Noise issue

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rgdaniel
Posts: 148
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Post 10 Nov 2018

So I have a pair of Mackie CR4 powered speakers that I quite like. But recently, the right speaker started putting out a kind of humming, crackling noise, low volume, intermittent. Like a bad connection inside, or something. I'd had an old pair of M-Audio speakers do something similar a few years back, which is when I bought the CR4s. So this week I replaced the CR4s with a new pair, put the current CR4s on an old PC I don't use as much. No sign of the noise from them in their new context.

But the crackly humming came back again on the new speakers. New cables, power cord, etc., all new. The only common element is the PC.

Then I thought, so it must be the 3.5mm audio out jack on the back of the PC. So I unplugged the speakers from that, and plugged them into the headphone jack (same 3.5mm) on the front of the PC. But the crackly hum still occurred from time to time.

So then I got clever, or what passes, and dug out one of those USB to 3.5mm audio in and headphone out adapters that came with a cheap USB microphone I bought a while back. I plugged the speakers into that and into the last free USB port on the back of the PC. Boom, problem solved.

Or so I thought. After a day or two, the problem came back just now, briefly. There's no other machinery on the circuit, nothing going on in the house, everything is otherwise quiet, and unchanged electrically for years. Nothing external going on that's likely to cause electrical interference.

Is the PC itself the likely cause of the noise? Can the internal audio production circuits of a PC create a problem that would be heard through both audio jacks AND through USB audio? It's a Lenovo ThinkCentre tower, BTW.

I would consider an external audio interface like the Scarlett, but if I'm getting the noise with my little USB adapter fob, wouldn't I still get it in the Scarlett?

Having a hard time understanding what's going on here, any thoughts welcome. Cheers.

Troublemecca
Posts: 93
Joined: 04 Jun 2018

Post 10 Nov 2018

Did you try a reboot? <--- being cheeky. Update drivers? Ha. I have a similar problem, indeed my 3.5mm jack on my internal audio card (built into my motherboard) has an inherent hiss. Using the output built into my tower solved that problem inconveniently, then I got a 99$ interface from Behringer that made everything jelly. Your USB stick should have been a similar solution though...

This hiss can be heard only when the computer is on? Have you tried playing music with different software/drivers?

One of my annoyances with Reason is that if I save a project with monitoring enabled on a rec track, it reopens with that track still playing my mic/room... Even if I can't hear it, I can always tell because my processor fans rev up and stay there.

Sent from my SM-G955U1 using Tapatalk


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rgdaniel
Posts: 148
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Post 10 Nov 2018

Troublemecca wrote:
10 Nov 2018

This hiss can be heard only when the computer is on? Have you tried playing music with different software/drivers?
The computer is always on, just the monitor goes to sleep. The noise can happen at any time.

Sounds a LITTLE like this, maybe quieter and more variable, and only for 5-10 seconds at a time:
https://www.soundsnap.com/electricity_hum_1_wav

This morning it happened before I even woke it (or myself) up, I was just chilling in the room. It's been happening much LESS with the USB scenario, in fact just a couple of times this morning. I thought I had it sussed, so I was surprised to hear it at all with the USB scenario. It's VERY intermittent though, so hard to troubleshoot. Thanks for the reply.

Troublemecca
Posts: 93
Joined: 04 Jun 2018

Post 10 Nov 2018

rgdaniel wrote:
Troublemecca wrote:
10 Nov 2018

This hiss can be heard only when the computer is on? Have you tried playing music with different software/drivers?
The computer is always on, just the monitor goes to sleep. The noise can happen at any time.

Sounds a LITTLE like this, maybe quieter and more variable, and only for 5-10 seconds at a time:
https://www.soundsnap.com/electricity_hum_1_wav

This morning it happened before I even woke it (or myself) up, I was just chilling in the room. It's been happening much LESS with the USB scenario, in fact just a couple of times this morning. I thought I had it sussed, so I was surprised to hear it at all with the USB scenario. It's VERY intermittent though, so hard to troubleshoot. Thanks for the reply.
Holy shit dude... I def feel it for you, cause that's more than a hiss lol... Given that it happens even through your USB stick, are there any other gadgets nearby that might be introducing interference to your setup? Especially since its happening in only one channel, what's situated near that speaker?

Sent from my SM-G955U1 using Tapatalk


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rgdaniel
Posts: 148
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Post 10 Nov 2018

Troublemecca wrote:
10 Nov 2018
Holy shit dude... I def feel it for you, cause that's more than a hiss lol... Given that it happens even through your USB stick, are there any other gadgets nearby that might be introducing interference to your setup? Especially since its happening in only one channel, what's situated near that speaker?


