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Soundcard noise issue

Discussion in 'Recording' started by famous beagle, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. famous beagle

    famous beagle Active Member

    Ok, I had another thread up here about problems with an Echo Layla. I've tried everything under the sun, and I just can't get it running, so I'm moving on and will be buying another interface soon. In the meantime, I needed to do some quick recording with the built-in soundcard (a SoundMAX Integrated Audio). I know everyone trashes built-in cards, and I don't intend to keep using it, but it sounded absolutely fine for my purposes.

    Anyway, the problem is that I'm getting a strange humming/buzzing/random beeping noise. If I just crank the volume with no programs open, there's a lesser type of noise. It's mostly hissing but with the occasional blip, crackle, etc. Once I open Reaper, however, even with no project open, the noise gets considerably louder, and the buzzing/beeping is much more prominent.

    To hear the noise loudly, I have to turn my mixer up all the way, which would be ridiculously loud with music. To give you an idea, when I'm sitting in my chair and have the mixer adjusted for a normal listening volume, I can't hear this noise. When I'm tracking with headphones, though, it is audible, and it's annoying.

    Anyway, here's the deal: The noise is not showing up on the recordings at all. This is true whether I'm recording with a mic or direct. The soundcard is making noise only on the playback/monitoring side of things. When I listen to the recordings on my other computer with phones, they're clean as a whistle.

    And here's another thing: The noise temporarily goes away (leaving only some expected hiss) depending on what's happening with the computer. For instance, if I'm resizing a track lane, the noise will stop while I'm doing that. But it starts up as soon as I quit.

    Anyone have any clue as to what this is? The CPU is not connected to the net, FYI.

    Thanks for any input.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    This is computer power supply switching noise getting into the motherboard audio circuitry. It's one of the reasons that we recommend external audio interfaces so strongly. You are lucky that it seems only to be affecting the audio output and not the input channels. I would put up with it until you get a new interface.

    That said, the majority of motherboards that have on-board Soundmax audio bring out an S/PDIF digital output in either copper or optical form. If you have that, you could consider trying to find a low-cost surround-sound amplifier or an old minidisc player with S/PDIF input and use that for your replay converter.

    I'm guessing from what you say in this post that reverting to SP2 on XP did not solve the problem with the drivers for your Layla.
  3. famous beagle

    famous beagle Active Member

    Thanks for the reply Boswell. You're correct; reverting to SP2 didn't solve the Layla issue. I'm not terribly computer savvy, so it very well could be some kind of user error on my part. Or I could be neglecting to tell y'all pertinent information. At any rate, I'm ready to move on and try another interface.

    It's strange about this noise, though, because my office computer (an emachines T3504 that's probably 7 or 8 years old) doesn't have the problem at all. It has a Realtek High Definition Audio soundcard, and I can listen through headphones and crank the loving piss out of it, and it's suprisingly clean as a whistle. Even when Reaper is running on it, it's very clean.

    So .. there's nothing I can do to solve the problem on my music computer? I mean .. I know it shouldn't (hopefully) be an issue when I get a new interface, but it would be cool if my music computer had the capability of acting like my office computer (which has less RAM, is filled with other programs, and is not optimized for music recording).

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