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A/V I think I'm having a ground loop sound issue (Studio Monitors and Desktop PC)

Discussion in 'Tech Support' started by Falco2073, 20 Mar 2016.

  1. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    Hey,

    So I've had this problem since I got my speakers over a year ago, but I recently rearranged my room and it got a lot worse to the point of it not being bearable any more. I think it's a grounded loop problem, but I'd appreciate some input from people more knowledgeable than me.

    I have two JBL LSR205 monitors hooked up to my pc, using a Stagg SYC3/MPS2PE stereo minijack to 2 x mono jack cable (specifically this cable).

    This is then plugs into a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS. Originally, all of my cables were plugged into different outlets, but I recently bought a power strip to try and alleviate the problem to no avail.

    The main problem stems from the fact that my speakers seem to pick up interference from my graphics card. When browsing the internet or whatever, there's a very faint hum, but that's completely manageable. When I play game however, the interference becomes incredibly loud and annoying, suggesting it's picking up the extra power being supplied to the graphics card.


    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

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    It could be because of poor shielding on the sound card. It could also be the age of the sound card. Up until recently I had a Fatal1ty PCI with the front box and it just went to pasture.
     
  3. stephen0205

    stephen0205 Member

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    hissing issues suck mate. U dont have a mic plugged in do u, make sure is not on passthrough took me ages to nail down my problem and it was the mic on my headset picking up noise and i never noticed.
     
  4. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    It may well be that my sound card is on the blink, as I bought it on the forums second hand, so it's probably got many years of use long before I got hold of it.

    I can however confirm that it makes no difference whether my mic is plugged in or not.

    Just as an extra add, the noise is much worse if I use the onboard compared to the soundcard.
     
  5. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

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    I've had a setup similar to you but I used a single stereo jack to dual XLR and I also had the same issue with the noise of the graphics card being picked up in the speakers. I never found a solution to it. What I did was try to maximise the output from the PC as much as possible and then reduce the gain on the speakers themselves. This helped a good bit.

    I had thought about buying one of those optical to (I think) RCA connectors and use the optical out of the computer rather than the stereo output. I never did buy it though, in spite of it being relatively cheap.

    I also had a relatively long run of cable from the PC to the speakers (around 5m) so that would also have an effect on it. These days I'm only using headphones and I don't pick up any of the same noise with the same PC, so I'm guessing it was a matter of the length of the cable run and possibly the electrical set up of splitting a stereo cable into two mono cables on an active set of speakers that allowed for noise to occur.
     
  6. Fantus

    Fantus Nothing to see here...

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    One thing to check for is that the ground for any of the connections is not in direct contact with the case. Had this a little while ago with a HDMI port on a capture card, the ground of the connection was touching the case and causing a ground-loop. Adjusting the fit of the card so it didn't make direct contact any more fixed it.
     
  7. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    If it was a ground loop I'd think the sound would be fairly constant - if it's linked to GPU load, it wouldn't be a stretch to think it could be related to the power supply to the card itself.

    Do you get it when using onboard audio?

    You could always try a cheap (or not cheap) USB DAC which would almost certainly alleviate the issue.
     
  8. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    Yeah, it's much worse with the onboard, which is why I bought the sound card to begin with. I will look into getting a USB DAC.

    Does anyone have any recommendations?
     
  9. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    If you have a spare PSU sitting around, that might be worth a try. I wouldn't have such confidence in the theory to suggest replacing it blindly though.


    Any USB das regardless of price should fix the problem, from the £10 ebay special to the most esoteric 5-figure kit you can find, but maybe pick one that can be separately powered just in case?

    When it comes down to other nice to haves, depends. What's your budget, how fussy are you about SQ and do bells and whistles other than a pair of stereo RCAs appeal? (e.g. headphone amp, multiple digital inputs, multiple outputs, battery/portability).

