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New Sound Card, New Speakers, New Problem! Crackling

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May 20, 2011 10:57:00 PM

Hi Everyone,
Recently built a new computer and finally received some cables to finish the installation. I bought an HT Claro Halo card:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and a pair of these:

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/StudiophileBX5a.h...

Using this cable to connect speakers to card:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&...

The speakers have amazing sound but the crackling sound is horrible. I have isolated this crackling to the following:

1. While playing music

2. Another example would be when changing the volume level. Bottom right corner of Windows, there is a volume icon. Clicking that then there is a slider bar. The faster I click on that slider bar, the more crackling it makes. I don't even have to move the slider. Simply rapidly clicking on it will make this crackling, popping, static type noise.

I have about 10 days left to get it back to Newegg for a full refund but I didn't really want to send it if it is something I can rectify.

Suggestions?


Added: Crackling can also be heard through the headphones port on the back of the card.
May 20, 2011 11:30:45 PM

Could be interference. It doesn't exactly sound like it, but HT Omega cards don't have any shielding around them, which can make the especially prone to this. It's worth a shot to look at it, unless you're positive that this isn't the case.
Can you give us a picture of your setup/interior of your PC with the card in it?
And you're using the newest drivers available off of their website?
May 22, 2011 5:58:25 AM

Interesting point you mentioned about the shield. I guess I don't know enough to say whether it was or not. I went to Best Buy and bought a Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium for the time being. I really hate anything Soundblaster but my choices in my town are limited. I will say that changing the card took care of the crackling immediately. Although I could also tell that the volume and clarity is much lower on the soundblaster than the claro halo. I could really use another suggestion for a sound card if anyone is willing.

The driver for the Claro was up to date as I had been in contact with their support team. I just didn't get a chance to ask them about the crackling before they left on Friday. I included a photo to show what it looks like now with the new soundblaster in place. The sound card is currently at the top. I have both PCI and PCI-E available. The only other card installed is an MSI N570GTX video card.



Edit: So another option that I have is that I am tearing down an older computer for parts. This older computer has a Claro Omega as seen here:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Two questions though. First, I have two RCA cables coming in. Is there any way to convert them to something I can use with just one port on this Claro card since it has no RCA jacks? Second question. Any opinion about how the sound would be compared to this one I just bought at bestbuy:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Creative+-+Sound+Blaster+X-...

I would ask that you comment on the card only if you have had personal experience with either.
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May 22, 2011 10:14:27 PM

What a difference a day makes! I uninstalled the soundblaster and installed the older claro plus. Went to radio shack and bought a solid one piece gold y-adapter. Installed the newest driver from their site and OMG is all I can say. Together with these speakers they are just mind blowing. Remember the old, "Is it live or is it Memorex" commercials? It sounds like Eddie Money is in my office! Very clear, no noise at all even at higher volumes. While these speakers are crazy (see the description in the above post), I cannot max them out. My ears will bleed. Even though the Claro plus has been around for awhile now, they have perfected it. Just amazing. It's even more amazing that I figured something out on my own!
May 22, 2011 11:57:43 PM

I guess I was too busy patting myself on the back. I think all I did was reboot the computer after installing something else. Now the popping is back. 99% of the time during playback of music or other sound. No popping or anything when it is idle. When I heard it come back I wanted to take this rig and throw it. Now I'm back to square one. I can't be sure the problem is in the shielding but if you guys think it is, please tell me. So the first card was the HT Claro Halo. Popping with a load. Then uninstalled that and tried just the native sound on the board after enabling it in the bios. Worked fine. Then I installed the soundblaster and it also worked good but as with most SB cards, volume and clarity are lacking. Then I took the HT Omega Claro Plus out of my 2 year old rig and installed it with the latest drivers from Claro. Worked initially really good. EVen at high volumes, any type of music, I could not get it to pop at all. Then after a reboot, the popping is back. So, two Claro cards and popping on both. soundblaster no popping and native sound no popping.
May 23, 2011 5:26:18 AM

Update: I did some research to see if I could find a match to anyone in google with the same issue. Interestingly, I found someone who was having this popping issue but only when the computer had been on awhile. This kind of fit as the problem didn't start immediately but only after reboot.

So I'd had my computer off for several hours and turned it back on and the popping was gone when playing music. Played it for several minutes and then decided I would reboot the computer to see what would happen. Low and behold, it started the popping sound again.

I unplugged the speakers and plugged in headphones. Same popping getting so bad that the music starts skipping badly and eventually stops sometimes.

