Noise floor measurements of various synths

Hi all,

I am polishing the circuit design of an upcoming Mutable Instruments product, and I have reached a point where I have to take design decisions that would impact its price/size vs its noise floor.

To this purpose, I’d like to collect the “noise signature” of various synths and samplers – to check how my design compares to them. The process would be the following:

  • Set the output volume of the recorded synth/sampler to its maximum value
  • Calibrate the gain on your soundcard so that there’s no clipping when you play a note with whatever patch/sample is loaded into your machine when it boots.
  • Record, hit a note, release, wait for 4 of 5s to capture the “release into noise” ; pause ; unplug the cable ; record 1 or 2s (so I can get an idea of the noise floor of the soundcard).

Having access to such files for various synths/samplers would help me a lot. My goal is to do my best to keep things as cheap and possible as long as the performances are comparable to widely used devices ; and to make cost/size increasing design changes only if the figures I see on my end are significantly worse.

Any considerations about which devices are noisier than others, how you deal with noise with analog gear, etc. would be appreciated!

Just that we dont do things twice (thrice?)

Ill provide:

Waldorf MicroWave
Waldorf MicroWave 2
Waldorf Pulse
Waldorf microQ
Roland MKS-50
Sequential Circuits SixTrak

I tend to use qood ol NoiseGates to keep my beloved but noisy JX8-P from producing a noise carpet while i am to lazy to pull the Faders to 0

Frankly, after owning a SID device, I dont even think about noise but I’ll chip in my yamaha TXs (802 and 81z) and my Korg Wavestation. Can I recommend a standardized audio format say 24bit/44.1 kHz WAV?

24 bits / 44.1kHz wav will be fine!

I’ll do these:
DX 100
Casio CZ 230S
Akai XR 10 (its a drum machine but i feel it’s still pertinent)
I can also do vintage computers too if you want.

I can do some, but not immediately. I’m currently about to start putting my home studio back together after more than a year in storage.

I can do:

Korg EX-800 (with Hawk-800 and AtomaHawk mods)
Korg EX-8000
Waldorf Pulse
Waldorf RackAttack
Redsound Darkstar
Nord Modular (G1)
Nord G2 Engine
Elektron Monomachine
Badly-made (I suspect, not by me) x0xb0x
MIDIBox SammichFM


i`ll do:

korg MS2000R
Novation Bassstation Rack
Yamaha TG55
DSI Evolver Desktop (my new baby)

also if its helping:
MFB 503 drum maschine
BOSS SP505 (sample toy)

I might be able to do:

Casio CZ-1000
Korg MS-20
MidiBox SID, SammichSID
Orla DSE-9
Roland MKS-70
Siel Expander
Yamaha CS-15, DX7II, FB-01, TG-77

Akai S1100 (not sure)
Emu Emax II, EIIIxp
Ensoniq Mirage
Yamaha SU-10

If you are interested in particular model or typology I can look further between friends and maybe someone has it.

Hi Pichenettes

i did MS2000R, Bassstation Rack, Yamaha TG55 & DSI Evolver Desktop
there are two files for every machine. one with the sample and one with the cable unplugged/same soundcard settings
i recorded directly into m-audio delta pci card
i hope it helps.


i wonder what you are workng on. cant be for the midipal as it has no audio. so there must be something new :slight_smile:

i usually dont pay that much attetion to noise. most of the time i record through the sends of a noisy behringer mixer. i like to distort bassdrums in it, too. and i also use c64 and some bent toy stuff which are quite noisy.
i dont use studio monitors, but a normal hifi amp and speakers.
so i think i am more the lofi kind of guy.



Thanks a lot, the quietest machine was not the one I expected… For now, I’m doing worse than those (except the TG55) but I’ll work hard to get there…

I’m started, first batch: CS15, CZ1000, DB9 (Control Synthesis), Expander, MKS70, MS20, TG77, TB303, TX81Z.
Last few seconds of each file are with the unplugged cable. I’m afraid I’ve missed these few seconds of reference with the TX81Z but is not easy to do it again since is not mine, not here. Btw the sound card is an E-MU 1616m PCMCIA…
It has been a pleasure to listen to some of these beasts again :slight_smile:

Thanks! Very interesting… First you have an excellent noise floor on recording… Some of those (DB9, expander) have obvious ground loop problems at less than -60dB, haven’t you been bothered by those? Could be solved by a DI box or a few checks on your wirings :slight_smile:

Sorry for the late reply, usual lame excuse: been busy. Anyway second batch, synths and samplers: DSE 9 (Orla), DX7 II, E-MU 3XP, Emax II, FB-01, K1 II (Kawai), Midibox SID (my own building, 8580), Mirage, Qy70 (Yamaha), SammichSID (6582), SU-10 (Yamaha) .

Thanks pichenettes for your suggestions about the ground loop problem, yes it bother me but I didn’t notice, I haven’t really used these two synths yet but I will so I have to do something about it for sure :slight_smile:

I have made progress on this. My proto is now back on the quiet tracks ; at the moment with the aid of extra external circuitry :slight_smile: Hope there’s no bad surprise when I assemble the next PCB which will have onboard “assistive quietness circuitry” (don’t worry, it doesn’t have a built-in noise gate, no cheating ; just extra power lines filtering caps).

Ah… external 2,5U 19" Caps… reminds me of my MX 8000 :wink:

Absolutely necessary for the killer 72 channels mixing desk I’m going to release. I’ve rented a warehouse just for the EQ knobs :smiley:

In fact: if you’d design one, i’d buy it.

Aww, I wanted (and almost fooled myself into thinking I needed) 144 channels. 72 is too few :smiley:
Did I mention full automation and cost below 1000€?

Pros like us usually don’t mention the Inline Channels Jojjelito…

Aww. Sorry.

Must not mention the dual 55" 4K OLED monitors I got for 250€ each.