PDA

View Full Version : Ground rules



UKEON TERRITORY
04-05-2012, 12:51 AM
With several elements affecting the uke scene , such as steel strings , humbucker style pickups and the likes . Then couple that with more and more people getting into home recording and A/V production ,I thought I'd offer up some tried and true " SOUND " advice .

These thoughts were brought to the surface by another UUer on another thread inquiring about buzz problems . Hope it helps .

First and foremost , this thread is not intended to provoke debate , conflict and or arguement . Just good sound GROUND RULES and advice .

For instance , " ARE YOU GROUNDED " ?

Broadcast engineers will tell you faster than anyone that the quality of your ground system directly affects the quality of your sound system .

To wit :

Many complex buzzes , hums , whistles , etc. etc. etc in your amps , speakers , mics , recording and all other equipment can be prevented and even cured with a few basic rules of thumb .

Starting first with the single biggest DON'T in the whole matter .
DON'T have any great expectations out of your sound quality if you are not properly grounded .

Some may ask , " how do I know if I improperly grounded or not " ? The answer to that is quite simple . . . If you took any electronic equipment for you home jamming and or A/V recording system home and simply plugged into a standard wall socket , you can rest assured you are NOT properly grounded by any stretch of the imagination.

You equipment desperately needs to be on it's own independent ground system . This is especially true if you are living in an older home with aluminum wiring and double especailly true if you are living in a motorhome or mobile home .

Radio operators such as HAMM radio guys have a saying that you " hear on your ground " . In other words ,the quality of the ground is everything for what the ear hears in electronic audio efforts .

There are a couple of basic rules of thumb here . One , you've already read .The fact that independent grounding is a MUST .The second rule of thumb is the shorter the ground wire , the better .

I could spend forever exaplaining why shorter is better but will not waste your time there . Just know and believe it is correct info . But the basics are that the shorter the ground wire , the less opportunity there is for ingress . Meaning extraneous signal hoping on the wave length that electricity is on and riding into your system and into your audio output . I could go into pretty deep detail about wave lengths and frequency ranges and the who's what's where's and why's but will spare you .

Never the less , allow me to move on to the basic and easy steps to prevent and or cure all the unwanted racket . Even if you seemingly have zero problems just plugged direct into household current , I am all to positive that if you follow a few basic rules and efforts here , you can't help but notice and increase in your audio quality and or recording quailiy for audio and or video .

On the cure/preventitive .............

Truth be told , if you don't already have this in place , you should by all means .

You need to start by driving a solid copper ground rod no less than 4 feet long ( 6 feet is best ) into the ground just outside the room where all your equipment lives . Leave about 12 inches sticking out of the grounf for attachment purposes .This wire needs to be unjacketed .

Next ...

On each and every piece of equipment you have , you need to find a rock solid chassis screw ( some equipment manufacturers provide one and you've just wonder why until now ) . Now you know why . You need to attach a ' ground tail ' ( a piece of 10 (or 12) gauge wire ) to the equipment .

The ground rod you just drove into the ground , just outside the room where your equipment is, needs an 8 gauge solid copper wire solidly attached with a ground wire clamp and brought into your music room . Through the wall is best .

Now you need a quality multi-ground block .This is a block that would remind you almot of a fuse block but without fuses .

The wire from outside needs to be securely attached to the ground block . Each pieceofequipemtn needs it'swon 'ground tail . I suggest that you run a short ' ground tail ' out of or off of your equipment only long enough to be able to butt plug an extension to it .

Your multi-ground block needs to have a ' ground tail 'on it for EACH piece of equipment you intend on grounding .I reccommend getting a mulit-block that will take a minimum of 8 ' ground tails ' . You'd be surpised how quick you use them up .

The ends of the ' ground tails ' on each piece of equipment and each ' ground tail ' on the block needs to have some kind of strong butt plug so you can plug and unplug your equipment as needed .

This system MUST be independent from all other household appliances and the likes . Don't be using the ground rod outside for ANYTHING else such as home security systems , invisble dog fences ,etc. etc. etc.

INDEPENDENT 100% is key for quality audio/video/amps/etc .

I know this sounds like alot of efforts and will you'll actually spend more than you might think getting this set up . But the benifits are immensely amazing and wonderful in the end .

I would almost bet that noone you know has done this . The real truth is that it is a must for true quality output of A/V . And for all that dough you dished out expecting quality from your equipment , you deserve this result .

Even if you are not having a problem with line noise , if this doen't help , I'll come to your place no matter where you live and eat it . No salt and pepper please .I'm watching my blood pressure . lol

But please know this .This is NOT a fix for faulty equipment ..........

