Recording Hiss

Hey fellow N-Trackers,

Everytime I record live tracks, I notice an apparent background “hiss” contained in the file. I use the mic input when recording and that’s where I get the best signal. Any suggestions for a cleaner recording?

thats why your getting a hiss my friend,record from line in is only way to go,ask anyone here an they would tell you the same,you may have to fool around a bit an get yer levels straight tween mixers and inputs,but even with a cheap on board soundcard you’ll get a clean sound,but only by goin line in.:slight_smile:

It will help if you can describe the sound you are hearing in a bit more detail. Are you hearing a steady white noise hiss, or does the noise vary – change pitch or gets louder and quieter in concert with things that are going on in your computer (eg. hard disk access)? HOw loud is it relative to your microphone signal?

EDIT: I assume that you don’t have a mixer or external preamp.

To: wozz

I have tried the line-in input before with very minimal success. I’ll keep trying it out to get something steady. The Mic input seemed to have a more powerful signal, but this “hiss” comes along with the territory. Thanks.

To: tspringer

The hiss is constant white noise. The more live tracks I record, the louder the hiss. I use a guitar pre-amp most of the time. But, even when I unplugged the pre-amp, there was still a hiss. Thanks.

The mic inputs on most soundcards have an AGC control which will raise and lower the noise/hiss level while recording.

You want to use the LINE IN. What do you mean that you have MINIMAL SUCCESS when using this port?

Dave T2

If either the microphone or cables carrying signal are defective the signal could be attenuated. Then you will have to use excessive preamp gain, and this could be the cause of the white noise you hear. Noise sums as you add tracks. Have you tried another mic and substituted a different part for everything in the signal path?

Second test: Turn the pre-amp on your audio interface down, and bring up the gain on the guitar interface. Now listen to the noise level. Does it go up or down? EDIT: While doing the comparison try to adjust the two gains so that the signal level on N-track’s VU meter stays the same when you are recording from a constant-volume sound source.


To use line in you will want to have an external preamp of some sort to boost the signal.

Many people use an inexpensive mixer for this purpose but there are other alternatives. The reason you have a “more powerful signal” with the mic input is that it contains an additional amplifier intended to eliminate the need for an external preamp. Unfortunately these are rarely well designed and typically introduce additional hiss.

If you try to record to “line in” without an external preamp, the signal (depending on the source) will be much lower than the levels expected for that input and closer to the noise-floor, also resulting in hiss. Unlike the mic input however, you can increase the signal level using your external preamp to raise the signal above the noise. Even the cheapest Behringer mixer will have a much better noise floor than the internal mic preamp of a PC.


First tell us more about what you’re doing.

What are you recording? Acoustic guitar with pickup? Electric guitar via pickups? (Or, more importantly, does your guitar require a battery?) Also, tell us exactly what the guitar preamp you’re talking about is. We can’t help much without knowing what you have. Most folks above are making assumptions, and some are likely correct and some are likely not.

I assume you’re using a built-in soundcard. If that’s true, I completely agree with the folks above who say not to use it. Instead, let’s get your line inputs working properly.

If you’re using passive guitar pickups (no battery), then you definitely need a preamp between guitar and line inputs. If your guitar takes a battery (as most acoustics do, but not all, especially some older models), then you probably don’t need a preamp.

If you do need a preamp, the one you have may work, depending on what it is.

Most small mixers that have 1/4" inputs on channels where the “gain” or “trim” knob affects the level of the 1/4" input do work fine as preamps. For example, the Behringer UB802 as mentioned above – using the “mic” channels on the preamp. (The other channels don’t have a “gain” or “trim” control.)

Finally, assuming you’re using a built-in soundcard that honors the Windows mixers, learn how to use them to control record & playback levels. Easiest way to show those mixers is from n-Tracks menu: “View -> Soundcards mixer”. It’s possible that you have the line input control set way high, in which case you’d have to set your preamp output level low to avoid clipping, and causing hiss. I find that a rather low setting is usually best. If your preamp has a level meter, you want the signal in the ideal range in the preamp’s meters when adjusting record level (controlling the Windows mixer and watching n-Track’s meters).

You want to keep every item in the signal chain in the green zone.