    I've had a handful of DAC between £100 and £1000 and the one that stands out for the price is the Arcam RPAC. It's light on features though, so consider whether you want more from it. I'm sure there are comparable DACs that have more bells and whistles for the same price or cheaper though, so worth taking on a few recommendations of course (and the RPAC is bus powered, which is generally a plus, unless whatever is troubling you somehow makes its way across to the DAC... this would very much surprise me though)

    EDIT: currently just shy of £100 here. RRPs at £150.
     
    Last edited: 21 Mar 2016
  10. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    I don't think I have much of a need for multiple inputs. Everything else but my PC uses an Onkyo receiver/surround speakers so it would just be for my studio monitors.

    I do use headphones for work because I work from home 2 days a week, but I always just plug those into the front panel.

    They do sound amazing already, it's just the noise that's annoying. :p
     
  11. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Does your AVR have a separate zone output? You could use the DAC onboard, or just use the analogue input, and plumb your speakers through there if so.

    Even if there are just preamp outs, that would work, though would likely limit you to one source at a time.
     
  12. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    This is the receiver I have:

    Onkyo HT-R548

    I'm not particularly savvy when it comes to audio, but I've never gone near it with my PC speakers. If I was unable to have multiple sources at once, that would be an issue as people are constantly using the TV/Receiver at the same time as me using my computer.
     
  13. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Looks like you may be out of luck in that case - no zone 2 or pre-outs.

    Back to the USB DAC idea then - RPAC is nice, but there are cheaper options too - depends on what you want to spend.

    Something like this would probably sort out your noise problem, even if only to test a theory on the cheap. Sound quality, build quality and reliability might not be up to all that much judging from some reviews, but then again it might be just fine judging from others!
     
  14. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    It might be worth a try.

    Honestly, I don't mind spending money, but if the cheapest of cheap DACs would sort the issue then I don't really need any bells and whistles to go along with it.

    Although the above USB may well solve the problem, I think I would prefer going with a DAC, even if it's just a budget one.
     
  15. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    I'm looking into getting one of these:

    Behringer UCA222.

    Seems to be pretty well regarded for the price.
     
  16. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    So I went ahead and bought the Behringer UCA222. It just arrived today, but unfortunately it didn't fix the issue.

    I also went ahead and disabled my on board audio just in case that was causing any issues and that didn't help either. :(

    EDIT: It is avoidable if I lower the volume of my studio monitors, but that means they don't go as loud as I would like them to.
     
    Last edited: 26 Mar 2016
  17. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    Bit of a bump post, but there ya go.

    I bought a Behringer UCA222 to try and fix the issue, to no avail. I also decided to get some better shielded cables as the ones I had were cheap rubbish, but that unfortunately didn't help either.

    I'm running out of ideas. :(
     
  18. Deders

    Deders Well-Known Member

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    Just to be sure, you don't hear the hum when the speakers/receiver are completely switched off?
     
  19. Falco2073

    Falco2073 Member

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    Apologies, I somehow missed your post.

    I just checked and I can confirm that I don't hear the hum when my speakers are turned off, though I can hear it from the computer itself if I get close enough.
     
  20. notmeagain

    notmeagain Member

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    You're dealing with messy power to your Mobo.

    I've been bat-**** crazy about sounds coming from my PC for years and have tried virtually everything to get it sorted.

    I used to get the same issue, GPU intensive applications results in a buzzing/high pitch rattling through my speakers/headphones.

    I bought a USB DAC, and still had the issues.
    I bought a Blue Yeti, and the MIC started recording these sounds too.

    I bought a new PSU (Seasonic) and motherboard (GA-z87-ud5h) after doing some research about the clean power lanes and low EMI and even though the buzzing is still there if you listen closely for it, it's virtually silent.

    My understanding is that the issues are stemming from how the PSU and MOBO handle power distribution.

    Cleaner power = less noise

    If it was a ground loop, you'd hear a constant hum.
     

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