I also tried moving the video card to the top slot (where I read it is supposed to be anyway) and moved the sound card to the bottom slot. No change

Not sure if this is info anyone can use but if anyone has an idea let me know. Not sure if I should replace with another sound card that has shielding or what. I just don't see any ther viable option. I have two choices if I get a sound card. I can use PCI-E if I want the sound card next to the GTX570 or I can go PCI (I think PCI is the one with the short edge right?) in the top slot away from any other cards.
May 23, 2011 11:58:42 AM

Odd, to say the least. Then again, it could be the XLR cable thats the problem...Do you have any native speakers [3.5mm] you could hook up to see if the issue is the soundcard or the converter cable?

Also for testing purposes, disable any enhancements, and use 44.1/48KHz audio, to rule out any potential issues on that front.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't the card require a power connector [most PCI-E ones do...]? That could also be the problem...
May 23, 2011 6:47:46 PM

No power connector. In fact, I don't think any configuration requires a separate power source. As for the theory on the cables, that might be true were it not for the fact that the headphones make the same noise.

I am thinking about using this process before I buy another card:

http://www.overclock.net/sound-cards-computer-audio/571...

If for no other reason, I am just curious and have nothing to lose but time. If I can even demonstrate that it reduces some of the popping then it will be a good indicator that perhaps the video card is emitting interference and will have to get a sound card with shielding.
May 23, 2011 8:31:14 PM

Sorry to say, I'm at a loss then. No other devices that could be conflicting?

You could always give an older version of the drivers a try...
May 24, 2011 5:52:31 AM

I'm not 100% sure on this, It's a strange problem but can you try turn off HPET (high precision event timer) in BIOS and see if it is any help.
May 24, 2011 3:01:34 PM

Update: Another user here had a simmilar problem with the ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3, and turning of Xear 3d (GX mode for ASUS cards; should be a simmilar option for HT Omega cards) fixed the problem. Give that a try and see if it helps.
May 25, 2011 12:37:36 AM

Huh. Sorry it took me so long to get back to this.

Wow.
This is one of the most hard to diagnose sound issues I've seen all month. Like everyone else has said here, can you turn off basically ALL of the settings in your audio panel that do anything other than just the core processing? If you can get it into a sort of 'safe mode' with everything disabled/at low quality, and that seems to fix it, then it should be easy to go from there. If it doesn't do anything, then we're right back to where we started at. I honestly doubt it will (sorry), but it's always good to be able to rule out the minor things first... ;) 
If the popping was gone on your Claro until you rebooted, and it came back, then it really doesn't sound like interference. I could be wrong, but it just doesn't sound right...
I'll look into this a little more for you so that I can give a little more specific answer...

Nice setup by the way. :D 
May 29, 2011 12:52:53 AM

So I never truly determined the issue. Only to say that I had no problems with popping/crackling while using the Soundblaster x-fi. I had also tried to build my own shielding as shown in that link above. For whatever reason, it made it much worse immediately. I was of course very angry having wasted all morning with that method. I just thought for sure that it was a shielding issue.

So having known that the SB card worked, I ordered another one except this time I got the fatalal1y (or however you spell it) and after receiving it, installed and not a single popping noise! So that is now two Soundblaster cards that worked well. Likely the native shielding that they use but I shouldn't have had trouble with the Xonar card which also had shielding but I did.

The only thing I was bummed about is that the Soundblaster card has not front panel support so as I understand it, I have to unplug the damm speakers to plug in headphones to the back of the card?! That totally stinks. Then I found out that they offer another version (can't remember the name atm) that has a separate I/O card that installs in a drive bay. That looks perfect. Unfortunately they no longer offer it as an upgrade kit. I will have to buy an entire new setup and then just sell the extra card on ebay. Kinda sucks but at least the crackling issue is now resolved.

Edit: Btw, the SB card sounds really good but of all the cards I tested, the Claro Plus had the best sound. They were all loud including the SB but the Claro has this clarity and feeling of the actual band playing in your livingroom. Incredible.
June 4, 2011 5:53:56 PM

Hey, I am by no means a sound tech, but on my computer is the cable connecting the speakers to the mobo out is even touched it produces a crackling noise from the connection. This may be a really dumb suggestion, but have you check to make sure that your cable connections are good?
June 9, 2011 11:18:55 PM

Hold onto your mouse there before you sell/buy anything else there! I'll edit this with what I'm going to suggest, if its not too late already... gimme a minute...

First of all, sorry to hear that you couldn't get it working. It must be painful having a Claro Halo and not being able to use it.

Alright. Since you seem to be in the same boat as myself and are able to just run down to the local store and grab a new sound card, I'm going to assume you'll be able to order off of Auzentech's website. I feel like they'll have a nice solution to your problems.

