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LoryWiv

Need Help identifying / Correcting PC Audio Hiss

Question

I have been enjoying high quality audio with a black background with my PC Audio gear per signature below for over a year, until the last several weeks when an annoying low level hiss has become evident during music playback. It is especially noticeable in quiet passages of classical piano music, my favorite genre, and driving me a bit batty!

 

I did add the Furman power conditioner in April at which time I also removed an iFi iGalvanic, but the hiss began some weeks later. I've worked through the usual troubleshooting steps, re-securing all connections, adding back the iGalvanic between PC and Singxer as it was before (no effect), assuring all components are plugged into the Furman to minimize ground loop potential, opening the PC and using compressed air on fans to remove dust etc... All of these steps produced no appreciable attenuation of the hiss. I even cleaned my ears of wax with peroxide 3 consecutive days in case there was unrecognized accumulation casing tinnitus or some "host factor" rather than gear factor. No difference. Using my go to software HQPlayer versus FooBar both produced the hiss, although it may have been a tad less with Foobar (less resolving, less DSP, or perhaps just my imagination?). Next, to determine if it might be my Singxer DDC, Matrix DAC, Elise amp or ZMF Auteur at fault, today I used my Shanling M1 DAP as PC USB DAC, output to 64 Audio or Linsoul IEM's, completely bypassing those 4 desktop listening components, and the exact same level of his was audible. Even more interesting was that the Shanling DAC has a timed function wherein it auto-stops 10-15 seconds after playback ends, and voila, once the DAC disengaged the hiss was gone!

 

I'm a bit stumped. I think the above results isolate the issue to PC noise origin, and admittedly it is not a dedicated audio PC. But why now after previously no issues with same gear, might there be a component going bad? I would have thought running the PC USB out to Singxer than Singxer I2S to Matrix DAC would have eliminated USB noise, but perhaps there are other PC sources of hiss even though USB is my only interface out to the audio equipment. Next step may be to remove the Furman although it's situated rather inaccessibly and would be quite a chore to reconnect all, and seems counter-intuitive to replace those power connections into lesser quality power strips.

 

So apologies for the long post, but I welcome any and all suggestions and of course can provide more information if it will allow one of the forum cognizanti to help me troubleshoot. 

 

Sincere thanks!

Lory

 


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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Lory It would help if you can draw a simple flow diagram your playback chain.

In my system, it is PC based but I did go to great length to filter the power from the ATX PSU and other devices in the PC. HQPlayer / NAA via EtherRegen and IsoRegen and lots of dedicated 5v,12v, DC linear PSU with EMF/RFI filters at the 20Amp dedicated power circuit for digital and power devices Helps A Lot. Actual Analogue HP and Main Tube Amps on a separate 30Amp dedicated circuit completely isolates the digital and almost all the DC power supplies from the HP amps or main Tube Power Amps. Sound has dark silent background! You hissing sound is most like a RCA cable where the negative lead is not securely making contact with the RCA connector on the back of your preamp or amp. Try a diffferent RCA cable I would do that. 

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So the possible culprits remaining are the connection of DAC to amp, amp to speakers and then there is the Furman.  Can you plug the DAC and amp directly into a wall socket (off the Furman), to eliminate that as a possible cause?  Otherwise, the RCA swap suggested  by @kelvinwsy is a good one and if that works great, otherwise I think you have to consider the Furman as electronics usually fail within 3 to 6 months and maybe something "broke" in the Furman.


RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L Nord SE NC500 MKII | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:   Van Damme XLR Canare 4S11 Biwire Lifatec optical Wireworld power

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First you diagnose, then you treat. The results of a few simple maneuvers will help you localize the source.  For example:

  • Review your computer audio settings.  Are they all set as you thought they were?
  • Are you using any filters, DSP / EQ etc? If so, does bypassing them all affect the hiss? If so, add one by one to find the culprit.
  • Switch your gain control from hardware to software or vice versa (depending on how it's set up now) - did that change the hiss?
    • If you have multiple possible gain control points, try each one with fixed gain at the others to see if it makes a difference.
  • Does the level of the hiss change with your gain control setting or is it constant at all volume settings?
  • Do you hear it when you listen with headphones through the mobo audio output jack (i.e. using the onboard DAC)?
  • Is it the same in both channels or is it clearly louder on one?  If louder on one, does it move when you swap inputs to the amp?
  • Do you hear it when playing from your DAP through the amplifier?

