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Title: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Jerome Casinger on July 04, 2015, 12:41:09 pm
So I was stumped last night.  New venue, shady power to say the least, but had a dedicated distro for sound/lights.  I have been running my rig for 3 years now In the area and never had an issue. (QSC KW, X32).  Last night the Bass Amp and Guitar amp had a hardcore 60 hz buzz....flipped ground lifts and it got better but was still horrendous.  Moved them onto my power so we were running on the same circuit....no change to there amps. 

I had a slight hum in the PA, was odd, as I turned on a sub it was there, when I turned the other it disappeared.  When the gig was over (everything powered down, bar cleared out), you could hear the 60hz hum big time from an AC unit or Ice Machine or something big time, luckily the band heard it as well at that point and realized it wasn't my gear (I was a fill in sound guy, they didn't have the issue a month or so ago when they where there).

I ran through what I new how to do....could an appliance introduce "noise" somehow into the entire power grid?  Is there a way to check that?  Or is there anything I could have done.

Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 04, 2015, 01:53:55 pm
Guitar pickups sending high impedance instrument level signal around in a high magnetic hum field will generally pick up hum.

JR
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mike Sokol on July 04, 2015, 02:09:42 pm
Active or passive DI boxes? Lots of cheap active DI boxes don't have an isolated pin-1 so they can send 48-volt power across the pin-1 lift. Also, there are imported DI boxes with rather crappy transformers that don't do well at lifting grounds. If pulling out the XLR cable from the DI box stops the hum/buzz, then stick a mic in front of the offending amp and get on with the show. Sound check is no time for mental exercises. Just get it done and run...

Also, check to make sure your XLR cables don't have a pin-1 to shell bond. If they do and you're plugged into a DI with a metal XLR jack, that bond will be in parallel with the DI's ground lift and stop it from lifting properly.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Jerome Casinger on July 05, 2015, 11:12:32 am
No DI's on either.  The guitar cab was Mic'd, and the Bass amp had it built into the head but had the hum without anything plugged in.  When he would unplug the bass the hum was ridiculous.

Active or passive DI boxes? Lots of cheap active DI boxes don't have an isolated pin-1 so they can send 48-volt power across the pin-1 lift. Also, there are imported DI boxes with rather crappy transformers that don't do well at lifting grounds. If pulling out the XLR cable from the DI box stops the hum/buzz, then stick a mic in front of the offending amp and get on with the show. Sound check is no time for mental exercises. Just get it done and run...

Also, check to make sure your XLR cables don't have a pin-1 to shell bond. If they do and you're plugged into a DI with a metal XLR jack, that bond will be in parallel with the DI's ground lift and stop it from lifting properly.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 05, 2015, 11:30:25 am
I'm suspicious of the distro or something plugged into it.

Stuff hums because something is grounded that shouldn't be, or isn't grounded that needs to be.

Could be defective back line amp, mis-wired extension cord or power drop box, or outlet on the distro.  Only takes 1 to create problems.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Geoff Doane on July 05, 2015, 01:18:13 pm
I'm suspicious of the distro or something plugged into it.


Ground and neutral swapped at some point, or just connected together, has been know to cause problems like that.

GTD
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mike Sokol on July 05, 2015, 08:19:21 pm
Ground and neutral swapped at some point, or just connected together, has been know to cause problems like that.

GTD
But that usually requires a ground-loop path, such as a DI to XLR connection, to make it hum. As mentioned previously, this sounds like magnetic coupling. I've heard this happen when the stage was built over top of a large conduit passing building power. Did you happen to notice if the hum changed when the guitar necks changed orientation on stage? When they line up with a power conduit they can hum, but when at a 90 degree angle the hum usually nulls out. Interesting problem...
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Jerome Casinger on July 06, 2015, 12:14:38 pm
The GTR player said he noticed a difference in his positioning.  I should have went and investigated what it was in the back at the end of the night that was making the hum (annoying).  At that point it was 230am and my focus was elsewhere, but it was distinctly coming from the back of the bar.  Sounds like if I have to go back there I will be doing some more investigating prior.  I just didn't expect to walk into such an issue so didn't have enough time to do much more troubleshooting than switching power to different circuits.

