• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Strange audio/amp issue?

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Hi all,

Fresh to the forums and audio world and would like some assistance of this strange issue.

I recently bought a Schiit Asgard 3 straight from the US (I'm from Australia) and are experiencing 2 strange issue.

A bit of background of my usual set up:

Audio issue diagram.jpg


After the first couple of days of using it, I notice a strong hum/electrical noise when listening through the headphone amp. After some research on multiple forums, speaking to audio stores in my city, and others more experienced in audio, came to my own conclusion that it could be related to or appear to be a ground loop issue.

I then purchased an iFi iDefender+ along with an iPower 5v power supply in an attempt to remove the ground loop, so far seems to have significantly reduced the noise, and the loud electrical noise/hum is mostly gone, only the slight bit maybe after 12 o clock on high gain.

However there's a remaining issue:

From my right ear, with all the above headphones, I can hear this harsh, sharp, raspy sort of distortion, especially voices in videos/streams, or vocals in songs.

Just a really hard to explain sharp, uncomfortable raspy noise when sound is playing, mostly super obvious in vocals in songs/voices in videos, with loud enough music, and bass heavy or busy songs, it is not as obvious. it almost sounds like having an old Mp3, CD player, with crappy 3.5mm connection, and if you don't plug it into the right position, the audio sounds like a bit of a buzz/static noise, while you still hear that it is someone singing/talking, its a little like that. Wish there was a way I can record it.

Tests I've done:

  • iDefender+ & iPower on the USB cable from my Scarlett to the PC, reduce the initial ground loop type hum/electrical noise a lot if not all gone, but this right ear problem is not affected by it.
  • Changing volume/Gain doesn't seem to matter it's just easier/harder to notice, it's noticeable even on low gain, less than 12 o clock on volume.
  • Changing source doesn't matter it seems, switched to RCA to 3.5mm cable, into a 3.5mm to USB C cable then into my mobile phone, no noise or other hum/distortions other than that raspy sound described in the right ear when playing something.
  • Switching power boards, different power outlets around the house, different power cable doesn't help.
  • No source/no cables into the input at all, no noise what so ever.
  • Switching left and right side on my HE-4xx cable, the noise/issue switches from right to left.

Few interesting things I've found:

  • Unplugging the right channel of the input RCA to the amp, leaving only the left channel, no issue.
  • If I pull the SE 1/4" headphone cable/plug from my amp out by about 25%, the sound is more "hollow" and less loud/intimate, but the noise is gone.
  • Most noticeable on DT 177x Go, then HD 598, then not as noticeable on HE-4xx, much harder to notice on AKG 712 Pro.
  • If I use RCA to RCA cable going from my Asgard's Pre-out, into an Edifier S1000db, as far as I can tell the issue isn't there on the right channel.
I've contacted Schiit support, but the time difference, response time through email will make this a little challenging, will see...

So all of these things so far leading me to believe it's still some kind of distortion to do with my amp, and maybe even affecting the headphone jack, of course I know nothing about audio/electrical stuff to really say for sure, which is why I'm here for some much needed help. Any suggestions/feedback would be appreciated. Feel free to ask me anything and I can try my best to clarify, thanks in advance!
 
Last edited:

fieldcar

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
278
Likes
402
Does this distortion go away when removing the ground loop isolator? I think you indicated that it did.

Products that "remove ground loops" usually use isolation transformers to accomplish this. Isolation transformers also degrade the signal with harmonic distortion.

Personally, I avoid using my focusrite scarlett 2i4 for anything but driving my 306P's in balanced. The focusrite's RCA outputs are far too noisy for headphones and IEM's in my opinion, and I gave up on it very quickly and bought a topping D10 for my JDS ATOM at the time. That stack would output pretty much flawless sound with no hum or noise floor no matter what gain I had the Atom set to. I've since upgraded to a D50S + THX 789, but it's basically about the same perfectly inaudible noise floor, but with more power. You may want to pick up a modi3+ just for your Asgard and return those ifi products. When running multiple sound adapters with windows 10, you just click the speaker icon and then expand the devices list to change the output quickly.

