How to Eliminate RF Noise in Your Studio Monitors
If you're an audio engineer or music producer, you've likely encountered the irritating sound of radio frequency (RF) noise in your studio monitors. This type of audio disturbance can be one of the biggest challenges to overcome when setting up your studio. As a seasoned audio engineer, I've learned a few tips and tricks for combating the all-powerful radio noise boss. Here's what I've discovered:
Pinpointing the cause of any issue is crucial, especially when it comes to electrical or radio noise. Trying to solve the wrong problem can be costly and likely won't solve the issue at hand. Therefore, it's essential to troubleshoot and pinpoint the source of the problem.
There are many places in the audio chain that may be receptive to RF noise, so you need to identify the culprit to solve it. I recently encountered this issue when I moved into a new studio and began experiencing RF noise in my studio monitors. Initially, I assumed the noise was an electrical disturbance and purchased power conditioners and uninterruptible power supplies to maintain clean power for my gear. However, this didn't solve the issue, and I began exploring other solutions such as audio transformers, ferrite cores, and cable swaps. Despite my efforts, I couldn't seem to figure out the root cause of the issue.
After moving my speakers to another room and socket, I discovered that the RF noise was only present near the wall where I had my monitors. This led me to conclude that it wasn't the electrical connection causing the noise, but rather the position of the speakers...
✔️How to Troubleshoot?
To narrow down the problem, simplify the audio chain and plug in only the monitors, moving them around to see if the problem persists. If the issue remains, investigate other potential causes such as the soundcard, computer, or other equipment. Repeat this process several times to ensure you haven't overlooked anything.
Most studio-grade equipment supports balanced outputs and inputs, usually with XLR or balanced/stereo tele cables. If using the latter, ensure you use a balanced/stereo cable and not a mono one to take advantage of the noise-reducing functionality of a balanced cable.
🌍 Ferrite Cores
Although a hit-or-miss option, ferrite cores are a cheap solution for reducing RF and electrical noise. These small plastic objects can be added to cables and are sometimes included on USB cables.
🔊 Audio Transformer/Isolator
My top tip for eliminating noise in an audio chain is using an audio transformer/isolator. These devices can make a non-balanced signal balanced and are relatively inexpensive. I use the Behringer HD400, which costs less than $30, and it works like a charm!
By following these tips and tricks, you'll be able to combat RF noise in your studio monitors and produce clean, high-quality audio. Don't let RF noise stand in the way of your creativity!