Project Hissing Noise

I just rebuilt my studio and am running C11 on Windows 10. Audio interface is a Steinberg UR22C, so it shouldn’t be creating a driver compatibility issue, though it is new. I was on an m-audio Fast Track Pro before.

My problem is that I’m getting an ungodly amount of hiss on projects. I understand that tracks will have a small amount of noise (which is a separate issue because the “small amount” I’m getting now is more than it used to be on the old system despite using the same mics, same cables, same instruments, etc.), but this is much more than that.

A potential culprit in the hiss department seems to be IK Multimedia’s T-Racks, though I can’t tell if that’s because it’s a trigger of some kind or if it’s just making it more prominent by turning the volume up. What I can say is that, as projects build, they become more hiss laden, to the point where it is intolerable. The hiss is there on mixdowns and once it shows up, there seems to be no way to get rid of it. It even hisses away when nothing is playing, so it’s doesn’t appear to be a track issue. FWIW, the hiss is not necessarily gradual in development. Sometimes it isn’t there, I tool around, and then suddenly there’s a hiss. That said, it’s onset has never been so overt that I recognized it the moment it happened.

One last bit of detail, I was updating an older song when I noticed this hiss starting to appear on mixes. I tried to find the source and there wasn’t one… the project itself was hissing. I then went into a prior version of the song (once I get to a certain point, I save all changes under a unique name) and there was no hiss. I go back into the new project - loads of hiss. It ended up wasting a ton of time redoing what I had already done, but starting over on the older project allowed me to finish it. The kicker is that I did nothing on the corrupted projected that I didn’t also do to the eventual final. Both the corrupted project and the eventual final started out by opening the same earlier project, so whatever it was that triggered the hiss was also done without triggering hiss. No recordings were done in either case, just mixing.

Does anyone have experience with a similar problem? I’m out of my depth here and I really hope there’s an easy solution that is beyond my expertise, because so far it has occurred at some point in every song since the rebuild.

Thanks in advance for your help.

iMac OS Big Sur Version 11.2.3. Apollo Interface. ATH M70x Studio Phones. DAW’s: Protools, Cubase Artist 11.

Hello, Oswlek, I have but about six years in audio projects, I am no expert; however, I too have suffered difficulties with hissing. First, while using Protools, and then while using Cubase Artist 11. Protools: Investigations left me without resolutions, and then I locacted the problem. The charger wire to my Apollo Twin MKII. The section that inserts into the interface had been damaged, somehow. I replaced the charger, and then the hissing disappeared.

Cubase Artist 11
Two weeks ago: I recorded new vocals and began mixing. One week later, the hissing returned, twice. I retraced my previous steps without success. Then accidentally, I found the issue. The microphone input was activated. I decreased the level to zero. The hissing stopped.

Thanks for your response. I’ve noticed the same mic input noise if I have the gain up too high on the UR22C, but that isn’t what is going on here, unfortunately. No monitoring is active and I’ve removed all cables and turned down both inputs with no success.

The first one feels more promising. The audio runs out through the UR22C and I have no backup cables, so I can’t think of a great way to test it other than to just unplug it from the USB and do an export. I’m trying that now, so we’ll see how it goes.

No improvement. If it is the UR22C, it somehow imprinted the issue on the project such that unplugging it doesn’t diminish the hiss.

Is it a high pitched hiss/noise? Maybe it’s from your computer when there is a high CPU load. This would go via the USB cable (ground) to the UR22 and from there to your loudspeakers. Do you see the hiss in the signal path within Cubase? E.g. on a spectrum analyzer

Are you, by chance, using anything like an “analog” tape saturator type effect? These can be noisy, especially if you have them inserted on multiple tracks.

Just a thought that popped into my head while reading, so I thought I’d throw it out there …

It isn’t a high hiss, more of a wind sound, and CPU load seems unlikely given that the hissing has started even on smaller projects. But I’ll check when I punch in tomorrow if Cubase or a spectrum analyzer can see it.

There are no tape emulators going on in the hissing projects. I used tape emulation on an early version of a recent project without it triggering the hiss. That song subsequently began hissing, but it was long after removing the emulators.

So confounding!

What a weird problem! Does it hiss if all audio / instrument tracks are muted? If all tracks are muted and group / master channel processing is disabled? If control room is disabled?

If muting all tracks stops it, you should be able to tie it down to particular tracks.

Some plugins employ tape simulation that you might not expect, such as guitar rig 5.

Thanks.

Yes, the hiss remains even if all tracks are muted. It only goes away entirely if I mute the master bus itself.

I have noticed that some VSTs are noisier than others (Amp rack, for instance has buzzing that makes some settings largely unusable, and even the quieter ones aren’t silent), and muting those tracks brings the level of hiss down, but it doesn’t remove it entirely.

The above seems to indicate the problem is somehow related to the processing happening on the master bus (hence my earlier T-Racks comment), except that it isn’t consistent. The same plug ins on other projects, or even on earlier versions of the the same project, don’t create the hiss. And once the hiss is there, it’s there for good. Removing T-Racks lowers the hiss, presumably because it is no longer bumping/limiting project audio, but it doesn’t eliminate it. And bringing new limiters just makes the hiss more prominent again.

Whatever I’m doing to cause it, the effect seems largely random, which makes it very difficult to suss out what is going on.

Hi, Oswlek,
I wish you well; it is annoying not to know the source of problems. I suffered for a very long while before resolving the problem. The process, unfortunately, is a tedious one; nontheless, necessay. Don’t give up.
Del

Delbert Rhodes
rhodesdelbert@aol.com

I just checked and the answer to both is yes. I see the noise on both the spectrum analyzer and on the volume of the stereo out bus. Does this give anyone any good ideas?

Are you using group tracks or the control room?

Yes to groups. I’m not that fluent with the control room, so it’s a mostly no there.

I just realized there’s another computer about 18" away from this one that is running. Is it possible that there could be some conflict between the two?

When you see the noise on the analyzer then turn on/off the plugins to identify the culprit. Move the analyzer at the top of the chain. Still visible? Do you use analog modelled plugins? try to turn off the modelled noise at these plugins. If you apply lots of gain at the master before e.g. the limiter, these modelled noises get really notable.

Thanks for the response.

There are no modellers and the hiss persists when I turn off all noisy plug-ins like amps… and other times, all of the exact same processing, including amps and limiters, creates no hiss.

So far, it is unfortunately not traceable to a single VST.

Just did a quick test.

I opened up a fresh project and did everything on the stereo out bus I had before and there isn’t even a hint of noise. So it isn’t inherent to those plug-ins.

I then added an audio track, put Amp Rack on it and selected a noisy preset and started monitoring. This created some noise, but it was distinct from the earlier hiss in both sound and audio spectrum, wasn’t nearly as prominent and went away entirely when I chose a different preset. In the defective project, even muting the Amp tracks doesn’t remove the wind noise. And the noise was there before even when not monitoring.

That’s it so far. Obviously a new project doesn’t drag much on the CPU, so that needs to get tested by adding tracks and paying close attention to what happens after each one and each new plug-in. We’ll see how it goes.