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Phaenius

Capped (clipped, whatever) sound with Audigy sound card

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since it worked before.

Mind you not necessarily the case at hand, but I translate "before" as:

"when the card was new and there was no dust of any kind on it, all contacts were clean and cold solderings (if any) had not enough time to oxidize"

:whistle:

jaclaz

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Soldering makes sense (in which case there isn't much I can do), but I refuse (will all my stubbornness) to accept that dust may do any harm in this case. Anyway, as it is, computer is in a very tight space and it's quite heavy (heavy case, 4 HDDs, 4 DVD-writers, heavy sinks, power supply and other stuff inside), will give me a hernia to lift it, so I keep the operating inside at minimum. Sure, if situation asks, I will do it, but wanted to rule out other situations prior to that. Heck, space is so tight, I don't have room to attach anything at the back and have used the front panel so far. But I will do a trying tomorrow, with an extension cable. Will also try to output the digital sound from the back as well. So far, I've been using the front panel for that as well. I wanted to test the sound card from an electronic point of view (software tests that measures all kind of parameters), that's what I've been trying to say all this time. From an analogue point of view, my ears say it's wrong. But my ears sense harmonic distortions, clipping and a flat and broken sound in general, can't tell exactly what is wrong. I don't know how blowing the dust will make the contacts any better. Oxidation yes, that's a problem, but I can't do anything if that's the case. I wanted to know if I inflicted some damage to my sound card, due to listening or other equipment inside PC. Heck, I had a Creative Audigy ZS prior to this card, I've been using it for more than 4 years and it worked like day one. Don't know what's wrong with this.

Jumper, can you please rephrase your points from your latest post ? Thanks.

If any other fails, I will accept defeat and buy another card. I have already wasted a lot of your time already. I only hope it will last longer.

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OK, I coupled the headphones on the back output. It sounds actually worse. It sounds like sound is coming from a bucket. So, at the front sound is a bit better. Couldn't couple the output at the back to a digital amplifier, because I don't have a 3.5 jack to RCA adapter, not to mention the low space at the back. I might need a short 50 ohm cable. Even so, I can only couple the coaxial at the back, optical is only on the front panel. I don't think front panel is to blame really. But, looking in my boxes of cables and connectors, I did found a twisted 80 pin HDD cable, with all the pins free. It has thick copper wires and it can be connected via a screw and washer to computer metallic case. So, this must be the mother of all adapters from the card to the front panel. So, at least I could manage the isolation of radio frequencies, sadly not the distortions and poor quality of sound.

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I think I have a better describe of the problem I related as "capping", maybe sound engineers or experts can tell me the exact term I'm confronting with. If I am playing let's say a 1 KHz signal at 0 dB, everything it's ok. If on top of that signal, I play another signal of lower frequency, say 100 Hz, both sounds should be played clear and distinct. But the 1 KHz sound it's modulating after the 100 Hz. I mean, if a singer it's playing vocal only, it's ok, when heavy rhythmic starts, his voice is modulated after the instruments, while it shouldn't. So, in the first example, if the 1 KHz signal is constant and the 100 Hz is pulsating, the end result is the 1 KHz signal will pulsate as well, because of the modulating after the second one. Can you please describe the situation and what exactly seems to be the problem ? It's a digital or analogue one ? It's a power problem ?

Second question is what is the term describing lack of clarity, similar to old tape players, when head was out of sync with the tape and high frequencies were distorted. I mean, "sssss-es" sound like "sshh-es".

Thanks and Happy New Year everyone !

Happy_Snowman_2_by_Merlin2525.png

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(sigh...) Stepping into "it" again.

Any Sound Engineer will tell that you ANY "dirt" (whatever) will screw your equipment up. Why do you think folks selling stuff (e.g. a Mixer) will advertise as "smoke-free environment". Bear in mind ANY condensation will cause failures. What we're talking about is "dirt", pure and simple. Some Sound Engineers regularly "clean" their equipment with contact cleaner of their choice (that works for them AND recommended by the OEM). So, by ALL means, clean that puppy! Isopropyl is fine as long as NO RESIDUE is left behind (remnants of DIRT).

Levels/EQ

I did checked. It's at default. If I raise the preamp, sound gets distorted. EQ is flat. Mostly because I set the EQ from the Windows mixer and/or external amplifier or active speakers.
EQ = FLAT FLAT FLAT! You can NOT test if you have a (e.g.) "smiley face" EQ, because you are BOOSTING the Low/Hi and DROPPING The Center! In addition, you CANNOT have EQ-on-EQ as one will defeat the other. Same rule applies to Gain Structure - do NOT double-mix! No Sound Engineer in their right mind will stack one EQ onto another OR one Power Amp onto another OR one Mixer onto another. IF you have ANY Software "looping" into ANOTHER software, you WILL have problems. The Gain on INPUT is USUALLY low enough to NOT "clip" and the OUTPUT ("fader" on a mixer) is put to a reasonable level into the Subs set at a reasonable level into the Master at a reasonable level into the EQ at a reasonable level into the Crossover at a reasonable level into the individual Amps (believe it or not a MX level). Each piece of Equipment in the Chain has an IN/OUT and the IN for any given one MUST have a LOW ENOUGH LEVEL from the PREVIOUS PIECE to prevent THAT piece from Clipping. Mixers have Pre (the GAIN) and Post (the FADER) per CHANNEL that feeds the rest of the chain. If ANY Item is pushed too hard CLIP occurs.