Each of these and other interventions you can figure out for yourself will help you locate the offending component.  If the hiss comes out of your motherboard's audio jack too, it's obviously in the computer somewhere (whether associated with software, component failure, power noise, etc).  If not, it's in a peripheral.  If it's in the computer itself, it could be a software setting or glitch, a hardware problem, a power problem, etc. Isolate the point at which the hiss is gone by bypassing or eliminating components one at a time, moving backwards from the speakers / phones to the source.

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THe reason I mentioned RCA Cable as the hiss source is that I suffered from this at times. Especially when I re-connect all my cables (you know when you relocate all stereo), I have even WBT screw type connectors, with silver twisted connectors in PTFE sleeving. Then switch on the set AND Hey why the low level hissing rustling noise. Cannot find the source until I touch the WBT RCA screw connectors - Damn DID NOT Tighten them. A half turn - hey Total black silence again. Same with the clamp shell type RCA connectors. Too many times in and out and the pteals on the clamp shell open up too much and the slack gives poor intermittent earth return. Hissing noise. Squeeze the petals back together - TIght fit again over the Female connectors at the back panel of my pre-amp. Total silence againg.

Worked for me!

Kelvin

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I am grateful for all of the above excellent suggestions. I will do a block diagram upon returning home from work this evening  (may be hand drawn as my Vizio skills are lacking), and try the other measures as time permits. I look forward to reporting back!


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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PC Audio Block Diagram.docx

My rudimentary block diagram.

Note all power cords are aftermarket, shielded.

Please let me know what additional detail is needed.

2097624819_PCAudioBlockDiagram.JPG.ec8b6555fd9226b132362ab923448787.JPG2097624819_PCAudioBlockDiagram.JPG.ec8b6555fd9226b132362ab923448787.JPG


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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Are you playing from System Memory with the Windows Mixer and all PC sounds disabled ?


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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Files are played from hard drive, all system sounds off, setting as below except when I open HQPlayer it takes control of the Singxer driver and master volume is muted to zero:

700122685_Annotation2020-07-13205951.thumb.jpg.8587d68d80cdc458705a691396dac8e3.jpg


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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Have you tried System Restore to back just before this started ?


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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Great idea, but unfortunately system restore is not functioning properly on my computer for the last year or so since one of the infamous Windows updates. Fortunately except for this issue I have never needed it.


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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2 minutes ago, LoryWiv said:

Great idea, but unfortunately system restore is not functioning properly on my computer for the last year or so since one of the infamous Windows updates. Fortunately except for this issue I have never needed it.

 Have you tried it recently? I had the same problem quite a while back and had to go back before possibly the same one, then kept postponing Windows Updates.for several months 

 Eventually they started working again, possibly due to a later update.


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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10 hours ago, sandyk said:

 Have you tried it recently? I had the same problem quite a while back and had to go back before possibly the same one, then kept postponing Windows Updates.for several months 

 Eventually they started working again, possibly due to a later update.

I last tried several months ago, as you point out may be worthwhile to do so again...will do upon return home from work this evening. Thanks.


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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22 hours ago, LoryWiv said:

I last tried several months ago, as you point out may be worthwhile to do so again...will do upon return home from work this evening. Thanks.

 

Have you tried running System File Checker to repair Windows system components? From Microsoft Windows Support: Use the System File Checker tool to repair missing or corrupted system files


"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted"- William Bruce Cameron

 

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On 7/13/2020 at 2:20 AM, LoryWiv said:

I have been enjoying high quality audio with a black background with my PC Audio gear per signature below for over a year, until the last several weeks when an annoying low level hiss has become evident during music playback. It is especially noticeable in quiet passages of classical piano music, my favorite genre, and driving me a bit batty!

 

I did add the Furman power conditioner in April at which time I also removed an iFi iGalvanic, but the hiss began some weeks later. I've worked through the usual troubleshooting steps, re-securing all connections, adding back the iGalvanic between PC and Singxer as it was before (no effect), assuring all components are plugged into the Furman to minimize ground loop potential, opening the PC and using compressed air on fans to remove dust etc... All of these steps produced no appreciable attenuation of the hiss. I even cleaned my ears of wax with peroxide 3 consecutive days in case there was unrecognized accumulation casing tinnitus or some "host factor" rather than gear factor. No difference. Using my go to software HQPlayer versus FooBar both produced the hiss, although it may have been a tad less with Foobar (less resolving, less DSP, or perhaps just my imagination?). Next, to determine if it might be my Singxer DDC, Matrix DAC, Elise amp or ZMF Auteur at fault, today I used my Shanling M1 DAP as PC USB DAC, output to 64 Audio or Linsoul IEM's, completely bypassing those 4 desktop listening components, and the exact same level of his was audible. Even more interesting was that the Shanling DAC has a timed function wherein it auto-stops 10-15 seconds after playback ends, and voila, once the DAC disengaged the hiss was gone!

