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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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Removing devices with switching power supply had no effect. Will try an iSilencer today and am also scheduled for an ENT visit / audiogram next week as I'm increasingly concerned a part of this is tinnitus, perceived more clearly during critical headphone listening. I am reducing listening volume and bought an SPL meter --> approximating my listening levels by placing the meter's mic between earcups and pressing them fully together. I'm sure it's not entirely accurate but I never exceed  MAX 75 dB "a" weighted or 80 db "c" weighted, average levels generally in the 60's. So besides aging (ugh!) unclear why i should have abruptly developed tinnitus. 

 

I do appreciate all of the great suggestions, 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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FWIW, when I was much younger I always used to hear low level hiss with Vacuum Tube headphone amplifiers, or Preamps, but I never noticed it with Solid State gear with it's often >20dB higher S/N ratio.

 Also, IME, Tinnitus doesn't normally manifest as a continuous low level white noise (hiss) or typical background level with volume flat out and no signal. It usually, but not always, has distinct higher audio frequency components of several kHz.

 Does it sound like the attached when played at a lower level ? (White Noise)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w2pjxj3uyvxi1mc/track56.wav?dl=0


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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19 hours ago, sandyk said:

 

FWIW, when I was much younger I always used to hear low level hiss with Vacuum Tube headphone amplifiers, or Preamps, but I never noticed it with Solid State gear with it's often >20dB higher S/N ratio.

 Also, IME, Tinnitus doesn't normally manifest as a continuous low level white noise (hiss) or typical background level with volume flat out and no signal. It usually, but not always, has distinct higher audio frequency components of several kHz.

 Does it sound like the attached when played at a lower level ? (White Noise)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/w2pjxj3uyvxi1mc/track56.wav?dl=0

 

Hmmm, the wave file has similar but not identical characteristics....the file sounds like static, harsh in quality whereas my gremlin is more like wind, lacking that harshness. I recognize that may not frame the difference well, apologies if unhelpful.

 

No consistent high pitched quality in what I hear,

 

My next two steps will be:

1. ENT visit / audiogram on Tuesday

2. Possibly buy an inexpensive SS amp (Liquid Spark) to see if issue is tube amp specific. If it occurs with SS amp I will change the RCA cables to rule them out as the source as another respondent suggested.

 

In the interim I am reducing my listening levels and have begun magnesium / curcumin supplements as there is a discussion on another thread about it's potential benefit in diminishing tinnitus.

 

I am truly grateful for your interest and excellent input, @sandyk. Sincere 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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3 hours ago, LoryWiv said:

Hmmm, the wave file has similar but not identical characteristics....the file sounds like static, harsh in quality whereas my gremlin is more like wind, lacking that harshness. I recognize that may not frame the difference well, apologies if unhelpful.

 FWIW, hiss from from Vacuum Tubes does not have that harshness of typical white noise .

Have you tied putting a short circuit on the output device end of the input cable to your amplification to see if that drops the hiss level  ?

 Just unplug the lead at the source  device and connect a piece of wire across both the outer and inner of the RCA plugs.  Do this at maximum volume setting. You could always try this with different RCA leads as well if you do note an improvement .

 

That is a good move with Magnesium and Curcumin. I no longer need Magnesium which did help me immensely years ago with Tinnitus, but Curcumin /Turmeric is great for age related problems including Arthritis, and may even help with lower backache as well.😉


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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6 hours ago, sandyk said:

 FWIW, hiss from from Vacuum Tubes does not have that harshness of typical white noise .

Have you tied putting a short circuit on the output device end of the input cable to your amplification to see if that drops the hiss level  ?

 Just unplug the lead at the source  device and connect a piece of wire across both the outer and inner of the RCA plugs.  Do this at maximum volume setting. You could always try this with different RCA leads as well if you do note an improvement .

 

That is a good move with Magnesium and Curcumin. I no longer need Magnesium which did help me immensely years ago with Tinnitus, but Curcumin /Turmeric is great for age related problems including Arthritis, and may even help with lower backache as well.😉

 

Regarding hiss from vacuum tubes and your own journey with Magnesium resulting in decreased tinnitus, has the eventual resultt been restored ability to enjoy tube amps relatively hiss fee? I ask because I am quite enthralled with my Elise OTL and find it far more natural, musical and euphonic than any SS amps I've had before, at equivalent price and quality. The hiss is unchanged using Elise with different tubes and from your comments it seems intrinsic to the technology for those of us who are sensitive to it. If so, I will hope that the steps I am taking will prevent it from becoming permanent.

 

Probably won't try the induced short-circuit as my electrical skills are dubious. As a physician my wife says I should stick to fixing people. ☺️ I am pretty knowledgeable about PC and audio components / connections but know my limits when it comes to anything DIY. 🔨

 

Will likely order the Liquid Spark to see if solid state eliminates the hiss, and as it happens grandchildren will be visiting in 2 weeks such that removing the glowing glass tubes from their field of vison and curious fingers is probably prudent as well.

 

 


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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1 hour ago, LoryWiv said:

Regarding hiss from vacuum tubes and your own journey with Magnesium resulting in decreased tinnitus, has the eventual resultt been restored ability to enjoy tube amps relatively hiss fee?

These days they would be relatively hiss free, only due to my age, but I have never liked valve amplifiers due to the vast majority having higher even order distortion products resulting in additional warmth, which many seem to like. Grounded Grid topology valve amplifiers do however sound more like a good Solid State amplifier without the additional warmth.

