Trouble w/ Headphones

Valaire

Gawd
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
Okay, I'm at a loss here and would like some input. I cannot figure out what is wrong with my HD-595's that makes it full of static and crackles in the right speaker only. Here's a summary of my troubleshooting:

1. Started happening to my first pair of HD-595's. Returned them and got a brand new pair. Also exhibiting SAME problem. The headphones are not amped and connected directly to the front line-out of the X-Fi ExtremeMusic. I normally use a Plantronics headphone-speaker switch but for troubleshooting purposes I have eliminated it from the chain (it is not the culprit either way). When listening to speakers, my X-Fi is at 80% volume. When listening to my HD-595's, my headphones are at 30-50% volume.

2. Seems to trigger 5 minutes into being in X-Fi Game Mode. Will carry over to Entertainment mode and Foobar. However, it will take longer to cause the static when starting out in Entertainment mode. All EQ, crystalizer, etc. is OFF.

3. Using my speakers (Swans M200) does not have the same problem. On what may be a related note, my Swans have always had a very small amount of static on the higher frequencies, but on the LEFT speaker, not the right one. Once the static starts while playing a game or talking on Vent with headphones, I can immediately switch to my speakers and the corruption will disappear.

4. Using a $20 pair of headphones removes the problem, but on a possibly related note, the headphones are muddled on the LEFT speaker.

5. Playing the headphones with an iPOD source produces no distortion whatsoever after 15 minutes of playing at loud volumes and bassy music.

6. Reinstalling X-Fi drivers has no effect. Re-seating sound card and cleaning out dust has no effect. There is no other PCI cards in the computer and it is in farthest slot away from video card. Power supply is a 350W Enermax; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, Athlon 64 3400+, nForce3 Mobo (not the nForce4's rumored to have a crackling problem).

7. Not sure if rebooting has an effect. When I sit down at the computer, distortion only begins 1-5 minutes after beginning to play. I leave my computer on 24/7.

As you can see I have some conflicting evidence of whether it is my sound card, my software installation, my headphones, my power supply/electrical interference. I really can't afford to buy another sound card right now and would love to get to the bottom of this so I can enjoy my headphones.

Right now, the crackling gets so bad, that when talking on Ventrilo, I get a pounding headache from my $200 headphones--which is ironic to say the least. It quickly gets to the point where someone's mild breathing on Vent produces a constant static/crackle.

Everytime I think it's the headphone or the computer, I find something else to dispute it. I would much appreciate another opinion in this matter for some other things to try or if any of you have any experience with this problem. I have googled several times and come up with several conspiracy theories but I really have no idea where to start. The X-Fi is just about the only component in my aging 5-year-old computer I DON'T want/need to upgrade, so it would suck if it was to blame and beyond hope.

I am considering wiping Windows and starting over as well.

Thanks,
Chad
 

strid3r

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 14, 2003
Messages
2,124
Sounds like the sound card since the headphones weren't doing it with your ipod. Have you tried another soundcard (onboard)?
 

Valaire

Gawd
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
I'm in the process of seeing if I can borrow one of my friend's spare soundcards to see what happens. Really sucks, cause I just don't have the money right now to get a Prelude. Is it because my Sennheisers are more sensitive than the M200's?

Only thing I can try right now is wiping Windows. :/
 

Weenis

I said WEENIS, not...
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
4,807
Soundcard 2nd'd.. It's either your soundcard drivers or the software... If it doesn't do it at all in one mode but another.. that tells you its the software not the hardware.. The soundcard doesn't use different circuitry for a different software mode :)

Could be a mix of your OS not liking the sound card software/driver.

You should look into researching if its a known problem for the OS.. or try new drivers if you are on old.. or try the original drivers if you've updated them..

Drivers can sometimes be like firmware.. if it ain't broke, dont fix it.
 

Valaire

Gawd
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
My new findings might make it simpler:

It will distort now immediately upon booting up, in entertainment mode, with foobar. I can play a song that creates a distortion on each drum hit. Switching to the same song in the iPOD produces no distortion. BUT switching to my speakers (connected to same x-fi) produces no distortion in right speaker.

Only the Sennheiser's distort with the X-FI and ONLY the RIGHT speaker. Never the left.

It can't be overheating since it works fine with speakers.

So I guess it boils down to:

1. Interference from PSU or something else? Try EMI shielding?
2. Try reinstalling drivers?
3. Try reinstalling Windows?
4. Scrap the card, the card is busted? :(

If my speakers were messed up too this would be an easy decision. But they're not.

FYI, I'm using Windows XP and the latest stable X-Fi drivers that are over a year old. I have had them ever since they were posted.
 

Weenis

I said WEENIS, not...
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
4,807
Well to make things simpler, reinstall drivers first, then maybe try windows,

EMI shielding.. unlikely... your cans are shielded.. the only thing that it might be is your phone if you have a GSM cell.. or a radio receiver that pulls a lot of bandwidth in a range it might pickup...

Try also emailing the company about the soundcard and see what they say.
 

Valaire

Gawd
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
Don't think Creative's going to be forthcoming with any useful information. My phone is CDMA nor do I have a radio receiver in this apartment, but I do live in a 34 floor apartment building so who knows.

I've wiped the drivers once with no effect. I'll try again, and am trying to build a new XP install cd with SP2 and all that stuff, in case I decide to go with the nuclear option.
 

Cirkustanz

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 26, 2007
Messages
476
I don't think this has anything to do with software or drivers. It sounds to me like a couple of problems I have had in the past, and in those instances, it always came down to something physical. A wiring, grounding, or hardware defect (ie: design flaw) can certainly cause some very annoying, and intermittent problems especially with headphones.

It is my experience that headphones are more prone to this sort of thing, for reasons which should be obvious. Experience has shown me that higher quality headphones are a lot more prone to poor quality signals than the cheaper ones are.

In short, it looks like the only thing you have not tried is taking out the X-Fi. Pop that out sometime and run on integrated audio for a day or two. I'd be willing to bet if you did that, and ensured that all your analog audio cables were not crossing power cables, that you would not have a problem.

Which is the best way to determine if the fault is with y our X-fi or not.
 

Valaire

Gawd
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
Thanks for the info. You raise good reasons why the headphones are problematic but not my speakers. I will take out the X-Fi tomorrow and run on integrated audio and post my results.

How close can the audio cable be to my computer's power cable? They are fairly close.
 

Valaire

Gawd
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
After removing the X-Fi and putting in the onboard audio, there was no distortion in right speaker. There was however a low hum and whine when no sound was playing and when sound was playing. I attribute this to the poor quality of onboard sound, however maybe someone can tell me that is out of the ordinary. It was once again only on my headphones, not my speakers.

I then reinstalled X-Fi, with the CD drivers, and no distortion when quickly checking it with Foobar and Entertainment mode. Switch to game mode, and log onto Ventrilo, and within 1 minute the distortion is back. Switch back to entertainment mode and Foobar and the distortion is present on every song.

I guess it's time to face the music. The only thing I want to absolute sure of is that there is not something else inside my computer that might be causing my X-Fi to distort like this.

Thanks.
 
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