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High-pitched noise driving me nuts

  • Sound Cards
  • Components
Last response: in Components
October 16, 2006 5:56:36 AM

About five months ago I built this PC and up until a few days ago all was well. Then I started hearing a very soft, high-pitched tone. It seems to come and go as it pleases. (I can't really link it to any event on the system; I can just be sitting staring at the screen doing absolutely nothing, in the middle of a game, playing music, typing, etc, and it will suddenly start and then it goes away equally inexplicably). It's really starting to get annoying because it seems like it's on at least half the time I'm using my PC now. (Typically comes on for a few minutes, then goes away for a minute or two, then comes back.)

I can hear it on my speakers (plugged in the rear jack) and my headphones (plugged in the front jack) and muting the volume control in Windows does not make it go away. I have up-to-date audio drivers and have made no notable changes to my system in the past month or two. My audio device is an integrated Realtek ALC850 onboard my ASUS A8N5X motherboard, OS is Windows XP Pro and power supply is an Antec SmartPower 2.0 450W ATX12V v2.01 (included with an Antec LifeStyle SONATA II case). If you feel other specs are relevant I can post them. Any suspicions as to what's wrong? Any help you can provide is appreciated beyond words!

More about : high pitched noise driving nuts

October 16, 2006 6:38:54 AM

Any help you can provide is appreciated beyond words!

Wow it must really be annoying you...

Well almost straight away I was going to suggest the hard drive or a fan dying (since my old HD whines like crazy), and then you had to go and say you heard it through your speakers...

Ok, since your using onboard sound, it could be EMI (electromagnetic interference) from the motherboards circuitry thats being picked up and fed thru to your speakers (and headphones). But as you said its only been doing it recently, so either thats not the problem or you just never noticed it before. Have you moved anything near your pc or speakers that could possibly produce EMI?

If you have a sound card lying around, even an old one (as long as its pci), then try using that and see if it fixes the problem. If it does, then its likely the mobo circuits creating EMI. And even if it doesnt, you might as well stick with the sound card since it will have better sound than the onboard anyway (unless its really old) coz realtek is pretty poor.
October 16, 2006 7:07:56 AM

Do you have a crt monitor? If so then maybe thats the source.
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October 16, 2006 7:10:41 AM

Normally its the other way around, ie. the speakers affect the CRT monitor, but it may be possible, considering the amounts of radiation the things give off :wink: . If you use LCD then you got no problems.

EDIT: Were you talking about the monitor making the noise itseslf or causing interference? Because my CRT buzzes, but I dont hear it thru the speakers...
October 16, 2006 7:37:32 AM

Yeah, I suspected it might be interference, but its sudden manifestation has me confused as well. :)  As a matter of fact, I just might have an old sound card hanging around (I didn't even think of it until you mentioned it) so I'll dig around and see if I can find it if we still have it. Otherwise, I could probably borrow a friend's just to see if it fixes the problem... Anyway I'll check it out and let you know what happens.
October 16, 2006 9:19:26 AM

I was thinking the same thing about the fan or the HDD until he mentioned speakers. :-P Try just moving your speakers farther away, or upgrading your speaker wiring as another solution if all else fails. Chances are it's EMI inside your case. EMI can even be caused by loose metallic parts moving inside your computer. Make sure all PCI slot covers are secure and all screws. Try keeping all powercords off the mobo too if you can as these can sometimes cause interference.
October 16, 2006 10:46:13 AM

Could it be coming from PC-Speaker?
October 16, 2006 10:52:09 AM

He made it sound as if it's an internal noise as well in his first post. Hell, maybe his CPU fan is causing a rackus and it's reverbarating in his sound. He should try turning off all of his case fans to see if maybe it's got something to do with one of those. Sometimes the oddest things can make something malfunction. Ever watch the tv show "House?" :-P Oh, and the other day I bought some tires and one went flat by the next morning. Bad valve stem. You just never know what to expect.
October 16, 2006 11:02:24 AM

I remember a case when my computer didn't turn on at all at the push of the Start button, but the PC-speaker made weird continuous screetchy noise until you pressed the Start button again to turn it off. Everyone thought there was a short-circuit somewhere on the motherboard and so I exchanged for a new one in RMA. The problem continued and it turned out to be broken PSU.
October 16, 2006 5:31:36 PM

Did you try hitting the PSU like "The Fonz?" :-P
October 17, 2006 9:08:41 PM

Ever watch the tv show "House?" :-P

I love that show. :lol:  Anyway it turns out I don't have that sound card anymore, but in a few days I'll be helping a friend install a new DVD burner, so if he has a sound card I can probably borrow his. I'll report back by the end of the week.
October 17, 2006 10:41:18 PM

Simple works.

In many sound cards... if the mic imput is not muted, and the volume is up, you will get endless feedback resulting in a moderatly quiet super high pitched noise comming from the speakers. The CRT monitors make this sound at a bit higher frequency, and a bit quieter... and it would have disapeared when the monitor is off.