But that usually requires a ground-loop path, such as a DI to XLR connection, to make it hum. As mentioned previously, this sounds like magnetic coupling. I've heard this happen when the stage was built over top of a large conduit passing building power. Did you happen to notice if the hum changed when the guitar necks changed orientation on stage? When they line up with a power conduit they can hum, but when at a 90 degree angle the hum usually nulls out. Interesting problem...
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 06, 2015, 01:58:52 pm
The GTR player said he noticed a difference in his positioning.  I should have went and investigated what it was in the back at the end of the night that was making the hum (annoying).  At that point it was 230am and my focus was elsewhere, but it was distinctly coming from the back of the bar.  Sounds like if I have to go back there I will be doing some more investigating prior.  I just didn't expect to walk into such an issue so didn't have enough time to do much more troubleshooting than switching power to different circuits.
An old school neon light sign could make some noise...

If the position of the guitar player changes the noise it may not be related to conducted power noise, but the general noise field in the room. (I think I already suggested this in an earlier post).

JR
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 07, 2015, 10:15:11 am
The GTR player said he noticed a difference in his positioning.  I should have went and investigated what it was in the back at the end of the night that was making the hum (annoying).  At that point it was 230am and my focus was elsewhere, but it was distinctly coming from the back of the bar.  Sounds like if I have to go back there I will be doing some more investigating prior.  I just didn't expect to walk into such an issue so didn't have enough time to do much more troubleshooting than switching power to different circuits.

If that's the case then I'll walk back my idea about a wiring problem or defective gear...  But with inductive interference the guitarists usually find out quickly that there is a positional aspect to it and helps with identifying the cause.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Stephen Kirby on July 15, 2015, 06:50:01 pm
Some vintage style amps can also pick up inductive noise.  Also, high gain rock amps.  Shielding is often pretty minimal and internet madness has led some folks to remove even that to "improve tone".  Shielding on some cables isn't that great either.  While a single coil guitar can be maddening around neon, fluorescent, and various sorts of dimmers, sometimes it's getting in downstream and the orientation of the guitar only makes a slight improvement.

Also, there might have been a pedalboard plugged into house power leaking something back into the ground.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mike Karseboom on July 18, 2015, 09:41:22 am
Active or passive DI boxes? Lots of cheap active DI boxes don't have an isolated pin-1 so they can send 48-volt power across the pin-1 lift. Also, there are imported DI boxes with rather crappy transformers that don't do well at lifting grounds. If pulling out the XLR cable from the DI box stops the hum/buzz, then stick a mic in front of the offending amp and get on with the show. Sound check is no time for mental exercises. Just get it done and run...

Also, check to make sure your XLR cables don't have a pin-1 to shell bond. If they do and you're plugged into a DI with a metal XLR jack, that bond will be in parallel with the DI's ground lift and stop it from lifting properly.


I had a confounding situation like this with a bass guitar.  Originally a DI out from an Eden amp was used with no hum issue.  The amp died during the show and we switched to a whirlwind hot box active DI directly from the guitar into the PA with the bassist getting his stage volume all from the monitors.


The bass was producing a noticeable 60 cycle hum.  Muting that channel mutes bass in both monitors and mains and stopped the hum, so definitely coming from the bass channel.  This was with the entire system running off a spider box right next to the stage and iPad mixing so no long AC runs.  We tried the ground lift on the DI with no change.  I also tried moving the physical location of the DI box around a few feet without change.  Signal path was bass > 1/4" cable > active DI > 20' XLR > drum snake > X32 Rack.  From the DI to the mixer is all my gear which in general good quality and in good condition and has not had this type of problem before.


The bassist thought his batteries might be low so we changed those  (2x 9V) and that seemed to clear it up slightly but it was still there.  We double checked connections and disconnecting the bass from the 1/4" cable stopped the hum.  At that point we needed to get on with the show so I just EQ'd out what we could and played on.


This was outdoors at a very basic stage that it does not seem would have magnetic field problems and that I have worked at before with no issues.  The 6/4 feed cable was behind the stage about 10' from the bass player and the spider box was on the opposite side of him about 20' away.  A 120V power run was along the back edge of the stage about 2' away and terminated in a drop box behind the unused bass amp. Monitors were all active and had not presented problems with hum before or since.  The only other amp on stage was a guitar amp about 5' away.  Lights were 4x LED washes a good 15' away. 


