Digital Recording


New member
Username: L_spiro

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-10
I am not sure if the problem is my cable, equipment, or something else, so pardon me if this is in the wrong section; it is the best I could do.

My objective is to record digital music without hiss/fuzz/static.

Long ago I had a Yamaha MOTIF 7, which had optical out. On my computer I had a Sound Blaster Audigy with front panel, which had optical in.
I used a single fiber cable to connect them and my recordings were 100% static-free.
This is not just the results of a hearing test.
#1: I could amplify the recording in any software, and no matter how much the silenced areas were amplified there was pure dead silence. 0 times anything is still 0.
#2: After saving the file(s) as a WAV, I wrote a program (I am a game programmer by profession) to scan the actual WAV files themselves. The silenced areas before and after the recordings were literally set to rows of 0's (the most definitive proof that the silenced areas really were silence), and my program used this to its advantage to digitally trim the WAV file itself, removing all the silence from the start and end and then padding both ends with 0.5 seconds of silence.
For my level of perfectionism, this is the required way to pad my songs with silence, since it is digitally accurate; I will not have some songs with 0.500013 and some with 0.4996 seconds of silence, for example.

7 or 8 years have passed, I moved around the world, and no longer have any of my old equipment.

I purchased a Yamaha MOTIF XS 7, which only has digital out (no more fiber optics).
And my sound card is now Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series with front panel. Like my previous card, it has optical inputs (and no digital).

To connect them, I got a simple converter sitting between them. It was just a $50 piece, because hey, digital data is digital data. Converting should be lossless right?

Sigh. So I recorded with this set-up and holy hell is there static/hiss/fuzz. It is almost like recording with analog.

Needless to say, there are non-0 waves in the "silenced" areas, so on top of just being horrible recording quality my tool will not work, since it trims up to the first non-0 wave length in the WAV file. I can not accept this.

So I got the M-Audio Fast Track Pro today. Now I am digital-to-digital, interfacing with the PC via USB.
After some work I finally got it working and recorded.
There is much much less static/hiss, but there should not be ANY AT ALL.
And instead of loud static, I get some kind of audible distortion on my piano solos. Some kind of high-pitched buzzing that is definitely not output by the Yamaha MOTIF XS 7.

I can not use this crap.
Why is it so hard these days to get a clear 100% no-static recording with digital?

Where is my problem? Bad cables? Do I need a better converter?

#1: My keyboard is much better than my old one, so I can guarantee it is capable of the same no-static output as before. It is the best keyboard Yamaha makes.
#2: My sound card is much better than before as well. It is also the best sound card Sound Blaster makes and I know it is capable of the same level of no-static recording I had years ago.
#3: The M-Audio Fast Track Pro interfaces with the PC via USB. I know that a slow PC could have troubles with this, but this is also not a problem. My sound card is the best made by Sound Blaster and my CPU is a Core i7 975 Quad @ 3.33GHz (4 CPU's). I have 12 gigabytes of RAM so the entire recording can easily be buffered without slow disk flushes.

What could be wrong?
My coaxial cable is just 1 meter. I use it to conect to both the converter and the M-Audio Fast Track Pro.
When using the M-Audio Fast Track Pro, the next cable is the USB (USB 1, not USB 2) cable (6 feet) to the PC. If this was the problem, however, I think M-Audio Fast Track Pro could not proclaim being professional equipment, since this would effect ALL recordings done with their device, and even more so on PC's other than mine (slower).

When using the converter, the next cable is fiber optic, at 2 meters.

#1: Should I look at a better coaxial cable?
#2: A better fiber optic cable?
#3: A better converter? Mine was just a $50 toy. But if I spend the time to upgrade am I really guaranteed the same static-free recordings I had before?
#4: Should I be looking at a different USB recording solution? Could the static and high-pitched distortion be caused by the M-Audio Fast Track Pro itself or the transfer via USB?
#5: Something else? Should I just get a new sound card that has coaxial-in? I really hope not, since I would have to constantly switch my cards since I can not fit two in at the same time. My slots are mostly taken by 2 Radeon HD 5970 cards, each of which covers 2 slots and runs extremely hot.

I would not have even known that it was possible to record with 0% noise if I had not done it before. Now that I have, there is no going back. I simply will not record any other way.

I am hoping that some of your expertise can help me find the solution, and I appreciate all feedback.

Thank you,
L. Spiro
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