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Old 6th May 2011, 17:02   #1
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Antec 300 front panel audio fix

Hey, I've been lurking round here for ages, but finally have done something interesting!

I have had my Antec 300 for a while, and all the time ehenver I plugged my headphones in the front panel it made the most horrendous noise - crackles, static, you name it. I just blamed this on the onboard audio and used the back panel ports.

However, for my birthday I felt I may as well get a soundcard, so after splashing out on a Xonar DG (adventurous I know) I eagerly plugged it in to see if it solved the noisy front panel... No.

I did some research checking each of my components, usual suspects seem to be motherboard or PSU but in among my searching I stumbled across some threads about ground loops in computer cases. In Antec cases, the front panel audio ports have their ground connected to the USB grounds and through them to the case. This apparently sets up a ground loop as the ports are then earthed through both the motherboard and the case. (See http://www.incrysis.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=29778)

To solve this is relatively straight forward, as it just requires one of the ground links to be removed.

Open up the case and unscrew the front panel connectors.


Getting the plastic cover off is a bit of a pain. I somehow managed to crack part of the box just wiggling the cables at the back, so you have been warned. I used a knife to slowly pry the cover off, unveiling just how cramped the poor thing is.


That green wire connecting the audio and the usb ports is the culprit, but a quick snip puts an end that.


Time for a quick test.
Noisy:


Quiet:


Awesome! Now its just time to put everything pack together. I put a bit of LX tape round one of the cut ends just to prevent any accidental touching, then its time to squash the connectors back into the stupidly small box.


This would be a good time to glue the cover back on, but I'm useless and have nothing of the sort in the house. Oh well, LX tape will do right?


And there we are, sorted. I guess other cases will suffer from similar problems, and who knows this might be useful for someone else.
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Old 6th May 2011, 17:09   #2
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good find mate will check my 300 later only got it the other day so not had the chance to check it. rep for you monseur
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Old 6th May 2011, 18:34   #3
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I am truly surprised by this... Why connect the ground from the USB, when the sound card already has the pin for ground. Morons...

If you got a chance to listen to a variety of music with your new sound card, hows the bare bone Xonar sounds like compared to your onBorad sound card? (I always wondered, honest).
Assming of course, you don't use 4$ speakers or headphones.
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Old 6th May 2011, 21:05   #4
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Thanks guys. I was fairly surprised to see this too. You would think they might test things like this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes View Post
If you got a chance to listen to a variety of music with your new sound card, hows the bare bone Xonar sounds like compared to your onBorad sound card? (I always wondered, honest).
Assming of course, you don't use 4$ speakers or headphones.
In terms of sound quality I can hear a slight difference if I keep switching between them, but to be honest I doubt I would be able to tell in a blind test. I have an MSI 770-C45 and used Senn HD280 Pros.

I fed some single frequency signals through both, and the xonar could produce lower frequencies (below around 200Hz) much better than onboard. I couldn't notice as much of a difference in the highs.
When nothing is playing there is some very soft noise on the onboard audio which isn't present on the xonar.
Playing music the xonar provides a bit more bass and seemed to have a more punchy sound, while the onboard was a bit muddy.

I haven't really had a chance to game with it yet, so don't know whether the EAX emulation will blow my mind or not.

Overall I cannot say how much of that is down to the placebo effect, nor whether the improvement is worth the 20 of the card, but I am quite happy with it.
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Old 6th May 2011, 21:21   #5
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I remember finding this with my case, but the front panel box had been rubberised(or similar), I ended up getting a 3.5mm splitter and doing a passthrough to replace the normal front panel audio with the back.
Antec need to sort this out, I can't see myself buying another antec case unless this get fixed.
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Old 6th May 2011, 22:00   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reaver View Post
Thanks guys. I was fairly surprised to see this too. You would think they might test things like this?



In terms of sound quality I can hear a slight difference if I keep switching between them, but to be honest I doubt I would be able to tell in a blind test. I have an MSI 770-C45 and used Senn HD280 Pros.

I fed some single frequency signals through both, and the xonar could produce lower frequencies (below around 200Hz) much better than onboard. I couldn't notice as much of a difference in the highs.
When nothing is playing there is some very soft noise on the onboard audio which isn't present on the xonar.
Playing music the xonar provides a bit more bass and seemed to have a more punchy sound, while the onboard was a bit muddy.

I haven't really had a chance to game with it yet, so don't know whether the EAX emulation will blow my mind or not.

Overall I cannot say how much of that is down to the placebo effect, nor whether the improvement is worth the 20 of the card, but I am quite happy with it.
That is what I was expecting for the low end model. Of course, it also depends on your MP3's quality. You can increase the sound card quality (well it depends on the music player you use.. either the settings of your music player, or if it uses Windows settings).\

For programs that uses Windows settings:
1- Close completely any music program or game

2- Control Panel > Sound. The sound Panel will open. Double click on your Audio out source (usually Speakers). Another panel will appear. On it, go to the Advance tab, and on the drop down box that you see, pick the highest sound quality. Normally, you would hit on the Test button, to make sure it works... but this is not needed as it's a dedicated sound card. Hit OK, close all panels. Enojy
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Old 26th Jul 2011, 12:49   #7
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Help!!

I have a question about this very problem.
(I'm a computer noob)

So my problem was, when i plugged in my headphones to the front panel, instead of making a "horrendous noise" it played music, but it sounded as if you only plugged in you headphones halfway, even though i plugged it in all the way. It sounded muffled and me not knowing any better, tried to do what you did in this tutorial but i couldn't find that extra wire connecting the audio ports to the usb slots. It was not there to begin with.

