Peripherals forum

Resolved Question

Audio "pops with USB DAC for the first fraction of a second.

by asortofdream / January 29, 2013 10:02 AM PST

I have a TubeMagic DAC that connects to my computer via USB. I first noticed a popping sound coming from the DAC hardware box when the silent loading screens initiated in SpecOps: The Line.

I later noticed popping in the speakers during movie playback and during the first few notes of any song in Winamp.

Progression and location of events; works box is popping while plugged into real USB port > plug into externally AC powered USB hob and works fine. starts popping a month later. > plug into front usb ports and second hub, notice sound is louder and no pops.

Anyone have any clue as to the likely cause? Static in the motherboard? Underpowered/overpowered USB ports? Drivers?

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by asortofdream

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(NT) Do other USB DACs work?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 30, 2013 12:00 AM PST
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yes, other devices work fine.
by asortofdream / January 30, 2013 1:21 AM PST

Yes, other peripheral devices, including a Xmod USB sound card work fine.

I've heard numerous people make similar complaints about static and popping with the TubeMagic but nobody seems to have found the culprit. I think I've localized the problem to motherboard static, USB power surges or voltage under supply, and/or drivers. I'd sincerely appreciate any guesses as how plausible any of these possible causes are for static and popping through the speakers alongside a "popping" from the DAC.

Two types of "pops" sound from the actual hardware. One sounds like a jittering buzz I associate with static. The other is a "clicking" sound identical to that made by a XonarSTX on start up or when switching modes. I'm not worried about this second type, as I understand that is the sound of transistors powering up.

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I think you found it.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 30, 2013 1:22 AM PST

But are having a hard time accepting that the product has a defect. Since it is defective, return it and don't use it again.

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by asortofdream / January 30, 2013 3:57 AM PST
In reply to: I think you found it.

It's not defective under all circumstances. It's only problematic depending on what USB port it is plugged into.

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But it is defective.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 30, 2013 4:02 AM PST
In reply to: almost.

And does not work in all ports. All this means is that there is no reason to keep it unless you can live with a crappy thing.

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thanks and final question.
by asortofdream / January 30, 2013 10:03 AM PST
In reply to: But it is defective.

Thanks for your help, Bob. I'm confident you're right that it's a hardware malfunction but I'm trending toward thinking the problem is due to a design defect.

One more question, are you familiar enough with hardware to make a suggestion on what might cause the hardware to emit a static buzz at times? I'm more interested in finding a cause than a solution (solution being: as you suggest, returning a poorly designed device).

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The designer maker may know.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 30, 2013 12:31 PM PST

It's a long list of things from a driver issue to power available on the USB port. I get those USB DAC things for 2 to 3 bucks to my mailbox to sub in for failed onboard audio. So when I get a bum one I give it to a buddy that seems to want to try to fix everything.

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Quality matters
by Willy / February 4, 2013 12:33 AM PST

Now you know why some devices cost more than others for the same function. Audio bounds, but solutions are sometimes build-in to better handle them. Seeing some DAC devices handling low voltages, etc. and then the make-up of the components, you wonder if it can handle as they are easily over-whelmed it seems to me at times. Just the plain fact, you get a pop is not unheard of as being-ON just got an unwanted audio response. Just cranking up the audio may cause a "hum" from speakers in just about any audio system. So, you get what you pay for, IMHO.

tada -----Willy Happy

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by asortofdream / February 4, 2013 3:11 AM PST
In reply to: Quality matters

Thank you Willy and Bob. You both make great points. I did buy an entry level audiophile DAC and I do sense that the produce is being "overwhelmed" by electrical signals as Willy comments.

I couldn't figure out how to close the thread after Bob's last response which I found satisfactory.

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Similar problem
by mjd420nova / February 7, 2013 12:13 AM PST

I had the same problem with a user installed Creative Sound card. I found the DAC lines into the card to be hanging near the power for a DVD drive. After wrapping and grounding foil over the digital lines and dressing the power lines from the PS solved the popping and clicks and even reduced some hum.

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