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Capped (clipped, whatever) sound with Audigy sound card

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#76
Phaenius

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LOL. That's one long power cord.


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#77
jumper

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In the top-right corner of your diagram, is the active speaker connected to the speaker jack on the PCI card or to the line-out jack?
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#78
Phaenius

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They are the same. One green 3.5 mm jack, standard to all computer audio cards. But I am not using much, because I use the coaxial output. The active speakers have a built in input selector.

But I wanted (and omitted in my previous post) to ask you, with all the multitude of volume settings, how should I set the volume on each component ? I have volume on music player (in this case Winamp), on sound card (two in fact, for general output and headphones output) and on both active speakers and receiver (depending of what am I using).

#79
bphlpt

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They are the same. One green 3.5 mm jack, standard to all computer audio cards.


I found this hard to believe because I am used to seeing specs for separate "Speaker out", which is effected by the sound card's volume control, and "Line out", which is not. But it seems he is correct. I looked here - http://eighthunderwo...champion-series:

I/O Drive Connectivity

• Two RCA jacks for coaxial SPDIF input and output
• Two RCA jacks for Auxiliary input
• Two optical connectors for optical SPDIF input and output
• Two mini MIDI female connectors for MIDI input and output
• Headphone output with volume control via 6.35 mm (1/4-inch) stereo jack
• Shared line-level analog Line/Microphone input via 6.35 mm (1/4-inch) stereo jack


Pic of the FPS version of the card:

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Cheers and Regards

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#80
Phaenius

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I put pictures of the card and manual with diagrams in this post, you can download them. Again, link to manual is here http://www.datafileh...d-22f946f2.html

This is a standard card. I know it's more common from an electronics or audio specialist to output via line out (something around 0.7 - 1.0 V, with high impedance), but in not state-of-the-art sound cards, it's common the same jack to share the same output, both headphones and line out. Heck, they do this on an even more outrageous sharing, microphone and line in.

#81
jaclaz

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Look at how many capacitors on that card! :w00t:
A rule of thumb being that an electronic circuit board has as many probabilities to have issues - expecially when aging - as the number of electrolytic capacitors on it.
http://en.wikipedia....apacitor_plague

Also, just imagine how much dust could hide under them! :whistle:
(and how much dust/dirt could affect the 10-degree rule)
http://en.wikipedia....lytic_capacitor
http://en.wikipedia...._length_of_life

jaclaz

#82
Phaenius

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What to do, I can't replace each one of them. :) Do you think the board in defective because of the capacitors ? How much do they last on average ?

#83
jaclaz

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Do you think the board in defective because of the capacitors ?

It is a possibility (not necessarily appying to your case).


How much do they last on average ?

It greatly depends on manufacturing quality and temperature (which you may also read as "on how clean is the board/environment". :whistle: )
READ the given links, they were posted for this.

jaclaz

#84
Tripredacus

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But I wanted (and omitted in my previous post) to ask you, with all the multitude of volume settings, how should I set the volume on each component ? I have volume on music player (in this case Winamp), on sound card (two in fact, for general output and headphones output) and on both active speakers and receiver (depending of what am I using).


I typically like to leave Windows at its defaults and use only 1 software method for controlling sound. So for my PCs I let Winamp handle the EQ, and the Creative (or other) software not enable any EQ or other effects.

Spoiler


I believe I have experienced the problem you have with my iPod in my car. In that case, I have set a volume limiter on the iPod to 60% ... anything over that can cause distortion for some reason. It had this problem both with using a tape adapter (in old car) or using the aux in my current one. With an iPod and current car stereo there is limited things you can do really. I believe my iPod uses the Jazz mode, and then the car's levels are:
9 bass
6 mid
2 treble
(out of ten)

So in your case, make sure either you choose to use whichever is better at controlling your sound. You'll have to test whether that's your computer or your receiver.
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#85
Phaenius

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Test with my ears ? So far, I found no acceptable settings. I suspect some damage. jaclaz made me worried with his capacitors plague.

It greatly depends on manufacturing quality and temperature (which you may also read as "on how clean is the board/environment". :whistle: )
READ the given links, they were posted for this.

jaclaz


I read the links. Temperatures inside my computer are not that high. I counter the dust on components (thus heat accumulation) with the lack of case door. :D If I would keep computer clean, but with door closed, temperatures would have been the same (if not higher).

