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oakn

Odd ground noise?

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So I finally got a Helix Floor, but I found a rather odd noise issue. I get a static noise when i touch the switches, but only when a guitar cable is plugged in. I have to touch the guitar lead or have a guitar connected for the noise to appear. It gets louder if I also touch the power cable to the Helix (just the plastic outer shell not touching any actual copper power leads). The "Mode" Switch makes a louder noise than the other switches and also in another (higher) frequency. The noise corresponds with the output gain (the more gain that is put on the signal the louder the static becomes). Making things (at least for me) ever crazier, if I turn the volume or the tone on the guitar to zero the same noise comes from touching the hardware/strings on the guitar. If I make the noise by touching a switch on the Helix, I can make it go away by touching the hardware/strings on the guitar. If I get the noise by setting volume or tone on the guitar to zero and touching the guitar hardware it goes away if I touch the housing of the Helix. If there's no guitar cable connected to the Helix; no noise. To me it sounds like a grounding issue, but I can't tell if it's the Helix or the wiring in my apartment. What to do? Have I missed something? Is it supposed to be like this?

 

What I've tried:

With amp, power cable in the same outlet as amp

With headphones

Different power cables

Different guitar cables

Line and instrument output settings

Different inputs (Guitar in, Aux, Return)

Everything except the Helix turned off in the apartment (so no real interference with other electrical equipment)

 

Tomorrow I will try it at a friends place to see if there's a wiring issue in my apartment.

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Try a different guitar.  I suspect you may have a wiring issue on your guitar or badly insulated pickups.

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I forgot to mention that I tried with several guitars. Four different guitars to be exact, and all of them work flawlessly in other rigs. The issue came when the Helix was introduced. And as mentioned, the issue is there even when I don't plug in a guitar to the guitar lead (but there has to be a guitar lead connected for the static to appear).

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2 hours ago, oakn said:

I forgot to mention that I tried with several guitars. Four different guitars to be exact, and all of them work flawlessly in other rigs. The issue came when the Helix was introduced. And as mentioned, the issue is there even when I don't plug in a guitar to the guitar lead (but there has to be a guitar lead connected for the static to appear).

 

Then you probably need to open up a ticket on your unit with Line 6 support.  The only other thing you might try is getting a HumX and see if that makes a difference as that would isolate the unit from any AC wiring issues.  But it's sounding to me like you're better off with a new unit calling Line 6 support at this point.

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if your USB cable is plugged in, unplug it. 

report back, I didn't see that in your list of things performed. 

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Is there any lamp with fluorescent lamp or halogen lamp with transformer nearby. Sounds like interference via radiation. Is the earth also bad in the house ... Happened to me.

//Per

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"fluorescent lamp or halogen lamp with transformer nearby"

That's possible, but not very likely, because the issue came when the Helix was introduced in his rig.

It's best to try it somewhere else (family/friends place), to see if the problem is still there.

...

I read, same problems with headphones. Did you unplug all your other stuff(amp,...), when you tried it?

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4 hours ago, PerS said:

Is there any lamp with fluorescent lamp or halogen lamp with transformer nearby. Sounds like interference via radiation. Is the earth also bad in the house ... Happened to me.

//Per

That shouldn't be an issue if it is ruined off, right? I have one in the adjescent room but it had been turned off during the testing. I also don't have any dimmers so that's not a problem.

 

2 minutes ago, Peter said:

"fluorescent lamp or halogen lamp with transformer nearby"

That's possible, but not very likely, because the issue came when the Helix was introduced in his rig.

It's best to try it somewhere else (family/friends place), to see if the problem is still there.

...

I read, same problems with headphones. Did you unplug all your other stuff(amp,...), when you tried it?

Yes I disconnected everything else, just headphones and the guitar lead/guitar connected (when trying with headphones).

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Have you tried it at your friends place? If you have the problem there too, then something is probably wrong with the Helix.

In this case contact line6 or your dealer.

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3 hours ago, Peter said:

Have you tried it at your friends place? If you have the problem there too, then something is probably wrong with the Helix.

In this case contact line6 or your dealer. 

Just tried it at a friends place and it's the same thing there with his guitars and cables. So it's not the guitars and not the wiring in the apartment, which sadly leaves the Helix as the culprit.

 

It's not really that annoying, but there's one occasion where this would be devastating - during live performances. As stated in the original post, the static noise comes if I touch the guitar strings and/or hardware if the volume or tone is at zero. And not being able to turn my volume knob to zero on silent parts is a big no-no.

