USB input high-pitched whine

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4

I've yet to find a definitive answer to this, but Google shows hundreds of people asking questions.

I have an M-Audio M-Track, a $100 USB-based audio interface.

Across all 3 computers I have tried it on, there is a high-pitched whine around 1kHz, similar to the one here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7345145/noise_2.wav

That high-pitched noise is in common between many brands of audio interfaces, as you can hear recordings on Google.

This happens when recording with things plugged in and with nothing plugged in with all possible configurations of the box (phantom power, monitoring, gain, line level, etc.)

It's not a ground loop. It happens on my mac pro when it is running from battery or when plugged in, on a 2006 original Mac Pro, and on my AMD-based desktop, always exactly the same noise, same pitch. I've tried putting a powered USB hub between it and the computer and that didn't help.

High-pitched whining is a common problem across many USB devices but there don't seem to be any answers other than "ground loop." It isn't a ground loop.

Thanks

std''OrgnlDave

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 203

I don't suppose you've been able to try another unit of the same kind? It could be that there are just a bunch of badly manufactured cards around. Have you tried it just with headphones - not going to a mixer or speakers? I'm no engineer, so you may well know better than me and may be right about it not being a ground issue, but there is some interesting stuff here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov04/articles/computerproblems.htm the bit about USB/firewire and unbalanced connections is perhaps of interest.

– Mark Durham – 2014-07-15T18:29:30.200

additionally; have you returned the unit to the vendor with the complaint? what was the response? this sounds like a defective unit. and not to be a bore but you could save up some money and spent a bit more on a proper device, starting at $300 you can get something a lot better. – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-15T19:14:23.080

@ArnoudTraa I am open to getting something better, this is from a (small) A/V budget for a facility. Ofc. at some point along the spectrum of quality the question of getting a better transmitter comes up. What I would give for a 16-track pass-through recorder... Anyhow, what did you have in mind? – std''OrgnlDave – 2014-07-15T19:19:41.977

I don't gave anything in mind, but you could make a wishlist and decide what would be a proper amount to spent on that. Can't help you with that.. But look at apogee or focusrite.. Rme is a bit more expensive.. – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-16T11:16:28.760

Had this problem, but seemed to fix it by using balanced cables going to my speakers (1/4" to XLR). I'm guessing that this cheap interface generates some interference. – None – 2014-08-20T23:06:04.473

4The 1 kHz whine is coming from the 1 ms frame rate of the USB signal, by the way. It can get into the audio several different ways, though other than the things you've tried (breaking ground loops, using USB hubs), I think any fix would require modification of the circuit board. @DavidLitke yes, balanced cables will improve ground loop problems – endolith – 2014-10-15T16:42:05.963

I have the same problem with Blue Yeti and also tested it with several devices in different environments, this sound comes from the inside. – Nik – 2015-01-11T17:52:44.517

I'm seeing this same whine at the same frequency in a cheap T-Bone from Thomann microphone. Since it is USB powered/connected, I also doubted it could be a ground loop. Thanks for the question. – Álex – 2016-01-29T13:02:53.400

I just checked that using a computer port results in much more whine than using a powered hub (that, mind you, still doesn't get rid of the problem). – Álex – 2016-01-29T13:10:42.050

I've had the same issue. You need to use a very short 1/4 in cable out of interface to a direct box then use xlr only. It's a balance cable issue. – Rob – 2017-03-06T03:06:02.577

<blockquote>That high-pitched noise is in common between many brands of audio interfaces, as you can hear recordings on Google.</blockquote> Stupid question: sure it isn't your playback device? – user20926 – 2017-04-22T18:17:30.967

Answers

6

That is the result of bad isolation of either the DAC or the ADC. If the internal circuitry of the interface and the actual capture or playback circuitry share a common power supply, the operation of the electronics itself cause a distortion to the power being supplied to the capture or playback circuits.

Capture and output both rely on a fixed reference level and if this level is not constant, it introduces variations in the actual signal produced. These variations are what you are hearing with that noise. You get the same thing on a lot of computer sound cards and you can notice that it changes frequency when things take power in the computer such as intense processing or hard drive operation.