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/cards.php
Have a look through their sound cards while you're at it. Their X-Meridian is probably the next best thing to your Halo, and you can swap out the OPAMPs on it (the sell them on their site, its ridiculously easy) to customize its sound if you want. It should definitely sound better than the Fatal1ty, and has front panel audio for your headphones. Only problem is that it doesn't have a dedicated headphone amp... everything about it is built around putting out the best surround quality possible. It's an awesome card, although it's still on the PCI Interface. It shouldn't really give you any trouble either way...

Just something to look into. They also have their X-Fi series of cards if you want a PCIe based alternative... it would be worth looking into since the creative cards you already have seem to work, and Auzen's X-Fi cards use Creative's processor on an improved board.

Just another $0.02.
June 17, 2011 12:14:05 AM

Having tried so many cards and that frustration I settled on the Fatal1ty. I send the original back though and bought the one with the separate I/O card. Like many, I never got it properly installed though. I cannot control the volume with the control knob on the front. I still have to use the slider on the desktop. The headphones work though so I guess it's not a total loss. I really did love the Claro sound but the Fatal1ty is no slouch either and together with these BX5a speakers they will nearly make my ears bleed. They are incredibly loud and crisp. The clarity is unbelievable with these speakers. But yes, I'll always feel as if I compromised... :-(
June 17, 2011 11:30:14 PM

Hah, I don't blame you. I don't have any idea how I myself would ever drag myself through something like that... I'm almost glad you just said that, too, because Auzen is really a last ditch effort at getting something; their cards seem to die untimely deaths a little more than Creative.

Well, as long as the Fatal1ty is working for you, then I'd say you're set for a while. As you've heard (literally), it's certainly a nice little card.

Hope it keeps working. :) 
June 18, 2011 10:19:29 PM


by the way you should really use a mixer with studio monitors, instead of using the volume control on windows and keeping it on the mid (default) level on the monitors, its quite inflexible.
June 19, 2011 7:20:39 AM

johnstac said:
Having tried so many cards and that frustration I settled on the Fatal1ty. I send the original back though and bought the one with the separate I/O card. Like many, I never got it properly installed though. I cannot control the volume with the control knob on the front. I still have to use the slider on the desktop. The headphones work though so I guess it's not a total loss. I really did love the Claro sound but the Fatal1ty is no slouch either and together with these BX5a speakers they will nearly make my ears bleed. They are incredibly loud and crisp. The clarity is unbelievable with these speakers. But yes, I'll always feel as if I compromised... :-(


Have you tried the Asus Xonar dx 7.1?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have been looking at the Claro and this card also.
June 26, 2011 4:01:15 AM

The Asus Xonar was the first card I tried. Don't remember now what the problem was with that card. It may very well have been popping also. In addition I think I also discovered along the way that I needed to get the sound card farther away from the video card and opted to use my PCI-E even though it is not preferable.

Not sure why I had so much trouble with this computer build. Maybe it had something to do with the motherboard but I also had trouble getting this Creative card to mount properly. If I had the pins all the way in the slots the card would not meet flush with the back panel. What I ended up having to do was to not use the original screw hole on the card but instead I had to use the notch on the edge of plate to secure it. Really funky but it was the only way that I could make sure it wouldn't move around after connecting the speakers. Not sure if anyone has ever had this issue or not but this whole deal with the sound on this build has been a major PITA!
June 26, 2011 7:35:57 AM

johnstac said:
The Asus Xonar was the first card I tried. Don't remember now what the problem was with that card. It may very well have been popping also. In addition I think I also discovered along the way that I needed to get the sound card farther away from the video card and opted to use my PCI-E even though it is not preferable.

Not sure why I had so much trouble with this computer build. Maybe it had something to do with the motherboard but I also had trouble getting this Creative card to mount properly. If I had the pins all the way in the slots the card would not meet flush with the back panel. What I ended up having to do was to not use the original screw hole on the card but instead I had to use the notch on the edge of plate to secure it. Really funky but it was the only way that I could make sure it wouldn't move around after connecting the speakers. Not sure if anyone has ever had this issue or not but this whole deal with the sound on this build has been a major PITA!


The Xonar DX 7.1 is PCI-E and a lot of knowledgeable people are recommending it. It is also cheap.
June 26, 2011 7:39:21 AM

It sounds like you either have a defective motherboard, a bad cable or a bad connection. If you try different cables (hopefully you have extra) then you can eliminate the cable and connection possibility. Then it is either the motherboard or the sound card or the connection between the motherboard and the sound card which would be motherboard issue.
!