Front panel audio noise

The place to sound off on all things related to audio, from sound cards to speakers.

Moderator: Captain Ned

Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:39 pm

I have noticed this type of issue on many different machines that I have built: The audio coming out of the front panel jack has an annoying level of noise. Increasing volume can offset it so that it becomes an insignificant value compared to the actual signal, but sometimes (like with headphones) that's not a feasible thing to do. It can't really be anything other than EMI near the wire because in these situations the back panel is comparatively noise-free.

So I might be able to reduce the noise by trying to shield the wire somehow using foil. That's not going to be very easy to do. The cable isn't easy to replace on most cases either.

Is there some way I can rectify this issue by shorting certain pins to ground? Otherwise I'm stuck with the back panel plug and dealing with extension cords when my headphones won't reach.
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:47 pm

I get this too! I would LOVE a solution! There MUST be a solution!!! :evil:
thegleek
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7359
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:06 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:56 pm

thegleek wrote:I get this too! I would LOVE a solution! There MUST be a solution!!! :evil:

Here's another vote for this. I currently use an extension cord.
(My build, thanks to TR) i5-3570k | P8Z77-V | DDR3 1600 (4x4 GB) | 7950 | m4 128 GB | Blue SE16 500 GB | Green SE16 1 TB | Xonar DG | M12II 520 W | 550D | LP2475W | Blu-Ray | Shine Zero | MX310 | Windows 7 Home Premium SP1
integer
Gerbil Team Leader
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 289
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:23 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:15 pm

On one of the machines I built where this noise was incredibly loud, the GPU was a HD 6870. If I recall correctly the audio cable passed right across it diagonally. I was not able to see if the quality of the noise changed when not running a game, though. I suspect the other big source of EMI would be the PSU, and the motherboard is also likely to contribute.
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:15 pm

The only solution that doesn't involve running an extension cable around to the back is to replace the crappy cable that came with your case. Cable designed for audio use, or (in a pinch) a length of USB cable with the connectors snipped off should have sufficient shielding to reduce the amount of noise the cable picks up. You'll need to splice the cable to the existing connectors, minimizing the length of the unshielded section.

Caveat: While noise pickup in the cable is indeed the most likely culprit, it could also be that the motherboard traces running to the front panel header are to blame; if this is the case, replacing the cable won't help.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:16 pm

Check if the front panel board has EMI filtration. If not, you can build and install a standard EMI filter as noted in the Intel HDA design spec. Not every motherboard has filtration.
A novice asked the master: "What is the true meaning of programming?"
The master replied: "Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are fatigued, program when the moment is right."
-- The Tao of Programming
bigfootape
Gerbil
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2003 12:43 pm

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:39 pm

just brew it! wrote:The only solution that doesn't involve running an extension cable around to the back is to replace the crappy cable that came with your case. Cable designed for audio use, or (in a pinch) a length of USB cable with the connectors snipped off should have sufficient shielding to reduce the amount of noise the cable picks up. You'll need to splice the cable to the existing connectors, minimizing the length of the unshielded section.

Caveat: While noise pickup in the cable is indeed the most likely culprit, it could also be that the motherboard traces running to the front panel header are to blame; if this is the case, replacing the cable won't help.

I would hope some website would sell some PREMIUM audio cable replacement for mobo's... Somewhere in the $25-50 range wouldn't be bad. Even if they made it out of rare elements, and something crazy for $50-100 would be fine too. ANYTHING to get rid of this damn noise!!!
thegleek
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7359
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:06 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:44 pm

thegleek wrote:Something crazy for $50-100 would be fine too. ANYTHING to get rid of this damn noise!!!
$80½ or double that. The latter is a sure-fire solution for quality front-panel headphone outputs.
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
JustAnEngineer
Gerbil God
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 15323
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: The Heart of Dixie

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:51 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:double that. The latter is a sure-fire solution for quality front-panel headphone outputs.

Oh man! And the review is SO fitting for my needs: "really love this card, super easy to install, don't be afraid of the reviews, i'm on win 7 64bit and i didn't have any problems with drivers or any of that other bs that people were complaining about... buy one! you'll love it too!"
thegleek
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7359
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:06 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:07 pm

Wouldn't the ghetto solution just be to plug your stuff into the rear panel audio ports of your motherboard? You could buy a 1/8" male to 1/8" female cable and tape it to the side of your case (make sure to use ugly gray tape that will leave tons of gunk) for extra points.
i5-750 @ 3.3 GHz; Asus P7P55D-E Pro; Thermalright Silver Arrow; Antec P183; 4 GB; 2x Radeon HD 6950; Corsair HX650.
UltimateImperative
Gerbil First Class
 
Posts: 135
Joined: Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:48 am
Location: The Enn See Arrr, Central-Eastern Canuckisthan.

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:17 pm

It seems like a good clean way to fix the issue is if there existed an affordable but quality product, maybe a fan control panel perhaps, which fits into a 5.25" bay and provides a properly shielded HD-Audio / AC97 audio cable to plug into our motherboard.

