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Crackling noise with Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 and mountain lion 10.8.2

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Solved: Crackling noise with Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 and mountain lion 10.8.2

Hello , I built a custom mac to work with audio and have a very annoying problem. I have a persistent crackling noise on my monitor speakers which is changing upon scrolling in windows open closing windows or programs. The trouble seems to be in the build since the noise does not change its volume, if I change the volume using the monitor level control at the interface. I have no other gear connected via firewire. I used the onboard firewire first but bought an additional exsys firewire PCI-e card with Texas instruments chip set with no success. I of course use the latest driver I could get my hands on (saffire mix control 3.1) . I tried the following other things already:


  • Switching the firewire cables to check for a broken cable
  • Disabling onboard audio in the BIOS
  • Disabling firewire network via preference pane
  • Disabling WiFi in the status bar
  • I have no bluetooth (that I could disable)
  • Trying symmetric (balanced 6.3 mm plugs with two isolating rings instead of unbalanced) cables
  • Pulling the cable of the LCD monitor (because I read the some guy who had trouble with graphic card interferences experienced that the noise was gone with no LCD monitor connected)
  • connecting all power supply cables of devices that belong to the audio setup to one and the same socket (to get rid of any ground loop humming)
  • I wrote the Focusrite support but they wont help because it's a hackintosh

I attached a recording of the noise I am talking about hoping someone may is familiar with that and can help. Right now I am a bit clueless. What I will do is unplugging the graphic card and try to use the onboard graphic only to see if maybe I have a PCI-e IRQ problem or something like that. But honestly I have no idea how to check if the PCI-e slot are somehow shared. Also I will use another Focusrite interface of a friend to see if it is that one works. In the following I have a list of the setup I am using:​

Intel Core i7-3770K 4 x 3.5 Ghz central processor unit
http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/632/62...hz--boxed.html

16 Gb Corsair Cl9 Vengeance low profile blue PC3-12800 RAM http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/588/57...12800-kit.html

Alpenföhn Brocken cooler http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/884/87...-amdintel.html

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H main board http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/1283/9...800u-ddr3.html

Gainward GeForce GTX650Ti 1 Gb GDDR5 HDMI/2 x DVI graphic card http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/1280/1...hdmi2xdvi.html

580W be quiet! Straight Power power supply unit http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/962/95...-e9cm580w.html

2Tb Seagate 7200 rpm 64 Mb SATA 6 Gb/s 3.5" hard drive http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/705/69...i-3.5zoll.html

120 Gb Samsung 840 series SATA 6 Gb/s 2.5" SSD http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/710/70...sata-6gbs.html

TP-Link TL-WDN4800 450 Mbps Dual Band PCIe wireless LAN adapter http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/982/98...d-pcie-x1.html

Fractal Design Define R4 Black Pearl case http://www.kmcomputer.de/item/746/74...arl-o.nt..html
Exsys EX-16450 PCI-e firewire card with Texas Instruments chipset http://www.amazon.de/EXSYS-EX-16450-...7083180&sr=8-1

Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 and Mix Control 3.1 connected via 6pin firewire using the exsys firewire PCI-e card.

Please help if you have any idea what could cause the problem!

Update:
Since I can hear the noise already upon startup and in BIOS I assume its hardware connected. The interface works and all cables are fine. The noise comes from the build since it cannot be influenced in volume using the interfaces volume poti. So I took out part of part of my hardware…
I tested to only use the onboard graphics which did not help. I also took away the WLAN adapter. I took out all RAM but one and tried different slots on the motherboard. I changed the motherboard against a new one hoping the motherboard was defect. No change. The next thing I will try is to use other RAM. Is there anybody with a similar problem? Its driving me crazy :banghead:
 

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Joined
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Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH
CPU
i7-3770K
Graphics
HD 4000
Man, that sucks. I just completed a build for audio last night, but have yet to try my interface. My only suggestions, which you've probably already done, are to verify that the interface works correctly on another computer, and to try a different firewire card. People seem to recommend the Syba cards, since they use the TI chipset. Let us know if you fix it, I was actually thinking of getting a Saffire 40 myself.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2013
Messages
10
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH
CPU
i7-3770K
Graphics
HD 4000
I installed my audio interface and did some quick testing during my lunch break today. I'm using a Digi 002 as the interface, and my build is a GA-Z77X-UP5-TH with a 3770k and onboard graphics. After getting it installed, I found that I had a very similar issue to yours, I was getting a bunch of interference sounding noise over the speakers, regardless of what the volume was set to. My speaker cables were unbalanced, but when I swapped them out for fully balanced XLR cables, the noise was gone. Interestingly enough, the headphone jack in front (which is obviously unbalanced) did not have any noise. When you say you tried
symmetric 6.3mm calbes, I don't know exactly what you mean, are these 1/4 inch TRS cables?

