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Recurring Sound Issue on DAC but not onboard Soundcard


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Currently I have a new desktop connected to my DAC (Steinberg UR12) via USB (tried powering using USB powered and powered to wall), which is then connected to my amp which is a Yamaha AX-497 via RCA cable, which then connects to 4 passive KEF speakers.

Only weeks earlier this system was connected to my old computer (ASUS X555 Laptop), and I never ever had any sound issues or problems at all with playback of music.

After a lot of conversations with friends who are audio enthusiasts and looking at forums online it sounds to me like it’s a ground loop issue, but maybe I am on the wrong track there (based on what I have found recently).

 

Here is a sample of what kind of noise I am getting from my audio.

https://youtu.be/th9oBTYVflw

 

It’s a whining noise and it recurs every so often when playing music on either YouTube, or iTunes. This noise does not occur when no playback of sound is occurring. However, if I plug headphones into the audio jack on the onboard soundcard on my desktop, no sound issue is heard.

 

So after finding this out, I ordered ART Dual Transformer / Isolator (DTI – Link Below) and another shielded RCA cable.

https://artproaudio.com/product/dti-dual-transformer-isolator/

 

The system then was Desktop>USB cable to Steinberg UR12 DAC> RCA cable from DAC to ART DTI> RCA cable from ART  DTI to Yamaha amp> Amp via stereo cables to 4 speakers. The idea of the ART DTI was to be a form of Galvanic isolation so that the noises from the desktop weren’t coming through the signals of the RCA cable. But after installing the ART DTI I was getting still the same sounds produced.

 

This was very frustrating as the guy at the audio shop thought this would isolate the two appliances, my desktop and my DAC, from creating a grounding loop. It seemed to make sense to me, but then no change in sound quality which was disappointing.

Things to note:

-my laptop doesn’t have this noise problem and never has with the exact same set up. I wonder if the noise is there because there has been a change of power supply? Or my desktop has RGB lighting and my laptop does not (interference?)?

-the DAC has been tested by being powered both with USB and via power to the wall with no change in the noise

-the noise I am experiencing isn’t occurring when no music is playing

-Dual Transformer / Isolator didn’t prevent the noise from occuring

 

What does this mean? I am very stuck here. I have no idea what is causing this problem or where to go next. Maybe I could try another type of DAC? Do I take the desktop back to the shop and look inside the case to see it is all grounded properly (I’m thinking maybe the power supplies ground isn’t a good enough connection - I remember grounding an amp in a car once and I wasn't getting good sound until the earth was attached to bare metal not painted metal - could this be a similar issue?)? Is the reason why the onboard sound card works and the external DAC doesn’t because the USB ports aren’t grounded well but the onboard 3.5mm jack output is?

Any help would be greatly appreciated on this one as I have been driven absolutely mad trying to solve this problem.

 

Thank you in advance,

James

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Currently I have a new desktop connected to my DAC (Steinberg UR12) via USB (tried powering using USB powered and powered to wall), which is then connected to my amp which is a Yamaha AX-497 via RCA cable, which then connects to 4 passive KEF speakers.

Only weeks earlier this system was connected to my old computer (ASUS X555 Laptop), and I never ever had any sound issues or problems at all with playback of music.

After a lot of conversations with friends who are audio enthusiasts and looking at forums online it sounds to me like it’s a ground loop issue, but maybe I am on the wrong track there (based on what I have found recently).

 

Here is a sample of what kind of noise I am getting from my audio.

https://youtu.be/th9oBTYVflw

 

It’s a whining noise and it recurs every so often when playing music on either YouTube, or iTunes. This noise does not occur when no playback of sound is occurring. However, if I plug headphones into the audio jack on the onboard soundcard on my desktop, no sound issue is heard.

 

So after finding this out, I ordered ART Dual Transformer / Isolator (DTI – Link Below) and another shielded RCA cable.

https://artproaudio.com/product/dti-dual-transformer-isolator/

 

The system then was Desktop>USB cable to Steinberg UR12 DAC> RCA cable from DAC to ART DTI> RCA cable from ART  DTI to Yamaha amp> Amp via stereo cables to 4 speakers. The idea of the ART DTI was to be a form of Galvanic isolation so that the noises from the desktop weren’t coming through the signals of the RCA cable. But after installing the ART DTI I was getting still the same sounds produced.

