Studio Story Book

The Wierdo Set

I got a frantic call one day from an inner city studio that had a problem with their console.  They were in the middle of a session and could not proceed due to a dreadful hum in their console.  I dropped everything and raced into the city where I was greeted by a control room full of distraught people.

The engineer explained to me "When I turn up a fader on the console, I get hum.  When I turn it down again, the hum stops.  If I turn off the console, the hum goes away." There was a pause.  "Do you think it might be the console?"  I was suddenly aware that all eyes in the room were fixed on me, hanging on my answer.  I took a breath.  The room stood still.  I could not help myself.  "No" I said.  The room reeled in shock.

"OK I had better have a look at it" I said and turned to switch off the amplifiers and console power supplies.  It was then I noticed that the power supplies were no longer there.  "Oh yes, we moved them out into another room" they explained.

This studio was relatively new and one of the things they had overlooked when building the room was air conditioning.  The first time I walked into the control room, it was like a sauna.  The console and multitrack were too hot to touch.  It was not until the capstan motor seized on their brand new Studer 24 track that they realised that they had to do something about it.  One of the measures they took was to move the console power supplies.  The problem was that they had moved them into a room running off a totally different power circuit.  Nobody had thought to actually test the console before the session the next day.  I started trying to talk about ground loops but was met only by blank looks.

I asked them for a double adaptor.  They produced one and I removed the ground pin to use it as a ground lift for the console power supplies.  Before doing so, I checked to make sure that there was still some kind of ground on the studio wiring.  Thankfully, due to the numerous ground loops in the place, the console was still securely grounded.  Ground lifting the power supplies did the trick.

Same studio - another visit.  Strange clicking noise in monitors.  Air ioniser sitting on top of console, intermittently discharging itself to the console chassis.

Same studio - another visit.  Strange digital noises in console.  Telephone sitting on top of console modules.