I was also getting a bunch of interference with the line out on the mobo, before I did do anything with my interface. Not enough to be obvious when music was playing, but you can hear it clearly when there is nothing playing. Also some odd things, like I think it was making extra noise when I used the scroll wheel on my mouse. Do you have the same thing with your mobo's output?

Somethings I'm curious to try:

-Removing or moving the wifi card. I know you did this, but for me when I turned off the wifi, it did seem to decrease the noise level a little.
-Trying different slots for the firewire card and seeing if there is a difference.
-Changing the orientation of the power supply (mine can be mounted either fan up or fan down)
-Removing the front panel audio (doubt this would make a difference for the interface, but am interested to see if it effects the noise level coming out of the boards line out jack in back)
-Recording unbalanced input signals and see if there is sound there as well.
-Changing the proximity of my interface to the computer (right now the interface is in a rack only a few inches above the computer).

Hope something in here might help. Even though I have it working with balanced cables ok, I will probably keep trouble shooting to try and find the source. I get the feeling that there is just a decent amount of interference coming from these boards. Good luck.
 
Joined
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Hi outspacer,
thank you for your fast answer. :) I tried the audio interface with my notebook and its working fine there (Macbook Pro). I did not use balanced cables with my notebook when it was connected to that audio interface. But I tested it with my hackintosh. I got a cable from a friend that has two rings at the 6.3 mm jack and ends as a XLR in the monitors. So that is a balanced (stereo/symmetric whatever) cable. I tested it only with one monitor and the other one unconnected since I only had one of these cables and still had the noise on my system. I AM using an special firewire card. Its not from Syba but has a TI chip set according to the manufacturer. At amazon were I bought it they wrote comments that it works fine with their hackintoshs. I did not try to switch the orientation of the power supply so far. I will give it a try. However, I tried different places for the firewire card. The distance between computer and interface seems not to affect my noise level. Right now its far away from my computer just to be sure that this is not a reason for the noise I got. Did you listen to the recording of the noise that I put in my thread? Does it sound similar in your case :?:

Update:
Today I tried RAM from another manufacturer. No difference. The noise starts in BIOS and changes upon CPU usage. If I run a geek bench test its quiets down. So the noisiest part is if the CPU is not working…
I also took out my PSU to see if it makes a difference. But nope. I am getting crazy here :banghead:
Its a pitty that I cannot get my hands on a USB interface to see if I have a general audio problem or if its only affecting my fire wire. Also I took out the connector of my onboard audio at the main board but of course there is still that noise. I changed every single part of the build but the CPU. Can it be that the CPU is damaged somehow, but everything else still works? I really doubt that. All my fire wire ports are the same in terms of noise. Another weekend is about to pass and I cannot work with my system its really awful! Help pleeeaaassse
 
Joined
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Graphics
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Yes, my noise was very similar to what you posted. I had another firewire device connected that was contributing to the noise even though it was powered off (stupid of me to miss, I know, but I only had a min to troubleshoot), and removing it along with switching to balanced cables got rid of the noise.

If I crank the output of the built in sound card, there is still some of that digital interference or RF sounding noise, but that is probably unavoidable (I have the same thing on my Mac Pro). How loud is the noise on your built in soundcard? Is it just as bad as the firewire? Is it there without the firewire card plugged in?

Like you said, it would be great to get a USB interface and test if you can find a way to rent, or buy and return one. You need to remove the firewire card and interface from the equation to make sure the rest of your system is ok. If it is, then you can try a different firewire card, or worst case buy a USB interface.

Edit: Similar issue in this thread, maybe something in there that can help: http://legacy.tonymacx86.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=61707&view=next
 
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Hi today I tried to simplify everything. So I disconnected everything like USB devices and only kept the mouse, the keyboard and only one monitor speaker connected to the interface. I used both an unbalanced and a balanced cable to test any difference. With the balanced cable I can reduce humming and the interference with some close radio station, but both I actually only hear if the computer is off and the monitor speaker is switched on solely. As soon as I switch on my computer there is no difference in the two types of cables anymore. It is actually quiet beside that crackling sound that appears with the computer being processing and changes upon CPU usage (opening windows, apps, running geek bench etc…). If I connect a headphone to the front panel there is nothing to hear. If I connect the monitor speaker to that very same headphone jack there is again the noise. So apparently it has something to do with the fact that the speakers are active (if I connect my HiFi to the interface there is no noise as well…). Everywhere I read about this kind of problems the tip is to connect everything to the same socket or keep it at least to the same circuit (so every socket that is guarded by the same residual current operated circuit breaker in the breaker box). Since my build is in the living room that is actually the case. But again I tried to simplify things and put both the monitor speaker and the PSU plug into two sockets which a directly next to each other in the wall instead of using a power strip. I did not plug the LCD. Again there is no noticeable change. So maybe I need one of these DI boxes with a ground lift. But I heard that they are dangerous in terms of danger of fire and that thy are not supposed to be used in that way. I am out of ideas. It's so disappointing. I have this fast and smoothly running machine in my living room that does everything well but produces this ghost crackling in my speakers. It's enough to drive one to despair. :|
 