Edited by Phaenius, 02 January 2013 - 10:37 AM.


#86
bphlpt

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I counter the dust on components (thus heat accumulation) with the lack of case door. :D If I would keep computer clean, but with door closed, temperatures would have been the same (if not higher).



I believe this to be faulty logic, though I used to believe it as well. :) The truth is that a properly designed, and clean, case will have better cooling characteristics due to airflow being forced through in a controlled path. Without the case door you lose that controlled path and allow at least an order of magnitude more dust and dirt into the case. Without the controlled path to force the air over the components to remove both heat and a little bit of the dust, the dust builds up even faster and you have less heat dissipation. Not to mention the likely higher fan noise you will hear in the room from an open case.

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#87
Phaenius

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Well, although well intentioned, the fault lies with you in my case. :D My computer air flow is obstructed at the back by a large bedside, so most of the air inside computer is from one side. Not to mention the airflow is heavily obstructed by clogged fan filters. There are 5 case fans inside my computer, each with dust filter. Those filters are full of dirt, tough to reach, due to tight space. But I measured the temps inside, with and without case. With all the filters clean and computer undusted, but door on it has pretty much the same temperatures with computer full of dust, but without door.

But you're right, a clean computer is a happy computer.

Although, extrapolating, every electronic device suffer from the same dust. What shall we do ? Open our tv, cd players, phones, hair dryers, washing mashines, game consoles, toys and so on and clean them all ? :whistle:

#88
Phaenius

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Not to mention the likely higher fan noise you will hear in the room from an open case.


I find the sound comforting. There are a symphony of fans and motors (around 15 in total). :D But they are quite quiet, they are set to auto, now in winter, they don't spin fast.

#89
bphlpt

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Although, extrapolating, every electronic device suffer from the same dust. What shall we do ? Open our tv, cd players, phones, hair dryers, washing mashines, game consoles, toys and so on and clean them all ? :whistle:


As I've already said, when any of those items begin having any problems, like your computer is now, that is indeed the first thing I do. :) At one time or another I have had each one of those items open and cleaned them.

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt, 02 January 2013 - 02:30 PM.

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#90
jaclaz

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Although, extrapolating, every electronic device suffer from the same dust. What shall we do ? Open our tv, cd players, phones, hair dryers, washing mashines, game consoles, toys and so on and clean them all ? :whistle:

Yes, all of them that do have a fan sucking air inside them.
Of course this does NOT apply "normally" to:
  • tv, cd players, phones, washing machines (as they do NOT normally have a fan, though you would be surprised on how dust - over many years of service - can affect the functioning of a TV )
it may apply to:
  • game consoles, toys (if they have a fan sucking air)
It definitely applies to:
  • hair dryers <- but for a completely different reason, which is called "hygiene" :whistle:

jaclaz

#91
Phaenius

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Hair dryers have easy to pull filters. They do not weight 25 kg, like a desktop computer. As for console or tv, opening the case will void warranty. If anyone manages to open the case of my computer monitor (Philips 220CW), I'll give him the Nobel prize. I tried many times without success. No screws, nothing.

And by the way, I had a tv with tubes, it worked for 30 years. It had so much dust inside, you couldn't even see the tubes. But it worked. And the tubes were hot of course.

when any of those items begin having any problems, like your computer is now


My computer is not having problems. My sound card is having problems. A tone def ear won't even notice. Apart from that, everything is working fine.

Edited by Phaenius, 02 January 2013 - 03:20 PM.


#92
Phaenius

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As an update, I start noticing occasional clicks when playing music. Could this be direct current escaping filtering, or a problem with capacitors in general ? I understood capacitors are widely used as filters in audio equipment.

#93
submix8c

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1 - use EQ only at END of chain, either turn OFF others (preferably) or set FLAT!
2 - Did it occur to you that Speakers will distort/click if OVERDRIVEN? (did you notice the Power/WATTS examples I gave?)

Someday the tyrants will be unthroned... Jason "Jay" Chasteen; RIP, bro!

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#94
Phaenius

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Speakers don't distort, I am not that dumb to raise volume beyond reasonable acceptance. Also, the sound is so bad and lacking any consistence, I am using all the EQ I can get to get a decent one. Sadly, I think there is something damaged in the card, but I would love to know what before putting to RIP. I would also love to know what caused this in the first place, to avoid happening again. I will clean the board when I'll have the time (and courage to lift the case), but I am not hoping for much improvement (if any). But I would like to thank everyone for advice once again.