The best way to avoid this is to use interfaces that have isolated DACs and ADCs (should be listed as a feature) that are given a solid, constant reference level to work from independent of the power variations occurring within the rest of the hardware. Alternately, an if you can provide isolated power from the power supply, that may also help.

AJ Henderson

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 7 961

I think I'll set this as the question answer, because it's the best info I've found on the 'net. – std''OrgnlDave – 2014-07-19T18:21:09.783

Great answer. To add, a bus powered device (like the OPs) shares its power with every other component on your PC. This leverages heavily against the quality of the PC power supply unit/supply chain. – N.Balauro – 2014-10-17T20:44:22.850

That means these mics (mine is Blue Yeti) are bad? Is it possible to fix whine issue somehow? Maybe you could recommend some steps? – Nik – 2015-01-11T17:57:37.137

Damn, I love you man. Setting the Soundcard from Duplex to Playback only finally made the whine go away. I tried just about anything before. Damn. Thanks. I'll add another answer for SEO. – devsnd – 2015-01-31T13:46:41.683

Thanks to the answer of AJ Henderson, I was able to resolve the same issue. I also had a high pitch whine or noise when using my M-Audio Fast Track Pro under Linux with Jack Audio and the Pulse Audio JACK Sink. Setting the sound card from Duplex to Playback and restarting JACK resolved the problem. – devsnd – 2015-01-31T14:04:45.983

I use an isolated DC/DC converter however those grounds need to be connected otherwise USB don't work! When grounds connected, USB work again however there is a whine again, Any solution to this? – Codebeat – 2019-10-01T19:26:04.347

You need something where the audio processing is isolated. If your device has common ground that's an electrical limitation and anything else putting noise on it will be unavoidable unless you can identify and stop the particular noisy component, but it could be anything on the same ground (or the same voltage line for that matter). Once you go analog any variation in power output is problematic if it happens at a frequency in the audible range. – AJ Henderson – 2019-10-01T20:57:02.240

1

I hade the same problem and here is the solution :

  1. go to system preference
  2. sound
  3. input
  4. find Yeti Stereo Microphone
  5. reduce the input volume

Mine was at 100%, that's why I heard the exact same sound. I Hope It helped.

A screenshot.

LutinRose

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 11

hi lutinrose, it's a bit unclear what part of the problem you are referring to. do you mean the high pitch whine? it seems so because you're actually describing 'feedback' which doesn't seem like the issue described. – Arnoud Traa – 2015-05-17T13:42:29.603

1

I have the exact same interface and was hearing the exact same noise, except it was not there when I bought the interface.

It does seem to be a power-supply-related problem, turns out the noise only appeared when I was plugging it into a USB hub, not the computer directly.

So, while this may or may not be the cause of the author's problem, other people in this situation may try different options of plugging/powering the unit, before considering it a faulty unit.

Rafael Almeida

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 111

1

Well, since I just ruined a recording yesterday, here is another pointer: don't let your microphone cables run across the laptop's switching power supply on the ground. Balanced cables may be good for a lot of electromagnetic abuse, but there are limits.

So keep a distance between the analog and the digital parts of your setup and particularly avoid direct vicinity with switching power supplies and (pretty much the worst) mobile phones.

If your cables run close to the audience and some lady sets her handbag with the phone switched to "silent" rather than "off" next to it, there is little chance that the preamps won't notice the phone bursting out watts of RF occasionally in order to retain contact with its cell tower.

user20557

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 11

1

I've had this problem today with a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface and some new Yamaha HS7 monitor speakers.

The problem is likely to be dirty power. However, is simply fixed with the addition of a cheap Ferrite Ring - a magnet basically that is wrapped around your USB power cable to the sound card.

If you're in the UK you can find them at Maplin - http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/ferrite-clip-on-hem3017-n94ab

Worked perfectly for me, hope it does for you!

jonatjist

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 11

0

Sheez, I had a similar problem on an M-Audio Audiophile USB AGES ago. I'd recommend trying other models and isolating the cause of the problem — RME's price will probably make you cry now but smile years later (TotalMix is still a nightmare UI to use but if you mainly handle routings in your DAW and focus on the awesome sound quality, you're essentially set).

TORLEY

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 341

0

I had the same problem, the cause was my cinema display connected to a unregulated power source.

Lughaid

Posted 2014-07-15T17:29:01.963

Reputation: 1