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Need a good audio solution for my PC

HHH03

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My PC came with a weak Realtek ALC 4050H which has been a thorn in my side ever since I bought my PC. It and several sound cards I’ve tried have been creating speaker pops during boot, operation or shutdown. I’ve owned 6 PCs and this is the very first one I’ve had any issues with speaker pop or noise. I’ve tried a Sound Blaster Audigy Fx V2 which makes a left channel speaker pop during boot. I tried the SB AE-5 Plus and SB AE-7… the AE-5 makes horrific pop during computer shut-down. The AE-7 would pop when the computer went into sleep state. I have an old SB Recon3D Fatal1ty Pro which operates absolutely quite all the time except there’s no software for Windows 11… I believe these speaker pop issues must hardware design in nature.
I’m considering a Dac/Amp like the SMSL D-12 or something in that range… will an external unit suffer from speaker pops caused by the different states of PC operation like boot up, sleep state or shutdown?
 

kemmler3D

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will an external unit suffer from speaker pops caused by the different states of PC operation like boot up, sleep state or shutdown?
Hard to say without testing. I would say it's less likely, but you might need to test. I would advise getting one with its own AC power supply instead of bus power, anyway, so at least you don't have to worry about weird spikes over the USB, if the mobo is making them... which it sounds like it is.

Also, welcome to ASR! :)

I would say get the SMSL or something similar (perhaps a JDS unit, they are US-based and helpful) with a good service / return policy, so if you are still getting the pops, you aren't stuck with a failed solution.
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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I would advise getting one with its own AC power supply instead of bus power, anyway, so at least you don't have to worry about weird spikes over the USB, if the mobo is making them... which it sounds like it is.
The Realtek ALC4050H codec is absolutely quiet if I use the Windows generic USB driver. The Realtek driver uses reduced power states when audio isn’t being played… this might work well with an unpowered speaker; not so much with a speaker/amplifier. Creative support told me speaker pop is a very normal experience when turning on or shutting down a computer… perhaps. I have used the S/PDIF output as my speaker/amp does have a Toslink input… everything is absolutely quiet and no “pops” when I do use it.
I’m waiting for my refund on the SB AE-7, I’m trending towards the SMSL D12 or SMSL C200… I’m still open to other options too.
 

kemmler3D

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I have used the S/PDIF output as my speaker/amp does have a Toslink input… everything is absolutely quiet and no “pops” when I do use it.
I googled the Realtek and one of the top results was also about a popping problem. I guess that's the culprit. But it's odd that you'd get the same issue with the Creative unit.
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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I googled the Realtek and one of the top results was also about a popping problem. I guess that's the culprit. But it's odd that you'd get the same issue with the Creative unit.
It’s a different kind of speaker pop… it’s caused by the Realtek driver’s usage of low power states. If there’s no audio present after 10 seconds the driver puts the codec into D2 power state… “ not alive, but not exactly dead.” This constant popping was the reason I sought a sound card solution. The old SB 1356 I have is absolutely quite sound card… just doesn’t have Windows 11 compatibility.
I suspect the SB AE-5 had a defective L/R output as it was the only port that generated speaker pop and it sounded “tinny” and lacked bass. I tried the H/P output and it totally was “pop” free and sounded much better. Of course the S/PDIF output was absolutely quiet too. The seller wouldn’t send me a replacement for the same price, so I returned it.
Creative was being difficult and threatened to charge me $40 if they didn’t find anything wrong.
So I’m still looking for the right solution for my computer.
 

b7676

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HHH03

HHH03

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I’ve tried a couple ASUS sound cards… the Xonar AE and SE. Both cards are USB based audio devices and the SE is the newest of the two. The Xonar SE is inexpensive and works perfectly in my Windows 11 machine without drivers (it uses the Windows USB 2.0 Audio driver which was developed by Thesycon) or any ASUS software… absolutely perfect operation without any speaker pops!

The Xonar AE has more impressive parts and is an older release… sadly it needs ASUS drivers to work. It too is speaker pop free… the only problem I encountered is the Window 11 startup theme is distorted during boot. This card needs the ASUS driver to function… I imagine the distortion is being caused by the driver not loading fast enough to make the card functional during startup. I personally don’t like such annoyances.

For now the ASUS Xonar SE is my audio device of choice because it works perfectly on my AMD CPU computer with no issues… and that’s all I really want.
 

SlamTaz

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im using smsl c200 + a0300 combination on my pc, which runs fine on windows 11 pro on asus strix b550-e mb. i listen through a pair of elac dbr62 + svs sb2000 or my emotiva gr1. no popping sound whatsoever and by far this is my best desktop sound set-up, costing me a few bucks over US$1.5k (i.e. of course, there are a ton of stuff that's better than my budget :))
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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im using smsl c200 + a0300 combination on my pc, which runs fine on windows 11 pro on asus strix b550-e mb. i listen through a pair of elac dbr62 + svs sb2000 or my emotiva gr1. no popping sound whatsoever and by far this is my best sound set-up, costing me a few bucks over US$1.5k (i.e. of course, there are a ton of stuff that's better than my budget :))
You can definitely spend a ton of cash on high quality “Audiophile” stuff. I’m concerned getting a product and having issues with speaker “pops” and other distortions… I’ve returned a lot of kit recently because of these demons.
I know SMSL has a new DL200 model which would fit my needs very well. I’m very afraid of getting it and being disappointed… I’m tired of returning products.
 