 

I'm a bit stumped. I think the above results isolate the issue to PC noise origin, and admittedly it is not a dedicated audio PC. But why now after previously no issues with same gear, might there be a component going bad? I would have thought running the PC USB out to Singxer than Singxer I2S to Matrix DAC would have eliminated USB noise, but perhaps there are other PC sources of hiss even though USB is my only interface out to the audio equipment. Next step may be to remove the Furman although it's situated rather inaccessibly and would be quite a chore to reconnect all, and seems counter-intuitive to replace those power connections into lesser quality power strips.

 

So apologies for the long post, but I welcome any and all suggestions and of course can provide more information if it will allow one of the forum cognizanti to help me troubleshoot. 

 

Sincere thanks!

Lory

 

 

 

Is it a pure hiss or can you detect a, perhaps barely audible, hum?  Perhaps your cables are acting as an antenna? Anything (speaker/amplifier/turntable, etc) too close to your cables that may cause issues?

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@Allan F and @lucretius, thank you. I will try file checker but am skeptical the issue is a windows setting alone, nonetheless worth a try. The predominant background level noise is hiss, and the occasional overlay of hum I have written off as from my tube amp.

 

@kelvinwsy I did re-secure RCA connections which are of screw tighten type, unfortunately without improvement.

 

I am also wondering if my USB bus could be basis of noise, and considering adding an iSilencer, but is that redundant with Singxer DDC or does latter only reclock / reduce jitter, not adress USB bus noise?

 

As a final comment, I am grudgingly recognizing I may have mild tinnitus, but the amount of hiss through headphones especially during soft passages of classical piano music is so very disproportionate to the minimal amount I hear at other times, So I continue the quest to identify gear as the exacerbating source, and this weekend will try sequentially removing DDC, DAC and amp. from the Furman in event that is the lesion, as @photonman suggested.

 

@bluesman and @sandyk I appreciate your excellent suggestions as well as I continue to troubleshoot.


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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6 hours ago, LoryWiv said:

@Allan F and @lucretius, thank you. I will try file checker but am skeptical the issue is a windows setting alone, nonetheless worth a try. The predominant background level noise is hiss, and the occasional overlay of hum I have written off as from my tube amp.

 

I wasn't suggesting that running the file checker would be a solution to your noise problems. However, running it may return the functionality of system restore to your system.


"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted"- William Bruce Cameron

 

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2 hours ago, Allan F said:

 

I wasn't suggesting that running the file checker would be a solution to your noise problems. However, running it may return the functionality of system restore to your system.

I did understand you correctly, but to date I'm more suspicious that it's a gear / audio hardware rather than Windows setting or OS issue. Still, valid point, worth pursuing all possibilities and I appreciate it.


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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Hi LoryWiv - Try something simple yet drastic.

1. If you think it is more Hardware base than disconnect each equipment's power and interconnects and reconnect again. Do a power cold boot. Test and Repeat until you find the culprit.

2. In HQplayer 4.6, I get not a hissing but like a clicking sound -everyonce in a while. I reduce the maximum volume from -3 db to -6 db and it goes away. After a few tracks, I reset at -3 db and it is ok. The clipping indicator does not show any clipping but at the limit of my set, 10700k overclocked 4 cores to 5.1ghz without any GPU, polysinc-xtr-mp on 1st and 2nd oversampling settings tends to create this clicking. Try it for yourself. 

3. Other ideas if it is not a loose RCA screwed connection then is the RCA cable freyed on the inside without you knowing. If the earth shield is freyed, and is intermittently breaking the earthing parth, you will get the low level hiss. I DIY my own RCA cables and  I know that this is possible. 

4. IMHO, the low level hissing is a ground leakage current problem. Do you have a multimeter. See where you can touch your contact points and find the leak?

5. Bypass the Furman Elite Power Conditioner and the Norne Silvergard PC altogether. Use a simple power bar and see if the low level hiss goes away?