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19 minutes ago, oakn said:

Just tried it at a friends place and it's the same thing there with his guitars and cables. So it's not the guitars and not the wiring in the apartment, which sadly leaves the Helix as the culprit.

 

It's not really that annoying, but there's one occasion where this would be devastating - during live performances. As stated in the original post, the static noise comes if I touch the guitar strings and/or hardware if the volume or tone is at zero. And not being able to turn my volume knob to zero on silent parts is a big no-no.

 

If the volume is at zero, no noise should occur (...my Helix does not do that). I think you have to call the support :(

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3 minutes ago, Peter said:

 

 

If the volume is at zero, no noise should occur (...my Helix does not do that). I think you have to call the support :( 

Yea, I guess that's what needs to be done.

 

Out of curiosity: If you have a empty preset, bring up the volume, touch the guitar lead with your hand so you get that normal hum and touch the switches on the Helix; do you get any kind of noise?

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31 minutes ago, oakn said:

Yea, I guess that's what needs to be done.

 

Out of curiosity: If you have a empty preset, bring up the volume, touch the guitar lead with your hand so you get that normal hum and touch the switches on the Helix; do you get any kind of noise?

 

Only when I use my stratocaster(single coil pickups) and a high gain amp model, then touching the switches (especially the "mode" switch) adds some extra noise. But not, if the volume is at zero or when I have an empty preset.

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4 minutes ago, Peter said:

 

Only when I use my stratocaster(single coil pickups) and a high gain amp model, then touching the switches (especially the "mode" switch) adds some extra noise. But not, if the volume is at zero or when I have an empty preset.

Okey, so it's "normal" but my unit clearly have a much higher noise volume since I can get it with an empty preset (but with the volume up quite high). Time to contact the seller/store, what a bummer - I had hoped to be making presets for recording the upcoming days, instead I might have to send it across Europe.

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Think your question what is causing the interference is already answered. Really sad.

 

But to answer your question - In my case I had several problems at the same time which made it a bit troublesome to troubleshoot. Two of the problems were the lamps. The one with fluorescent lamp (table lamp with a round tube and magnifying glass ...) stopped interfering when I switched it off. I found that one quite quickly. Worse was the halogen lamp (also a table lamp), I thought it was off but the switch only shut off the 12V supply. The transformer was on all the time... By accident, I had unplugged all the cords and put everything back, but forgot the lamp ... and suddenly it was quiet. At the same time as I plugged it in, it started again. No difference whether it was on or off. All units were in the same room and everything except the fluorescent lamp was in the same outlet, but everything in the room was on the same fuse. There were more things that caused noise, but we will take that another time :-)

 

I wich you good luck and a happy ending with your noice issue ... /Per

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I feel your pain OP!  I've been fighting this exact issue since I received my Helix floor in 2015.  In addition to all of the troubleshooting steps you've tried, I have used a HumX, Hum Eliminator, at least seven different guitars (Anderson, Suhr, MusicMan, Kiesel - all with humbuckers), noise gates, an ELF meter, multiple amps, 4 cable method, 2 cable method, Mogami Platinum cables, had multiple electricians check the outlets/electrical lines, and more to remedy this seemingly random problem.  

 

Eventually, I noticed that the noise seemed worse using the left mono output of the Helix than the right one, and I sent it back to Line 6 for repair, thinking there may be something wrong with the left output.  Unfortunately, they returned it because they could find nothing wrong with the unit itself.  So, since I was basically back to square one, I decided to purchase the ELF meter to see if there was some sort of weird EMI going on in my guitar room.  Lo and behold, I discovered that the main electrical service line coming from the outside of the house to the breaker box, runs directly over my guitar room and generates a LOT of EMI according to the meter.  It goes from about .3 (I forget the specific units) at waist level to over 12 at the ceiling directly below the service line.  In addition, I have discovered that dimmer switches in various parts of my home (built in 2015) can affect the noise level when turned on - even if they're on a different level of the house. 

 

Since then, I have also occasionally experienced this issue (but to a lesser extent and less frequently) with a Headrush Gigboard.  And very rarely, I've noticed the problem when running straight into a high gain tube amp with no effects connected.  It definitely seems that the Helix is more sensitive to EMI than other gear I own.  Anyway, at this point, I'm 99.9% convinced it is a combination of radiated interference resulting from the close proximity of the main electrical line and dimmer switches (regardless of how far away they are).  Sadly, this interference appears to enter the signal chain directly through the pickups so there is absolutely no way to shield it, at least that I'm aware of.  To prove this, I even laid my guitar on its back with the pickups facing the ceiling while I held a large sheet of highly polished aluminum over it.  Magically, the noise virtually disappeared, thus confirming my suspicion that the radiation from the electrical line was at least partially responsible for the noise and that it is not coming through the wall outlet.