 

This was very frustrating as the guy at the audio shop thought this would isolate the two appliances, my desktop and my DAC, from creating a grounding loop. It seemed to make sense to me, but then no change in sound quality which was disappointing.

Things to note:

-my laptop doesn’t have this noise problem and never has with the exact same set up. I wonder if the noise is there because there has been a change of power supply? Or my desktop has RGB lighting and my laptop does not (interference?)?

-the DAC has been tested by being powered both with USB and via power to the wall with no change in the noise

-the noise I am experiencing isn’t occurring when no music is playing

-Dual Transformer / Isolator didn’t prevent the noise from occuring

 

What does this mean? I am very stuck here. I have no idea what is causing this problem or where to go next. Maybe I could try another type of DAC? Do I take the desktop back to the shop and look inside the case to see it is all grounded properly (I’m thinking maybe the power supplies ground isn’t a good enough connection - I remember grounding an amp in a car once and I wasn't getting good sound until the earth was attached to bare metal not painted metal - could this be a similar issue?)? Is the reason why the onboard sound card works and the external DAC doesn’t because the USB ports aren’t grounded well but the onboard 3.5mm jack output is?

Any help would be greatly appreciated on this one as I have been driven absolutely mad trying to solve this problem.

 

Thank you in advance,

James

 

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There is no easy way to identify noise other than systematically add or remove a bit of the gear at a time.

 

Maybe the additional cabling on the desktop is causing the problem.  It could be an additional cable causing a ground loop, a cable acting as an aerial.  It can be a RCA cable, USB cable, Ethernet cable, anything which conducts electrically.  Suggest removing all unnecessary gear and cable from desktop and gradually add them back one at a time.  

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Hi Snoop,

 

I removed all unnecessary gear from the desktop.  I had a Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Wifi Aerial, DAC, and external HDD plugged in. I removed the Wifi Aerial and external HDD first, and still no change. I then removed the keyboard and mouse as well, and still no change. I then tested the keyboard by itself, then the mouse by itself, then the monitor by itself. Then nothing but the DAC USB and Power cable to the desktop (even no monitor) and it still made the noise. Maybe it is something internally? I could take it back to the shop and get them to make sure the Power Supply is grounded properly. Does this point to an internal issue in your thoughts after hearing this?

 

Thank you for your reply:thumb:

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Guest Eggcup the Dafter

1) Check if there is an updated USB audio driver for your DAC

2) Check to see if this is happening with particular file types in iTunes.

3) Download or rip some uncompressed 16/44.1 music and play through different software players, and see if the problem occurs.

4) Check that the Steinberg DAC doesn't show this error in a different setup if you can (eg different computer, different connection type)

 

If there is firmware for the DAC, update that also.

 

I suspect the DAC is faulty itself, but try those things first.

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It could also be something faulty on the desktop. Perhaps a power supply or USB port about to go? Also, try temporarily grounding the desktop,  DAC or its power supply. But please do not open anything up.

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48 minutes ago, Eggcup the Dafter said:

1) Check if there is an updated USB audio driver for your DAC

2) Check to see if this is happening with particular file types in iTunes.

3) Download or rip some uncompressed 16/44.1 music and play through different software players, and see if the problem occurs.

4) Check that the Steinberg DAC doesn't show this error in a different setup if you can (eg different computer, different connection type)

 

If there is firmware for the DAC, update that also.

 

I suspect the DAC is faulty itself, but try those things first.

1) All USBs are already up to date along with the Steinberg UR12 DAC

2) All files on the Desktop in iTunes or VLC medial player have this horrible noise. On my laptop, plugged into the Steinberg UR 12 there is no horrible noise in iTunes, YouTube or VLC. Both computers have been tested playing lossless audio files. The desktop also has a horrible noise playing music on Brave browser on YouTube.

3) Music I  am playing is ALAC

4) My laptop works with the Steinberg DAC every time all the time with no sound issues, never had an issue. It is only on the desktop I get this

....

Well HELLO! Just now, I updated the Steinberg UR12 Firmware from the website and the noise is gone! :thumb::hyper: John you are an absolute legend mate! This has truly been driving me insane for weeks! I tested YouTube and iTunes and the sound has gone.

 

Thank you Snoop as well for putting time into helping me solve this issue. You're also a legend!:thumb:

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Guest Eggcup the Dafter

Phew! 

 

I nearly forgot to mention firmware!

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