So i'm like.... what do I do now? i can't even use my front panel to play music because it sounds as if i only plugged in my headphones halfway.

So then i proceeded to do what you did when you tried to 'test out' if your grounding thing worked or not. I pressed the metal from the audio port onto the metal on the usb port just like you are doing. But this time i produced different results.

When i pressed them together (exactly the same as you had in your pictures), Everything sounded normal. It didn't sound muffled anymore and it sounded as if i plugged my headphones all the way into the jack.

When i seperate them, (exactly the same as you had in your pictures), Everything went back to being muffled.

The whole time i had my headphones plugged in.

My case: Antec 300
My motherboard: ASRock AM3 processors AMD 770-140W 4DDR3/ATI CrossFireX motherboard M3A770DE

Is there a solution to this? Please help me out!
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Old 27th Jul 2011, 02:11   #8
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I have a question regarding this problem.....

It isn't regarding the grounding loop, because when i opened my case there was no cable connecting the audio to my usb slots.

But when i plug my headphones into the audio jack, everything sounds as if i only plugged my headphones half in but its actually all the way in. This basically renders my front panel audio useless which really bugs me.... so i took apart everything and tried to fix the problem.

My problem is... when you touch the metals of the audio and the usb slot it makes a noise, just like when you did your 'quick test' . But when they don't touch, there is no noise. Well....when im playing a song regularly, it sounds all jacked up (not crackles but a distorted version of the song). When the metals touch, it plays the song normally! without any thing. When they don't touch my song gets all screwy again....

Does anyone know the fix to this problem? Please help me out! I hate having to go all the way back there to plug in my headphones.
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Old 31st Aug 2012, 15:41   #9
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Excellent post, +rep.

I also have an Antec 300 with the same problem, interference on the headphone jack - particularly when there is hard drive activity. Decided to give this a go as it's been driving me nuts for ages. Up till now I've been using the rear jacks on my Xonar Essence STX, but it's inconvenient to switch between headphones and speakers.

In your case you had a green wire, mine was black. This may vary for other users, but essentially what you're looking for is the cable that is soldered from one of the USB ports to one of the audio jacks.



I snipped the entire thing out so I didn't have to worry about using electrical tape to cover the bare wires.



After a quick successful test, everything was placed back inside the plastic casing. Note that there are some small notches on the USB connectors that should sit just in front of the black plastic. The audio jacks have a similar larger section that fits into a notch to hold them in place.





Sorted.
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Old 31st Aug 2012, 15:53   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowman9 View Post

But when i plug my headphones into the audio jack, everything sounds as if i only plugged my headphones half in but its actually all the way in. This basically renders my front panel audio useless which really bugs me....
Hi Snowman, have you double checked the front panel audio connector is securely attached to the motherboard or soundcard (depending on which you have) FP Audio Out?

You say there's no wire connecting the USB and headphone jacks within the front panel casing? 100% sure?
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 19:37   #11
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thank you this has been bugging me for ages
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Old 14th May 2015, 12:04   #12
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I have the same audio problem with an Antec Sonata solo. You think that you can fix it the same way?
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Old 22nd Jun 2015, 17:47   #13
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Yes, I too have the interference noise on my three hundred and this is a welcome solution I will try. I use a mini-USB DAC and plug my headphones into that and I get static. Also, my headphone port on the front I/O panel seems loose for 3.5mm plug. I really don't get any signal from it (I did earlier). I don't feel the stepped resistance when I plug in. Should I replace the port if possible? Would prefer a replacement I/O panel if available.
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Old 23rd Jun 2015, 01:28   #14
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Have reconsidered my approach. Antec sells replacement for the 300 front I/O panels for $16. The original is unavailable, however, and the one offered has USB 3 ports, which for many would be welcome. My board does not support USB 3 so I also ordered an internal adapter cable at same time $7 to use with my USB 2 socket in the board. I even directed the Antec tech to this thread and he said he wouldn't cut the ground wire, but sort of himmed and hawed after reading the posts here. Hopefully all will be well soon.
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Old 3rd Sep 2015, 09:21   #15
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So ... I noticed that from small panel audio out a wire for grounding, which was attached to the case trough a screw. I took it off, and I put around the scoth tape.
I did right?
Sorry for bad english.
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Old 4th Sep 2015, 20:38   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Procton View Post
So ... I noticed that from small panel audio out a wire for grounding, which was attached to the case trough a screw. I took it off, and I put around the scoth tape.
I did right?
Sorry for bad english.
That is exactly the fix, for Antec cases, and any other cases that uses the case for the ground.
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Old 7th Sep 2015, 11:47   #17
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We are sure?Could it be that if I remove the ground, then it break the USB devices?
I sorry for bad english.
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Old 5th Dec 2016, 02:12   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reaver View Post
Hey, I've been lurking round here for ages, but finally have done something interesting!

I have had my Antec 300 for a while, and all the time ehenver I plugged my headphones in the front panel it made the most horrendous noise - crackles, static, you name it. I just blamed this on the onboard audio and used the back panel ports.

...
To solve this is relatively straight forward, as it just requires one of the ground links to be removed.
Thanks, Reaver. I know this is long time history but wanted to ack that I've solved my headset/speakers' humming this way as well (Antec 500). Was on USB Headsets for 10(!) years so it never bothered me. My Sennheise headsets plugged into front panel required drastic action. Longest outstanding fix I've ever done I think.


Cheers
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