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I've got a mixer going into a loop station, but my loops have a lot of 'hiss' in them. I have tried various ways of balancing the gain vs the faders, but it hasn't helped.

For what it's worth, it's a Soundcraft mixer, which are supposed to be decent-- at least, I'd expect to hear less noise than this.

Are there specific strategies I can use to find and address the source of the noise?

  • have you turned off all the channels you're not using? – topo morto Feb 5 '17 at 21:03
  • Yes, all unused channels have the faders all the way down. No audible difference if I mute them. – buildsucceeded Feb 5 '17 at 21:05
  • What sources do you have plugged in to your mixer? If you turn all the channel faders down, does the hiss go away? – topo morto Feb 5 '17 at 21:06
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    is it this : helpinstill.com/125manual.pdf ? – topo morto Feb 5 '17 at 21:19
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    For future reference, high-quality discrete preamps sorted this issue. – buildsucceeded Jun 1 at 19:44
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Mixing consoles don't have space to house top-notch (and expensive) discrete preamps. The Soundcraft preamps may be, well decent – that is, sufficient for any typical source: condenser mics and active DIs already pump the line with considerable levels, whereas dynamic mics and passive DIs are mostly used with instruments that are so loud that you don't need a lot of gain in the first place.

That doesn't however mean that these preamps give good results with any signal you could want to amplify. For one thing, they have too low impedance for guitar pickups etc., but they also produce a lot of noise when you crank the gain. If that's necessary for your application, I'm not surprised that you have problems there.

The way to go is to run these piano pickups with a suitable low-noise preamp. A good active DI might do the trick. Depending on the impedance, any buffered guitar-effects pedal (in bypass but not “true bypass” mode) might help. Else studio mic preamps will work – those are designed to amplify even quiet passive ribbon microphones without too much noise, and those are probably quite similar in signal to those piano pickups.

  • I've looked into active DIs (thanks for that suggestion!) but they all seem to have 1/4" in and XLR out— my pickup is XLR-based, so I'd want XLR in/out. Preamps, then? – buildsucceeded Feb 7 '17 at 20:25
  • @buildsucceeded: um, there are many active DIs that also have an XLR input (BSS AR-133, Klark DN100, Behringer DI100...). Alternatively you can always use an adaptor to 1/4". Whether an ordinary active DI will really help depends on the exact impedance / level of that pickup, do you have the data? – leftaroundabout Feb 7 '17 at 20:45
  • For future reference, high-quality discrete preamps sorted this issue. – buildsucceeded Jun 1 at 19:44
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Info for. Google visitors. - use a dedicated power outlet source for the mixer. (wall socket) - use balanced cables - better if the cable has metal mesh protection (Faraday cage) - do proper cable management to avoid interference and static - read the main answer ;)

  • Welcome to Music.SE. — All these points adress problems of interference (which manifests usually in hum/buzz), whereas noise/hiss is generally Johnson-Nyqvist noise, which is produced in the instrument's own channel strip; shielding measurements don't help at all against this. Also, you should clarify the bit about the power outlet source, it might be misunderstood. – leftaroundabout Nov 21 '17 at 21:11
  • When you say 'dedicated source' do you mean a separate circuit for the mixer? I'd have thought that could make problems rather than solve them. – Tim Nov 22 '17 at 14:15

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