LOL, it's not nearly as dramatic, or loud, as the sample, just posted that to give a general idea. :)

The only thing anywhere near the speaker is a small desk lamp (incandescent) and it wasn't even on this morning when I heard the hum. Hasn't repeated yet, but I'm listening for it. The PC itself is near the other speaker (the powered one) but it's always been there, and has never been an issue.

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jam-s
Posts: 476
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Location: Aachen, Germany

Post 10 Nov 2018

It might be EMI/RFI from a bad DC/DC converter or power supply. You should check if it still happens when you unplug all non necessary plug packs or other electric equipment and then try to single out the one that's causing it.
If you're in Aachen, come and visit us at the Voidspace.

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rgdaniel
Posts: 148
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Post 10 Nov 2018

jam-s wrote:
10 Nov 2018
It might be EMI/RFI from a bad DC/DC converter or power supply. You should check if it still happens when you unplug all non necessary plug packs or other electric equipment and then try to single out the one that's causing it.
That's very interesting! Could be. There's no shortage of wall warts in my vast array of things that plug in at this end of the room. Between two computers, monitors, various external hard drives, router, cable modem, midi controller, etc., could be anything I guess. But nothing is closer than 2-3 feet away. Is that in range? Do they have to be ACTIVE or can they spew out their EMI when plugged in but not powered up?

None of these devices are "non-necessary", and it could be hours, or days, or never, before the buzz reoccurs, and I don't want to unplug the internet for that long, my wife would not be amused.

Is Bluetooth a possible culprit, do you think? I'm not a hundred percent sure of the timeline, but I THINK this may have all started around the time I got my new phone, which I have turned Bluetooth on. (On the old phone I never bothered, as the Bluetooth was a bit dodgy). Going to turn off Bluetooth anyway, just to see. Thanks for weighing in.

Edit: Bluetooth only used for talking to my Bluetooth headphones, which I only use when I'm in the workshop or doing yardwork.

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jam-s
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Location: Aachen, Germany

Post 10 Nov 2018

The new phone might also be the culprit if it's using some different frequency channels (5G or so).
If you're in Aachen, come and visit us at the Voidspace.

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FlowerSoldier
Posts: 451
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

Post 10 Nov 2018

You might consider getting a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).
I use one from APC and it stopped the same issue I was having with one of my Yamaha HS-7's. It has a power conditioner built in.
I changed all the cords and everything until I realized the ac source was the issue.
Also, bluetooth might be causing interference.

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rgdaniel
Posts: 148
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Post 10 Nov 2018

FlowerSoldier wrote:
10 Nov 2018
You might consider getting a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).
I use one from APC and it stopped the same issue I was having with one of my Yamaha HS-7's. It has a power conditioner built in.
I changed all the cords and everything until I realized the ac source was the issue.
Also, bluetooth might be causing interference.
I have an "APC Surge Arrest Professional" that everything else goes through, but that's not a UPS, I guess. Not sure if it has power conditioning, Google was ambiguous for me in that area. Going to look at UPS now. Thanks!

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Dante
Posts: 446
Joined: 06 Jun 2015
Location: Australia

Post 10 Nov 2018

This fixed it for me. Cheaper than a UPS

https://www.thortechnologies.com.au/product/smart-duo/

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rgdaniel
Posts: 148
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Post 10 Nov 2018

Dante wrote:
10 Nov 2018
This fixed it for me. Cheaper than a UPS

https://www.thortechnologies.com.au/product/smart-duo/
Interesting, thanks!

For now, I've turned off bluetooth on my phone, and swapped out the 3.5mm-to-phono cable that came with the speakers (it was noisy when I wiggled it) so we'll see what happens.... still hasn't reoccurred since 6 this morning... fingers crossed...

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rgdaniel
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Post 11 Nov 2018

Well, 18 hours later, the buzz finally came back for a few seconds. Swapping the audio cable and turning off bluetooth did not fix it, apparently. But I had one final brainstorm, which I don't know how I missed in the first place: Parked right next to the speaker, and turned on pretty much 24-7, is a mug warmer, a kind of small hotplate that I park my cup of tea on, like all the time. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if that mug warmer is reaching end-of-life. Anyway, I swapped it out for a warmer in the other room that does not get much use. This is literally my last idea. I mean I can't give up tea, so don't even think that. :)

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