UR44 is super noisy!

Hey everyone,

I just bought an UR44 audio interface and it is insanely noisy. It`s pretty unusable the way it is right now.
I ordered a 3rd generation Focusrite Scarlett to do an A/B test and the Focusrite is way less noisy.

Here are soundsamples:

UR44:
https://soundcloud.com/syndrone-1/steinberg-ur44-noise-test

Focusrite:
https://soundcloud.com/syndrone-1/focusrite-scarlett-noise

Can you please tell me if this is normal with the UR44? The amount of gain is pretty normal for such riffage, so please don`t tell me to use less gain or lower pickups and crap like that. I really need some good input (pun intended).

Is the UR44 really such a noisy unit?! I really do not like Focusrite and think their preamps sound muffled. Overall Id be super happy with the sound of the UR44s preamps but they are just waaay too noisy!

Cheers,
syndrone

It shouldn’t be noisy. Describe your setup… particularly switches and routing in the UR44.

Def shouldn’t be noisy. Like jaslan mentioned, post info on your setup and settings and don’t spare the details.

Link below of live recording using cheap mics with a UR44 and mixed with stock plugs.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1h1ku5-C_3w

Thanks for your replies, jaslan and fuzzydude.

The setup is very simple and there is nothing special going on:

I run my guitar directly into the Hi-Z input 1 using a good 1/4" jack cable, then adjust the input signal so that I barely hit the peak, then dial it back just a little bit. From there I just go straight into Cubase and record the guitar DI signal and use various amp simulations. I know that high gain values on plugins can yield to noise/hissing that can be eliminated with noise gates. That would probably work with the Focusrite but the UR44s noise level is just way too high (it would just completely kill the tone, sustain, everything). In order to rule out any plugins producing the noise: I tested the direct input recording of my guitar without ANY plugins at all in the whole project and put a limiter on the DI signal and cranked it to hear the noise level of each unit. The UR44 has this white noise hissing while the Focusrite is almost completely silent, so its definitely coming from the input channel.

Going into my Countryman Type85 DI box first and then into the HI-Z input didn`t make the noise any different. Using an XLR cable and going into the mic input 1 did also not change anything. The Countryman uses an internal battery but can be powerd by 48v phantom power, both settings (on and off) did not change anything as well. The noise is still there. I tried all options with the Focusrite and every option gave me the same result compared to the UR44 as shown in my audio example on my first post of this thread.
oh, and I obviously tried different input channels as well with the same results.
The noise is there on my studio montiors as well as on both headphones outs.

@fuzzydude: Nice recording! It would be interesting to see what you`re getting if you recorded an electric guitar going straight into HI-Z input and then used an amp simulator with high gain settings. I could try to replicate that and then we would have a more or less direct comparison.
That being said: I have another UR44 coming on Monday just to see if maybe another one would have a better S/N ratio :slight_smile:

Thanks,
syndrone

Hi syndrone, your samples don’t really help as your using high gain plugs etc.

Have you checked the UR’s dspMixFx (if there are any dsp plugs assigned etc) on he way in? The dsp comp can add a little noise as well a level.

My UR44 HI-Z inputs are knackered, it was an early demo model sent to me for review. I just did a recording using a radial passive DI box into mic input 1. No discernible hiss at all, even with a compressor (post recording) slamming the signal. Same result in all inputs (excl 5+6). Not much more than I’d expect from my high end audio interfaces.

You may have a faulty unit or there’s still something not right in your chain or gain staging somewhere. Hope this helps.

Hey fuzzydude,

Well, the chain and gain stage was exactly the same with both units in my samples, so I personally think they are quite revealing. If anything, then distortion just boosts whats there and using the exact chain with the same settings should be a good comparison in my opinion. I can provide DI recorded guitars though if thats more of a help. You could import them into Cubase and slam them with a limiter and then you will hear that the UR44 has quite some noise going on while the Focusrite remains almost silent (of course there is ALWAYS noise if you boost it enough but the difference is insane). Otherwise I am glad to hear about better methods to show what the problem is.

Anyway, here are the files:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n6q6mna8r51ulcc/AADKsKlYbmOVT4rXx6ggY1kwa?dl=0

I dont use the DspMixFx software at all (not sure if I even installed it), so there are no dsp plugins assigned on the way in. I just double checked it. I never use any plugins on the way in just to have more flexibility as you cant take away when something was already there.

Thanks for checking with your DI box! I guess my unit is faulty then, although a quick search on the internet shows that there were some other people having the exact same issue as well.

-syndrone

Did you try other inputs on the UR?

