will a DAC reduce sound card hiss in audioengein a5's
Oct 26, 2009 at 6:03 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

Jottle

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Posts
30
Likes
0
So I just got a new pair of audioengine a5's. I like them a lot, but the hiss from my unibody macbook pro as a source is annoying. When the speakers aren't connected to a source, they're dead quiet no matter how high I turn up the master volume. When I connect them to my macbook pro (via the only way, 3.5mm jack), I get some audible and annoying hiss from the tweeters. So it must be the macbook pro's crappy internal sound card. Also, the a5's are analog only. I don't like the hiss, and it gets a tiny bit louder if I turn the master volume on the speakers up. It's definitely not a ground loop or anything. I'm pretty sure it's just hiss from the sound card. My question is will an external DAC inline between the speaker and macbook pro remove most of this hiss? What can I do to eliminate it? Any recommendations for a semi-cheap DAC, say between $150-$300?

I know that my laptop can output digital audio over the same 3.5mm headphone port. So is it likely that the digital 3.5mm output will also have hiss?
 
Oct 26, 2009 at 8:15 AM Post #2 of 12

backtoreality15

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 24, 2009
Posts
134
Likes
10
Not sure about all the DACs out there, but mine, which is a budget one ($100) hisses slightly. Though I usually can't make it out because my computer fans drown it out.
 
Oct 26, 2009 at 8:22 AM Post #3 of 12

fenixdown110

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 21, 2009
Posts
2,555
Likes
14
Oct 26, 2009 at 12:45 PM Post #5 of 12
Joined
Jan 4, 2008
Posts
17,244
Likes
10,494
Location
Fukuoka, Japan
Cheap USB DACs can be pretty noisy too. Your MacBook Pro will do optical output via the headphone socket, using a mini-optical connector (or adaptor) so a basic optical DAC will do the trick, but try what FallenAngel suggested first.
 
Oct 26, 2009 at 4:00 PM Post #6 of 12

Jottle

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Posts
30
Likes
0
After further tinkering, it turns out that it's not my mbp's sound card. The internal amp on the a5's, when activated, generates the hiss. Basically if i play some music and then immediately disconnect the audio cable, the a5's still hiss at the same volume until they go into power saving mode. So I'm hearing it because I'm about 2 feet away from them. And it's inaudible at about 4 feet. My room is dead silent. But there's probably nothing I can do at this point regarding the hiss if it's the internal amp of the a5's, correct? I had a pair of a2's that also hissed without a source, but the a5's are slightly louder.

The issue with this is some people are more sensitive to this than others. I bet if I asked if any other a5 owners here on the forum whether they hear hissing with the internal amp activated, most would say their speakers are dead quiet. Which is probably incorrect. All powered speakers have some hiss, as I understand it. Besides sitting farther away, do I have any other options?
 
Oct 26, 2009 at 4:49 PM Post #7 of 12

FasterThanEver

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 10, 2005
Posts
155
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jottle /img/forum/go_quote.gif
After further tinkering, it turns out that it's not my mbp's sound card. The internal amp on the a5's, when activated, generates the hiss.

Besides sitting farther away, do I have any other options?



I found that setting the volume control in my player s/w to the maximum and using the volume knob on the front of my left A5 works well all around.

- I'm getting a bit-perfect stream to my soundcard.
- hiss is reduced since the volume control on the left A5 is at a low setting
- the A5s' auto sensing works better with a higher input volume.
- The noise when the A5s time out and turn themselves off is lower in volume.

I can't hear any hiss from 2 feet away from the A5s. I can barely hear noise from 2 inches away.

Bill
 
Oct 26, 2009 at 9:02 PM Post #8 of 12

Jottle

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Posts
30
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by FasterThanEver /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I found that setting the volume control in my player s/w to the maximum and using the volume knob on the front of my left A5 works well all around.

- I'm getting a bit-perfect stream to my soundcard.
- hiss is reduced since the volume control on the left A5 is at a low setting
- the A5s' auto sensing works better with a higher input volume.
- The noise when the A5s time out and turn themselves off is lower in volume.

I can't hear any hiss from 2 feet away from the A5s. I can barely hear noise from 2 inches away.

Bill



Thanks. I tried what you said, but the hissing isn't really reduced. I suppose it's just the nature of the amp in the a5's. I even tried plugging it into another outlet just to be sure it wasn't my electrical socket or surge protector. It seems that the hissing remains at the same volume no matter how high the input source is. If I turn up the speaker master volume, the hissing gets slightly louder at 12 o'clock. I leave it at 9 o'clock, and it is noticeable, but tolerable at 3 feet. I just wish there were a way to get rid of this background noise altogether. I doubt I have a defective pair, I just wish I could compare them somehow.
 
Oct 26, 2009 at 10:17 PM Post #9 of 12

backtoreality15

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 24, 2009
Posts
134
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally Posted by Currawong /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Cheap USB DACs can be pretty noisy too. Your MacBook Pro will do optical output via the headphone socket, using a mini-optical connector (or adaptor) so a basic optical DAC will do the trick, but try what FallenAngel suggested first.


Mine is a cheaper optical DAC/Pre-Amp that I use with my Macbook Pro (the SVDAC06). Still produces a subtle hiss at all volume levels (even 1/30).
 
Oct 29, 2009 at 3:31 AM Post #12 of 12

Neuromantic

Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Posts
56
Likes
0
My A2s produce unwanted sound only when the volume knob is turned all the way up. It's mostly a hiss/whine when I move the mouse wheel. I have them connected via onboard sound on a non-Mac desktop computer. However, when I have the knob at about halfway and the Windows volume higher so even if its still as loud, the hiss is gone. Perhaps there is a very simple explanation for this but I'm not one to know these kinds of things.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top