 I have previously constructed both valve amplifiers and Preamplifiers, and even owned a DAC with a valve output stage. My personal preference is for a good Class A Solid State amplifier, which normally has a natural warmth.

 

My Tinnitus was more like a chirping noise, which often made it difficult to get to sleep.


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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Well, my audiogram was quite normal, actually a bit better than expected for a 64 year old man. I did have a dip to 30 db at 8000 Hz, which was normal 5 years ago, and perhaps that is contributing. On @sandyk's intriguing point about tube amplifiers potentially being more prone to to accentuating tinnitus than solid state, I wonder if the even order harmonics of a tube amp could be a factor. I will try a solid state amp soon to compare effect, and importantly keep striving to enjoy music!

 

Thanks for all the support on this forum!


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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Brief Update: No major discoveries, hiss persists even using a solid state amplifier, trying new RCA cables, a few other tweaks. Probable diagnosis is mild tinnitus accentuated by focused listening through my desktop headphone rig. I have already partly acclimated to it such that I can still enjoy the music, will continue lower volume listening / magnesium supplementation and hope for improvement with the passage of more time. Thanks to all who offered suggestions. Life goes on!


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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12 hours ago, LoryWiv said:

Brief Update: No major discoveries, hiss persists even using a solid state amplifier, trying new RCA cables, a few other tweaks. Probable diagnosis is mild tinnitus accentuated by focused listening through my desktop headphone rig. I have already partly acclimated to it such that I can still enjoy the music, will continue lower volume listening / magnesium supplementation and hope for improvement with the passage of more time. Thanks to all who offered suggestions. Life goes on!

I doubt its tinnitus. Have had tinnitus for about 8 years now... its not a white noise like hiss but rather a constant pitch that varies day to day in perceived db level. Its more likely that a component in your PC has aged and is generating noise into the USB circuit. You may want to consider a USB isolater/regenerator. My tinnitus reminds me very much of the high frequency pitch from the back of a 25" color TV picture tube


Regards,

Dave

 

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3 hours ago, davide256 said:

I doubt its tinnitus. Have had tinnitus for about 8 years now... its not a white noise like hiss but rather a constant pitch that varies day to day in perceived db level. Its more likely that a component in your PC has aged and is generating noise into the USB circuit. You may want to consider a USB isolater/regenerator. My tinnitus reminds me very much of the high frequency pitch from the back of a 25" color TV picture tube

Thank you, I'm grateful for any insight into ANY correctable factors. That said, I've tried iGalvanic & iSilencer w/o benefit and have a Singxer SU-1 DDC between PC and DAC, so I'd thought PC noise origin less likely. Could it be the Singxer itself? Odd, as it's been in place over a year and all solid state. What do you think, @davide256?


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 hours ago, LoryWiv said:

Thank you, I'm grateful for any insight into ANY correctable factors. That said, I've tried iGalvanic & iSilencer w/o benefit and have a Singxer SU-1 DDC between PC and DAC, so I'd thought PC noise origin less likely. Could it be the Singxer itself? Odd, as it's been in place over a year and all solid state. What do you think, @davide256?

Try another USB source first and see if the hiss disappears. Even a smart phone should suffice


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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3 hours ago, davide256 said:

Another factor to consider is light sources, fluorescent and LED lightbulbs can cause RFI problems. Try turning off all lights in the room as a test

Or for that matter, circuit breakers at the powerboard for the rest of the house. 


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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Thank you @davide256 and @sandyk. Sadly, i did the definitive experiment with HP on ear but disconnected from amp. The low level hiss is present. Clearly a form of tinnitus. Not troublesome during most activities of daily life but upon focused listening to music, especially classical piano solo which is my favorite genre, it is readily apparent and a bit distracting.

 

I believe the task at hand for me is to acclimate, keep listening levels below 80 dB (c) or so I don't make it worse. I have an SPL meter and seal the HP around it's mic, admittedly not rigorously accurate but should keep me in the right ballpark. I have tried my older pair of 64 Audio custom IEM's, as well as Sen HD280 closed backs to see if HP types other than my "daily driver" open back ZMF Auteur accentuate it less, and no appreciable  impact.  

 

I'm grateful for your interest and support.


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:

Sadly, i did the definitive experiment with HP on ear but disconnected from amp. The low level hiss is present. Clearly a form of tinnitus.

  See if Ginkgo Forte (2,000mG) or Magnesium supplements help. Cashews are rich in Magnesium .


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, LoryWiv said:

Thank you @davide256 and @sandyk. Sadly, i did the definitive experiment with HP on ear but disconnected from amp. The low level hiss is present. Clearly a form of tinnitus. Not troublesome during most activities of daily life but upon focused listening to music, especially classical piano solo which is my favorite genre, it is readily apparent and a bit distracting.

 

I believe the task at hand for me is to acclimate, keep listening levels below 80 dB (c) or so I don't make it worse. I have an SPL meter and seal the HP around it's mic, admittedly not rigorously accurate but should keep me in the right ballpark. I have tried my older pair of 64 Audio custom IEM's, as well as Sen HD280 closed backs to see if HP types other than my "daily driver" open back ZMF Auteur accentuate it less, and no appreciable  impact.  

 

I'm grateful for your interest and support.

Assuming its tinnitus, the two things I've found make it worse are fatigue and colds/flu. Good sleep, avoid listening when fatigued and guafenesin for

cold caused lymph node swelling pressure on the ear are the tools I use to minimize tinnitus interference with listening. Improving equipment

does helps reduce the listening fatigue factor 😉


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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