Is there a name for electronic noise?

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Mollbarre
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Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Mollbarre » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:54 am

I'm sure someone knows!

I just came from an outing, listening to a typical band; 3 electric guitars and a drummer - and various speakers and sound equipment. They were playing "the usual" rock 'n roll material. They were good.

But - I find all I ever hear is a layer of electronic noise that overlays the sound of guitar, percussion and vocals.

I really dislike that "hiss" (or distortion or fuzziness...) and I'm struggling to find the terminology that describes it.

Anyone know?
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Adrian Allan
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Adrian Allan » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:52 am

Is the sound formed from a homogeneous tone?

Is it continuous or varying in pitch?

Would "white noise" (usually heterogeneous) suffice?
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by simonm » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:43 am

Describing noise is actually a very tricky business. It often ends up with descriptions like yours.

In English we don't have a clear vocabulary for this. I suppose sound engineers will have vocabulary for it but I suspect that their vocabulary will be at least partly diagnostic rather than purely descriptive. i.e. they will name it using the (assumed or diagnosed) cause as the name or part of the name. "Fuzzy" is a good word. "Hiss" for me is something fairly specific - a kind of electronic noise that sounds a bit like "zzziiissssss" so onomatopoeic but with a "z" rather that h.

Many many groups sound awful in part because their amps put out more power than their speakers can handle and the sound starts to "break up" / get "fuzzy". People who have used loud speakers for years probably don't hear it as their own hearing is likely to be damaged.

Almost all live amped music I have heard in the last 2 decades could have been improved by turning the volume down. I don't know if totally professional big name acts suffer from the same problem as completely professional (100k+) equipment may be better matched. There is one local group that is a regular at all sorts of little local events near me and for me they would sound substantially better if they turned down their volume.

Lots of recorded popular music just sounds like electronic "mush" to me. My wife listens to some stuff that I find intolerable due to this. While the effect on my ears is the same, the reason is different. The stuff has been processed out of existence, maybe to make it acceptable to a generation who have never heard "clean sounding" acoustic music.

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Mike Atkinson
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Mike Atkinson » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:43 am

60 cycle hum
Electricity, especially when poorly grounded and poorly shielded will cause this noise.
Single coil electric guitar pickups will pick up this noise from electric sources (Double coil, or " humbucking" pickups cancel the noise).
It can be addressed, and reduced, with good equalization settings for the room, having sufficient amplification, so as to not open the board completely, and various gates and suppressors.
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by chiral3 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:52 am

Distortion. Comes in several varieties that are audible in the manner that you speak of: primarily harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion. It's usually not white (or pink or brown) as it's not that random with filters, amps, and such. Overdriven amps will amplify ground hum, noisy or un-isolated transformers, and harmonic distortion and microphony from tubes.

Incidentally, even-order harmonic distortion is usually regarded as pleasing, hence why tube amps are perceived as warm and pleasant despite high levels of THD relative to solid state. Guitarists overdrive these amp designs to amplify the even-order noise.
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Mollbarre
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Mollbarre » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:25 pm

I'm very glad you all know what I mean! :bye:

I also think the level of loudness seemingly required at these events is too much - but most people are either okay with it, actually want it that loud, or think it's supposed to be that loud and have accepted it as the norm.
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Alan Carruth » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:21 pm

I've been told that there is actually a mechanism in the ear that only responds to very loud sounds. It may trigger the 'fight or flight' reaction directly. At any rate, it's exciting in a way that less loud sounds are not. That may explain why that sort of music 'needs' to be that loud.

The actual sound of a plucked string is extremely predictable, and thus boring. If you play a solid body guitar with 'clean' pickups through a high fidelity amp at low power it's not interesting for very long. An awful lot of the way good guitars are made has to do with introducing complexity into the sound. Essentially an acoustic guitar is a transducer that converts finger/pick energy into sound. It is a very complicated filter, which enhances some frequencies and cuts down others, in ways that give you some control over what's boosted and what's cut. You also have a lot of control over the actual harmonic content of the string tone. Of course, you also have that on the solid body, but on a good acoustic guitar, and especially a classical, gives you more. All of this gives produces 'tone color' that is simply not available on a solid body instrument.They use various plugin effects ('wah', 'fuzz','flange', 'phase' and so on) as well as volume and tone (treble/bass balance) controls to introduce the color that makes things interesting, but it's generally not as complex or 'organic', if you will, as what can be done with a fine classical guitar. It makes it hard to make a good guitar, and hard to learn to play it, but worth the effort.