Other than that we basically have to rely on our case manufacturer to not screw it up.
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:17 am

The Intel recommended front panel HDA cable calls for four shielded twisted pairs, bundled and further shielded by metallized mylar and a 65% copper braid, with all shields and the braid tied to analog ground at both ends. This (grounding at both ends) happens to be wrong, but I doubt that it matters since I doubt that most case manufacturers would take the trouble to build such a cable anyway. If you want to inspect your current setup, take a look at both ends of your front panel cable - if there's no "pigtail" coming out of the cable and connecting to either pin 2 of the connector on the mobo end of the cable or coming out of the cable and connecting to pin 2 (or the chassis itself) at the front panel end of the cable, then you have an incorrectly shielded cable.

You can try an easy mod if you're handy. Strip back part of the black jacketing and gather up the braid. Twist it, solder it together, and add enough wire to allow you to connect the braid to pin 2. This will provide a ground path for the shield currents and will make the shield actually work. Or, if you'd rather, you can do the same mod at the other end of the cable and attach the pigtail to the chassis, but this is often much harder. Oh, and whatever you do, CLOSE THE SIDE OF THE CASE AND DO ALL YOUR BRAID TWISTING AND SOLDERING WORK OUTSIDE OF THE CASE. Braids like to shed very fine short conductors all over the place.

If there's no braid under the jacket then you're kinda stuck. Blame your case manufacturer. There are add-on hollow braids, but they're not commonly stocked. You can try an overwrap with aluminum foil and then a jacket of Teflex. Or you can try rebuilding with shielded CAT5e, which includes a copper drain wire for the shield.
This problem was caused by Windows, which was created by Microsoft Corporation.
sluggo
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1536
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:44 pm
Location: under the table and dreaming

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:34 am

sluggo wrote:The Intel recommended front panel HDA cable calls for four shielded twisted pairs, bundled and further shielded by metallized mylar and a 65% copper braid, with all shields and the braid tied to analog ground at both ends. This (grounding at both ends) happens to be wrong, but I doubt that it matters since I doubt that most case manufacturers would take the trouble to build such a cable anyway.

The ground loop probably matters a lot less if the shield isn't also tied to the neutral leg of the signal pairs at both ends. But I wouldn't count on case manufacturers to get that right either, so...
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:52 pm

@thegleek, if you grab that card, while much higher up then mine, I have the Extreme Gamer one, go and grab drivers from this site.

They made a "noticeable" difference for me, just make sure it is a clean install, ie:get rid of everything related to the "original" creative drivers.

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/pax-drivers/
credible
Gerbil First Class
 
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:47 pm

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:31 pm

The current beta of the Creative drivers works well and includes the features hacked into the third-party ones.
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
JustAnEngineer
Gerbil God
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 15323
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: The Heart of Dixie

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:42 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:The current beta of the Creative drivers works well and includes the features hacked into the third-party ones.


Interesting JaE, I am usually pretty good checking for driver updates, though I might add, if my system is performing to my satisfaction I'm not as anal about it as I can be,lol.

So far as Creative goes, I have had this card for quite awhile and had seen no new drivers for awhile so have not checked recently, though I do run the included updated utility it probably does not count the beta driver.


Thanx though I will go check, but I have to admit, so far as I'm concerned it still reflects badly on Creative that it took years and an aftermarket enthusiast to get them to "fix" their own drivers.
credible
Gerbil First Class
 
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:47 pm

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:27 pm

Is it that these cards provide better positional audio via OpenAL and the like? Integrated audio tends to be decent enough sound quality for music these days, since you'd use the optical digital output if you care about that.
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:21 pm

The best solution is to not use analog audio at all at the front of the PC. Electrically, a PC is a very noisy place and analog solutions are all going to be subject to at a little EMF. I would buy an inexpesive USB DAC and plug it into one one the USB ports you have at the front of your PC.

http://hifiman.us/Products/?pid=113
cjcerny
Gerbil First Class
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:58 pm

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:04 pm

cjcerny wrote:The best solution is to not use analog audio at all at the front of the PC. Electrically, a PC is a very noisy place and analog solutions are all going to be subject to at a little EMF. I would buy an inexpesive USB DAC and plug it into one one the USB ports you have at the front of your PC.

http://hifiman.us/Products/?pid=113

There's also the Turtle Beach Micro II: http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sou ... ro-ii.aspx

Specs aren't as good as the HiFiMAN you linked, but it also costs $15 less.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:08 pm

That would mean yet another USB peripheral. Perhaps the 5.25 bay front panel audio would be a DAC and receive a digital signal from mobo/soundcard. Is that $160 item linked before the only such type of device?
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:33 pm

APWNH wrote:That would mean yet another USB peripheral.

