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  • Keyboard feedback problem

    Hello everyone, I'm quite new to using forums but I'm having a problem that I can't seem to shake. I have a Roland Fantom X8 that I purchased on craigslist. The L and R outputs don't seem to work too well so I've been using the phones jack. This has worked for awhile now until I started getting a lot of static in my mix. I tried connecting my keyboard to many different amps but it doesn't seem to cure it. The strange thing is my headphones work without any of it. If anyone needs anymore info I'm happy to help, I appreciate your time.

  • #2
    Welcome to HC.

    A Headphone jack should NEVER be used to feed a line level device or to drive an amp.
    Some keyboards have headphone jacks which double as a line level send. You're is not one of those.




    Headphone amplifiers Produce a much higher voltage output and therefore higher power (volume) levels.
    Small ear bud devices that can double as line level jacks may only output 1.8, 2.5 or 3.3 Volts peak to peak. Laptops and Cell phones often have these kind of headphone jacks which are safe to run either way.

    When you have both like level and headphone jacks like you have in your case you should never used the headphone output to drive other devices.

    Regular headphone amps (like the one in your keyboard) run off of 9, 12, 18 or 24 Vpp volt supplies, allowing 5-20 decibel higher volume from the headphone jack. That's enough to cook the input preamp of the device you're feeding. It can also fry the keyboards output.

    The static you have may be the signal overdriving the recording interface preamp - or it may be you've overheated and damaged the keyboard driver or interface preamp. If the distortion disappears. They way you can check is to plug headphones into the keyboard and crank it up. If you have distortion, you've damaged the keyboard driver. If its clean then you may have damaged the interface preamp or are simply overdriving its input.

    I highly suggest you ONLY use the keyboards line level outputs to feed any other device and ONLY use the headphone jack to feed headphones.
    If the signal you get using the line level is lower that's the way its supposed to work so you have the lowest noise levels, maximum headroom and fidelity.

    You should have plenty of volume for recording by adjusting the keyboard volume, interface input volume and interface monitor/headphone volume up. Some interfaces also have Software/DSP driver settings for their input levels. As the chart shows above some have consumer vs. professional level inputs. You may have your interface set for consumer and you need to set it for pro to get a strong enough signal to record with.

    If you are using headphones when recording and the volume is low - the fault may be that the headphones you're using are low output or the headphone impedance is a poor match. Headphones vary greatly in how loud they produce sound. The two sets of AKG headphones I own for example are very low in volume. I have others that are much louder if I need them but their fidelity isn't nearly as good. You may just have a set with crappy speakers that aren't very loud. They way you can tell is easy. Play back a normal commercially recorded song then adjust your headphones for a comfortable level. Then you use your line out jacks on your keyboard. Adjust the interface input and keyboard volume levels so the headphones have the same volume or slightly lower as the commercial recording has.

    As a note, to minimize background noise and distortion, adjust your interface input volume higher then the keyboard output volume. Analog drivers and preamps always have sweet spots. If your run the interface input low and the keyboard output high you're more likely have lower fidelity and distortion because the low interface input level is acting as a bottleneck. Always run the interface input higher then the device feeding it. If the Interface input is set to 3/4, run the keyboard volume 3/4 or less.

    Keep in mind your finished recording will not have the same volume as a commercial recording until its mastered using limiters. The trick to Tracking is to get quality, not quantity. If you look at the playback meters in your DAW having a -12 to -16db level is normal. When you are done recording and mix the recording down to a stereo track - you then master the track using EQ, Compression and a brick wall limiter to bring that recording up to normal listening levels that are as loud as any other commercial recording. You do not get those volume levels directly from your tracks when tracking or mixing. There's a number of reasons for that which I wont go into for now but just realize its normal to have much lower recording/recorded levels.




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