Dwarf gain/signal issues, hiss, audible radio

Hi all, I’m hoping that I’m doing something obviously wrong, but I’ve been having some issues with my Dwarf. I messaged with @MikeFlynnBass on Instagram yesterday mentioning how I seemingly had a really low output on my Dwarf, to the extent that even at the edge of clipping on both input and output I had to run two compressors in my UA Apollo interface, and was getting some persistent low-grade hiss that was driving me nuts. My Dwarf gain settings were at 40% input gain, 65% output gain, and my Apollo line input was set at 22 dB (9 o’clock on the big knob), again with two compressors on it, each with substantial gain to get a signal peaking at -12.

Mike shared with me his settings, (Dwarf input gain around 18%, output gain 0%, with a couple gain plugins at noon and a Calf Limiter at the end of his chain). Today I set up a very simple pedalboard to try to test it out and hopefully get rid of the hiss. With Mike’s settings I am not getting any output at all into my interface, even though the output lights on the Dwarf are green. So I figured I’d take out the output cables (balanced) and try to use the headphone output on the Dwarf to check the levels, just to rule out anything with the Apollo. As soon as I plugged the headphones in I heard a local radio station, fairly loudly. I am not getting any sound in my headphones from my bass, even if the input light and output lights are green, until I bring the output gain up to around 85%, at which point I get a weak bass signal. My headphone volume is 80%.

I unplugged my bass entirely, unplugged all inputs and outputs other than the headphones and still am getting a substantial radio signal in my headphones. No instrument. I plugged my bass back in and ran the input directly to the outputs in the GUI, needed to raise the output gain above 50% before getting any weak bass sound at all. Still plenty of radio signal though.

I loaded the Black Pearl 4a plugin and ran a midi pad into it, still at Mike’s Dwarf gain settings. Very faintly behind the radio I can hear the drums. Full green lights on the output, but again, no level showing up on my interface console.

What am I doing wrong? Why am I getting radio? Is my Dwarf ok? @jon, any suggestions on how else to troubleshoot or other settings to try?

I have to say that the radio is a completely new thing to me altogether.

I, and many others, have solved the hiss noise by replacing the PSU with a insulated non grounded PSU from Amazon.

I’m my setup I use this one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y5M8Y3S/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_CZAJMG0ADPN34BKCH016?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

It killed the majority of the noise.

I play synths, so my input gain stays at around 30% and my output is set to 75% gain. These settings seem to work best in my particular set up.

Anything greater peaks the inputs and outputs of my dwarf. Depending on the synth I am playing, the settings vary, but the output I generally keep at 75% gain.

Have you tried increasing your input gain and dropping your output down a little?

I haven’t tried using the headphone jack yet, but the radio station bleeding through is an abnormal thing.

Any chance you can record what you are hearing and share the clip?

Might help with troubleshooting.


For a minute I thought I must’ve had the wrong input selected in my system preferences, but nope, just made sure it was on the Apollo and everything I said in my post holds true.

@Elk_wrath if I increase my input gain it ends up peaking on the output, and my preamp to the dwarf is set just below input clipping level. The gain settings that I’ve been using aren’t that far off from yours (40% input, 65% output) and with my compressor plugins on the Apollo I’m getting a good level but a little too much noise. What’s especially weird to me is that my fundamental setup in general doesn’t seem to be that far off from @MikeFlynnBass, I’m running a bass>nordstrand preamp>dwarf>Apollo Twin X>M1 Mac via thunderbolt and yet I’m getting absolutely nothing when my output gain is set low. I’m going to try to record the radio sound through the headphones with no inputs or outputs plugged in and post it shortly…

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Are you using the PSU that was supplied with the dwarf?

I had a very similar issue where I felt like I just wasn’t getting enough juice out of the dwarf, I tried several fixes. If I cranked the gain it was just too noisy to get a clean signal.

The new power supply cleaned up the noise issue. Pardon my ignorance on preamps, I tried to google the preamp you mentioned and saw something called a star-lifter, is that what you are using?

I haven’t hooked my dwarf back up to my mixer, which was where I was having very similar struggles to what you are describing volume wise.

When a synth is plugged direct, and then fed into my audio interface, I have zero audio issues. I’ll get everything hooked back up tomorrow and see if I can help troubleshoot in any way.

Bummer that you’re experiencing this, I can’t tell you how frustrated I was when I was going through it.

We will get it figured out, but if you’re using the supplied PSU, I highly recommend ditching it for an insulated groundless one and see what happens. If anything, it will mitigate the hiss that’s causing the inability to gain higher.

