Noise Floor

A couple of questions…

What is it and what does a high noise floor sound like?

Really good question Neil

I don’t really understand it either and what it really means

I see forum members saying “reduced floor noise”

But how can that be if all set up Ok ???

It is the background noise level of the system. I.e. typically the sum of hiss and hum. For equipment it excludes that included in the recording associated with the recording being played, though for vinyl playing systems would include noise from an unrecorded groove.

For recordings it is that from the recording process and associated with certain media (e.g. tape hiss in the studio)

The term floor is used because it is the lowest level of background sound while playing, below which you won’t hear anything in a recording.

The higher its level the more it will be intrusive in quiet parts of the music, and even mask the quietist parts or detail. The goal is silence - ideally sitting in the listening position with volume set at the level you will use you should hear nothing. It is relevant to recognise that it is also affected by room noise level - the quieter the room the better as its background noise similarly affects hearing at the lowest levels, though perversely a noisier room might make a hifi system sound as if it has lower noise by masking the latter’s noise!


I see it more as a “vanishing point” in perspective.
The ultimate threshold of resolution in a system before it hits a brick wall of noise.

I sometimes think I have a measure of my system. Then a new recording can still surprise me.


It can also be the environmental noise-floor. Usually somewhere between 18dB and 30dB depending on how and where you live (noise from traffic, neighors, air condition, hostile kids …)

And for some of us the tinnitus noise floor…


For me noise floor in hifi terms is the unheard noise that interferes with the clarity of the reproduced sound output. Often we don’t hear the noise until it has gone. My constant surprise has been, as I have gone up the hifi chain the more I hear what has always been there but has been masked by noise whether electrical/electronic, or picked up on vinyl.


How we experienced this when adding XPSDR to 272 was at the end of tunes… you know the bit where the music fades away, or the last hit of the drums is it. We had some tracks where we thought the fade down was like 2 or 3 seconds but then with the XPSDR you realised there was still an audible instrument string or drum timbre after that.

Talking fine margins here, but noticeable.

On intimate live recordings you can hear very slight background noises you didn’t notice before. Glasses hitting tables, coughs etc.

My 552 has the highest noise floor of any naim products I’ve owned :man_shrugging:

I find that odd. It is not at all my experience.

I’m up close to 89dB speakers in a rather small room. But anyhow much higher noise floor than my former 272 555PSDR on the same speakers.

That is disappointing. I guess you have asked your dealer to help improve the situation?

From what I have read the 552 do have a high noise floor.

Sunday at the Village Vanguard.

I had to Google that :laughing: We’re not massive jazz connoisseurs, but do dip into it.

Our 300DR arrives today, we’ll add to playlist as a test album!

It also appears there are a large number of live recordings from the Village Vanguard, so we might lose a day somewhere investigating those.

1 Like

Noise floor is formally defined as the ratio of forum posters who obsess about inaudible design characteristics to those who discuss enjoying music and/or making significant and audible improvements to their systems.

1 Like

Perhaps, but I find if I can hear a difference I look for an explanation. The background effects of noise interference make sense to me as an explanation of why I am happy to spend increasing amounts on upgrades. :rofl:

It’s one of the all time classic jazz gigs.

You can hear the details of the room clearly, and the audience.

The three players each have a unique and brilliant style of playing their instrument.

And on that day they were really on form.

Isn’t “low noise floor” what used to be called “inky blackness” in proper forum speak? Correct terminology matters — we need The Halibut back! :blush:


I’m listening to Bill Evans (Tidal) whilst watching the footy and the separation between instruments on this recording is awesome!

Thanks so much for the recommendation.

Will return to it in a month once we’re all burnt in.

1 Like