I hope this helps you out.

1612965959688.png
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Does this distortion go away when removing the ground loop isolator? I think you indicated that it did.

Sorry to clarify: Nothing removes the right channel weird noise, and doesn't matter whether I'm using the scarlett or a phone as the source.

I am also eventually planning to move away from the Focusrite as my DAC, have you had much issues with USB dacs? or are you using optical out from the PC MB to the DAC?
 

Vini darko

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
1,766
Likes
2,393
Location
Dorset England
Hi welcome to asr. Schiit audio are a good lot and will help you out. It does sound like there's an issue with the amp if it's happening with mutiple sources. Sucks for sure when new gear has issues.
 

fieldcar

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
278
Likes
402
Sorry to clarify: Nothing removes the right channel weird noise, and doesn't matter whether I'm using the scarlett or a phone as the source.
Ok. Gotcha. I think you made the right choice by reaching out to Schiit. It's hard to say if all of your sources are bad or not. A cheap DAC to try would be to get the apple USB-C dongle dac and feed it with those 3.5 to RCA adapters. EDIT: Actually, I just remembered that the apple usb-c dac was noisy when using my computer. Through a phone works though.

I am also eventually planning to move away from the Focusrite as my DAC, have you had much issues with USB dacs? or are you using optical out from the PC MB to the DAC?

The only issue I have with USB DAC's is that they pick up more computer noise, but I'm talking in the -130dB range. I'd have to crank up my THX 789 full volume and max gain to hear the a very faint clicking and whining when the interconnect cables get near my monitor. Moving it helped, but it's so far out of the listening range that I don't have a real issue. I haven't bothered with optical as most of the good DAC that measure well here on ASR are measured using plain old USB. It's certainly not a bad idea though. Optical has no ground loops.

I hope you're able to figure it all out.
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Hi welcome to asr. Schiit audio are a good lot and will help you out. It does sound like there's an issue with the amp if it's happening with mutiple sources. Sucks for sure when new gear has issues.

Thanks mate, I hope they will replace the device for me. I do really like the Asgard.
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Ok. Gotcha. I think you made the right choice by reaching out to Schiit. It's hard to say if all of your sources are bad or not. A cheap DAC to try would be to get the apple USB-C dongle dac and feed it with those 3.5 to RCA adapters. EDIT: Actually, I just remembered that the apple usb-c dac was noisy when using my computer. Through a phone works though.



The only issue I have with USB DAC's is that they pick up more computer noise, but I'm talking in the -130dB range. I'd have to crank up my THX 789 full volume and max gain to hear the a very faint clicking and whining when the interconnect cables get near my monitor. Moving it helped, but it's so far out of the listening range that I don't have a real issue. I haven't bothered with optical as most of the good DAC that measure well here on ASR are measured using plain old USB. It's certainly not a bad idea though. Optical has no ground loops.

I hope you're able to figure it all out.

Thanks a lot! I do have an open ticket with Schiit hopefully they'll get back to me soon, thinking about maybe a topping DAC.
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Just in time for the D30PRO! ;) I'm tempted to grab one to go fully balanced.
haha I don't know if I need something too fancy, with DAC I'm hoping to get a decent one without being too pricey, main thing is as long as it has volume control and also not too much known issues.
 

threni

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Oct 18, 2019
Messages
680
Likes
779
Location
/dev/null
How close is the other kit to the Asgard 3? When I first got my Schiit Loki I put it on top of the Asgard, and I heard a really loud hum. It got a lot quieter if I moved the Loki to the right of the amp but only moving it away from the amp really solved the problem.
 
Last edited:
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
How close is the other kit to the Asgard 3. When I first got my Schiit Loki I put it on top of the Asgard, and I heard a really loud hum. It got a lot quieter if I moved the Loki to the right of the amp but only moving it away from the amp really solved the problem.

I've physically taken my amp to another room, straight into the wall no go still :(
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2

rdenney

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
864
Likes
1,391
It sounds to me like a faulty component in the right channel of the headphone amp. You’ve eliminated possibilities upstream of that point, it seems to me. A scratchy potentiometer (analogue volume or balance control) can cause what you are hearing, but so can many other things. Even a cold solder joint that connects partially can cause it.