 

The best (partial) solution I have found is to use an external noise gate (TC Electronic Sentry) before the Helix.  This seems to help quite a bit but can adversely affect sustain and tone depending on how drastically I have to set the Sentry to eliminate the noise.  Reducing gain levels on the gear also helps.  But I can confirm that NONE of the other solutions you and I have tried, do anything at all.  Therefore, until I get rid of all the dimmers in my home and/or move my guitar room or the electrical line - which ain't happening - I'll just have to deal with this.  Luckily it doesn't rear it's head all that often but when it does, it really sucks.

 

Good luck to you oakn in resolving this and I hope this post at least gives you some more ideas on troubleshooting.  I'll be very interested to hear your results!

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9 minutes ago, C4Helix said:

I feel your pain OP!  I've been fighting this exact issue since I received my Helix floor in 2015.  In addition to all of the troubleshooting steps you've tried, I have used a HumX, Hum Eliminator, at least seven different guitars (Anderson, Suhr, MusicMan, Kiesel - all with humbuckers), noise gates, an ELF meter, multiple amps, 4 cable method, 2 cable method, Mogami Platinum cables, had multiple electricians check the outlets/electrical lines, and more to remedy this seemingly random problem.  

 

Eventually, I noticed that the noise seemed worse using the left mono output of the Helix than the right one, and I sent it back to Line 6 for repair, thinking there may be something wrong with the left output.  Unfortunately, they returned it because they could find nothing wrong with the unit itself.  So, since I was basically back to square one, I decided to purchase the ELF meter to see if there was some sort of weird EMI going on in my guitar room.  Lo and behold, I discovered that the main electrical service line coming from the outside of the house to the breaker box, runs directly over my guitar room and generates a LOT of EMI according to the meter.  It goes from about .3 (I forget the specific units) at waist level to over 12 at the ceiling directly below the service line.  In addition, I have discovered that dimmer switches in various parts of my home (built in 2015) can affect the noise level when turned on - even if they're on a different level of the house. 

 

Since then, I have also occasionally experienced this issue (but to a lesser extent and less frequently) with a Headrush Gigboard.  And very rarely, I've noticed the problem when running straight into a high gain tube amp with no effects connected.  It definitely seems that the Helix is more sensitive to EMI than other gear I own.  Anyway, at this point, I'm 99.9% convinced it is a combination of radiated interference resulting from the close proximity of the main electrical line and dimmer switches (regardless of how far away they are).  Sadly, this interference appears to enter the signal chain directly through the pickups so there is absolutely no way to shield it, at least that I'm aware of.  To prove this, I even laid my guitar on its back with the pickups facing the ceiling while I held a large sheet of highly polished aluminum over it.  Magically, the noise virtually disappeared, thus confirming my suspicion that the radiation from the electrical line was at least partially responsible for the noise and that it is not coming through the wall outlet.

 

The best (partial) solution I have found is to use an external noise gate (TC Electronic Sentry) before the Helix.  This seems to help quite a bit but can adversely affect sustain and tone depending on how drastically I have to set the Sentry to eliminate the noise.  Reducing gain levels on the gear also helps.  But I can confirm that NONE of the other solutions you and I have tried, do anything at all.  Therefore, until I get rid of all the dimmers in my home and/or move my guitar room or the electrical line - which ain't happening - I'll just have to deal with this.  Luckily it doesn't rear it's head all that often but when it does, it really sucks.

 

Good luck to you oakn in resolving this and I hope this post at least gives you some more ideas on troubleshooting.  I'll be very interested to hear your results!

Thanks for the post! It's interesting that you pointed out that the interference appears to enter the signal chain directly through the pickups, because the noise was severely reduced when plugging in a guitar with active emg pickups (which are not grounded in the same way as regular passive pickups).

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1 hour ago, C4Helix said:

I feel your pain OP!  I've been fighting this exact issue since I received my Helix floor in 2015.  In addition to all of the troubleshooting steps you've tried, I have used a HumX, Hum Eliminator, at least seven different guitars (Anderson, Suhr, MusicMan, Kiesel - all with humbuckers), noise gates, an ELF meter, multiple amps, 4 cable method, 2 cable method, Mogami Platinum cables, had multiple electricians check the outlets/electrical lines, and more to remedy this seemingly random problem.  

