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The weirdest behavior with Topping DACs and USB audio, please help!

Hiilari

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Aug 16, 2019
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#1
Hello, greetings from Finland! I presume there's a ton of knowledge here on this forum, perhaps you can help me out.

I have a nice mid-fi home office setup with a laptop, some DACs, Musical Paradise small tube amp, good 2-way speakers and HiFiMan planars. Running Tidal in exclusive mode I really like the sound. I have a few DACs around including Topping D30 and D10, Dragonly Red, an older Campbridge Audio and some Focusrite audio interfaces in the basement studio.

Now, the trouble started when I got a docking station for my laptop so I could run a dual display setup. For some reason when the laptop is in the docking station both Topping DACs start creating loud humm or static. In fact, the loud hum comes from my speakers even with amp volume off! It plays music, but the loud hum is there too. With Dragonfly this does not happen, only with Toppings. I assumed this would some weird ground loop thing so I thought switching from Topping D30 to D10 might help since D10 has no power supply but uses USB power. But the hum was there sill, only quieter - but very audible. When I remove the laptop from the docking station and connect DAC directly to laptop, everything is fine. In the docking station things go haywire even if I'm actually using a USB port on my laptop for the DAC.

So somehow the Lenovo docking station + Topping DACs + Musical Paradise MP-301 is a nightmare combo. But I have no clue why. Any good tips from you guys?
 
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majingotan

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#2

Hiilari

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Aug 16, 2019
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#4
And it worked! Laptop -> USB cable -> D10 -> Optical SPDIF -> D30 -> RCA cables -> Amp combo makes the noize go away. One good DAC is now reduced to USB- to-SPDIF converted/re-clocker, but cutting the copper wire loop with optics did the trick. It's still kinda odd WHY this helped - what originally made the MP301 tube amp sound like broken radio even when volume completely off. Too much cable spaghetti + cheapo equipment I presume.

Thank you so much - this forum rules!
 
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