Thanks for the samples. No major issues here with either to be honest. As noted, it’ll depend on what sims you’re using your end and how. The diff for me was purely down to how the pres sound based on your mp3 samples (wavs always better for tests). The UR wins for my tastes. Wider sonic palette all around.

Thanks to both of you for your replies!

@jaslan: Yep, I tried all other inputs and it is the same for every input.

@fuzzydude: I dont think you can deny that there is a problem with the/my UR44. I personally hear a big issue and that is just the higher noise floor of the UR44 which renders it useless for high gain guitar tone applications. The hiss becomes almost as loud as the guitar itself which is a MAJOR issue if you want to work with high gain tones. Of course, if you listen to the DI only there is not much noise because the guitar DI is the pure sound of the guitar and a noise floor obviously is not a problem until the signal is being processed. The noise floor starts to become a problem once you add high gain amp plugins or compress and limit the crap out of a vocal track or whatever you have been tracking through the input channels. As you can hear, the high gain samples provided are VERY different from each other and no mixing engineer would want to work with the signal provided by the UR44. Also, it is not how or what amp sims are being used. I have been working with amp sims for the past 10 years and I have tried about 7 different amp sim plugins and - obviously - each had the noise as the noise comes from the input channel and high gain values just boost whats part of the signal.

You can download both DI tracks and limit the hell out of ithem and you will hear how the UR44`s noise will creep in while the Focusrite stays in a very acceptable range of noise. Or you just put an amp sim on the track and be surprised. At this point, I just start to repeat myself, I guess.

I agree that the UR44 sounds way better than the Focusrite though and I will DEFINITELY avoid Focusrite at all costs. I`d like to avoid spending 800 bucks for an audio interface with as much in- and outputs as both the ones I have here right now though.

Arent Steinbergs own tech people chime in here to have a look at it? I don^t want to register the product because I will definitely send it back if there is no solution for this issue and I dont want to risk doing anything that won`t let me give it back.

Thanks again,
syndrone

Something to consider…
Maybe the signal coming out of the UR is hotter than the signal coming out of the Focusrite. Or, maybe they have slightly different EQ responses. If the signal coming out of the UR is hotter, then, when that signal is sent to a high gain amp sim, you will get more noise but the basic tone will sound about the same while playing (you know, like when at a certain point, adding more gain just makes more hiss??). And it is actually possible, that if one unit has an attenuated frequency response at higher frequencies (which would be a bad thing) and then that signal gets sent to a high gain sim, the sound is actually BETTER because there is less high frequency and less hiss.
So to really compare the units, you need to try to get the same signal level out of the unit before the signal is sent to the amp sim. Perhaps the UR preamp has a higher gain factor than the focusrite which would lead to a higher noise floor (but perhaps a better S/N ratio). So maybe the UR just needs a lower setting on the input gain to achieve the same output level (and those should be compared before the amp sim is applied).

Another thing you can try is to record two separate tracks in the DAW, one with the UR and one with the focusrite with a CLEAN guitar sound. Carefully adjust the input gains on the interfaces so that the signal is matched. You probably won’t hear much noise without the amp sim but it is easier to match levels with a clean sound. Then, zoom in on the recordings and compare the noise visually using the wave depiction.

Maybe your using is bad and maybe the focusrite actually has a better S/N ratio (I honestly don’t know, I do think the Focusrite are a decent quality interface in the same league as the UR.) BUT, my point is that I don’t think you can compare them by listening to a signal that has gone through an amp sim. You have to get the same input to each unit and compare the outputs of the units.

HTH

I really hope yo can pin it down to something else to help save all the hassle of sending it back but in the end it could just simply be a faulty interface. It happens.

I did download both DI’s and ran A/B tests on them both with the exact same chain on both, with high gain amp sims and others. Didn’t have an issue with the tones I was using with either DI track. That’s why I only reported, that subjectively, I preferred the UR44.

I saw that you uploaded clean recordings so I did a little experimenting. I ran both recordings through Guitar Rig with a high gain sim (Guitar Hero, I think, but I turned off the noise gate in GR and disabled the noise suppressor in the rack). Both recordings, the UR and the Focusrite created the same amount of hiss and noise, during playing and when you stopped.
Then, I opened a Cubase project, imported both files and added the same VST amp Rack sim to both (rectomate) and disabled the gate, of course, and both recordings are noiseless as far as I can tell.

Is it possible you have a noise gate on one of them and not the other? Some amp sims are very noisy (even with the guitar volume turned all the way down) but I found both of your recordings equally noisy in those sims.