On a side note................

Always unplug your equipment when not in use .You do not have to unplug the grounding system . Only what's plugged into the wall outlets needs to be unplugged . With the equipement unplugged from the wall , the loop is open and there is little to no fear of electrical mishap while your back is turned while at work .

I can't count the times I've seen equipment fried from step voltage from a storm . You do not need a direct hit from lightning to fry you . Step voltage is the number one cause of electronics damage . I't likely been a problem for you at one time or another and you didn't even realize it . All you knew was that something quit working .

p.s Microwave ovens KILL . Microwave ovens are the worst thing within the household that farts back into an electrical system unwanted poor qulaity electricity . The RF frequency alone from microwave ovens makes electronics freak out .That's why the warnings for those with pacemakers . lol

Anyway . I think I covered my thoughts on this and hope it helps someone out a bit . But I cannot personally be serious enough how conviced I am that anyone that does not have this independent ground system in play already has missed a huge and key MUST have .

RAGZDADDY

connor013
04-05-2012, 01:38 AM
Pretty interesting stuff, especially for someone not accustomed to plugging in. To be honest, I'd never even thought about grounding, but it makes sense.

Cheers.

UKEON TERRITORY
04-05-2012, 06:59 AM
I'm largely acoustically minded myself but I do like to occasionally record my practice sessions to be able to go back and lsiten to where my errors are . I keep it pretty basic and simple these days with just the laptop and a Zoom H2n .

Plainsong
04-05-2012, 11:24 AM
And sadly, I didn't understand 90% of that. Other than to say that I do plug into a dedicated surge protector and not directly into the wall, and I am in a flat built in the 50s (stereotypically known to be good quality 'round these parts). And from all that, I have ONE uke out of 6 electric instruments that doesn't like the setup, and there isn't much I can do about it. It's the only passive pickup so maybe that's it. No one ever really answers the questions in an easily understandable way.

UKEON TERRITORY
04-05-2012, 01:10 PM
And sadly, I didn't understand 90% of that. Other than to say that I do plug into a dedicated surge protector and not directly into the wall, and I am in a flat built in the 50s (stereotypically known to be good quality 'round these parts). And from all that, I have ONE uke out of 6 electric instruments that doesn't like the setup, and there isn't much I can do about it. It's the only passive pickup so maybe that's it. No one ever really answers the questions in an easily understandable way.

It's a tough go with a buzz and can drive one nuts . Living in an apartment where one can't harldy bulid an external ground setup makes it double rough . Kind of why I put this here rather than on your " Buzz " thread . Istill think it is moreso internal of the pickup than anything else in your case . After reading your problem description that would be my guess .

But one thing you might try is this . Take your rig to someones home not in your buliding . But in a single family dwelling unit . Take YOUR whole rig with with you . That in itslef will tell you whether or not is in being generated within the wiring of where YOU live . Hope that helps .

Best of the best to you . But there really is no simple description of this sort of thing .

Don't you live in the UK ? I'm guessing in a bulding fromthat era , you likely have aluminum wiring regardless ofthe quality ofthe build . I live in a house built in 1960 and it has aluminum wiring . Aluminum wiring was popular throughout the world in times past .

Plainsong
04-05-2012, 01:59 PM
Yeah, repairs to the electrics isn't going to happen unless the entire building voted on it. We got new water pipes a couple years ago. I live in Helsinki, Finland, and 'round these parts everyone lives in apartments. But we'll be heading to a summer getaway, and I take my amp anyway. I can well bring it's ac adapter.

If it's in the pickup, is there anything I can do myself, or is it a warranty thing?

UKEON TERRITORY
04-05-2012, 02:30 PM
Yeah, repairs to the electrics isn't going to happen unless the entire building voted on it. We got new water pipes a couple years ago. I live in Helsinki, Finland, and 'round these parts everyone lives in apartments. But we'll be heading to a summer getaway, and I take my amp anyway. I can well bring it's ac adapter.

If it's in the pickup, is there anything I can do myself, or is it a warranty thing?

Conditions change for sure .

But because you mentioned noone ever had an easy answer , I kind of racked my brain a bit and had a little brainstorm on the easy way to no hear the buzz .

This want get rid of the buzz , you just want be able to hear it .................

CRANK UP THE VOLUME ! ! !

roflol roflol roflol

Just being silly . lol . I just recall how well that worked in an old battle axe of a car I drove years ago . lol

Plainsong
04-05-2012, 02:48 PM
The hum is pretty band and doesn't improve with volume increase, no. :P

If I touch the input jack of the cable, it goes away. If only there was a way to get that feature, without having to touch the cable.