#95
submix8c

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You missed every single point I've given.

DO NOT use EQ except at the end of the chain. FLAT EQ or OFF EXCEPT the Last In Chain - CUT the Lows/Highs and FLAT the Middle at the END EQ.

DO NOT run the Gains HIGH at the FRONT of the chain. Start LOW at the Front and work up at EACH POINT IN THE CHAIN.

Speakers WILL Clip/Overdrive due to CHANGES at ANY point in the Chain, REGARDLESS of the "volume knob" on the Box. The FRONT Volumes WILL DISTORT NEXT IN CHAIN! Boosted Lows on the FRONT WILL CHANGE THE LEVEL ON THE FRONT!

TRUST me on this! AGAIN, Mixers have SEVERAL points that can go wrong. If I BOOST the Level on the (e.g.) Kick Drum, it WILL Overdrive the (e.g.) Master Out and CAUSE DISTORTION! If I BOOST the LOW on the Kick it RAISES THE LEVEL (the Frequency Range at which Kick is at) of the GAIN (input) and DISTORTS. THE SAME CONCEPT APPLIES!!!

Hint - RAISE the VOLUME at any given point in the chain and tell me what happens. RAISE the LOWS at an given point and tell me what happens. IN PARTICULAR do this at the FRONT of the chain and tell me what happens!

Download this and look it over
http://www.offbeat.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/eq-chart.pdf
Also look at this and this Distortion Wiki and this Clip Wiki. Here's a couple of TIPS that specifically tell what the effects of boosting BOTTOM will do -
http://abletonlife.c...-mix-in-ableton
(specifically references PREAMPS, which is what the FRONT of the chain is)
http://www.tunemybas...mp_guide_1.html

If you have two inputs marked passive and active, plug your active bass into the active input, not the passive input. Otherwise your signal may be too loud and could clip, or distort. It’s not the good kind of distortion, either.

ANOTHER one that clearly states the effects of BassBoost -
http://www.stevemead...st/page__st__40

So you set your gain how it should be. All is good. Then you turn up the bass boost. Now whenever you play a note at the bass boost frequency - it clips. But it's only at that frequency.


REALLY, you just don't get it. GAIN and FREQUENCY (boosting any give one is... GAIN for THAT one only) will cause CLIP/DISTORTION - PERIOD! In particular, its the PRE's that cause it, the POST's just COMPOUND it!

NOTICE! I have found that WinAmp has an EQ Plugin. You ALSO say that the "MS Sound" ALSO has an EQ (probably for THAT SOUND CARD). - REMOVE THE WinAmp PLUGIN and tell me what happens. ;)
I ALSO notice you have both Analog AND Digital into your ACTIVE speakers - SURELY you don't have BOTH activated at ONCE!!!

THIS is what you have -
GAIN(how many "faders")->EQ->GAIN(how many "faders")->EQ->PwrSpkr(GAIN)
Your GAIN is too HIGH somewhere in the FRONT!!!!

Edited by submix8c, 03 January 2013 - 12:07 PM.

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#96
Phaenius

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DO NOT use EQ except at the end of the chain. FLAT EQ or OFF EXCEPT the Last In Chain - CUT the Lows/Highs and FLAT the Middle at the END EQ.


i CAN"T ! It sounds horrible without. You are right on a correct chain, where everything is running ok.

DO NOT run the Gains HIGH at the FRONT of the chain. Start LOW at the Front and work up at EACH POINT IN THE CHAIN.


What does GAIN mean ? What is FRONT of the chain ? Do you mean I should set the volume low starting from the beginning and raise it as it approaches final amplification ?

Speakers WILL Clip/Overdrive due to CHANGES at ANY point in the Chain, REGARDLESS of the "volume knob" on the Box. The FRONT Volumes WILL DISTORT NEXT IN CHAIN! Boosted Lows on the FRONT WILL CHANGE THE LEVEL ON THE FRONT!

TRUST me on this! AGAIN, Mixers have SEVERAL points that can go wrong. If I BOOST the Level on the (e.g.) Kick Drum, it WILL Overdrive the (e.g.) Master Out and CAUSE DISTORTION! If I BOOST the LOW on the Kick it RAISES THE LEVEL (the Frequency Range at which Kick is at) of the GAIN (input) and DISTORTS. THE SAME CONCEPT APPLIES!!!

