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Speakers making a loud pops when I start my computer?

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October 11, 2012 5:41:40 PM

Bit unsure where to put this as it deals with a lot of components.

A few months ago I started realizing that when the ceiling fan in my room, or the room next to mine were switched (with one of those 4 setting switches on the wall, or even through the fan itself with the string), my speakers would pop. The popping started to get worse, and eventually it started crashing my audio interface, but it'd only crash if switched from the other room.

I got an electrician and he took a look at it. We unplugged my speakers from my audio interface (Line-6 TonePort UX1 at the time), and plugged it straight into my computer. And there were no popping. So we figured it was my audio interface.

I needed an upgrade anyway, so I bought a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4, and connected my speakers to the line-out 1-2 of that. So I tried the switch in the other room and there was nothing. Then tried my fan and switch, and nothing. But I'm still getting loud popping sounds when I start my computer. And it's concerning me because I see the lights on my audio interface flash as if there's an electricity problem going on. Plus, I didn't have the problem right away with my last interface and speakers, so I'm worried it might be doing damage I'm not seeing, and will eventually get as worse as it was before.

So I've deciphered that there might be a problem with my computers electricity, or even the electricity going to the USB ports because there wasn't any popping when I directly plugged my speakers into my computer (although I haven't tried it while starting my computer).

I'm basically afraid of this messing up my speakers or audio interface (especially since they were pretty expensive). My question is, could this be breaking my equipment? I actually built my computer myself (first time building a computer), and then re-built it later to clean the components and to get better wire management, but everything looks okay with the build.

If anyone has any idea of what this problem could be, or any tips on how to fix it, I'd appreciate it.
October 11, 2012 10:17:18 PM

Have you considered just turning the volume on your speakers all the way down before powering your computer on or off?
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October 11, 2012 10:23:47 PM

Try a decent quality home theater or electronics power strip/surge protector. This doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, but do read for reviews and make sure it actually does something and isn't just a heavy hunk of metal snakeoil.

Try both putting all the equipment on the same power bank, then try on different isolated power banks, and maybe if will solve the issue. For example triplite isobar powerstrips have isolated power banks.

If that doesn't solve your problem, if i wanted to troubleshoot, next I'd next try a UPS.

That being said, unless your equipment sucks, I don't think you are specifically damage it even if it does get pops .
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October 12, 2012 5:28:50 PM

cjl said:
Have you considered just turning the volume on your speakers all the way down before powering your computer on or off?

That would be a simple fix, but the popping could be a byproduct of an electrical surge. So just turning down the speakers doesn't necessarily mean the electricity going into the electric components of the speakers aren't going to be effected. I'd have to unplug my speakers and unplug the 3.5mm jack (which would get tedious).

raytseng said:
Try a decent quality home theater or electronics power strip/surge protector. This doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, but do read for reviews and make sure it actually does something and isn't just a heavy hunk of metal snakeoil.

Try both putting all the equipment on the same power bank, then try on different isolated power banks, and maybe if will solve the issue. For example triplite isobar powerstrips have isolated power banks.

If that doesn't solve your problem, if i wanted to troubleshoot, next I'd next try a UPS.

That being said, unless your equipment sucks, I don't think you are specifically damage it even if it does get pops .

I've wanted to look into those, the most popular surge protectors are from "Belkin", but I haven't heard too many good things from them. I'm guessing by isolated power banks, it means they're not feeding off each other's power. So you're saying something like this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000511U7/? Looks ugly, but powerful.
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October 12, 2012 10:35:47 PM

The power banks are similar to the "rails" on your power supply.
End of the day, it's the same power that comes from your wall, then to your house, then to the powerline. It's not like it's making electricity

But at least they put in some filters/capacitors in between the "banks" to help keep noise on 1 end separate from the other end.

My thoughts are the electrical system in your house just isn't that great. you may not be properly grounded, and all your rooms are just on 1 circuit. That's why the fan in one room has such a large effect on the electricity in your other room. The surge protector may help with the grounding, or at least tying all the components into a smaller ground loop.

If you really aren't grounded, and you really want to solve this problem, if you ground at least the subset of your stuff. Easiest way is from the surge protector (run a wire from the ground to a shorter path to true ground (water pipe for example) that may help isolate your PC/stereo components from all the other noise in your ground loop.

If you decide to get a surge protector, whatever you get, I would advise to get something returnable, because you have a specific goal in mind.
Test it, if it still makes a noise, try a different one. If none are successful, return your stuff.
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October 12, 2012 11:02:04 PM

You're actually right. The electricity in my house is terrible. I live in a commercial house in a commercial neighborhood, so all the houses are built almost exactly the same and they're built all at the same time. We found out that the majority of the second floor (3 rooms, an office, and a bathroom, we didn't test if the master bedroom was) is all on one single circuit (As well as other problems such as wrong AC vents being installed).

Grounding sounds like it'd help, but it definitely seems like a big and expensive project. I like the idea of having something easily returnable, that's a great point, I'm glad you said that. Because, like I said, it could easily be the PC itself. I haven't heard any pops from switching any of the fans (although I swear I heard one once the other day from the fan, but I couldn't recreate it).

I guess my question would be is if there's a chance my computer itself could be shooting out a charge to my usb interface, to the line out in the back, to my speakers? Since I hear it when I start up/sleep/turn off my computer. Or I wouldn't be surprised if it was an electrical issue where the big jump of electricity stutters the circuit, and causes the pop in the speakers. Although that could imply that turning on my computer would pop the speakers in other rooms, which never happens. Unless it was an issue with the outlet and not the circuit.