I tried again in Cubase and loading Guitar Rig with the Gratifier (GR Gate turned off) and cranked the gain all the way and got some noise but they were equal in each recording. I also opened both files in the sample editor and zoomed all the way in vertically and looked at the ends of the audio (after you stop playing). Both are basically flatlined except the UR has a little “bump” at the end where you probably bumped the guitar or something (but it’s not noise).

So I think there is something different in the two different setups because it looks like they are both recording very quiet audio with no playing.

Thanks again for your replies, jaslan and fuzzydude! I appreciate your effort a lot.

I think the DI samples I provided above are not representative as they were stereo bounces (for whatever reason I made a stereo mixdown).
I can confirm that the noise is not representative in the stereo mixdown (to be honest Im not entirely sure why but I tested both mixdowns and they are very different). A mono mixdown in .wav will reveal whats going on though as you can hear below in the examples. The only difference I made during mixdown was

So I did the following:

I created a new empty Cubase project and opened 2 mono tracks (one track with input 1 per each audio interface UR44 and the Focusrite Scarlett).
I used one of my amp sims but also GuitarRig`s Gratifier preset with the gain on max and the noise gate set to zero. Also, there is a new mono DI for you to test yourself.

Chains look like this:

  1. Guitar ->UR44 ->Cubase ->Stereo Out. Mono mixdown 44.1khz/16bit .wav file.
  2. Guitar ->Focusrite Scarlett ->Cubase ->Stereo Out. Mono mixdown 44.1khz/16bit .wav file.

Files are here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n6q6mna8r51ulcc/AADKsKlYbmOVT4rXx6ggY1kwa?dl=0

Both tracks have the EXACT same settings, I copied the plugin, triple checked that it is exactly the same, sounds the same and that there is no noise gate anywhere in the chain. I know the Scarlett`s DI is a tad louder but hey, that would only drive the plugin harder and introduce more noise, but still the Focusrite has a way lower noise floor although being a little louder.

If you do a quick test again you will definitely hear what Im hearing. You can use the "Gratifier" preset again with the gain all the way up and the noise gate set to zero. It is quite revealing that the UR44 DI has way more noise to deal with which is a problem. Note: GuitarRigs noise gate is not “true” when you set the noise gate to zero. It just means that the noise gate is probably set at maybe -80db or whatever value but there is definitely a noise gate working even with the gate set to minimum.

I know this is getting wilder and wilder and longer and longer but I am 100% sure that there is nothing wrong with my setup, my signal chain or gain staging.
As fuzzydude already stated, it might be a faulty unit but meanwhile I am pretty certain that the UR44 just has noisy preamps compared to other audio interfaces with similar specs/in a similar price range. Unfortunately…

Cheers,
syndrone

I actually clicked on the “gate” text, which I assume turns it off as opposed to turning it down. Honestly not sure if there is a difference. But, in my previous post I also used the Steinberg VST Amp Rack and got the same results.

I can hear the higher noise and hiss in the newly posted recordings.

This may be the answer. I take “muffled” to mean a loss of high frequencies, which is where most “hiss” noise comes from. If you really want to keep the UR, you might just try to place a low pass filter in front of the amp sim and maybe start around 5-10K and adjust to see if you can get rid of the hiss without changing the basic tone. I am not trying to talk you into the UR (I do have one but I also have a Focusrite 1st Gen Scarlett!). The UR is a great unit in league with others but the Cubase integration and built-in DSP is what lured me in.

Lastly, I wouldn’t mind having a look at the clean .wav files in these new recordings…

Hi Syndrone.
One year later but I’m here 'cause I got the same exact problem.

I did some experiments
Experiment 1 :
I put a lead channel with high distorsion in first channel of the UR44, loaded it into the interface and than, with only the UR44 and my Headphones on her, wihtout ANY other cable connected, I tried to connect the UR and listen: the noise exists anyway.

SO the problem is not from a cable, is notfrom monitors output, neither from pickups of the guitar and etcetera.
THe noise is created inside the UR44.

I decided so to find the frequency.
Experiment 2:
Empty cubase project creater, empty mono audio track, no inserts. Input 1/2/3/4 (tried with all of them) and monitoring on. NO CABLE at all insert into the UR44 and gain at minimum.
No noise (‘listenable’). I turned on at +48dB the pre-gain on the audio track inside cubase and…ta-daaah: same exactly noise. I upload here the photowhere you can LOOK at


the noise.
Is in ALL frequency, not missing a spot.

Searching online I found this topic into steinberg forum and I think I’m doing myself a new discussion about this.
At the moment I literally cannot record a HiGain instrument wihtout this noise because the distorsions are always amplifying the problem