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Eliminating hiss from headphones

I recently bought some nice Sennheiser HD202 headphones (supra-aural, cover most of your ear) and the sound of course sounds amazing, but there's a distinct low hissing sound when they're plugged in and no music is on. When music is turned on, the hiss quickly gets drowned out, but it is sometimes noticeable during a quiet moment in a song.

I'm fairly sure the hiss isn't due to the headphones, since they're Sennheisers, and I've plugged them into my phone/mp3 player with no hissing background noise (via a mini-USB attachment). This leads me to believe that the issue is the motherboard's onboard audio. I've tried plugging them into my speakers, and directly into the motherboard sound jack in the back of the PC, and I get the same results. In volume controls, when upping the microphone volume, the hiss increases considerably. The mic volume is currently muted (the headset has no mic) but the hiss is still there.

Any ideas on what it could be? Do you think a cheap soundcard would solve the issue? I'm not prepared to spend a lot on a high-end sound card, so my only option would be some $30 Creative sound card.
Thanks.
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More about eliminating hiss headphones
  1. hiss like that is more than likely comming from a cheap soundcard, or from a soundcard thats getting interferance from something else (computer, microwave, cellphone, wi-fi, fridge, etc).

    the high quality headphones you have will reproduce _everything_ sent out from the soundcard. both the music and the imperfections in said music.

    things to try:
    check everything is plugged in securely - headphones, PC power cable, and all other cords -- is suprising what will cause problems.

    try and reduce the number of intermediate plugs in your wires -- are you using an extender to let the wires reach? .. try running w/o the extender.
    Are you plugging directly into the soundcard in the back of your PC? or into a front panel? ... if a front panel, try directly into the back of the soundcard.

    For soundcards - try a turtlebeach card. They are NOT for gaming, but sound great for music.
  2. I have the same question also.

    I have the SENNHEISER HD 280PRO and it does the exact same thing as the OP said. I also plug it to the onboard audio jacks. Dont know how to make the hissing sound go away when no music is playing on th PC.

    I try to lower the volume as a remedy to reduce the hiss. I dont want to buy a dedicated sound card to fix this though. I guess i can live with it if there's no other fix other than buying a dedicated audio card.
  3. kittle said:
    hiss like that is more than likely comming from a cheap soundcard, or from a soundcard thats getting interferance from something else (computer, microwave, cellphone, wi-fi, fridge, etc).

    the high quality headphones you have will reproduce _everything_ sent out from the soundcard. both the music and the imperfections in said music.

    things to try:
    check everything is plugged in securely - headphones, PC power cable, and all other cords -- is suprising what will cause problems.

    try and reduce the number of intermediate plugs in your wires -- are you using an extender to let the wires reach? .. try running w/o the extender.
    Are you plugging directly into the soundcard in the back of your PC? or into a front panel? ... if a front panel, try directly into the back of the soundcard.

    For soundcards - try a turtlebeach card. They are NOT for gaming, but sound great for music.


    Unfortunately none of those things worked :(

    Like I mentioned in my previous post, plugging the headset directly into the onboard audio jacks in the back & front changes nothing. It's a 10' cable, so no exensions are needed.

    I'm interested in how many people have this issue with onboard sound, and how many still experience it with aftermarket sound cards. Since the only thing between me and the motherboard's audio jack is the headphones, and I've verified the quality of the headphones and the music file, the problem must be in the mobo's onboard sound.

    By the way, it's an old ASUS P5GD1 mobo.
  4. I have a similar problem with my new bose triport over the ear heaphones. I get a noticable amount of static during a song no matter if my headphones are plugged into my speakers or the directly into the back. I even changed the onboard sound setting (Realtek HD) to output to headphones specifically and not speakers. I dont have a front headphone input which I thought might solve the problem so I tested my headphones with the exact same songs on another computer and my brothers laptop, both HP, with the front input. My brothers laptop played the songs perfectly and the other computer still had some static. So i am starting to fear it could just be my onboard sound. Dont know how entirely relevant this problem is to yours but i think its just the onboard sound sucking as well.

    I have gigabyte 965p-ds3

    note i dont get any static with my logitech x230 speakers.
  5. I had the same problem with onboard sound.The ONLY solution is a dedicated sound card.You can get a cheap creative audigy for under £20.I have a basic audigy and no hissing for me anymore:)
  6. Audio signals get amplified in several stages - This is true of everything - Computer, TV, Stereo, or the gigantic soundsystem at an arena concert. If/when you have a bit of noise at an early stage the noise gets amplified by the later stages along with everything else. Logical, right??

    So one thing you can do to minimize this effect is to keep your input/source signals at medium levels, and use your main to set volume. So open your audio control panel, turn down the individual sliders to 60~80% - no higher. Then use your master volume to set the overall level. That won't eliminate the noise, but should help to keep it at a minimum.
  7. ok you buy nice headphones (yes, they're pretty cheap) but you're not willing to pay for a nice sound card? i will bet you anything, almost dead sure, that it's onboard sound causing that issue. i don't care what people say about how much it's improved in recent years, but nothing stops the fact that an onboard chips picks up EMI from all the other components on the board, especially onboard USB. save up, get yourself a GOOD sound card, and go to town. if you want the sound quality that good headphones allow, you'll have to pay for the rest of the sound system too.
  8. Yeah, that's true I suppose, but I don't really look forward to spending the same amount on a sound card that I just spent on headphones, just to get acceptable sound. I'm upgrading my motherboard and CPU this month, so does anyone have experience with motherboards that have decent onboard sound without hissing?

    edit: @ Scotteq, no matter what I turn down, it seems hissing still persists. Even if I mute the speakers and the audio via volume control (bottom right corner of the screen), the hissing is still the same as long as the headphones are plugged in somewhere.
  9. I could be wrong, but I believe what you are experiencing is a low SNR, or signal to noise ratio. Heres the deal. Onboard audio works, but its not the best. The SNR for onboards is probably around 90, while soundblaster cards are 110+. (no, I can't explain what the number are/mean.) What I do know is that the lower the number, the more background noise you will hear. Buying a real sound card is the only thing you can do to fix it.

    Look on the bright side. You now have speakers good enough to hear the hiss, and your hearing is good enough to. Get a soundcard, and you should be set.
  10. I disabled the CD Volume in my master volume settings and it has totally eliminated all the hissing.
  11. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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