P.S. - LOW frequencies EAT POWER! These amps are usually the weak link in a P.A. if you don't HAVE a high-powered Woofer Amp (usually 25-50% more than the SPEAKERS can handle). A lot? NO, because you DON'T push the lows! Indeed, you USUALLY, CUT the low-end Downward, as well as the Upper End. All GOOD Sound Engineers set their EQ FLAT in the middle with the ENDS sloping DOWN to ZERO and start from there. HIGH Frequencies DO NOT Eat Power, BUT will DISTORT if the MIDS or LOWS are pushed into the Upper Threshold (REGARDLESS of a Crossover, which will CLIP in Input). Basically, CLIP is at the FRONT and NOT at the BACK. In Addition, MANY (including me) Engineers will DROP the EQ at the Crossover Frequencies to FURTHER isolate the Ranges Set (to prevent OVERLAP).

Check to see if you've "looped" anything into an unacceptable "chain". Also Headphone Out is NOT a good place to insert Powered Speakers (already "amped"). LINE OUT ONLY (pwr-amp into pwr-amp rule)!

HTH

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Thanks for answering. First of all, as I asked in my previous post, Is there a name for the modulation I described in the previous post ? I want to check more on the internet about the phenomena. I am sure, in my case (the amplified speakers at least, it doesn't manifest on receiver + passive speakers), it's too much and the speakers have a fault (defective at birth or a flaw in the design). I thought frequencies stay flat (or at least to inaudible levels) at all range, regardless of how rich the sound is (simple samples, frequencies or a lot of channels of all levels, mixed together). That is one problem. The second one is the distorting (the ssss-es became sshhhh-es - again, I don't know the term) and the third one it seems sound is losing a certain warmness, I mean it sounds kinda metallic. The last two problems I am sure are sound card related. I am aware I am making a big deal out of it and in the end I must replace the sound card, but all I wanted to know if that there is something wrong inside my computer that damages the cards and / or am I setting something wrong that also damages the cards. I am afraid a new sound card will manifest (more or less) the same symptoms after not so long and I don't want to waste money, on a limited budget. I am not a sound expert, I mean, not on a technical side, I do graduated a college somehow related, but haven't practiced on the field. But I like to believe I have a native good ear that recognizes what sound should be. I mean, I can spot anomalies of all kinds, even though I can't describe them technically. That's why I asked. Something is definitely wrong and don't know if inside the card or the amplified speakers. To protect the receiver, I stopped using it, to prevent potential damage, if something is wrong with the audio card output.

You said about cleaning the card. I am not contesting, but I don't know what exactly to clean. The contacts between the two cards (audio and motherboard) and from the card and front panel ? Or every electronic part (resistor, condenser, chip, etc.) ? This would be a titanic work. And I don't get it what dirt can do from the outside, other that parts accumulating heat. Even then, heat and humidity are within limits inside my computer. I had more cards inside computers I had since 1996 when I had my first PC and so far, cards worked fine, no dusting, cleaning or anything. But again, I won't dispute the theory, it's just I believe it works on higher levels, not a mere and regular computer user, where we don't talk about high precision.

About the last part, I don't get it. From the comments, it seems you believe I did something wrong, but I don't understand from your post, where. I am leaving Winamp EQ flat and preamp at 0 dB and only after that, I am boosting high and low frequencies from the sound card output. Active speakers don't have bass and treble knobs, so I must set the EQ from the sound card. Is this wrong ? What do you mean I might LOOPED anything ? What exactly is this ? You are using many technical terms I don't understand. I am not an expert and my equipment is not a professional one. It does have all sort of settings and it's not the cheapest, but although expensive in it's own range, it's still a common equipment, not a professional one, not designed to have that many tweaks and desiring a lot of engineering knowledge, to sound acceptably good. But, as it is now, it's far from good.

Can you please elaborate, when you have the time on the terms you described above, where do you believe I go wrong, if, by the symptoms I described, do you think it's something wrong with my card, phones or speakers and if so, how can I test it, using minimal equipment, preferably self testing software (that checks for anomalies) ?

Also, I am not using phones output to my active speakers. My active speakers are connected via digital coaxial cable on the sound card.

