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A Beginners Guide and Other Thoughts on Audio - Chapter 5: Noise Reduction

Roger Modjeski and Anthony Chipelo | Published on 4/17/2024

This month’s Roger’s Corner focuses on a topic very near and dear to Roger. As an audio designer and repair technician Roger certainly had a few pet peeves. However, the one that annoyed him the most was noise. Roger was well known for designing quiet components. His tolerance for noise levels in his designs was well ahead of his peers especially given that Roger’s circuits used vacuum tubes. In this month’s chapter Roger details how to test for noise in your system and provides several suggestions for solving noise issues. I will note in advance that some of these methods go against what some might consider the safe operation of audio equipment in one’s household. However, I will also say that I have been following Roger’s advice on eliminating noise for years and I’m still here to talk about it. So, feel free to experiment based on your own appetite for shock potential. Finally, the chapter closes with some discussion of power conditioners and if you are willing to stash your obsessive-compulsive audiophile personality for a few minutes you might find the discussion somewhat enlightening.


A Beginners Guide and Other Thoughts on Audio

Roger A. Modjeski


Chapter 5: Noise Reduction


To begin, we will divide noise into two different types. There is hum, which in very low frequency is generally related to 60 cycle power. Although if the hum has some harmonics, it will sound like buzz. Hiss is very much like the air escaping from a tire. Sometimes you can get noise that crackles and might sound like a steak sizzling in a fry pan. That is also what some people like to call tube rush if it occurs with a tube component. The best way to find the source of noise in a system is to disconnect everything except the power amplifier that is connected to the speaker. The speaker itself cannot make noise. There cannot be some broken part in the speaker that makes noise. If your speaker makes noise when you are playing music that is a different thing, that is distortion. Here we are talking noise when music is not being played. We are talking about the background noise of your system when for example you push pause on your tape deck, or you cue up the arm on a record.


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