And HOUSE is freaking awesome. The last episode of season 2 was beter then any horror movie in the last few years. (except maybe saw)
October 18, 2006 1:03:31 AM

Never saw Saw. :-P I'm not a fan of gore and dehumanizing sub-cultures. However, I do enjoy a decent action drama now and then. I'm starting to work my way through "The Shield" and it's so-so. I've watched Alias, Deadwood, Sopranos, Into The West, Band of Brothers, etc etc etc. I love series TV on DVD. :-P Jennifer is hot, Deadwood (the earlier ones) is badass, Sopranos was cool for awhile, Into the West was sad, Band of Brothers is just great. If you haven't seen the last one, you MUST! I'll be renting Grey's Anatomy here soon, and we own House and Scrubs now too. Also, just got done watching "Over the Hedge" with the GF. I love modern day animated movies. So wholesome, funny, and great for any audience. Unless you're a non-sap, non-humorous kinda person. At the end of the movie it mentioned AMD Opteron and how it was rendered using it. :-P Had the logo and everything. Opteron? Overclocked no doubt. If three smiley emoticons wasn't's four. :-)
October 24, 2006 10:10:59 PM

Okay, I finally got that sound card installed (the poorly written drivers made it quite a time-consuming task). I think that's eliminated the noise for the most part. I can still hear a very, very soft noise in the background, but much quieter than before - and now it's completely drowned out by anything that listen to, so I guess it's acceptable. Thanks for the help!
October 24, 2006 10:55:18 PM

Glad to hear you got it figured out, wasn't me that helped you but I'm happy for you nonetheless. A bit of a buzz is normal unless you pay a ton of cash. My subwoofer buzzes a bit and if I crank my speaks up I can hear them too. I switched drivers when NVidia released the latest and it created a ton of noise so I had to revert back. Drivers are the root of sooo many problems. I had to update the bios in my gf's old Dell just to make a printer work, and you don't even want to hear about the hassels my two XP Pro X64 OS's have with drivers. It is getting better, but it'll be interesting to see how Vista X64 turns out. I wonder if people will even buy it. MS will sell windows...period. Why they don't just sell Vista for X64 ONLY I don't know. New processors are supporting it, and people are starting to buy 1gig of ram in new comps consistently. Get this, I had a few issues with some websites (like imbedded video and music) and IE6 crashing. I upgraded to IE7 and the problem is no more. But naturally, I have new issues. On when I click the "see more" button under computer part makers to see other options, the menu doesn't appear. =\ Internet browsing really shouldn't be this hard, should it? Can someone here convince me Mac is better? I'll convert if you pay me a very small sum.
October 25, 2006 5:30:59 AM

Why they don't just sell Vista for X64 ONLY I don't know.

Allow me to impart my knowledge onto you :wink: If you are a money-grabbing corporation (as MS is), you want to support as many customers as possible (unless unprofitable). People are still using native 32-bit processors and until the majority are using 64-bit, microsoft will continue to support 32-bit. Once 32-bit becomes a small minority, the profit margins in that area of the market will be out-wayed by the need for constant support, and MS will drop it altogether.
October 25, 2006 6:09:43 AM

Maybe You've got a Tumor! :lol: 

Sorry couldn't help myself. :( 
October 25, 2006 6:13:36 AM

I would check the power supply. Since the sound wasn't present in the beginning (presumably while the PSU was new), perhaps the capacitors have started leaking some current which inevitably leads into a problem you have described.
Sound card may alleviate the problem because it has additional filtering capacitors but it doesn't solve it and you may end up with some fried components in the long run. So, try another high-quality PSU with aluminium capacitors first.
If it is not the PSU then it is the capacitors on the mainboard -- I had a problem with one Gigabyte board where capacitors started leaking causing audible buzz on my Audigy 2 ZS and I returned the mainboard. They tested it, heard the same thing and I got the replacement no questions asked.
October 25, 2006 9:13:35 AM

Why they don't just sell Vista for X64 ONLY I don't know.

Allow me to impart my knowledge onto you :wink: If you are a money-grabbing corporation (as MS is), you want to support as many customers as possible (unless unprofitable). People are still using native 32-bit processors and until the majority are using 64-bit, microsoft will continue to support 32-bit. Once 32-bit becomes a small minority, the profit margins in that area of the market will be out-wayed by the need for constant support, and MS will drop it altogether.

No $h1t Yoda. It was more or less a rhetorical question. :-P

Oh, and Evil-Weasel...Adeon>You (Assuming you've played Re-Volt)
October 25, 2006 2:19:33 PM

Re-Volt the car game?

Where is the sequal???
October 25, 2006 3:57:26 PM

There isn't one. Acclaim went under and no longer exists. The name is used by another company, but they aren't "Acclaim." Re-Volt died. :-( A shame, one of the most fun and challenging racing games ever...simply put, it RULES. Even the AI was pretty damn good. I think it was a bit ahead of it's time.
October 25, 2006 10:56:59 PM

No $h1t Yoda.

Ha, now I'm a 900 yr old short green dude who talks backwards :lol: 
September 22, 2011 3:22:19 AM

I have the same problem. Regardless of what's plugged into the speaker jack, there is a huge high-pitched burst that comes through the speakers, and yields a general distortion even if the volume is muted. I can fix it sometimes by doing a system restore all the way back to last month and then going to Windows Update and re-updating things, but that seems to be more voodoo than anything else, since going to a restore point from before the problem started almost never works.

Since it's onboard sound, I'll try buying a soundcard or replacing the power supply, but I wish I could fix it for free.