For those of you who are getting geared up for your gigs this weekend, here’s a little ‘educational something something’ I found from Serato to help ensure we’re getting the cleanest possible signals and minimise the chances of clutching and skipping.
Before I share this however, I just want to say that life is better with vinyl…
What’s all this about Noise Thresholds?
It all sounds a bit scary but it’s actually quite simple. The noise threshold in Scratch Live is the level, where anything below, is considered noise and is ignored by the software. Because a turntable stylus is so sensitive, it’s going to pick up noise from the environment as well as the signal on the record. In a noisy party or banging club, the effects can be considerable. For this reason it’s important to set this correctly.
Those cheeky circles in the setup screen. The scope views on the setup screen in Scratch Live display the input signal as a phase diagram. Basically it’s just a way of visualizing the quality of your control signal and how well Scratch Live is tracking it. The key factors to look at on the scope display are crisp clean lines, round shape, and the tracking percentage in the lower right corner.
1) Turn the sound system up the level you will be playing at during your performance.
2) Play a track from an audio CD or from the other deck in internal mode.
3) Place the needle on the record but keep the turntable stopped.
4) Click and hold down the Estimate button for a few seconds – Scratch Live will estimate the optimal threshold setting for the current environment. Alternatively you can try manually moving the estimate slider to the right until you notice the number in theupper-right corner of the scope view stops fluctuating.
You should be at the best point for good tracking of the vinyl movement and ignoring noise.
5) Repeat this process for each deck.
6) Once you have set the threshold, start both turntables. For optimal performance the inner ring should be as close to circular as possible. Use the scope zoom slider (1x to 16x) to zoom in or out as necessary. Use the scope L/R balance and P/A balance controls to adjust the shape of the inner ring. The number in the top left corner of the scope view gives the current absolute position within the control record or CD. The number in the top right corner is the current speed in RPM.
In the bottom left is the current threshold setting, and the number in the bottom right shows the percentage of readable signal – this number should be at least 85% when your system is calibrated properly.