Like Stephen K I was too tired at the end of the evening to do any testing and did not bother to mark the DI or cables.  But I still wonder if there is any deductive logic that would help identify the problem now.


If the bass did not hum when going through the 1/4" cable > amp > amp DI > 20' XLR > drum snake > X32 rack, does that mean none of those components were the problem and that the whirlwind DI must have introduced the hum?  If so, what testing could I perform on the DI to check it? 


Or could one of the other components, like the XLR cable or the drum snake have a pin 1 problem that was not an issue until an active DI with +48V required  was attached.  Would a pin 1 to shell connection even cause a hum in this situation where potential for a ground loop seems minimal?
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mike Sokol on July 18, 2015, 10:28:56 am
Or could one of the other components, like the XLR cable or the drum snake have a pin 1 problem that was not an issue until an active DI with +48V required  was attached.  Would a pin 1 to shell connection even cause a hum in this situation where potential for a ground loop seems minimal?
A pin-1/shell XLR short can make some crazy hum stuff. Not quite related to your signal path, I know that early pro Sony video cameras had several separate ground planes, so plugging in a shotgun mic to the camera using a short XLR cable with a pin-1/shell bond would make them hum like crazy. I know because I accidentally did this with caused of troubleshooting time to find the source of the hum.

Another thing to be on the lookout for is a non-shielded speaker cable being used instead of a shielded instrument cable. Modern 1/4" speaker cable often looks pretty similar to instrument cable, and musicians don't always understand the difference. I had a keyboard player run one of these speaker cables between the keyboard output and a passive DI. Of course, lots of hum that they swore wasn't there last week. But I found the pile of random cables they would use for each gig, and the musicians would grab whatever cable was on top and plug in a keyboard or a speaker or whatever. There were both instrument and speaker cables in this same pile. We ended up using different color e-tape on the cables with a Sharpie INST or SPKR marking.

Just yesterday I was on a big install gig troubleshooting an audio hum in the video feed. Turned out the video director had swapped in a Roland HDMI audio box that would merge analog or digital audio with the master video stream. They simply grabbed a set of RCA outputs from the audio DA, stuck on a pair of RCA to Phone plug adapters, then plugged it into the phone jacks on the Roland box. This hummed like crazy, maybe 10 or 15 dB below O dB VU. A little looking at the schematic of the Roland box showed me it had TRS balanced inputs and it sounded like true Ground Loop Hum, so I just ran a new pair of Phoenix to TRS cables from the DA to the Roland input, lifting the shield at DA side of the cables. Ta Da... We now had zero hum with tons of signal. The extra 6 dB level was because we now had both sides of the balanced input being fed a proper push-pull signal. Again, not obvious to the casual tech AV sticking in a piece of gear, but it drove them crazy for weeks before calling me.  This took me maybe 2 hours to diagnose and correct, which I charged them top-tier rate for since they screwed this up themselves.

However, this level of troubleshooting is almost impossible during or after or gig, so some of the simple run-n-gun techniques such as looking for speaker/instrument cable swaps and checking for pin-1/shell shorts is about all you can do in a time crunch.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 18, 2015, 10:42:24 am
Musical instruments (like bass guitar) are relatively high source impedance (compared to mics or active gear), mid level amplitude (more than mics but less than line leve)l, and unbalanced (single ended).

This allows for multiple vectors to corrupt the signal integrity. Hum/noise can couple directly into the source, and because of the modest levels and higher impedance be more audible that line level feeds. The unbalanced/single-ended signal interface means that any common current flowing in the grounds will induce a voltage drop signal that is superimposed on top of the audio signal. Even noise that the shield absorbs while protecting the signal flowing inside the cable, can develop a voltage drop, and subsequent noise. In balanced interfaces the shield currents are dumped separately. In single ended interfaces the shield current must be managed along with the signal.

Since there are multiple possible vectors, troubleshooting means eliminating as many variables as possible.

Good luck.

