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Intermittent crackling noise with USB audio

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Oct 21, 2019
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#1
I have a Teac UD301 USB DAC/Headphone Amp connected to my desktop. It feeds a pair of powered bookshelf speakers and my headphones. For the longest time I have been having issues with random crackling noise which comes mostly after I resume music or video after a pause and goes away if I reboot power off/on the DAC from the power switch (doesn't need full power cycle)

It comes from both speakers and headphones so its the DAC/Amp
I have switched USB port from PC to my Samsung monitor but the issue has continued.
Teac UD301 has its own power supply and is not powered by USB

It comes on randomly and reliably goes away by turning DAC on and off or by cycling inputs back to USB

What is most likely the issue? Is this the issue with DAC/Amp or the disturbance from USB port?

I saw that iFi sells several products to fix these kind of USB issues but they all seem the same to me from the explanation on their website. Which of these products will work the best for me iFi iSilencer3.0 or iFi iPurifier3?

Thanks
 

Fluffy

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#4
@WhiteCoatGeek Your recording is not very clear…

Anyway, when you get the chance to listen to what I sent, see if it sounds like your problem. I got it sounding like that by changing the buffer size to 1024, on the ASIO control panel of my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Lowering it to 32 makes it sound normal again. I don't really know why though and if the solution is even applicable to your case, but maybe worth a try checking if this is an ASIO problem.
 

dc655321

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#5
https://www.dropbox.com/s/y7nh84uphx3467c/Audio recording 2019-10-20 21-57-05.wav?dl=0

Sorry, I wasn't able to open your zip file on work computer. Here is the recording I made by placing my phone close to headphones.
If your recording is even remotely indicative of what you're actually hearing, I highly doubt it's the result of any means by which a DAC would fault.
USB cable or DAC issues typically manifest as dropouts, as they either function or they don't.

Your file sounds like a source problem: i.e. at the player or operating system audio stack (audio server, driver(s), etc).
Since you say this happens through video and music applications, I guess the latter.
@Fluffy's diagnosis of buffer size problems (coupled with over-run and poor recovery) could certainly fit the bill.
 
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#6
@WhiteCoatGeek Your recording is not very clear…

Anyway, when you get the chance to listen to what I sent, see if it sounds like your problem. I got it sounding like that by changing the buffer size to 1024, on the ASIO control panel of my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Lowering it to 32 makes it sound normal again. I don't really know why though and if the solution is even applicable to your case, but maybe worth a try checking if this is an ASIO problem.
If your recording is even remotely indicative of what you're actually hearing, I highly doubt it's the result of any means by which a DAC would fault.
USB cable or DAC issues typically manifest as dropouts, as they either function or they don't.

Your file sounds like a source problem: i.e. at the player or operating system audio stack (audio server, driver(s), etc).
Since you say this happens through video and music applications, I guess the latter.
@Fluffy's diagnosis of buffer size problems (coupled with over-run and poor recovery) could certainly fit the bill.
First 12 seconds is the audio with disturbance. Than I turned the DAC off and On. Normal audio starts from time 0:22.
 

dc655321

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#7
First 12 seconds is the audio with disturbance. Than I turned the DAC off and On. Normal audio starts from time 0:22.
Yep, I got that.
The affected portion has echo/reverb (repeated input, decaying amplitude) and what sounds like "snow" (white noise).
Power cycling your DAC will likely cause a reset/reload of some or all of the audio stack on your host. That's why it "fixes" the problem.
 
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#8
Yep, I got that.
The affected portion has echo/reverb (repeated input, decaying amplitude) and what sounds like "snow" (white noise).
Power cycling your DAC will likely cause a reset/reload of some or all of the audio stack on your host. That's why it "fixes" the problem.
What is an 'audio stack'? Do you mean I need to update USB audio drivers?
 

dc655321

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#9
What is an 'audio stack'? Do you mean I need to update USB audio drivers?
Sorry, software jargon.
"Stack", as in, "a stack of software", "multiple layers of software", etc.

When you play some audio data on your computer, it enters this "stack" of software, getting passed from layer to layer, and finally to some device producing a physical signal (voltage pulses over a usb cable to a DAC in your case).

Typical "stack" operations might be:
1) mixing different audio sources together (eg: a "you've got mail!" chime mixed with the dialog from a youtube video),
2) resampling to a frequency compatible with hardware (eg: audio at 44.1 kHz resampled because your DAC only support 48 kHz),
3) changing sample bit-depth, or
4) re-segmenting data to better support an application's latency requirements

As to your 2nd question, you haven't even indicated what operating system or applications you're using, so hard to say.
Windows OS, I assume?
 
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#10
Try disabling "fast boot" in your BIOS / Windows UEFI.

One of the computers in my household had a recurring issue which has been similarly frustrating to troubleshoot. Windows 10, EVGA motherboard. Regardless of the digital output being used (S/PDIF, USB) or the DAC (I've subbed in several), occasionally it would begin to crackle or distort in a way like you describe. I tried multiple bitrates, toggling exclusive mode, different driver versions, just about everything besides a full OS reinstall. It most often occured after the computer booted from "sleep", and usually a restart will correct it, though sometimes the problem occured on a fresh boot.

I've isolated and tested every component in the audio chain, and at this point determined it can be nothing but a bug in the motherboard or a software issue.

Disabling fast boot mysteriously appears to have resolved the issue.
 
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#11
Sorry, software jargon.
"Stack", as in, "a stack of software", "multiple layers of software", etc.

When you play some audio data on your computer, it enters this "stack" of software, getting passed from layer to layer, and finally to some device producing a physical signal (voltage pulses over a usb cable to a DAC in your case).

Typical "stack" operations might be:
1) mixing different audio sources together (eg: a "you've got mail!" chime mixed with the dialog from a youtube video),
2) resampling to a frequency compatible with hardware (eg: audio at 44.1 kHz resampled because your DAC only support 48 kHz),
3) changing sample bit-depth, or
4) re-segmenting data to better support an application's latency requirements

As to your 2nd question, you haven't even indicated what operating system or applications you're using, so hard to say.
Windows OS, I assume?
Windows 10
Applications - Chrome, VLC, MPC
Audio - MediaMonkey
 
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