Humming noise

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Re: Humming noise

Postby Keith » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:00 pm


The blue backlighting is a form of cool Neon called electroluminescent and is the only method possible for illuminating these large flat areas in a low profile. Neon is driven by an AC frequency around 100 Hz.

The SoftStep is completely shielded and exceeds all CE and FCC guidelines for radiated emissions. There isn't anything more I can do to reduce the EMI.

If you have a single coil guitar or some acoustic guitars, and depending on how you are cabled and connected, this tone can be picked up. Strats, Teles, P-Bass, etc are famous for picking up unwanted noises. This is what prompted Les Paul to make the Humbucker pickup.

I see most of the people here are guitar players so this is likely what is happening. Each person's instrument and ground path will be different. We have made suggestions for improving shielding and ground paths. If there was anything at all possible to fix this from our end I would have done it.

This is only affecting a few of you but I totally understand that when you are the one affected it is a pain. We are up against the wall of science on this one.

- Keith
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Re: Humming noise

Postby Stew » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:24 pm


Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Maybe those who are having problems (and would like to try to resolve the issue) can post the specifics of their setup in the thread. Then as a group and hopefully with the assistance of the KMI team we can nut out any problems in an open forum.

I appreciate everything you've said Keith, but my concerns as a prospective purchaser of SoftStep are that this is not just happening with single coil guitars and that it also seems to be happening to folks who seem to have their guitars properly grounded. I realise there may be problems with their particular setups that haven't been diagnosed yet and that's why I'm willing to help folks get to the bottom of their issues (if I can). My thought is that by going through this 'in public' as it where, that common problems may be resolved for multiple users more quickly and IF (notice, big if) there is something going on with SoftStep that has slipped past you guys that it will become more apparent by examining multiple cases.

For what it's worth I'm quite confused by users whose systems are becoming noisier as they move their foot towards the SoftStep. That's like a strat becoming noisier by putting your foot closer to a computer monitor. In my experience unless the position and/or orientation of the guitar changes, the noise a single coil pickup picks up doesn't change just because the person in contact with the guitar moves closer to the source of interference.
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Re: Humming noise

Postby jengel » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:00 pm

Hey Everyone,

I'm not sure if this topic has died or moved on, but I just got my softstep today. It was dead silent, I loved it.

I wanted to use the dev kit so I decided to upgrade to firmare v2. I followed the directions to a T, and the moment it finished, it started humming like mad! The unit made the noise, not my audio equipment. ~ 100hz is right. I tried to go back to v1 firmware, but that just changed the pitch of the tone. (lower). When I went back to v2 it went back to it's orginal tone.

It turns off when i turn off the EL lighting. Using a powered bus makes no difference. Unplugging my laptop (mbp OS10.6.7), makes no difference.

I would understand if it just has to make noise, it's like the generator units on the el-wire at burningman :). What I don't understand is that it wasn't doing it before, and I want to go back.

I've only had my unit for about an hour now and this is very depressing. Has anyone resolved this issue such that they can have backlighting and firmware updates. Is the unit humming itself just a rare thing? Do I have a faulty unit? Can it be fixed with sysex?

Any help is super appreciated,

Thanks so much,
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Re: Humming noise

Postby mrgorilla » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:24 am

someone told me to try using a different plug for my macbook, (three prong), but that didn't work.

KMI staff asked me to try and ground mu guitar strings properly, but I have been having a hard time doing that.

I have had to restring my guitar 5 times now trying to get it to work.
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Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:12 am

Re: Humming noise

Postby Stew » Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:38 pm


Can you explain exactly how you have everything set up ... SoftStep, computer, audio/midi interface, power supplies, connections (midi, audio), guitar etc.

Please let us know exactly how it was set up to start with and then what you tried to make it stop. From what you are saying it sounds like it has nothing to do with improper grounding of a guitar or the like.
The unit made the noise, not my audio equipment.

Not sure how much help I can be but if you give us all the details there might be something that someone can offer.
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Re: Humming noise

Postby jfunk » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:41 pm

I can confirm, with the Softstep plugged into only a powered USB hub (with no computer or instruments). I repeat - hub only, no external devices attached - I get a physical hum coming from near the USB port on the SS when I hold it close to my ear.

This did not happen before I upgraded today to 1.2 from 1.1. I used a Mac OS 10.6.8 to do the upgrade. At the bottom of this post I will put step by step how I performed my upgrade. The resulting problem exists when there is no computer and only a hub. ** As mentioned by other users, turning off the EL backlighting makes the hum disappear **

System: SS directly plugged into the USB port in the side of my Macbook. Also had at the same time one other powered USB hub connected to the other USB port and a Sapphire PRO 40 Firewire Audio interface connected to the Firewire 400 port. On the powered hub I had a connected Axiom 61 [1st Gen], KORG padKONTROL, 3x external HDD.

Steps that I used to upgrade were from the manual, this is what I can recall from memory:
1: Download new manual and software from website for Mac users
2: Open the file and copy to applications directory
3: Follow instructions to migrate the Presets from 1.1 to 1.2 using the converter and the library
4: Start up the new 1.2 software and allow it to do an automatic upgrade
5: Noticed the new hum while trying to get my presets to work
Otis Scarecroe
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Re: Humming noise

Postby Otis Scarecroe » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:17 pm

" I get a physical hum coming from near the USB port on the SS when I hold it close to my ear. "

How loud and how close to yer ear?
Are you hearing it through your amplification?
Keith already said that with the type of backlight needed for such a slim profile there will be some hum.
Can you hear that hum when at your playing level? How loud are you playing?

Just wonderin'.

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Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:58 am

Re: Humming noise

Postby ekieki » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:13 am

I can confirm that there is change in the noise after firmware update.
I bought softstep today and heard a high pitched noise near the usb-port.
After the update the pitch of the noise rose something like from C# to G# and became a bit more annoying.
Otis Scarecroe
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:18 pm

Re: Humming noise

Postby Otis Scarecroe » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:53 pm

It's a good thing we don't have ears in our toes,eh?
I listened for the hum and with my old ears, I couldn't hear it once the SS was a couple feet(as in twelve inches x 2)away.
So, I suggest, you ain't had enuf rock&roll, or maybe some of us have had too much!

BTW,If you listen at the left end and then move yer ear to the port end it jumps an octave. (wow a built in octaver!)

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Re: Humming noise

Postby ekieki » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:41 pm

This is just my remarks because this contradicts with the fact that this noise is just about AC frequency.
If the firmware update can change the tone, there is something else here.

And if this tone can be picked up by single coils or whatever it could be a major problem.

About the "ain't had enuf rock&roll".. I can confirm this.
I bought softstep because I play often acoustic guitar and the noise from pushing average foot pedal buttons like FCB1010 was too loud for silent finger picking takes in studio environment.

Myself I don't have a major problem here as I can turn the backlight off in sensitive studio settings and so on.
It is just that I have not encountered this sort of noise in any other studio gadget.

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