Again, many thanks and Happy New Year!

Edited by Phaenius
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You said about cleaning the card. I am not contesting, but I don't know what exactly to clean. The contacts between the two cards (audio and motherboard) and from the card and front panel ? Or every electronic part (resistor, condenser, chip, etc.) ? This would be a titanic work. And I don't get it what dirt can do from the outside, other that parts accumulating heat. Even then, heat and humidity are within limits inside my computer. I had more cards inside computers I had since 1996 when I had my first PC and so far, cards worked fine, no dusting, cleaning or anything. But again, I won't dispute the theory, it's just I believe it works on higher levels, not a mere and regular computer user, where we don't talk about high precision.

Oh, yes :yes: , you have been contesting :w00t: it since jumper initially suggested it :realmad: , and there were a few posts (by me) detailing to the uttermost minutiae HOW exactly the cleaning and or washing should be carried, which I realize were just some wasted time on my side ...

But again, I won't dispute the theory, it's just I believe it works on higher levels, not a mere and regular computer user, where we don't talk about high precision.

Re-read, possibly slowly, this thread starting form here:

you have been doing nothing BUT disputing the theory (besides the practice) AND you still believe it doesn't apply to your case (pardon me the pun ;)).

jaclaz

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I did read the linked post, but as I immediately replied, I don't know some of the terms and steps, so that I asked for clarification.

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I think what submix8c is saying is that you have several steps going on where you have the ability to amplify and/or change the frequency response, From what I can tell you have -- (1) WinAmp -> (2) built-in OS sound controls -> (3) sound card controls -> (4) active speakers. Are there others? (2) might be replaced by (3) I'm not sure. It is possible the front panel outputs add another stage, at least the headphone outputs do as submix8c said. Every stage of amplification adds the risk of clipping if the input to the next stage is too high. If you can eliminate any stages as you are testing, you might narrow it down as to which stage is causing the clip. That doesn't mean that stage is at fault necessarily, just that the input is too high at that stage. If you have ALL stages you have left set perfectly flat, ie no amplification and no frequency modification at all, and you only start increasing the amplification in one stage at a time, starting with the stage closest to the speakers, see what that does. You should minimize the chance of clipping this way.

I also don't know where "receiver + passive speakers" comes into play in this chain. Anyway, since you say that the problem "doesn't manifest on receiver + passive speakers", that implies that the issue could be totally due to the active speakers, doesn't it?

As to cleaning, I can't tell you how many times that when anything doesn't work right, if I take it apart, clean it, and put it back together it starts working again. Maybe you find something disconnected, loose, or broken. Maybe just unplugging and replugging a connector makes a better connection. Sometimes it's just magic. It is always worth a try. How? Blow out every nook and cranny in the entire PC using compressed air. Canned air works fine, or even a vacuum cleaner, shop vac, or leaf blower in a pinch. Clean all filters and heat fins. Then unplug every connector and card and wipe down everything with a cloth or Q-tip dampened slightly with a high grade of isopropyl alcohol, 91% or higher, especially all male connectors. If you see any corrosion at all then that could be a major problem. While they are apart, blow out all female connectors, card and cable. Let everything dry thoroughly before reassembly. When you put everything back together, make sure all screws are snug and not over tightened, connections are all tight and straight, nothing crooked, flans are not blocked and spin freely, (I've had fans go bad on cards that caused overheating and thus mysterious problems), and check all wires for any kinks or nicks. Take your time and be careful, but anyone can do this. It's the first thing I try on absolutely all problems computer, home, car, efc. If nothing else, you'll probably learn something and you'll be able to say you did that when someone asks. And someone will always ask -- for a reason. LOL I know it's a lot of work, but it is very often worth it.

Cheers and Regards

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@bphlpt -

Yes, you KIND OF have the idea. And I find interesting that Receiver + Passive Speakers "doesn't manifest", implying that the Active Speakers are being... OVERDRIVEN going IN (e.g. from one of the PRIOR stages OUTPUT)!

The SOUND TESTS (those wave "test files") that were suggested IMPLIES that you use a PERFECTLY FLAT EQ, otherwise you DEFEAT THE PURPOSE OF THE TESTS! A Sound Engineer sometimes employs a dB Level Meter to ensure Lo/Mid/Hi are of equal dB for each and REQUIRES that you start FLAT-EQ to adjust them. The EQ is to adjust INPUT and NOT OUTPUT - that's why Mixers have a SEPARATE EQ for each Instrument (or Voice) Channel BEFORE it's fed to the "Overall EQ".

BTW - 0-db is incorrect... depending on the next Hardware, the OUTPUT is usually -10 or +4 (there are actually switches on the back of Pro equipment to set that). As for the "Mixer", the dB-Level (e.g. 0-db) has NO MEANING in this case and SHOULD always start at NONE and work UP (as I have already stated). GAIN is the PRIMARY INPUT and depends on the RAW SOURCE and EQ on any GIVEN "channel" DIRECTLY AFFECTS GAIN, especially Lows will BOOST and CLIP!!! This will BLEED into the other ranges!

