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How to stop USB noise in my DAC from my Laptop (mac)

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by indigo bob, Jan 27, 2017.
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  1. WindowsX
    That sounds like some interference that can be improved with shielded cable if you ask me. If your assumptions are correct, using DAP as a standalone unit should also have this problem. I doubt putting DAP next to macbook will have the same issue. Let's see if using shielded cable helps or not.
    Well, it's not ground loop as you're so sure of so I recommend you to stop jumping your guns to conclusions that might be wrong. Or are you still on about ground loop stuff?
  2. pinnahertz
    As I pointed out earlier, we  didn't have the whole story.  I went with the most common USB/soundcard issue.  
    I might also suggest you stop recommending "solutions" without a basis in real electronics.  
  3. WindowsX
    Now that's accusation from someone suggesting invalid approach. Don't feel sad about making wrong assumptions. Everyone can make mistakes, just don't take it on me, OK?
    I'll be waiting for OP's response after trying shielded cable. It's not like you can suggest any alternative solution.
    P.S. I modded a few DAPs including Fiio X3ii. I never have USB DAC noise issue with any laptop so far because I use shielded USB cable.
  4. pinnahertz
    I have no bad feelings about my statements.  I was, and am still collecting data.  My suggestions are based in experience, electronics, and probability.  That doesn't mean my first "guess" will be right, but it does improve the chances.  
    We have progressed along "problem solving" to the point where all the easy and free possibilities have been tried.  You never suggested any of those, you suggested spending money.  Not a lot, but it may have been unnecessary.   What if a setting solved his issue?  If it did, then a cable wouldn't have.  It had to be tried first.
    Now we are at a point that cables and hubs can be tried.
    The problem I have with what you post is that your concepts of what a shield does and it's use in a cable are incorrect.  Even if in this case a shielded USB cable, in this case, solves the problem, the reasons you give are incorrect.  Your suggestions were made before we even had a clear picture of his rig.  What I've done is get that picture, and try the easy stuff.  
    Did either of us relate the problem to the WiFi card?  I don't think so.
  5. Indigo Bob
  6. WindowsX
    I already knew it has something to do with interference in computer so I suggested shielding cable. It's only $5 and he should consider that regardless of the issue or not. There's nothing wrong for me to suggest the use of shielded cable. He may already have it too, who knows?
    And all you did was suggesting ground loop issues, rejecting my idea about interference, wasting time and resource for nothing and can't come up with any solution for him. Instead of blaming me for providing suggestion with justified incorrect reasons from your assumptions. Why won't you consider the possibility how I saved all those hassles you made him go through and suggest the last possible solution that may work right away?
    Please, just stop trying to justify yourself and demoralize others and admit you made a mistake for once. It's a waste of time and you won't learn anything to better anyone including yourself by doing that way. I know enough in what I suggest more than you think. At least I worked with actual devices like mac laptop, Fiio X3ii, and many other portable devices in market for over a decade.
    I recall Fiio X3ii uses micro usb so that cable won't work with Fiio X3ii. You can try this cable. It said shield and is within $5 budget.
    Maybe you can also consider trying to play DAP next to Macbook not from USB DAC feature and confirm if there's any interference from WiFi that may affect your player too so you may not waste $5 on things that won't be able to solve.
  7. Indigo Bob
    I am going to try the shielded cable.  Since these are basically my endgame DAC's, I will try them, espeically considering I can return the products if there is no improvement.  
    There is an apparent difference in the background noise using both DAC's and especially in the HVA that detects an immediate static when the wifi is turned on that immediately is eliminated when the wifi is turned back off.  I will test other options in the coming two days when products arise to see if the other arguments are applicable to this scenario.
    The problem could be aggregate, involving several additive factors, but the problem has reached a threshold of satisfaction in improvement.  I will let you know how the trials go.
  8. pinnahertz
    I'm sorry if I've offended you. Please accept my apologies.
    Good to know. I have also worked with actual devices like Mac laptops and DACs (typing this on a MacBook Pro now)...and frankly, just about every other OS. First Mac was a Mac Plus, which among other things was used to edit 16/44.1 audio as part of a system called Dyaxis (Studer), late 1980s.   No point in relating history, I'm sure none of that would matter, but there is some there. 
    Along the way I've found that the single biggest interface issue between computers and the outside world is the ground loop.  It's like 99.9% of the time, and has been that way since pretty much the beginning of computers and audio working together.  So common, in fact, that I carry a "fix" for it in my tool kit (wouldn't help here, sorry).   I have not found that a shielded USB cable changes that or improves anything.  I have found USB cable issues, but they relate to the cables ability to pass data, at the require speed, intact.  