SlamTaz

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You can definitely spend a ton of cash on high quality “Audiophile” stuff. I’m concerned getting a product and having issues with speaker “pops” and other distortions… I’ve returned a lot of kit recently because of these demons.
I know SMSL has a new DL200 model which would fit my needs very well. I’m very afraid of getting it and being disappointed… I’m tired of returning products.
you mentioned that you're trending towards smsl d12 or c200 and that you have an amd pc with win11 os. my main intention in replying was to say that one of your options (i.e. c200) works well with a set up similar to yours with no popping sound at any stage of use. i probably shouldn't have mentioned the other stuff i use it with, as it's possibly irrelevant and dissuades from the point.

i myself gets disappointed and tired of returning products but i have since resorted to buying audio equipments only from stores with easy/hassle-free return policies. i believe there's no other way to know for sure if you will like an audio gear unless you hear it yourself in the environment you will use it in, with your ear having the final say. but of course, i love ASR, because it educates and guides me through the intricacies of audio and helps make me a better informed audio consumer.
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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you mentioned that you're trending towards smsl d12 or c200 and that you have an amd pc with win11 os. my main intention in replying was to say that one of your options (i.e. c200) works well with a set up similar to yours with no popping sound at any stage of use.
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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Yes I did mention the SMSL C200 as an option… I then discovered the DL200 was a new model after I wrote the original post. No need to apologize about what equipment you’re using… someone may read these posts and find very useful information.
I will say I’m quite pleased with this ASUS Xonar SE. It’s inexpensive, works perfectly and sounds very nice… not audiophile quality of course. Much better that the motherboard stuff.
 

pseudoid

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My PC came with a weak Realtek ALC 4050H which has been a thorn in my side ever since I bought my PC. I
You may wish to browse thru the short "Realtek audio on motherboards." ASR thread.

Although a bit OT; here are the audio specifications that are of a currently manufactured 'hi-end' motherboard (Asus ProArtZ790Creator):
Audio Realtek S1220A 7.1 Surround Sound High Definition Audio CODEC*
- Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
- Internal audio Amplifier to enhance the highest quality sound for headphone and speakers
- Supports: Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
- High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input (Line-in)
- Supports up to 32-Bit/192 kHz playback*
Audio Features
- Premium audio capacitors
- Dedicated audio PCB layers
- Audio cover
- Unique de-pop circuit
* Due to limitations in HDA bandwidth, 32-Bit/192 kHz is not supported for 7.1 Surround Sound audio.
** A chassis with an HD audio module in the front panel is required to support 7.1 Surround Sound audio output
Gamers have been demanding MoBo manufacturers to offer better audio and they are almost there, in getting their wishes!
 

Digby

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I don't believe, though I may be wrong, that any audio interface that takes power from the PC (PCI/onboard/USB) will be able to prevent a pop on power off/on. To do that you need an external unit with its own power source.
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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I don't believe, though I may be wrong, that any audio interface that takes power from the PC (PCI/onboard/USB) will be able to prevent a pop on power off/on. To do that you need an external unit with its own power source.
My experience with speaker pop and Realtek USB Audio Codecs or any USB Audio device is the usage of driver low power states or “selective suspend.”
My Realtek device is absolutely quiet when using the Windows USB 2.0 Audio driver. The Windows driver doesn’t use low power states while the computer is active.
SoundKeeper64 was a good solution with Windows 10 preventing these low power states… in Windows 11, SoundKeeper64 won’t allow your computer to ever enter sleep mode or S3. It does stop speaker pops at the expense of your computer running 24/7.
Realtek could redesign the driver preventing the usage of low power states while the computer is in use… unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen anytime soon I’m afraid.
An external DAC/Amp would be much quieter than anything mounted inside a computer case… the question becomes if the XMOS USB device needs a dedicated driver to operate? If the DAC/Amp can operate with the Windows USB 2.0 Audio driver during startup, everything should nice and quiet.
That’s the question I have… Will a DAC/Amp like a SMSL DL200 run properly if I simply hook it up to my computers USB port without any drivers installed?
 

Graham849

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Circa 1999 I had a sound blaster DVD card that cost approx $350AuD. Interesting to see this card ,and to note Amazon is not always your friend.
 

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Lambda

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will an external unit suffer from speaker pops caused by the different states of PC operation like boot up, sleep state or shutdown?
This i one of the things not tested by ASR...

Almost DAC with true balanced / symmetrical output split rail powersupply should be Pop free during start up ab shut down.
If they don't uses a split power supply internally but a virtual GND on ½ vcc it will pop during start up and shut down.
 

ZolaIII

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How about simply turning volume down and shooting down speakers before shooting down PC? It's not very convenient but it's not the hardest thing to do either as it's near field setup after all. If not really good autended any amplifier (including DAC's) will have such pop when you cut the power from simple discharge of capacitors. USB devices with power delivery enabled even when you shot down the computer simply don't have this problem as they are still working technically when you do that.
 
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HHH03

HHH03

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Circa 1999 I had a sound blaster DVD card that cost approx $350AuD. Interesting to see this card ,and to note Amazon is not always your friend.
My card was $39.99 and it really does sound nice and works perfectly. It uses a Realtek ALC1220A DAC… a Cmedia 6620A audio processor and is a true USB device which can use Windows 11 USB 2.0 Audio driver (Thesycon) for seamless operation without issues or speaker pop. I can’t go wrong here.
I’m not interested in DSP effects like “the basement” or the “bottom of the well” effect… so I’m satisfied.
 

AnalogSteph

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You got lucky there... the ASMedia USB controller on that card has some rather annoying bugs that can prevent it from working altogether in a modern system (you may have read my thread). I have been wondering whether it would be possible to mod it to operate from an internal USB 2.0 header, disabling the offending chip altogether...
 
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