I suspect that when Schiit provides a replacement, the problem will go away.

Rick “not knowing what analogue devices are in that headamp” Denney
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
It sounds to me like a faulty component in the right channel of the headphone amp. You’ve eliminated possibilities upstream of that point, it seems to me. A scratchy potentiometer (analogue volume or balance control) can cause what you are hearing, but so can many other things. Even a cold solder joint that connects partially can cause it.

I suspect that when Schiit provides a replacement, the problem will go away.

Rick “not knowing what analogue devices are in that headamp” Denney

Thanks for the advice, I've contacted Schiit last monday or so, they responded back after the first day, but ever since then I haven't received new updates yet, maybe they're busy, just hoping my email isn't lost somewhere. Problem also is I purchased direct, but I'm in Australia, hopefully things are not too painful to sort...
 

threni

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Oct 18, 2019
Messages
680
Likes
779
Location
/dev/null
Perhaps someone more electrically minded than me can state whether there's any mileage in connecting the grounds of the two RCA inputs?
 

rdenney

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
864
Likes
1,391
I doubt (meaning: not prepared to bet a medium-sized Chinese feast that I'm right) that changing the wiring will have any effect. If the Schiit amp has single-ended RCA inputs, the signal grounds are assuredly already connected inside the unit.

Most balanced outputs can be grounded together, but not all--it depends on how the balanced circuits are implemented. An XLR-RCA adaptor just ties the signal negative to ground, so doing that for both channels effectively connects the signal negatives together (even if the connection is made on the downstream device). I'd be very surprised if that was a problem for the Scarlett--it is not a problem for my Presonus interface (which performs the same function as the Scarlett), nor is it a problem for the balanced outputs of my Benchmark ADC. I adapt both of those to common-ground RCA connections. In fact, the Presonus device uses Neutrik connectors for the mains outputs that accept 2-conductor TS phone plugs for each channel.

When I hear the sort of distortion described by the OP, I immediately go to the pots. and switches I have an old commercial Yamaha parametric EQ that has balanced connections, and I'm using adapters with it to plumb it into the processor loop of an Adcom preamp. I have recently gotten that same sort of distortion. It immediately goes away when I manipulate the "processor" switch on the preamp--it's a poor connection, not an incorrect connection. I know where I need to spray a shot of Deoxit next. I've experienced the same behavior many times with vintage gear, and it's nearly always switches, relays, or pots making poor connections. By extension, that could also be a flaky cable, but it seems the OP has tested that possibility. Anything can be subject to infantile mortality, though.

Rick "maybe wrong, but still suspecting that replacing the amp--since it is under warranty--will solve the problem" Denney
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Another thing I'm noticing from the two different days I've tested this (only 1 test per each day)

The issue doesn't seem to be there on cold start for the amp, like if the amp was off for x amount of hours, start it up, the initial x amount of minutes there are no issue, after a while it kicks in. (from rough estimate it's probably between after 15 - 30 minutes)

Once the issue is present, if you go and unplug/plug it in elsewhere or turn it off and on, issue is still there. Only seems to be gone the next time it has a cold start, after being off for x amount of hours.
 

rdenney

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
864
Likes
1,391
In that case, almost assuredly a failing output device, probably a transistor. It could also be an intermittent capacitor. I have a cassette deck (an old Harman Kardan) with a similar issue and I haven’t been able to isolate it. Note that the transistor in question could be buried in an op-amp integrated circuit.

Repair dudes can sometimes find the failing part with a can of freeze spray.

Rick “still betting a replacement solves it” Denney
 
OP
T

tdot12

Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Repair dudes can sometimes find the failing part with a can of freeze spray.

Rick “still betting a replacement solves it” Denney

Wish I knew more about electronics that I can do this myself :D

Oh also might be a silly question. I purchased this directly from the US to Australia from their website. I chose the 230VAC voltage with Australian power plug option, do you think there could be any way this caused any issue?

I wouldn't assume so right?
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom