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 Post subject: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:35 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:37 am
Posts: 12
Hey guys,

I finally have sound from my Noah EX! :)
However, the sound output level is very low so I am hoping that you can help me figure out why.

Example 1:

- I have the Minimax loaded with the default "A True Classic".
- The level of the Minimax and the Mix fader are both set to 100.
- Headroom is set to 0 dB.
Result = I am receiving a signal of -28dB (in Logic Pro) for each analog output.


Example 2:

- Same instrument and preset loaded.
- The level of the Minimax and the Mix fader are both set to 127.
- Headroom is set to 0 dB.
- The master indicator is peaking and the sound is distorting.
Result = I am still receiving a small signal of only -14dB (in Logic Pro) for each analog output.

Also, I just noticed a surprising thing.
When I turn the volume button by the "Phones" jack, it adjusts the analog 1-2 output as well as the headphones. Is this working as designed?
By the way, this volume control was set to maximum while doing the above measurements.

I am really stuck here, so I would like to ask if you have any clues?
Any help would be greatly appreciated :)


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2001 4:00 pm
Posts: 20962
Location: ghetto by the sea
0db is a relative measurement.

it all depends on what level a 0db signal is referenced to.

most professional gear is +4dBu
most consumer gear is -10 or -20.

"professional" usually means balanced i/o.
"consumer" usually means unbalanced i/o.

the dB scale is logrythmic, so 10 points on the scale is a massive difference in level.

basically, what this means is that 0 is not always 0.

to know if the level is unusually low, you need to know the level of what you are connecting to. this is what gain pots are for, to match levels.


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:49 am
Posts: 935
it also depends on your recording cards input volume

if its set to +4

and not -10 then it will be looking like -28-14 in the volume

plus the 0db headroom is for the maximum of the available note poly for when all keys are pressed

if just pressing one key it would not be loud other wise if a single note was near 0db

then when playing poly you would get distortion as the single notes signals are added

and this why there are gain stages on mixers to match levels

when i do multi samples sets

for each note i have to crank the gain up on the sound card so that i can press a single note i get -3>1db for the best level to noise ratio

as i do multi velocity layers if i dont do this the velocity 32 level will not record as it will be to low in level

but for poly playing then having a -28>-14db per note is about the norm


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:37 am
Posts: 12
Thank you both for the very fast replies. Even though I am still a bit puzzled, I think the situation is under control :)

Yes, you are right about the measurement of dB being a relative sort. I should have specified more accurately.

I am connecting the outputs to two line inputs on my MOTU 828 MK3 via two unbalanced cables. Being unbalanced cables, as you say, the level should be lower than it would from balanced cables.
However, I still experience this as unusually low compared to any other synths I have worked with.

Example 3:
- Same sound loaded.
- Volume sliders set to 100 in Remote software.
- The line inputs boosted by 22dB (maxed out) in the internal MOTU mixer (CueMix) to compensate for the lower signal from unbalanced cables.
Result = In spite of the large boost, I am receiving a signal of -14dB (in Logic Pro) for each analog output.

I take it the starting point, before adding boost to the line input, will be -10dB because I am using unbalanced cables, so now it should be effectively boosted by 12dB, right?

If I set the fader for the Minimax at 127, while the 22dB boost is active, I get an input of -1,7dB, so the signal is definitely usable. Getting the last bit of power I am missing should be easily achieved with a set of balanced cables, I guess :)

Also, I tested a Noah (not EX) in the shop where I got this one and it seemed to have quite a strong output.

Do you have any more clues? Should I buy balanced cables to make sure this is not the problem?

Once again, thanks for helping out! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2001 4:00 pm
Posts: 20962
Location: ghetto by the sea
it's not whether the cable is balanced or not. it's what level the 828 is expecting. just changing from an unbalanced to a balanced cable will not significantly affect the level.

looking at the MOTU manual, the rear panel 1/4" i/o is +4. the level from the Noah will be low. lower than other synths? maybe, maybe not, it depends on the other synth. in any case, using the trim controls would be the thing to do. i believe there is a setting to change from +4 operation to -10 and this may be in pairs. it's possible that there is no adjustment other than the trim control and that saying the inputs accept either -10 or +4 signals is just redundant sales-speak. if all else fails, use the line inputs on the front panel. they are meant for instrument and consumer line level.


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:48 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:37 am
Posts: 12
Ah, so you found something in the manual that I failed to. Good to know that it's +4. What I found was that those inputs are made to accommodate both -10 and +4 inputs by adjusting the level with up to +22db.

I guess everything is normal then... but how about the volume knob by the "phones" jack? Is that really meant to adjust the level of everything?
By the way, that output is powerful!


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:01 am 
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Location: ghetto by the sea
yes, i believe the volume knob behavior is normal.

i haven't owned a Noah for a couple of years, though...


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 Post subject: Re: Low volume from analog outputs
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:37 am
Posts: 12
garyb wrote:
yes, i believe the volume knob behavior is normal.

i haven't owned a Noah for a couple of years, though...


I went to the shop today and can confirm that the volume knob behaviour is normal.
And the output level is also as it should be!

Thank you guys, for helping out! :)


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