Happy Friday! It’s been a busy week here at Home Studio Corner. It appears that the 12 Home Studio Necessities eBook has been pretty well-accepted. Thanks! If you haven’t gotten your copy, you can snag one up by signing up for my newsletter.

On to the questions! I’ve got three questions this week. In case you’re new, every week I try to answer reader questions. (It usually falls on a Friday.) If you ever have questions you want me to address, I can give it a shot, just fill out the Ask Joe form

Marcus Williamson wrote:
Hi Joe, Thanks for all you help so far with setting up my studio. My question is the high pitched noise I get though my monitors [using an Mbox 2 Mini], any time I turn the monitors on I get this noise. It’s not in the head phones so I’m not sure if it’s from the m-box mini or my monitor set up. I mostly use my head phones (when you have a 15 month old the only time things are quiet enough to record is when he is sleeping) but still like to use the monitors. I have see others have this problem and I’m not sure it can be solved. Thanks again for you help.

Thanks Marcus. USB has a bit of a history of introducing a high-pitch noise from time to time. I believe the issue lies in the fact that most USB interfaces are bus-powered, meaning they get their power over the USB cable. Since no two USB ports are the same, some may not supply adequate power, which could lead to noise.

On top of that, since the audio is traveling through the same USB cable as the power, if there are any power issues, it will most likely get picked up by the audio.

However, it sounds like that may not be the issue, since you don’t have the noise in your headphones. I would say try using different cables to your monitors and see if the issue persists. Whenever there’s noise in a system, I always look to cables first. They’re the weakest link in the chain, and they can go bad from time to time.

If that doesn’t work, it could be your monitors. Try connecting a different source to them and see if the noise persists. If it’s not monitors, then perhaps the Mbox is defective. In that case you’ll need to have it repaired (hopefully under warranty!).

Abhijit wrote:
 In many plugins, I have seen two settings: Setup A->B and Setup B->A. Whats the difference between two settings?

This is a really good question, Abhijit. If you’ve ever played around with software plug-ins in any DAW – Pro Tools, Logic, etc. – you’ll notice that on a lot of them there are A and B buttons or “Compare” buttons.

These are used (as the name suggests) to “A-B” between two different settings. The A->B format is seen in all the Waves plug-ins, whereas the stock DigiRack plug-ins simply give you a compare button.

What do these do? First off, with the Waves plug-ins, let’s say you’re EQ-ing something and you come up with this:

Waves Plugin B

You think you like it, but you’d like to compare it to another setting without losing these settings. (And you don’t want to waste time saving presets, etc.) Simply click the long button that says “Setup A*”. This will take you to a flat EQ setting that you can then tweak to your liking:

Waves Plugin A

This is your “B” setting. Now to compare the two, simply click on the same Setup button. It will toggle between the two settings, letting you A-B them in real time.

Now let’s say you like Setup B, but you’d like to tweak it a little more without losing these settings. Simply click the “B->A” button. This copies Setup B’s settings over to the A slot, making them both identical. Now you can start tweaking one of these and A-B back and forth. You can do this all day long until you come up with the perfectly tweaked EQ.

The same concept applies to standard Digidesign plugins, too, although it’s not as cool.

Digi EQ 3

As you can see, the “Compare” button is highlighted blue. Whenever you make a change to a preset, clicking the compare button takes it back to its original state. The downside here is that you have to actually select an EQ preset from the drop-down menu, then you can compare that preset to whatever tweaks you make. (And you can always save your own presets.) However, there’s no cool “A->B” button…

Matt wrote:
Hey Joe,
I’ve watched your YouTube videos and you seem to know what you’re talking about!

I’m really stuck. I’ve invested into a Digidesign 003 Rack and one of those new Macbook Pro models. I now need an external hard drive to record my audio as Digidesign don’t recommend recording straight to the internal drive.

I’ve been on the Digidesign forums and many people recommend purchasing ‘Glyph’ hard drives, but these are way out of my price range!

I found 1TB hard drive for £107.99 that has both FW800 and FW400 ports. A lot of people have told me to stay away from this drive as problems have occurred.

I just don’t know what to do, I don’t want to go buying a hard drive for it to not work in a weeks time.

What do you think to buying this hard drive? Would it work? Do you have any other recommendations?

Thanks alot,
Matt, 18, United Kingdom.

Thanks Matt! (All the way from the UK…nice.) As I mentioned in my article on using external hard drives, I’m a big fan of Glyph. I own one as my main recording drive, and then I own a few cheap firewire drives for backup purposes. 

I can’t say for sure, Matt, that the drive you’re looking at will work, but as long as it has an Oxford 911 chipset, it should be fine.

For me, the issues isn’t as much about compatibility or even reliability (because any brand of hard drive can crash). I’m more concerned about how loud the drive is. If it’s a cheap drive, but it’s just whurrrrrring away in my studio, that’s going to get picked up by my microphone. The Glyph drives are very quiet, which is really important for me.

Matt, if a Glyph is out of your price range, then I’d say go for whatever you can afford. However, I would strongly encourage you to get a second drive for backup. As soon as you finish that amazing hit recording, if you don’t have it backed up to a second drive, it’s almost guaranteed that something bad will happen, and you’ll lose the song. Back up, and back up often, so that when the inevitable crash does happen, you won’t lose everything.

Thanks for the questions, everyone! I hope this helps! If you have a suggestion for them, please leave a comment. Also, if you’re interested in the other Ask Joe posts, check them out here.