Hint - RAISE the VOLUME at any given point in the chain and tell me what happens. RAISE the LOWS at an given point and tell me what happens. IN PARTICULAR do this at the FRONT of the chain and tell me what happens!


I am not stupid. I know the basics, I know what are you saying. But I do believe speakers are at fault and amplifier is clipping due to a faulty circuit (possible some chip that controls the digital volume). As I said, it doesn't manifest on AV receiver, but I am reluctant to use it, because it's more expensive and I'm afraid not to break it, if sound card is defective.

Here the manufacturers have their own fault, they induced too many volume options in the chain and furthermore, they didn't quite respect some basics. I mean, a line out is a line out, roughly at 1 Vcc / 500 KHz (or so). How can you output phones, amplified speakers and even normal amplifiers with high input impedance and low voltage from the same 3.5 jack for instance ? Again, how can you set the volume on digital output ? You should only have ONE volume, at the end of the chain, the rest should have only a preamp volume. But here, there are several blocks that amplifies each other, without much restriction.

I will read the second part of your post and will reply later. I think I get it. I believe you don't get it what I am trying to say. I am not a total moron. But I believe sound card, NO MATTER WHAT I DO OR SET, it's faulty. All the enhancements (EQ's, filters, so on) can enhance sound, but it cannot clean much if this is faulty in the first place. So, at this moment we have 2 situations:

1. Sound card is faulty, in which case you can't do much. (maybe cleaning will help to some extend, but I doubt it)
2. Sound card is wrongly set or the audio chain is badly setup. This is questionable, since the same chain worked before, but sound degraded in time.

I will check the links later. I do appreciate the time trying to help. Thanks.

#97
Phaenius

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Just a small update (still haven't read the links): I remember someone here telling me to set the Winamp level to maximum and everything else to maximum and working only with the end volume. This kinda contradicts your theory, submix8c. You said to progressively raise the volume towards the end of the chain.

#98
submix8c

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Not a "Theory" - fact (if you read the links). "Chain" - I gave you an example (from your own chart) -

A->gazintaB->gazintaC->(etc). / A=Front Of Chain (obviously).

If it has "degraded over time" then there is a PHYSICAL failure. Even P.A. Power Amps eventually fail - an expensive proposition for an Engineer and his own equipment. SOMETIMES a good "clean" will fix it, but is a component is failing, then there's no other recourse.

And we DON'T "double-overall-EQ" at all, but ONLY at the Channel (a SINGLE INSTRUMENT) and EITHER the Submasters (GROUPS of Instruments/Channels) on Inserts OR the Final Stage (JUST BEFORE THE AMPLIFIERS, but BEFORE THE CROSSOVER). That's why I SUGGESTED removing the WinAmp EQ plugin (you can ALWAYS put it back - it's an "extra"). The whole fact of the matter is that APPARENTLY your Sound Card has "goodies", including an EQ. Heck, even Windows Media Player has an EQ built in - my sound card does NOT have the "goodies" - only Dolby (basically a kind of Crossover) for LF/RF+LR/RR+CTR+SUB and I EQ ONLY ONCE into Powered Speakers (has Base/Treble Tone knobs I set CENTERED, i.e. "FLAT").

Double-EQ defeats the purpose and Gain Structure DOES dictate "a little Gain on the front without a blinking red clip light" (this is the initial Signal) fed into ANOTHER piece of the chain "pushed up until the signal is "amplified" (it's allowed to be BELOW zero) which is fed into the NEXT piece (etc etc) until AT THE SPEAKERS (the MASTER Volume/GAIN).

If you want to "argue" with a Pro Engineer, find another. I've said my say and am absolutely correct. Read the links to see if I'm wrong. ;) Seriously, I've run sound for Hall Of Famer's - take the education or not, it's up to you.

P.S. if you STILL don't believe me, Google
gain structure guide
and see what you come up with. :w00t:

Someday the tyrants will be unthroned... Jason "Jay" Chasteen; RIP, bro!

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#99
Phaenius

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Look, I don't know where do you have the idea of me fighting or arguing with you. This is not a debate, this is me trying to figure out what is wrong with my components. It's not a game of who knows more. I have a pretty good idea about basics in sound, of course I am not an sound engineer, but at a common user level, I have a pretty good idea. Point me where I was arguing with you. Several times I said I am not contesting, debating or arguing and I thanked all for suggestions or advice.