JR 
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 18, 2015, 12:19:21 pm
Active or passive DI boxes? Lots of cheap active DI boxes don't have an isolated pin-1 so they can send 48-volt power across the pin-1 lift


No active DI* can have a full lift on pin 1.  It is usually still connected via a 100R resistor and a 0.1uF capacitor. Otherwise there is no return path for the phantom power.

(* I am aware of one which has a high frequency inverter with full transformer isolation for the power supply).





Steve.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mike Sokol on July 18, 2015, 05:32:50 pm

No active DI* can have a full lift on pin 1.  It is usually still connected via a 100R resistor and a 0.1uF capacitor. Otherwise there is no return path for the phantom power.

(* I am aware of one which has a high frequency inverter with full transformer isolation for the power supply).

Steve.
Yes, I think the BSS boxes do the inverter/transformer trick, and maybe a few others. That's why I typically use a bunch of passive DIs for most instruments that have active outputs with low-z outputs, and save the active DIs for passive instruments with high-z outputs.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Frank DeWitt on July 21, 2015, 10:08:58 am
Yes, I think the BSS boxes do the inverter/transformer trick, and maybe a few others. That's why I typically use a bunch of passive DIs for most instruments that have active outputs with low-z outputs, and save the active DIs for passive instruments with high-z outputs.

the Radial J48 is another one that uses a DC to DC converter but as Mike points out, in most cases you don't need it.  It is hard to beat the performance and isolation of a good quality transformer.

Disclaimer, I build and sell a passive DI
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 21, 2015, 10:56:53 am
Passive DIs seem to be much rarer on this side of the Atlantic than yours.  Most companies here use the BSS (not sure if it's the one with an isolated dc supply).  EDIT: It is.

This one:
 (http://www.doctorbass.net/en/INCLUDE/resizeimag.asp?imag=im21005172306BSS_DI.jpg&ancho=400&maximoalto=500&formatooriginal=encaja&i=11&cadena=)

The only passive DI I have is one I made for connecting laptop and i-thing headphone outputs for music playback.

If I'm working with my own equipment, everyone gets one of my own high impedance FET input DIs.


Steve.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Stephen Kirby on July 21, 2015, 12:38:31 pm
Passive DIs seem to be much rarer on this side of the Atlantic than yours.  Most companies here use the BSS (not sure if it's the one with an isolated dc supply).

This one:
 (http://www.doctorbass.net/en/INCLUDE/resizeimag.asp?imag=im21005172306BSS_DI.jpg&ancho=400&maximoalto=500&formatooriginal=encaja&i=11&cadena=)

The only passive DI I have is one I made for connecting laptop and i-thing headphone outputs for music playback.

If I'm working with my own equipment, everyone gets one of my own high impedance FET input DIs.


Steve.
I have one of those and love it, especially on bass.

There is a sliver painted clone from a company known for cloning things.  I wonder if it also has the same isolated power supply.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Frank DeWitt on July 22, 2015, 08:24:58 am
A active DI is actually a preamp.  It dosn't have gain but it is a amp before your board.  That brings up questions

How does this amp sound?
What is it's noise floor.
How flat is it?
What does it do when over-driven?
What does it do when it's powersupply changes?
None of the above are show stoppers. Just things to find out.

With a good transformer, you look up the numbers, say "that will work"  Now as long as you know that transformer is in your DI and all the switches that change the sound are off you know what will happen when you use it.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on July 22, 2015, 10:59:14 am
A active DI is actually a preamp.  It dosn't have gain but it is a amp before your board.  That brings up questions
Transformer DI raise similar questions
Quote
How does this amp sound?
How does the transformer sound?
Quote
What is it's noise floor.
How effective is magnetic shielding?
Quote
How flat is it?
How flat is the transformer?
Quote
What does it do when over-driven?
How is saturation characteristic?
Quote
What does it do when it's powersupply changes?
OK no PS in passive DI.
Quote
None of the above are show stoppers. Just things to find out.

With a good transformer, you look up the numbers, say "that will work"  Now as long as you know that transformer is in your DI and all the switches that change the sound are off you know what will happen when you use it.
Active and passive DI both have their places.

JR

PS: Frank have you ever made an active DI? (I have).
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 22, 2015, 11:33:27 am
Me too.  But you know that!


Steve.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Frank DeWitt on July 23, 2015, 09:58:59 pm
Transformer DI raise similar questionsHow does the transformer sound? How effective is magnetic shielding? How flat is the transformer? How is saturation characteristic?OK no PS in passive DI. Active and passive DI both have their places.

JR

PS: Frank have you ever made an active DI? (I have).

Good questions.  I like Jensen equipped DI boxes because the above questions are easy to answer.
http://www.jensen-transformers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/jt-db-epc.pdf
The sound and shielding is predictable and they are near flat over a wide range.

I built passive DI boxes because I needed them and I didn't want a bunch of switches in them that could be messed with while they were in use on the platform and I was at FOH a long distance away.

So far I haven't needed a active DI so I haven't built one. 
Yes, they have there place.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 24, 2015, 01:50:53 am
I have mentioned before that I do a lot of folk/acoustic acts.  Often musicians turn up with a piezo equipped instrument and a lead and ask "where do I plug in?".  I found it easier if I had my own high impedance input DIs to preserve the full tone of the pickup.

They also work fine on everything else (so far!). They have a -20dB pad switch on them but I can't recall ever using it.

It's a simple three transistor design and is easy to make.


Steve.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Frank DeWitt on July 24, 2015, 03:04:39 pm
I have mentioned before that I do a lot of folk/acoustic acts.  Often musicians turn up with a piezo equipped instrument and a lead and ask "where do I plug in?".  I found it easier if I had my own high impedance input DIs to preserve the full tone of the pickup.

They also work fine on everything else (so far!). They have a -20dB pad switch on them but I can't recall ever using it.

It's a simple three transistor design and is easy to make.


Steve.

Sounds like the perfect place to use them and not a good place for the a passive.  Is the input and output isolated as far as grounding?  (I realize that is not a issue for a pickup.)  Would you point me to a circuit?  I wouldn't mind having one in the bag. 



 
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 24, 2015, 09:21:57 pm
The ground is only semi-lifted through a 10 ohm resistor and parallel 0.1uF capacitor.  A full lift wouldn't provide a return path for the phantom power.

(http://stevesmithphoto.webs.com/HI-Z-FET-DI.jpg)

It's just a FET buffer with complimentary outputs driving a Schoepes circuit (as used in some phantom powered microphones).  Each half uses the 6K8 resistor in the mixer as the load resistor in an emitter follower circuit whilst the collectors are held at 12v by the zener which provides the voltage for the FET.

I can send you a blank PCB if you would like one.

(http://stevesmithphoto.webs.com/HIZ.JPG)

It's not actually a 'printed' circuit.  the missing copper was routed out with a CNC router.


Steve.
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mike Sokol on July 24, 2015, 10:06:45 pm
It's not actually a 'printed' circuit.  the missing copper was routed out with a CNC router.
Steve.

How come I don't have my own CNC router? Gotta work on that... ;D
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mark Cadwallader on July 24, 2015, 10:55:37 pm
How come I don't have my own CNC router? Gotta work on that... ;D

Because a full-on CNC milling machine is way more versitile...?  (As visions of Bridgeports danced in their heads.)
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Mac Kerr on July 24, 2015, 11:06:32 pm
How come I don't have my own CNC router? Gotta work on that... ;D

Here ya go! (https://www.inventables.com/technologies/x-carve)

Mac
Title: Re: 60 HZ hum, only in Backline Amps - on same power as Sound System
Post by: Steve M Smith on July 25, 2015, 03:41:18 am
It's an Excellon drill/router which we have at work.  It was bought 30 years ago to make PCBs (the traditional way).  We don't make our own PCBs any more but we kept the machine and I use it to make test fixtures and assembly jigs (and other things!).

A CNC Bridgeport would be nice but it's a bit overkill for holding a 1mm diameter cutter.

I have the stepper motors and linear slides to make my own machine. It will be similar to the X-Carve.

It's also useful for making perfect fit woodworking joints. This is a current project nearing completion: http://stevesmithphoto.webs.com/5x4-3.JPG

I seem to have uncharacteristically veered this thread off topic!


Steve.