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Yeah it’s the starlifter preamp, sounds fantastic, highly recommended. I’m using the power supply that came with the dwarf and I really shouldn’t be having any ground loop issues but maybe that’s part of the problem. I guess I’ll try ordering a new one, I’ll check out the one you suggest if I can get it here. Here’s a vid with some of the radio at the end when I put the headphone cup over my phone mic, it’s obviously a lot louder in my ears but it’s definitely audible in the vid. I’m a bit less concerned with the radio noise than the basic level out, it’s really an annoying problem-- I just want good clean sound!!!

I discovered that if I move the headphones around the sound changes, so maybe it’s just RF interference into the headphone cable rather than the Dwarf!? So weird I have never had this problem before.

@Elk_wrath this looks like an equivalent plug, right? I’m pretty sure it’s the same but I would love a second pair of eyes so I don’t waste 20$…

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It could be RF, can’t say that I’ve ever used the headphone out on my dwarf, but I have to say that the radio coming through is a trip.

Does that happen on your normal outputs?

What kind of plug style do you use?

Really you just need to find a PSU that has something similar to this output. Also make sure it has the “box in a box” icon as its double insulated. They come in all plug styles, the one recommended to me by ianr was actually a UK plug, I just found the one for a US socket.

I completely isolated my entire chain with a medical grade isolation transformer, power conditioners, DI, and Stagebug. I did the whole shebang to guarantee no ground loops.

Sent it all back because a 12 dollar power supply solved the problem that a bunch of expensive gear couldn’t lol

Thanks so much for your help— the one I found doesn’t have a picture of the back (so annoying)… I did find another that looks the same, except in the input it says .08A Max instead of 1.2A… I know nothing about electricity except to not fuck with it so I have no idea if that matters lol…

I’m in Canada for a little while (same plug style as US), but will be headed back to sunny California at some point so I could hold out, but I would like to make some recordings that I’m happy with as far as a clean sound (the musical content is another thing entirely lol, but I’ve made some good strides in that direction). I’ve figured out how to make some pedalboards that I like and can navigate on the fly, getting the hang of basic CV stuff, etc. and would love to have it all just work.

Yeah, the radio through the headphone out is wild, but just the basic gain staging through the normal outputs (balanced cables, no radio at least, just low level and hiss) is my primary concern. Again, I’m not sure how I can have such a similar setup as far as the bass goes to @MikeFlynnBass and have such wildly different results with my input/output gain settings on my Dwarf. Maybe I’m missing something… hopefully he will weigh in and/or @jon will be able to point something out that I can do differently.


This one should work.

The only reason why mine is a 3 amp is because I couldn’t find a 2 amp model lol

The supplied PSU is only 2 amp, so this should work out just fine. Looks to be the same specs as the original PSU.


Dude - this sounds insane - not just the radio :radio: but the fact you’re not getting signal through - I’ll double check my settings but I’ll also share my current board so you can load it and try it. When I first started using my Duo I used to struggle with the high output of the overall signal hence I still use a limiter on the end of my chain and keep the gain levels very low - I hope you can keep the other boards you’ve created working and sorry to send you on such a wild goose chase!!



Hey @oeSmash,
I must say that you getting the radio out of your Dwarf made me open my mouth!
Personally, I even find it quite cool :sweat_smile: yet I think this is not at all expected.
As a sort of disclaimer, the headphones output on the Dwarf is meant only for monitoring, so not really the advice output if you want for instance to record. Yet, I must agree that it should not monitor the entire radio frequencies around you.
I passed this to the engineering team and will check if they have some feedback.
On the situation of having the same settings as @MikeFlynnBass and getting different results, this may be more relative. What quickly popped up in my head was: isn’t @MikeFlynnBass using an active bass and you a passive? Even if you are using the same type of bass, his bass may have way more gain than yours. It’s nice to use each other settings as a starting point, but at some point, I would say that you need to tweak them to fit your own needs/setup.
I will try to bring you up more feedback soon, but I would suggest you to start by following the kind of guide for noise issues that you can find here in our wiki.
Let me know if anything there helps you out.


