A few weeks ago I wanted to know what is the noise level of my system, so I created a couple of WAV files containing white noise at different volumes.
Idea is simple. By playing a bunch of WAV files and adjusting the volume knob in the headphone amp until the noise can be heard. Then move to next quieter file – see F.A.Q. down below for detailed instructions.
Here’s the link for the files – use at your own risk
Just out of curiosity, how noisy is my system? Well below my own “if-I-don’t-hear-and-it-does-not-bother-me–I-simply-don’t-care” threshold. And this happens with the -96dBFS file (and amp cranked all the way up). So that is how far my objectivism goes with the gear I have.
Anyway, hope this is helpful for the folks out there.
How to use those files?
Start with the loudest noise file, i.e., the one with the smallest negative dB number (e.g.: -12dbFS).
- Before play, turn the amp volume all the way down;
- Start playing the file;
- Slowly start cranking up the volume;
- If white noise is heard (as similar fashion than the louder files), turn the volume down;
- Move to the next quieter file;
- Repeat until ambient noise is higher than the ones presented by the headphones/IEMs, or an anomaly can be heard.
Why the files are 1 minute long?
Just enough time to crank the volume up and try to hear something weird, and then turn volume back down again. When done, move to the next file.
Are there any compression? Is this a lossless file?
AFAIK, this is a pure WAV file and therefore it is lossless (no compression).
How the files were created? What those numbers mean?
Files were created using a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) with a noise generator plugin. The number in the file name means the peak (max) noise level. It is not RMS.
What kind of issues should I expect?
The simplest one is EMI/RFI. I ended up replacing a set of RCA cables because of this. Much quieter now.
Another very common anomaly is ground loop.
I don’t want to do this.
So don’t do it then.
OK, I did it and I’m not happy with the result.
Don’t blame me. That’s the price of curiosity.
I’m sure there’s plenty of knowledge in the community to address eventual issues on a case by case basis.