Returning to my problem, I am NOT double EQ-ing. I said it countless times, Winamp EQ is flat, preamp at 0. I don't have EQ or bass/trebble on my active speakers, so I am using EQ from sound card mixer. It's in the middle of the chain, but it's the farthest down the chain. And I am not using insane levels, just to add some "taste" to otherwise dull sound, because as it's now, it's sounding like coming from a bucket.

You are talking about professional mixers and charts and soever. I am merely using a software 10 band graphical EQ. So, all those charts and professional stats are fine tuning. I said it, if you have a basic sound that sounds bad, distorted, you can't do much with EQs, filters and so on. Not at least at amateur level. That's what I am trying to say. If you put a perfectly working card in a computer and connecting to a good equipment, but leaving everything at default, no EQ, no enhancements, no bass-treble, no filters, etc., it may sound dull and lacking a certain feel of power or touch, but it won't sound bad or distorted. In my case, it kinda does.

So again, since you accused me of not listening:

1. I am NOT NOT NOT NOT using Winamp's EQ.
2. I understood the principle on non double EQ-uing. I am using now ONLY as a last resort, otherwise I would have used the correct path.
3. I understood the principle of low and high frequencies and the fact that low ones consumes more power, that can drain from other. But if I set the volume too high, it will most likely distort, not oscillate like I was playing with the amplifier volume.
4. I would love to know how to see the signal on an oscilloscope, but sadly, I don't know how to even operate one. I downloaded some software oscilloscopes and I do have 2 sound cards, but again, I don't know how to use the program. To technical for me.

About setting the EQ. You suggest me lowering the low and high frequencies ? Because I am doing the exact opposite now. Without this, music sounds horrible.

Again, tell me where I am going wrong, because I have the feeling you believe I am doing the settings wrong and I don't know where. So, what am I doing wrong, in your opinion ? Please use basic terms and settings I have, not professional ones, in other words, something that I CAN do with my equipment.

#100
bphlpt

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What you CAN do, is clean it. :) Look, I know you are resisting doing this with all your heart. I know it will be a pain, and I know that the odds on dirt on the board causing your problems are very, very, very, very small. BUT, while cleaning the board look at it very, very carefully to see if you see corrosion on any board or cable connectors, any evidence of failed parts on the board such as anything loose, blackened areas, wires or parts touching something that they shouldn't and causing a short, etc, etc. Make sure while reconnecting everything that all connections are clean and snug. These kinds of potential problems that you might find while cleaning could be what is causing your sound issues.

Assuming you find nothing out of whack, lets try to figure out where your problems might be by looking at all the pieces of the chain starting with the software. Temporarily, use something other than Winamp. I know, again astronomical odds that that is the problem, but it won't cost you anything to try something else and you can do it quickly and then get rid of the other software if it doesn't prove anything. In the hardware chain you have the sound card, the sound card front panel, the active speakers, the receiver, and the passive speakers. You say using the receiver with the passive speakers sound fine with no problems whatsoever, correct? But using the the active speakers have a problem no matter whether they are driven by the jack on the sound card or the digital coax from the sound card front panel, correct? Sound bad in the same way no matter which connector you use, jack or coax? If so it would seem the problem is with the active speakers and it has nothing to do with the sound card. You can try to prove that by connecting the active speakers to another system, ( a friend's perhaps? ), or by borrowing another set of active speakers, ( from that same friend? ), and see if the problem follows the speakers. Or try to borrow another sound card, it doesn't have to have a front panel, and see if you still have problems using the same computer, software, and active speakers. If there is still a problem then that eliminates the sound card as the source, if there is now no problem then it kind of points to something in the sound card. It's just a process of elimination. If the problem always follows your current active speakers, then assume that that's your problem and either get new active speakers or use the receiver and passive speakers and don't worry about it.

Bottom line, to do much more analysis to find out what your problem is you are going to probably have to pull that case out away from your bed.

Regardless of what you find to be the problem, CLEAN your system anyway and follow submix8c's suggestions of adjusting gain (amplification) and EQ in as few a number of stages as possible and as close to the speakers as possible in order to minimize the possibility of clipping and distortion. Good luck and I'll be curious as to where you find the problem to be.

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt, 03 January 2013 - 09:38 PM.

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