As for CLEANING, I thought that the reason was thoroughly explained (even from an Engineer perspective). DIRT across the Traces on the Board WILL CAUSE CONNECTION WHERE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE IT. Jeez, why don't you just put a WIRE between PC-Board Traces - same effect!

Edited by submix8c
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Thanks everyone. As I am approaching fast New Year, I don't have time to reply now, but I will reply tomorrow. In short, my equipment is not a professional one, but a standard one, so advanced engineering shouldn't apply. However, for a regular user, it should sound at a respectable level and at the moment it doesn't. I very much believe the active speakers are at fault. They are manifesting the clipping (modulating, limiting, "capping", whatever). However, the "metallic" sound and all sorts of harmonic distortions I think are from the sound card. I wonder if the problem is in the digital and/or analogue section (so hardware), or software. As for cleaning, it does make sense. Each imperfect contact induces resistance. However, I didn't thought to such a big extend. I mean, I had many cards before and not one suffered from that. I even unbugged 2 hard drives that were affected by BSY state bug (jaclaz knows, I drove him crazy with my nagging), and you won't believe the bad shape of the contacts between electronic board and the head and motor contacts. I wonder how on earth it works. But it does. With all the oxidation and scratching. I thought with low currents, imperfect contacts shouldn't be so big of a deal. But I will clean the card and the contacts, see how it goes.

Happy New Year !

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It's not "resistance" we're discussing in relation to the cleaning. It's a dead-short where one shouldn't be. Glad you finally see the light.

Professional or not, the exact same concept applies. You just CAN'T plug a speaker (powered) output of an el-cheapo plastic stereo into the input (line in) of another el-cheapo plastic stereo and not get distortion out the it. If you have "looped" one Software Mixer into another one there will be distortion if you "push" the first one.

Example - I had two low-power el-cheapo guitar amps. I chained from the Speaker wires on Amp-1 and input it into Amp-2 and plugged my Guitar into the Input of Amp-1. Yes, it worked BUT I had to put the FIRST volume low (first in the chain) and pumped up the Volume on the Second (second in chain), If I pumped Amp-1 up TOO high, it would distort and could have potentially fried the circuits in Amp-2.

Example 2 - Put Powered Speakers behind a Powered Sound Card (Speaker Out, i.e. NOT LINE OUT) that used to exist AGES ago. The POWERED Sound Card would DISTORT the sound of the POWERED SPEAKERS unless the Mixer Output was set LOW enough to prevent the distortion THEN the Volume on the Speakers was turned up.

Do read up on Cascaded Amplification. It IS the same concept regardless of Pro or not. CONCEPT still applies... don't fool yourself and TRUST a REAL SOUND ENGINEER!

Google

cascade amplification distortion

P.S. This is the exact same concept that's used for a Distortion Pedal that MOST Guitar Players use. ;)

Happy New Year.

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DIRT across the Traces on the Board WILL CAUSE CONNECTION WHERE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE IT. Jeez, why don't you just put a WIRE between PC-Board Traces - same effect!

I thought :unsure: that electrons traveled INSIDE the components, NOT on the surface. :whistle:

I don't see how dust and dirt can damage the sound. Electrons travel inside the components, not on the surface. This isn't a matter of joke. This isn't a joint, to vax, oil, undust and something like it. It's a solid state component, nothing to do with dust and dirt. I'm sure it's not even susceptible to static electricity.

Though it has ALREADY become a matter of joke :yes: .

http://www.megavolt.co.il/humor.html

Q: Why was the free electron so sad?

A: It had nothing to be positive about!

(electrical jokes are rarely funny, however)

Now, for NO apparent reason a pictorial message to Phaenius ;):

ResistanceFutile_display.jpg

:lol:

jaclaz

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Now, you're making fun of me, and I change my status to:

MS_Monster_Angry_Snowman.png

submix8c, so, I understand I am doing something wrong. But what ?. Because I don't get it. How should I set the mixers and the cables between the components ? As far as I know, all sound cards have the same connectors, you call el-cheapo.

I made a scheme, sorry for my drawing capabilities.

http://oi50.tinypic.com/2a8res9.jpg

Can you please tell me exactly what and how to set everything according to you ?

Here is my sound card manual http://www.datafilehost.com/download-22f946f2.html

I can also have the receiver and active speakers manuals, but I don't know if there are of much importance.

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Now, you're making fun of me, and I change my status to:

MS_Monster_Angry_Snowman.png

Be aware of bunnies :w00t:

rabbit_attacks_snowmen-12079.jpg

Take care ;).

jaclaz

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