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I'm having some problems with making my sounds not have this disgusting noise in the background which sounds like electrical systems getting fried. How can I get rid of it? Here is an example where you can hear it quite well.

In my example it is mainly at the beginning. You can very slightly hear the sound, during the first part with the horn and the very bass double bass you can hear it as well. It makes it hard to achieve really pristine and high quality sound.

How can I get rid of this annoying sound? I don't even know the name of it...

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What you are hearing is called "digital clipping." It's because you have pushed the audio level far past where it should be.

This is not a "Reaper DAW" issue, it's a "gain-staging" issue.

Basically, there's two options, depending on how the analysis goes. First, listen to each instrument on it's own. If it has that "crackly" sound, then you recorded your instruments at much too high/hot level, and you need to simply re-record. Those tracks are useless. If the individual tracks sound ok, then you need to go back to your mix, and pull ALL the faders down by about 1/3.

  • You should also be careful about using a "Normalize" function. This linearly boosts the overall level of the whole selected piece of audio all at once. It's useful if the recorded level is a bit too low, but you can overdo it. For instance, you usually don't want to Normalize to 0.0 dB; you want to set it for -2.0 dB or -1.0 dB and inspect the results (and undo them if clipping is introduced). Some DAW software will automatically Normalize the final output of a project by default (when you "Export as MP3" etc.; if so, you may need to turn this feature off and compare the results. – user1044 Oct 31 '15 at 22:00
  • And on recording and playback, watch all your levels (what we used to call VU meters). Never let anything get into the red. Keep it from the green to the yellow. Any time you see red, it is likely that digital clipping is occurring. – user1044 Oct 31 '15 at 22:02
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    "normalize" is basically not to be used, ever. full stop. just don't. It doesn't do what you think it does. – dwoz Oct 31 '15 at 22:06
  • the "common understanding" these days among "pro" recordists is that you record at -18dB. When you're in a 24 bit daw at 96k, you don't gain ANYTHING by recording higher. – dwoz Oct 31 '15 at 22:07
  • Here is a tutorial on Gain Staging. The principles here will apply to any DAW, not just Reaper. Gain Staging In Your DAW Software, Sound on Sound Magazine, September 2013. soundonsound.com/sos/sep13/articles/level-headed.htm – user1044 Nov 1 '15 at 15:05
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I'm not sure if I know the sound you're talking about, but I can say one thing right off the bat: Your mix is extremely loud. I think what you're hearing is distortion caused by some combination of over-compression and actual clipping of the waveform at the top.

If you're using some kind of mastering plug-in, back that off and leave some crest factor and headroom. If not, all your channel faders should come down.

Louder is not better! Too loud is just as bad as too quiet. Compare your mix and loudness to other mixes of the same type of music you are creating. You will find that yours is pushed all the way up to the top as far as it can go, and other mixes are not. Give the listener (and the amplifiers and speakers, etc.) some breathing room to hear the subtleties in your music.

Compare your mix to this recording of Capriccio Espagnol by Rimsky-Korsakov:

I think you'll hear that the levels are much lower than yours, the orchestration is just as "big" and the sound quality is more like what you're looking for.

  • Of course Rimsky-Korsakov is widely regarded as one of the finest orchestrators in history. Good example. – user1044 Oct 31 '15 at 18:01
  • good answer, Todd...except I'd offer that improper gain-staging is the ENTIRETY of this issue. Levels need to be backed off tremendously. – dwoz Oct 31 '15 at 22:09

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