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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:05 am

Depends on what noise it is.
If you mean background acoustic noise our brain is so good in filtering out, then it can be hiss, bazz, hum, can be white or pink noise, popcorn, can be something else.
Can be audio (Larsen) feedback between microphone and speakers caused by poor location of either.
Can be just ventilation or AC.
Was it high or low frequency?
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Mollbarre
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Mollbarre » Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:19 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:21 pm
I've been told that there is actually a mechanism in the ear that only responds to very loud sounds. It may trigger the 'fight or flight' reaction directly. At any rate, it's exciting in a way that less loud sounds are not. That may explain why that sort of music 'needs' to be that loud. ...
That's interesting! That makes sense!

It's partly beyond our control! :mrgreen:
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Mollbarre
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Mollbarre » Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:22 pm

Vlad Kosulin wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:05 am
Depends on what noise it is.
If you mean background acoustic noise our brain is so good in filtering out, then it can be hiss, bazz, hum, can be white or pink noise, popcorn, can be something else.
Can be audio (Larsen) feedback between microphone and speakers caused by poor location of either.
Can be just ventilation or AC.
Was it high or low frequency?
It's not an extra noise, it's the noise that comes from using electronics. Its always an issue for me. I don't enjoy listening to "bands" play.

I went to my first (and last!) heavy metal concert a few weeks ago. I see they've solved the issue by deafening their fans...
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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:51 pm

You mean overdrive may be, or other intentional effecfs?
Distortion, fuzz, etc. Search for sound samples of various guitar pedals and signature amplifiers (Marshall, Vox, Fender), and you will most likely find what you asked about.
Regards,
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by robert e » Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:56 pm

Mollbarre wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:19 pm
Alan Carruth wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:21 pm
I've been told that there is actually a mechanism in the ear that only responds to very loud sounds. It may trigger the 'fight or flight' reaction directly. At any rate, it's exciting in a way that less loud sounds are not. That may explain why that sort of music 'needs' to be that loud. ...
That's interesting! That makes sense!

It's partly beyond our control! :mrgreen:
Perhaps it's also warning of potential damage to the hearing mechanism?

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Mollbarre
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Mollbarre » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:14 pm

Vlad Kosulin wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:51 pm
You mean overdrive may be, or other intentional effecfs?
Distortion, fuzz, etc. Search for sound samples of various guitar pedals and signature amplifiers (Marshall, Vox, Fender), and you will most likely find what you asked about.
I hope it's not intentional! Just an artefact of all that equipment- and a disregard? for a clean sound? Or maybe it doesn't bother most people?
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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:17 pm

Ha-ha, clean sound is not something most rock genres are now famous for :D
Remember Back to the Future where Marty plays Rock 'n' Roll? This is light version per modern standards!
Regards,
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Re: Is there a name for electronic noise?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:30 pm

Mike Atkinson wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:43 am
60 cycle hum
Electricity, especially when poorly grounded and poorly shielded will cause this noise.
Single coil electric guitar pickups will pick up this noise from electric sources (Double coil, or " humbucking" pickups cancel the noise).
It can be addressed, and reduced, with good equalization settings for the room, having sufficient amplification, so as to not open the board completely, and various gates and suppressors.
^^^^ What Mike said. If the term is strictly "noise" then yeah:
- 60 Hz hum from bad grounding or ground loops is the main culprit.
- white noise is broad spectrum (all audible frequencies) and perceived as "fuzz"
- pink noise if band limited (narrower frequency range) white noise

But wait, there's more! There are also unintended distortions that are considered and/or perceived as noise:
- amp noise: you ground the input (silent input signal) and the amp generates internal noise from noisy components
- Brownian noise: a distinct form of amp noise due to random electron motions in amp chips - does not happen with tubes AFAIK.
- phase distortion: some frequencies have a higher amplifier throughput speed than others so get out of phase with the original sonic content
- intermodulation distortion: the amp does not reproduce the original signal properly creating spikes and weird harmonics, perceived as noise.
- slew rate distortion: the amplifier cannot match the speed needed to amplify to the desired magnitude causing audible noise.
- clipping: the amplified signal exceeds to power rails and becomes a squared off wave generating nasty harmonics and badly distorting the signal. Some call this "headroom distortion".
- impedance distortion: a mismatch between the output impedance of the amp and the input impedance of the speaker causes waveform error.
- feedback: some of the output signal is routed back into the input causing a feedback loop.
- good 'ole harmonic distortion: the subharmonics are of greater magnitude than the primary frequency and/or harmonics are out of balance in general and/or incorrect harmonics are being generated.

I hope this is what you had in mind with the OP.
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