    As the OP provided more detailed information the ground loop idea was obviously wrong, and we moved on.  That took me down a path of troubleshooting to the next most likely causes, which also proved to not be at fault this time.
    This would be the first time I've seen WiFi interfere with an audio device meant to work next to a computer with WiFi (that would be all of them now).  I have questions about that, like how exactly one can sell something that is prone to interference from the most common local RF source it's likely to be sitting right next to.  And, should a shielded USB cable totally "fix" the problem, I wonder why it's not provided with the device, or pops up on a support page all the time (the OP said he found nothing).  I suspect something is still not right here.
    I have doubts the OP's situation precisely parallels one in your experience either, but nobody has said one way or the other.
    I can still be wrong, though. 
    If I've wasted anyone's time, I apologize. 
  9. Arpiben
    Hi @Indigo Bob,
    Just in case this was not already suggested in the previous posts,you may try other USB's ports (if available) from your MAC.
    With luck, you may find one port less prone to Wi Fi interferences.
  10. Arpiben
    Troubleshooting technical issues is not such an easy task since you need to:
    1. understand the problem,
    2. understand the system and its environment,
    3. have good interaction with the person facing the issue
    4. have experience in order to consider all possibilities
    5. etc.
    Once you have gathered the maximum data you start proposing actions starting from the most probable cause. 
    In this particular ongoing case, IMHO:
    - @Indigo Bob was very helpful in providing requested data as well as pictures of his system,
    - @pinnahertz proceeded as described above by first eliminating ground loop then looking at MAC Audio configuration....
    - @sonitus mirus suggested Wi Fi's interference
    Troubleshooting in a Forum place is probably even more difficult since everyone (including myself) is trying to help with more or less experience and understanding.
    One may reproach @WindowsX its shielded USB proposal without 'scientific' arguments even if he may be right.
    One may reproach me to have interfered with @pinnahertz who started managing the issue at the very beginning. My apologies.
    One can not reproach @sonitus mirus or others to bring new hypothesis during the process.
    But at the end, I find this was or still is an intersting case. Thanks.
  11. WindowsX
    @pinnahertz Apology accepted. I firstly suggested to remove adapter to check for possibility of ground loop issues. If adapter removal doesn't help, there's nothing to do with ground loop problems and focus on macbook itself.
    @Arpiben That sounds like I have to make scientific 'argument' in order to suggest any 'scientific' solution. Why don't you ask OP if he wants me to explain it. It takes wisdom to inform what they really need to know and get the job done.
  12. Arpiben
    No bad meaning in my post. No wish to argue with you either.
    Personnally I just prefer the 'eliminating' hypothesis method rather than providing solutions previous understanding author 's sytem.
    We are both free to have different aprroach.
  13. WindowsX
  14. Indigo Bob
    Well I have tried the option the jitterbug and it did not solve the problem.  The jitterbug seems to have good reviews for the Dragonfly DAC, but doesn't seem to work at all for this.  
    I will receive the triple shielded usb cable tomorrow, but after that I think I will just let it be.
    I was able to discover with the help of @Brooko that the FiiO x3ii DAP I have has a variable line out that works perfectly with the HVA Amp/DAC so I luckily have that option.  
    I may just be sensitive to those types of usb noises, and though I have heard others complain about the same problem, I don't really want to spend anymore money now that I at least have a fully functional, workable, and very effective option of using it as an Amp for my FiiO x3ii.  Though, I would have preferred the option of the DAC to be more effective for me, at least it still exist for future possibilities.
    I want to say thank you for all your help, and I will let you know tomorrow how the shielded usb cable works.
    Even if it is a win, I hope it's a case study that adds to the statistics of your guys's knowledge.
  15. kiseido
    @Indigo Bob A few questions if you will, I don't think they have been covered yet:
    • while your x3ii is driving the HVA, if it is placed around the mac, while the mac is running and using its wifi, does the issue occur?
    • if 1 is false, does the buzz occur if you use your macbooks 3.5mm out to the HVA instead of usb?
    • if 1 is true, imagine if your macbooks WIFI antenna were light bulbs, does the issue get worse if you shine the imaginary light through the tubes window on your DAC?
    • does your macbook have a usb port on the other side, and have you tried it?
    I did some research as this peaked my interest, apple has a few support pages related to USB devices experiencing buzzing among other things, one such issue was apparently not present with the DAC set to 96,000Hz sampling rate. As well, there are many reports about tubes being affected by WIFI signals, as your DAC has a clear window to display the tubes, instead of a metal case or faraday cage, I am interested to find out if the first bullet above is true. 
    My apologies if I have missed some etiquette, this is my first post here.

    Additionally, if your DAC is affected as per #1, using a faraday cage (or sleeve) of some sort may band-aid your problem.
    Another head-fi-er potentially had a potentially related issue: http://www.head-fi.org/t/376787/tube-amp-interference-problem

    Edit: added link, corrected grammar.
    Exidrion likes this.
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