Hi João, the difference between active/passive bass would make sense-- but I’m first running my bass through that Nordstrand Starlifter preamp, which has an absolute crapton of gain on it, and indeed I can’t raise the volume on that past like 10 o’clock without the Dwarf input clipping. Looking at the wiki, I’ve pretty much exhausted those possibilities (I think) as the issue persists even with a direct line from the input to output (no pedals) or with just one gain plugin in the pedalboard chain, etc. As far as ground loop possibility, the dwarf is the only grounded plug in my setup, and I have everything going into the same power strip, and the ground loop compensation option in the dwarf settings has no effect. As for gain staging, as I said above I’ve had to add some gain with compressors in my interface because the Dwarf output is such a low level, even at the edge of output clipping with gain plugins or compressors in my pedalboards. I would love it if I had to “tame the output” like Mike does rather than have to find ways to boost it to a usable level. I’ll keep messing around, though. Maybe it is related to the power supply, like @Elk_wrath suggests, so I’ll order a new one and try that in the meantime.

Also, @Elk_wrath you’re a forum GOAT btw, thank you so much for your input


Also, re: the radio, yeah it’s almost a feature lol… but ends up coming down more on the bug side of that equation :joy_cat: Just to reiterate, this is with nothing at all plugged into the Dwarf other than the power supply and the headphones.

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I’m definitely going to do some more investigating into my own setup - it’s very stable and very low noise… would love to help you find a fix for your issues :slight_smile:


Thanks mate, I do my best to help if I can.

Definitely look at getting that PSU or you’ll keep struggling with the noise. Idk what it is about the stock PSU, but it seems to produce a lot of noise.

I tried to use the OEM PSU yesterday while I was working with my Arp 2600 clone and the noise came back immediately. I’m betting that the new PSU will allow you to gain properly without the dreaded hiss.

I’m still blown out by the radio noise though lmao

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Btw João, for the radio issue I wanted to rule out the headphones themselves or the power strip, so I just tried them out with the only other device I have here with a heaphone input, one of those small Trace Eliot Elf amps (also has a grounded plug), and it was totally clean.

Maybe the radio thing is just due to poor shielding on the Dwarf, but again, that’s more of an interesting side issue, as I’m not getting radio with balanced cables out-- but the balanced outs are where the levels/gain staging is my primary concern. I’ll hopefully get that new power supply by the weekend or earlier next week and we can see what happens with that, as well as trying out Mike’s pedalboard. Thanks for passing it along to engineering, curious to hear any insight from their side.

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I got some inputs for your issue.
First we would recommend you to use 100% output gain, as this is not related to the pedalboard but to the DAC, so no effect on clipping in the device. Changing the output gain should only be done if the receiving device is always clipping.
As you mentioned, having the Dwarf outputs at 65% and making 20dB gain on the interface results in a non-optimal gain staging. There will be some helpful features for this coming with the 1.11.
We have no idea how @MikeFlynnBass is able to have sound with the output gain at 0% as this translates to a 127,5dB gain reduction in the DAC - there will be also news on this side with the 1.11.

Having plugins that make gain will always result in noise, as even really small values (-80dBFs) will get amplified to a possible audible level (-20 to 0dBFs). In case this is the issue, we would recommend a noisegate.

You mentioned that the radio signal is not getting out from the Main Out and this is even weirder once the headphones out is directly coupled with the main out. Since you are using balanced cables on your main outs, perhaps you are having a ground loop issue and this signal is leaking through ground. This could explain things as with a balanced connection ground is not the reference.

Please let us know what you get out of your attempts with the power supply.


Hey Jon - I should clarify that I DO have output gain - in fact it’s set at around 80% - input is lower at around 18% - and my to utility Gains are set at ‘midnight’ on my signal chain… sorry for the confusion on this one!

The one big difference is using an alternative power supply - with a plastic earth pin on the (UK) plug - so I have no noise/whining from the device - but again I don’t want spread misinformation about power supplies etc - it just works well for me :slight_smile:


@jon and @MikeFlynnBass Thank you both so much, this clears up a lot of confusion for me, and now I’m at least relieved to know that other than the mild noise and radio through headphones it’s all working as expected. Based on everyone’s reports about the power supply in this thread and that other one in which @Elk_wrath tested a bunch of possible solutions I’m feeling optimistic about a psu replacement helping with both of those issues as well. I’ll report back when I get to try out the new one— and I’m looking forward to the 1.11 update as well.

@jon I greatly appreciate you passing the radio issue along to the team, as well as their response… it has to be some sort of power issue, that’s the only thing that makes sense…


You’re welcome :slight_smile: We are happy to help.

Regarding the radio, this is really wild and I can’t really imagine what is causing it. Is it possible that someone on the building where you have the MOD Dwarf is actually listening to that radio station and the Dwarf is somehow stealing that signal? Have you tried it in different locations (exactly the same setup, headphones, settings, etc.)? Do you have the same results?