...and that's a show-stopper? You've already got 3 reasonable (and relatively low-cost) solutions on the table: A) Extension cord from rear panel; B) USB DAC; C) hack together a shielded cable.

APWNH wrote:Perhaps the 5.25 bay front panel audio would be a DAC and receive a digital signal from mobo/soundcard. Is that $160 item linked before the only such type of device?

Does your mobo have an internal SPDIF out header? Unless it does, a front panel DAC isn't going to do you any good (assuming such a thing exists).
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:39 pm

APWNH wrote:That would mean yet another USB peripheral. Perhaps the 5.25 bay front panel audio would be a DAC and receive a digital signal from mobo/soundcard. Is that $160 item linked before the only such type of device?


The "160$ item" listed earlier is a Creative sound card and the proprietary Creative breakout box. That 5.25" box only works with the family of card it comes with. It's not a DAC, either, it's just a set of input/outputs, and a big cable bundle with a bunch of analog signals and a SPDIF or two.
I've been here long enough that I think I can forgo a signature.
Forge
Darth Gerbil
 
Posts: 7957
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2001 7:00 pm
Location: SouthEast PA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:04 pm

just brew it! wrote:
cjcerny wrote:The best solution is to not use analog audio at all at the front of the PC. Electrically, a PC is a very noisy place and analog solutions are all going to be subject to at a little EMF. I would buy an inexpesive USB DAC and plug it into one one the USB ports you have at the front of your PC.

http://hifiman.us/Products/?pid=113

There's also the Turtle Beach Micro II: http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sou ... ro-ii.aspx

Specs aren't as good as the HiFiMAN you linked, but it also costs $15 less.

These little things are pretty cool! I didn't know they could be so small.
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:21 pm

APWNH wrote:
just brew it! wrote:There's also the Turtle Beach Micro II: http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sou ... ro-ii.aspx

Specs aren't as good as the HiFiMAN you linked, but it also costs $15 less.

These little things are pretty cool! I didn't know they could be so small.

Not at all amazing when you consider how small portable MP3 players have gotten. A Sansa Clip+ player packs a reasonably decent DAC, *and* an OLED display, *and* a lithium-ion battery, *and* a few gig of flash memory, *and* an external micro-SD card interface, *and* an FM radio receiver, *and* a microphone (for the voice memo recorder feature), *and* a CPU to run it all... into something not much larger than that Turtle Beach Micro II! (The biggest problem we've had in this family with Sansa Clip players is that they're so small they keep getting lost... :lol:)
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:01 am

The reason I was surprised by its size was I have a USB sound card here that I got to use as a DAC for controlling a laser projector (set of galvanometers), and it's... not tiny. Of course that's why it was recommended for that purpose because then it's not difficult to disassemble to get at the solder points to bypass the caps.
Silverstone SG06: 2500K@4.5Ghz on Corsair H80 Push+Pull Scythe Kama Flow 2, Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670, ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT, 16GB Patriot DDR3-1600 @1T, OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
APWNH
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3161
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 9:10 pm
Location: Burlington MA

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:39 am

APWNH wrote:The reason I was surprised by its size was I have a USB sound card here that I got to use as a DAC for controlling a laser projector (set of galvanometers), and it's... not tiny. Of course that's why it was recommended for that purpose because then it's not difficult to disassemble to get at the solder points to bypass the caps.

Ahh, OK. Something along the lines of the old USB SoundBlaster Live, I presume? I've got one of those in my junk collection at home somewhere.

But my point remains -- if you can cram an entire music player and FM radio into something the size of a matchbook, USB DACs like that Turtle Beach are actually quite a bit *larger* than they need to be! :wink:
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:59 am

I believe Startech makes a $20 USB DAC that you can buy from Newegg. Any USB DAC would work, as long as you are willing to sacrifice a USB port to the cause. Also, no driver necessary--Win XP, Vista, and 7 all have a built in driver for them.
cjcerny
Gerbil First Class
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:58 pm

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:07 am

APWNH wrote:
just brew it! wrote:There's also the Turtle Beach Micro II: http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sou ... ro-ii.aspx

Only flaw I see is it's output only. No input.
thegleek
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7359
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:06 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:49 am

thegleek wrote:
APWNH wrote:
just brew it! wrote:There's also the Turtle Beach Micro II: http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sou ... ro-ii.aspx

Only flaw I see is it's output only. No input.

Pretty sure the product linked in the post I was responding to was output only as well. But point taken -- if you need to replace your mic input too, you'll need to look elsewhere.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37479
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Front panel audio noise

Postposted on Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:26 pm

The M-Audio Micro has an 1/8" stereo line/microphone input (and ASIO drivers, for that matter, though you can go driver-less for just plain USB audio). Unfortunately I can't find it for sale without being bundled with an Avid KeyStudio right now. The Avid shop usually has it for $30.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do.
derFunkenstein
Gerbil God
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 21253
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:13 pm
Location: WHAT?


Return to Echo Vale

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests