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Buzzing on audio when connected to front panel audio on Corsair Graphite 600T

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi

I have a very strange issue. I own a Graphite 600T chassis for some time now. My motherboard is an Asus Sabertooth P67 with latest BIOS.

I used to run the front panel audio from my onboard sound using a pair of headphones no problem (other than Skyrim voices being soft, but that is a Realtek and Skyrim issue only).

I bought a second-hand (but brand new an unused) Asus Xonar DG sound card from a friend. The front panel audio of my Graphite 600T was also connected to this sound card and used with headphones - no problem here. I got the Xonar DG as I wanted to enhance my audio experience as well as make use of the Dolby Headphones capabilities for virtual surround sound effects. This however did not sound as great as everyone made it out to be. The Dolby Headphones effects sounded very hollow and spaced out. I hated it.

I then took a chance to buy a Creative Sound Blaster Z as it has received very few (but good) reviews. Apparently much better than the Recon3D fiasco. Again I connected my front panel audio to this new card as well. That is when I noticed a slight (almost inaudible) buzzing noise on my headphones. If I play any games, the buzzing is a bit more audible than just idling in Windows. At first when trying Skyrim I though that there area I was in inside the game itself had some kind of humming/buzzing insects in the wild, but when I relocated to a city, the buzzing was still present. I tried 2 other games and confirmed that this buzzing was present in them as well.

A bit miserable, I suspected at first that my Sound Blaster Z is faulty. I tried a couple of things to fix it: Stopped each fan by hand manually inside the chassis to eliminate electrical or magnet interference possibilities form them. I stopped my Corsair Hydro H100 water cooler pump as well, same issue.

Then I made a strange discovery, if I connect the headphones directly at the back of the card to its dedicated headphones jack, the buzzing ceases completely. If I connect it back to the front panel audio, the buzzing is present. This is very confusing...

Why would the front panel audio on my onboard sound and my Xonar work fine, but not with the Sound Blaster? Secondly, why would the issue not persist if I bypass the front panel audio header and instead use it connected directly to the card? Is there some interference that the Sound Blaster is more sensitive to? Is it the chassis? Is it grounding? Is it my PSU? (though I doubt it as a have a decent Corsair HX750). Is it the new Sound Blaster?

Anyone's help or input would be highly appreciated. Thanks

PS: I must admit that I do prefer this Sound Blaster's virtual surround sound effects (SBX Pro Studio: SBX Surround) MUCH MORE than the equivalent Dolby Headphones effects provided by the Xonar range of cards (i even had the Xonar Xense a while back and returned it as it sounded crap in my opinion). The Dolby Headphones effect just sounds to hollow and spaced out.
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post #2 of 9
Hi, I have a pro-audio background and have a lot of experience with hi end audio products. Chasing down a hum like that can be very difficult. It is most likely caused by many indeterminable things. I guess one way to explain it is like this have you ever heard a retail store anti theft system go off when someone was walking in? You probably think they have a tag on them somewhere but the truth is it is most likely inference from an electronic device on them. Audio/radio signals can be very finicky you could find that if you put that card in another computer it does not have that problem you could even find that the same exact model but just a different card may not have the issue. I doubt the card is defective but when we are talking about interference it is kinda like the chaos theory.

If it is pci express I would try plugging it into one of your pcie 16x slots if you have a spare. Any small change may solve the problem. If not I would exchange it for another one because like I said the tiniest little things cause the problem you are having.
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post #3 of 9
What about an unshielded front panel I/O wire? That's waht I always thought the hum was, so I use the back ports. Also, doesn't the new Creative Z have a specific headphone port around the back?
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubers View Post

What about an unshielded front panel I/O wire? That's waht I always thought the hum was, so I use the back ports. Also, doesn't the new Creative Z have a specific headphone port around the back?

Wire should be covered with insulation all over. Also, I never had this buzzing (interference) while connected to onboard audio or the Asus Xonar DG sound card.

Yes the Sound Blaster Z does have a dedicated output at the back for headphones, but like I said, my Sony headphones has a short cable and I do have the facility to use the front panel audio which should work. If you know my positioning of my chair and chassis at home you would understand
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by givmedew View Post

Hi, I have a pro-audio background and have a lot of experience with hi end audio products. Chasing down a hum like that can be very difficult. It is most likely caused by many indeterminable things. I guess one way to explain it is like this have you ever heard a retail store anti theft system go off when someone was walking in? You probably think they have a tag on them somewhere but the truth is it is most likely inference from an electronic device on them. Audio/radio signals can be very finicky you could find that if you put that card in another computer it does not have that problem you could even find that the same exact model but just a different card may not have the issue. I doubt the card is defective but when we are talking about interference it is kinda like the chaos theory.
If it is pci express I would try plugging it into one of your pcie 16x slots if you have a spare. Any small change may solve the problem. If not I would exchange it for another one because like I said the tiniest little things cause the problem you are having.

Hi thank you for the reply. I fully understand what you mean, though I'd really like to fix it and still make use of the front panel audio connector if I can. Sure, I have a x16 PCIe slot open (no longer have SLI - too much heat generated). I guess I can give that a try...

If that doesn't work, I am not sure what else to do or try headscratch.gif
Edited by CTV - 12/6/12 at 5:27am
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post #6 of 9
Ah, well I've always had buzzing while using the front panel for headphones. It's only noticeable when there is no audio playing but I always thought it was because the cable was unshielded. Also, I mean EMI shielding, not that rubber/plastic crap they use in manufacturing. Maybe the creative is more susceptible to it?
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Gets more interesting. When I moved the card over to my spare 16x PCIe slot, there is no buzzing if connected both at the back of the card, as well as the front panel audio. It would appear the issue is somehow isolated to the following factors which must be met:

1.) Sound Blaster Z sound card (not other cards)
2.) Front panel audio connection
3.) x1 PCIe slot(s) only, as x16 slot is fine

My only concern leaving is configured this way is that one fan on my GTX 670 may not get the most optimal airflow, however I can just monitor it while pushing the card to its limits through gaming and monitoring via MSI Afterburner.

Another interesting option I found in my EUFI BIOS under Advanced Mode > Advanced > Onboard Devices Configuration > PCI Express x1_2 Slot Configuration - which is set to U3 Mode. The settings and descriptions are as follows: U3 Mode - USB3_34 is enabled and PCIe x1_2 slot will be disabled. X1 Mode - PCIe x1_2 slot runs at x1 link and USB3_34 will be disabled. I wonder if this is referring to the x1 slot directly below my primary x16 slot and little bit above my secondary x16 slot (basically in the middle of the two). If that is the case then perhaps this setting will have no effect as the slot in question is the x1 above my primary x16 slot. Or perhaps it may have an effect as both x1 slots share the same bus of which one is configured in what would appear to be USB 3 mode which could perhaps cause some electrical or magnetically interference on both x1 slots.... Hmmmm... I will change that setting and move the card back to a 1x slot and see if that theory holds any merit.

I will try this later when I have more patience and report back
Edited by CTV - 12/6/12 at 10:07am
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post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Ok, so those settings in the EUFI BIOS mentioned in my previous post did not do the trick while the card is installed in the x1 slot. I have identified only two workarounds:

1.) Use the dedicated headphones port on the back of the card if installed in the x1 slot (not ideal as I prefer to use the front panel audio). This buzzing issue may be present in this slot as it is placed directly above the primary graphics card which may send some EMI interference to the sound card above due to its close proximity.
2.) Use a spare x16 slot (if any available) then both the back and front panel audio works without the buzzing. The only potential issue as mentioned in the one fan on my GTX 670 which may not get optimal air, though it is spaced about 1 and a half slots apart so it should be ok. Maybe I'm just overly concerned as I had thermal issues with SLI when I used to run it, though I don't think it will be this case this time as the sound card does not restrict airflow of both fans like another GTX 670 would, nor does the sound card generate nearly as much heat as another secondary graphics card. Will monitor with MSI Afterburner

Thanks to everyone for their input. Take care...
Edited by CTV - 12/6/12 at 12:18pm
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post #9 of 9
Can you exchange this card. If the 16x slot trick did I would imagine that it is a very tiny design issue I would not even call it a flaw but the smallest difference could solve the issue so even another of the same model card could end up being fine.

I know this is not ideal but if you can pull the audio cable out and instead of running it through the back of the computer push it through the middle area and re-connect it then try your headphone and move the cable around if it is still humming. I doubt this is the problem but it could be. The reason I doubt it is the problem is although I have never checked I would expect that cable to be twisted inside and maybe even have a foil shield meaning that it really would not pick up noise.

Is the connecter ac'97 or hd?

If your ok with leaving it in the 16 slot then great and don't try that stuff smile.gif
Edited by givmedew - 12/6/12 at 2:00pm
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