you're amplifying parallel signal paths.

    I had a design of my own making that wasn't finally quiet until the 5th revision, because I basically had to completely re-work everything, taking into account biasing, using a low noise first gain stage, and so on. The end result was that the finalized circuit ended up having an additional gain stage, but was whisper quiet compared to versions 1 - 4.

    On the subject of biasing - for some drive box circuitry, something called "noiseless biasing" can actually be implemented, but the circuit designer obviously has to know that such a design option even exists. Since a lot of circuit design necessary to get a pedal to market tends to fall a bit short vs. what someone with formal education might know, it's much less common to have these things exist, for many of the products that we see.
     
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  19. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Ok.

    If every pedal you add to your chain (other than the one you made) adds a waterfall of noise, on or off, regardless of type or manufacturer, something else is wrong. It is not the pedals.

    Either you are crazy picky, or your PS is bad. Or your cables are bad.

    The SD1 and RV5 add no discernible noise when simply in the chain but off. None. Unless you crank the Drive and/or Level on the SD1, it adds very little noise.

    Some drive or modulation pedals add some noise when on. But that is swallowed up by the playing.

    The reason you don't hear noise on demos is they filter it out. Simple step in recording.

    That Pedal Show did a demo recently (fuzz maybe) and specifically noted, in the room there is a fountain of hiss and buzz but they don't let that through to the video. But that was in the context of cranking the level and gain on Fuzz, while also adding other drive pedal stages - at which point, noise is unavoidable - but completely unnoticeable in a band setting.
     
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  20. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Keith - was that design of your own (with 5 revisions) an EQ, by an chance?

    I hadn't thought about the EQ pedal as if it were parallel signal paths. The noise seems appropriate now.

    Maybe I need to just find a pedal with one band that'll let me find that offending 200-300hz place and notch it a little.

    I did a little googling on the idea of finding and building a passive notch filter- something to skip the amplifiers and keep the noise low while letting me variably attenuate my least favorite frequency. But I basically came up empty-handed. Kept bumping into varitone type apparati.
     
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