 

Eventually, I noticed that the noise seemed worse using the left mono output of the Helix than the right one, and I sent it back to Line 6 for repair, thinking there may be something wrong with the left output.  Unfortunately, they returned it because they could find nothing wrong with the unit itself.  So, since I was basically back to square one, I decided to purchase the ELF meter to see if there was some sort of weird EMI going on in my guitar room.  Lo and behold, I discovered that the main electrical service line coming from the outside of the house to the breaker box, runs directly over my guitar room and generates a LOT of EMI according to the meter.  It goes from about .3 (I forget the specific units) at waist level to over 12 at the ceiling directly below the service line.  In addition, I have discovered that dimmer switches in various parts of my home (built in 2015) can affect the noise level when turned on - even if they're on a different level of the house. 

 

Since then, I have also occasionally experienced this issue (but to a lesser extent and less frequently) with a Headrush Gigboard.  And very rarely, I've noticed the problem when running straight into a high gain tube amp with no effects connected.  It definitely seems that the Helix is more sensitive to EMI than other gear I own.  Anyway, at this point, I'm 99.9% convinced it is a combination of radiated interference resulting from the close proximity of the main electrical line and dimmer switches (regardless of how far away they are).  Sadly, this interference appears to enter the signal chain directly through the pickups so there is absolutely no way to shield it, at least that I'm aware of.  To prove this, I even laid my guitar on its back with the pickups facing the ceiling while I held a large sheet of highly polished aluminum over it.  Magically, the noise virtually disappeared, thus confirming my suspicion that the radiation from the electrical line was at least partially responsible for the noise and that it is not coming through the wall outlet.

 

The best (partial) solution I have found is to use an external noise gate (TC Electronic Sentry) before the Helix.  This seems to help quite a bit but can adversely affect sustain and tone depending on how drastically I have to set the Sentry to eliminate the noise.  Reducing gain levels on the gear also helps.  But I can confirm that NONE of the other solutions you and I have tried, do anything at all.  Therefore, until I get rid of all the dimmers in my home and/or move my guitar room or the electrical line - which ain't happening - I'll just have to deal with this.  Luckily it doesn't rear it's head all that often but when it does, it really sucks.

 

Good luck to you oakn in resolving this and I hope this post at least gives you some more ideas on troubleshooting.  I'll be very interested to hear your results!

It all makes sence. But it is strange, that he has the same thing at his friends place and no problems with other equipment.

 

 

1 hour ago, oakn said:

Thanks for the post! It's interesting that you pointed out that the interference appears to enter the signal chain directly through the pickups, because the noise was severely reduced when plugging in a guitar with active emg pickups (which are not grounded in the same way as regular passive pickups).

But when you set the volume on guitar to zero, there should be no noise I think (...I can put my guitar next to other electrical equipment without noise, when volume is at zero)

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3 hours ago, oakn said:

Thanks for the post! It's interesting that you pointed out that the interference appears to enter the signal chain directly through the pickups, because the noise was severely reduced when plugging in a guitar with active emg pickups (which are not grounded in the same way as regular passive pickups).

Yes, that is interesting.  I wasn't really paying much attention to active vs. passive pickups in the guitars I was using while troubleshooting but I definitely tested guitars with both passive and active pickups, and didn't notice an obvious difference.  But that's something I'll pay close attention to next time it happens. Thanks for the useful tidbit!

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2 hours ago, Peter said:

It all makes sence. But it is strange, that he has the same thing at his friends place and no problems with other equipment.

 

 

But when you set the volume on guitar to zero, there should be no noise I think (...I can put my guitar next to other electrical equipment without noise, when volume is at zero)

Yes it is strange and I realized the same thing right after my original post.  But it's not impossible that his friend's place could have some of the same interference sources he has in his apartment like main electrical lines, breaker boxes, dimmers, or any of the myriad other things that can cause interference.  And yes, when guitar volume is at zero on any of my guitars, there is never a noise problem.  It's dead quiet.  This noise is definitely not normal and like the OP mentioned, it changes frequency and volume depending on what I actually touch e.g. strings, screw heads, different parts of the Helix itself, etc.  Even highlighting different blocks within a preset causes the noise to change in an obvious manner.  Very strange indeed, and annoying!

Edited by C4Helix
For accuracy

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