Overall, there's a lot of troubleshooting that I should be doing.
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October 12, 2012 11:19:08 PM

yea... the least hassle free thing to try first is just get your hands on the isobar power strip and give it a try. 2 of the amazon reviews indicated exactly the same, popping in speakers problem solved by this product.

Even if possibly a cheaper product might also solve your problem; the triplite is a good surge protector so it is not a waste of money as protection from surges and such.

Off the top of my head, panamax also provides 2 banks of isolation, so you can look for that product as well (isobar may have varying number of banks, but it's not each socket).


My top of the head guess, when you have the speakers directly connected, a more common ground is shared better between the speakers and the computer, so the power-on doesn't pop.

If you want to tweak around rather then try a product, possibly attaching a wire from your computer's ground (the back of PSU) to the grounds (metal casing) of the other products would be a test I'd try. But it seems pretty hokey compared to just trying a good surge protector
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October 12, 2012 11:51:28 PM

I haven't read the reviews yet, but it has 5/5 stars and that seems promising. It's 12 feet which isn't good for my "wires everywhere" problem (the outlet is literally 1 foot away from my computer). But I'll coil it.

And yeah, that's what I'm thinking. Even if it doesn't solve my problem, a surge protector is never a bad idea.

Reading into the isobar power strip, it says it has 4 banks. I only have 3 plugs (monitor, computer and speakers), but I have minor things like chargers and I eventually want to get a second monitor and potentially a small TV. So I'd be good to plan ahead.

Yeah, making my own wiring sounds a bit too unconventional. :p 

But when I pick up my paycheck soon, I'm definitely going to try out that surge protector. Thanks for the help!
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Best solution

October 14, 2012 11:24:51 AM

Captain471 said:
That would be a simple fix, but the popping could be a byproduct of an electrical surge. So just turning down the speakers doesn't necessarily mean the electricity going into the electric components of the speakers aren't going to be effected. I'd have to unplug my speakers and unplug the 3.5mm jack (which would get tedious).


I've wanted to look into those, the most popular surge protectors are from "Belkin", but I haven't heard too many good things from them. I'm guessing by isolated power banks, it means they're not feeding off each other's power. So you're saying something like this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000511U7/? Looks ugly, but powerful.


Turning down the speakers would help reduce any electrical effect - it wouldn't just hide the problem. Most amplifiers (including the one built into your speakers) have a fairly high tolerance for input voltages that are a bit outside the normal range. However, when the volume is turned up, the amplifier is doing what it was built to do - it is amplifying the voltage spikes and feeding them to the speakers, and this is where the problem would most likely occur. You would need some fairly outrageous voltage spikes to damage anything while the speakers were turned all the way down, but if they are turned fairly far up, it doesn't take all that much to cause a spike that could damage either your amplifier or your speakers (or both). Unless the spike is immensely out of spec at the audio jack though (not just a bit off), it wouldn't be a problem so long as the gain on the amplifier was turned all the way down.

As for a surge protector? I doubt it will make much difference. It probably won't even clean up the line quality all that much if you really do have bad electricity (although modern computer PSUs are remarkably resilient against bad electricity, so your computer at least shouldn't really care). It's never a bad idea though - I always plug my computer and speakers into a decent surge protector, and it certainly can't hurt.
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October 14, 2012 4:09:04 PM

Ah, that makes perfect sense, actually. The funny thing is, my current speakers, Klipsch ProMedia 2.1, don't have an off switch. But I could definitely try to remember to turn them down while turning my computer off or on. I still haven't heard any popping from the ceiling fans, so it really might of just been my old audio interface that started to break over time (it was a really old used one I got off eBay, anyway).

I figured it really wouldn't do much. But the idea of a surge protector never seemed like it'd be a negative. It'd be a positive addition, but still a very small positive. Like I said before, I live in a heavy commercial house district, we already found out our electricity wiring is bad. It'd actually seem like a good idea overall.

Thanks for the input!
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October 24, 2012 3:15:39 PM

Best answer selected by Captain471.
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September 4, 2013 9:10:19 AM

Captain471 said:
Ah, that makes perfect sense, actually. The funny thing is, my current speakers, Klipsch ProMedia 2.1, don't have an off switch. But I could definitely try to remember to turn them down while turning my computer off or on. I still haven't heard any popping from the ceiling fans, so it really might of just been my old audio interface that started to break over time (it was a really old used one I got off eBay, anyway).

I figured it really wouldn't do much. But the idea of a surge protector never seemed like it'd be a negative. It'd be a positive addition, but still a very small positive. Like I said before, I live in a heavy commercial house district, we already found out our electricity wiring is bad. It'd actually seem like a good idea overall.

Thanks for the input!


Hi! Did you ever solve your loud click/pop noise coming out of your speakers every time you turn off/on your PC? Cause I'm having the same problem! I've tried plugging my PC+amp into different power strips, surge protectors, and even a fancy Kensington EMI filtering power bar, and nothing made any difference. Of course, the popping noise only happens when the amp is actually plugged into the PC's sound card.

But it sure would be nice to be able to sleep my computer (something I do a dozen times per day) without having to remember to also turn off the amp BEFORE I do, otherwise the popping noise is so loud it scares my cats out of the room!

Yes, my volume is probably too high. Unfortunately, there is an issue with playing HD MKV videos, that makes their volume very quiet, and I have to put my amp's volume up to about 4.5/10. instead of 3/10 like it is on non-HD MP4 videos.
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