6. U say the Shanlling DAPused as a USB DAC connected to your PC still produced the same level hiss>? We must remember that most USB connections also CHARGE the USB device through the 5V power line on the USB Bus conenction. In my FiiO portable HP Amp as well as the older Iphone 6s I still use, Using the IEM while the USB is connected to the PC or a battery charger gives you a hissing sound. So since you are a iGalvanic user, do you have or can borrow their Gemini twin header USB cable. The power leg is separate from the USB signal leg. That can prove to be the acid test if the USB bus in your PC is the culprit.  

7. This is even simpler. Borrow a laptop if you dont have one. Load Hqplayer /Foobar- Connect all your gear and play music with Every piece in your music chain Except for your PC. Try that and tell us the results.

I cannot stand anything but deep black silence in my music playback. In my new 10700k server, all the fans except the CPU /Fan/All - in - One Pump Water Cooler Fans are driven by a separatley powered ATX PSU with a NZXT Sentry 3 fan controller. Evern the Cooler Fans/Pump are all connected using Elfidelity fan filters. So it helps quite a bit.

 

Good Hunting!

Kelvin

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Wow, @kelvinwsythank you for these thoughtful, comprehensive steps. I look forward to the weekend when I will set time to try them sequentially, and am hopeful one or several will produce the black background I crave!

 

Sincere appreciation,

Lory


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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Update:

 

1. Removed ALL components from Furman power conditioner and used a common power strip -->no appreciable difference in hiss.

2. Re-made all connections securely: power, USB, RCA, I2S--> all cables flush and secure.

3. Bypassed my external kit and plugged HP's directly into the realtek chip / front panel audio on PC --> also no reduction in hiss, perhaps a bit more extraneous noise (not surprisingly).

 

Both of the above were tested using HQP and FooBar to eleimante software effect.

 

My conclusions thus far are that I may have PC noise including but not limited to USB bus, and some component of tinnitus that is subclinical most of the time but evident during careful music listening.

 

Having an audiogram next Tuesday and also considering iFi's iSilencer, iPurifier or iDefender, although it's hard to determine which may have most potential benefit as their product profiles seem to overlap and thus confuse me a bit.

 

Other thoughts / suggestions welcomed!

 


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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Did you retry System Restore ?

. No PC should ever have a level of permanent hiss when playing a music file, only perhaps a little graininess , or the feeling of a veil across low level ambience.

Isn't HQPlayer supposed to be able to eliminate all analogue related artifacts from the PC ?

 If so, it suggests a problem in the Analogue area where even some Vacuum Tube amplifiers can be touchy in this respect, in part due to their usually much higher input impedance. and earth related effects 


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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3 hours ago, sandyk said:

...suggests a problem in the Analogue area where even some Vacuum Tube amplifiers can be touchy in this respect, in part due to their usually much higher input impedance. and earth related effects 

How would one diagnose / correct that issue? My OTL amp has output impedance around 50 ohms, I believe,, and primary headphone 300 ohms so would not expect impedance mismatch per se to be source, and galvanic isolation unit made no improvement. Other analogue domain / amp. related fixes to try?


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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34 minutes ago, LoryWiv said:

How would one diagnose / correct that issue? My OTL amp has output impedance around 50 ohms, I believe,, and primary headphone 300 ohms so would not expect impedance mismatch per se to be source, and galvanic isolation unit made no improvement. Other analogue domain / amp. related fixes to try?

 

I was talking about their often quite high Input impedance, which means they may be more prone to noise pickup . IIRC, there was a case recently where another member had problems with noise in a Vacuum Tube amplifier that was earth wiring related.

 Incidentally, do you have any nearby SMPS plugpacks or SMPS powered devices ?


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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I have components (Ext. HD, monitor) that use switched mode based on connector type below, bt no dedicated power supplies.

Capture.thumb.JPG.d5f648aa412baf044cd5796eb0d10755.JPG

 


HQ Player --> Singxer SU-1 --> Matrix X-Sabre Pro --> Feliks Audio Elise Mark II 

Headphone: ZMF Auteur (Walnut) / Headphone Cable: Norne Silvergarde S3

Power Conditioning: Furman Elite-15 PF i

 

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3 minutes ago, LoryWiv said:

I have components (Ext. HD, monitor) that use switched mode based on connector type below, bt no dedicated power supplies.

Capture.thumb.JPG.d5f648aa412baf044cd5796eb0d10755.JPG

 

 

It's unlikely to be the cause, but try unplugging it while listening to music.


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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