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Any advice on reducing front panel jack noise?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I recently bought myself a pair of Sennheiser HD555 and a Xonar DGX to go with. I've kinda changed my plugging setup since, using the back jack (on the Xonar) to plug my headphones and the front jack for my desktop speakers. Problem is, i am getting quite a lot of noise when using the front jack, it's really audible and annoying. Is there a way to fix this, or atleast lower it a bit?

 

Note: The noise is only audible when the PC is under heavy load (gaming). Also, my case is Antec Sonata.

post #2 of 16

If you use the jacks the other way around (headphones to the front panel, speakers to the rear jack), does it make any difference ?

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Nope, the noise is then hearable in the headphones and not on the desktop...

post #4 of 16

Well, the problem is definitely caused by the front panel then, and the simplest solution is not using the front panel. It is often badly implemented in PCs, and is prone to interference due to ground loops and/or EMI. It can be fixed or improved by DIY modifications, but this is only recommended if you are familiar with making such changes. A different case could also fix the problem, but it is a rather inconvenient solution, and the new case might be just as bad anyway.

 

So, without using the front panel, some possible solutions include:

- connecting either the headphones or the speakers to the front channel jack at the rear; this is cumbersome due to the constant unplugging

- doing the same with a simple external switchbox to avoid having to unplug the other device

- a splitter and a cheap (e.g. FiiO) headphone amplifier on the rear jack

- using a cheap external DAC for the speakers, like the FiiO D3 that can be connected to the S/PDIF output of the sound card

- connecting the speakers to the rear (surround) channels, and using stereo upmixing to 4 channels; unfortunately, this solution would probably only work with some software, and not others (depending on what Windows audio API they use)


Edited by stv014 - 10/2/12 at 4:12am
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions!

 

I was pondering the switchbox solution, but doesn't it lower audio quality, signal strength etc? If not, what brand should i be looking for?

post #6 of 16

I cannot recommend a particular brand, but if the switchbox is reasonably good (it does not have to be expensive), it should not audibly degrade the sound.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

What are these called officially, at shops etc?

post #8 of 16

Try searching for a suitable device here, for example. This one seems to do what you are looking for, although it costs almost as much as a FiiO D3, and also has a microphone input/output, which is unneeded.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Looks decent, thanks for the help mate. I am based in europe so i will have to check local amazons etc, but i get the idea. :)

post #10 of 16

It is also possible that you have damaged the front panel 1/8" socket in some way. 

 

This is easily done i.e by brushing past it or standing up suddenly when wearing headphones. This is one reason why pro grade gear uses XLR  or 1/4" jacks and sockets.

 

Replacing the original socket might be a fiddly job so an inexpensive solution would to add a new set of sockets via something like http://www.scan.co.uk/products/silverstone-sst-fp32s-35-front-i-o-module-in-silver

 

Open up your PC and trace back the audio connection wires to where they terminate on a set of pins on the motherboard. Disconnect and reconnect the new leads. If in doubt dig out the manual for full details.

 

STV makes a good suggestion re a splitter box. He says himself he cannot recommend brands so I hope he doesn't mind me mentioning that I got one of those devices he links to from Maplins ages ago and it didn't last very long before it started spitting and crackling. Might just have been a bad example.

 

A more permanent, if more costly, solution would be to get one of the new breed of inexpensive pro-am audio USB audio interfaces. This will have better quality sockets, Probably 1/4" jack.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

As mentioned, i have a Xonar DGX, so i don't think going for an USB connector thingy is a good idea ;)

 

As for the 1/4 jack, i'd be nice to find a switch box that has one since the HD555 come with 1/4 jack by default.

post #12 of 16

I also own an Antec case and had the same kind of specific problem. Does the buzzing varies with what you are doing, for example when the display changes?

 

Then it's a ground loop problem. I had that problem on the Antec 900. The only real solution for front panel was to cut useless wires in it, which I can't do on mine without destroying the case.

 

My tradeoff: unscrew and isolate the black cable going from the front panel to the chassis, and unplug the USB and Firewire from the motherboard. It's inconvenient as you lose the front USBs, but you can always go back (nothing cut), and it can be worth it if you frequently plug/unplug your headphones. I had huge buzzing problems (it was unusable at high volume), and I get absolutely none after the fix :)

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yes it does change with usage, it's definitely related to the general pc load.

Losing the front USB isn't really an option, since i use it quite often for my digital camera and whatnot. 

 

One would think that Antec cases won't have such problems, being semi-high end and all... Lame :/

post #14 of 16

You can always use a USB extension cord and/or hub, but then you're nearly back to the same kind of things as suggested above (except it's time it's usb, not audio). That's what I do at the moment.

 

I was as disappointed as you when I found out that it came from my case. I spent quite a while trying to find the cause, thinking it was either the sound card or interferences... in the end it's just stupidly bad case design.

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjonir View Post

You can always use a USB extension cord and/or hub, but then you're nearly back to the same kind of things as suggested above (except it's time it's usb, not audio). That's what I do at the moment.

 

I was as disappointed as you when I found out that it came from my case. I spent quite a while trying to find the cause, thinking it was either the sound card or interferences... in the end it's just stupidly bad case design.

Too much hassle for an uncertain result... :P

 

Will prolly try and get some decent switch box when i have some cash to spare.

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