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Solved: Crackling noise with Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 and mountain lion 10.8.2

Problem solved…
The problem were my monitor speakers somehow. Although they work fine together with my notebook they have a problem sharing the mass with my Mobo. I found out when I hooked some more expensive Monitor Speakers up using the same cables. They worked fine and everything was OK. So I decided my own monitor speakers dont get any mass now :lol:
I put some duck tape around the mass clamps of the power strip where I plug them and the noise is gone. Maybe the speakers are not made for the european market where we use 220V or the transformators are crap or whatever I don't have a clue about things like that. Its the Yamaha HS50 which are pretty cheap but still OK for that price. I know I should not take away the grounding of the speakers but its the only thing that make them work. So I gues I stay with that since the speakers have no outer metal parts that could give me a electric shock.
 
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Hi, I have the same issue and the same speakers.
Could you give me further infromation or maybe a few picture on how and where you put the duct tape?

thanks!
 
Joined
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GA-Z77X-D5H
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Classic Mac
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Hi, I am not sure which kind of plug you are using for your power supply. I am using the european ones that look like the ones i uploaded in the picture. They have four contacts. Two of them which actually will carry the electricity (the two pointy ones that stick out of the plug) and two which provide a grounding in the case that something goes really wrong in the speakers (The metal contact on the side of the plug). The grounding is there for safety reasons. It assures that the electricity in a case of a short circuit or a similar event won´t go through the body of a person that happens to touch the broken device, but instead will use the way of lower resistance following the ground. So whatever you do is on your own risk here. Since the speakers are robust work and have a wooden casing it should be safe though. You best use a good quality multi socket which you are connecting to another outlet than the one the computer and rest hardware is connected to. Use some duct tape to block the ground contacts at the side of the multi socket so that only the two pointy contacts will go into the hole of the multi socket but the clamps at the side won´t make contact to the corresponding contacts of the multi socket. After you put the tape plug in the jack of the speakers. THEN you connect the multi socket to the outlet. Don´t fiddle around with duct tape in the multi socket while it is connected to an outlet obviously…
Hope it solve your problem :)
 

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Joined
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Hi, I am not sure which kind of plug you are using for your power supply. I am using the european ones that look like the ones i uploaded in the picture. They have four contacts. Two of them which actually will carry the electricity (the two pointy ones that stick out of the plug) and two which provide a grounding in the case that something goes really wrong in the speakers (The metal contact on the side of the plug). The grounding is there for safety reasons. It assures that the electricity in a case of a short circuit or a similar event won´t go through the body of a person that happens to touch the broken device, but instead will use the way of lower resistance following the ground. So whatever you do is on your own risk here. Since the speakers are robust work and have a wooden casing it should be safe though. You best use a good quality multi socket which you are connecting to another outlet than the one the computer and rest hardware is connected to. Use some duct tape to block the ground contacts at the side of the multi socket so that only the two pointy contacts will go into the hole of the multi socket but the clamps at the side won´t make contact to the corresponding contacts of the multi socket. After you put the tape plug in the jack of the speakers. THEN you connect the multi socket to the outlet. Don´t fiddle around with duct tape in the multi socket while it is connected to an outlet obviously…
Hope it solve your problem :)

Oh god, I have the same problem with the same speakers! haha Well I have the HS50m.

Actually I already had problems with my laptop+display running a while back and could solve it by using a small mixer, but i guess it doesn't do the job for this one.

I'm just a bit nervous about the duck tape thing. A lot of people in music forums go mad when they hear that solution :D

edit: well theres another bug:
When i plug in my speakers (before boot), suddenly my USB/Bluetooth keyboard and mouse stop working correctly. Keyboard just doesnt react or I have to type a key 10-20 times etc. With the mouse it's the same, almost impossible to navigate the cursor.
Anyone had the same problems?


I have different system though:
GA-h87-D3h
Intel i5 4670
internal graphics (hd4600)
2xcorsair 8GB RAM
1xEizo via DVI-D cable
 
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