How to eliminate PC static noise? High end entertainment PC.

Hello All,

I am having a rather annoying problem with static noise through headphones. The PC supposed to be some of the best money can buy running i7 6700K 16GB RAM Gygabyte mobo and a brand new 750 watt Corsair bronze PSU.

I've just picked up a set of rather high end Stax SRS-3170 electrostatic headphones which comes with its own amp, all is well except I am hearing huge amounts of static coming from the PC. The headphone amp is connected via analogue high quality cables which are hooked up to my main Onkyo TX-NR 3030 receiver via Zone 2 pre out. I Can confirm other sources don't make noise.

The noise is like having an ancient dial up modem squeaking in my ears constantly and the tone and intensity changes depending on what I do on the PC, it seems to be the worst when browsing the web and have a white or very bright background displayed.

Audio is hooked up to the main receiver via HDMI bitstream from the video card GTX 970. When the PC is off no noise so its not the amp, cables or the receiver. Could it be PSU chatter getting through???

I am going away for a couple of days so apologies for not replying but hoping I'll have some good suggestions here by the time I get back as its rather annoying having top of the line equipment and having such a problem.

Thanks
CompTroubAsked:
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Zac HarrisSystems Administrator Commented:
This could be interference between the audio receiver and the PC...maybe if you are using wireless the signal is getting interference from the receiver.

Changing the channel of the wireless network may also help...think cordless phones interfering with things when they were on 2.4 GHz.

Check your connections, even having the most expensive equipment means nothing if your connections are not secure.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Before you go can you let us know the Mobo model - if it has integrated audio I'm guessing this is just bleeding through and there's little you're going to be able to improve without a dedicated sound card or the ability to adjust the impedance of the chipset you currently have.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Does the audio on the PC have a line-out connector in addition to the headphone output?    If so, then you've got the wrong output connected to your amplifier.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... Another possibility:   Open the Volume Mixer (right-click on the speaker icon and select it) and reduce the volume on the PC.    If you're over-driving the output, this will cause a lot of distortion (like you're hearing) ... this may be as easy to fix as simply reducing the volume from the PC and using the amplifier to get the volume you want.
rindiCommented:
Another thing that can help a lot is to make sure your PC is properly grounded. Without proper grounding noise increases.
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Gary, the audio is using full digital bit-stream pass-through when using audio players the main volume doesn't do anything and reducing it does not make a change. The mobo does have an on-board chip but its disabled in the BIOS. Again I am not using the onboard chip as it is not capable of passing direct bitstream through which is required for Dolby Atmos and Dolby True HD etc...
I am using 5 Ghz wifi. Yes that's one thing to check. Others are suggesting its a PSU issue. I thought the Bronze PSU would be good enough???
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
How would i ground the PC properly?
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
OK so on more critical listening I was able to make out that its most likely the PSU leaking through. When I turn on the PC and is running idle its coming through as fan humming in a digital form and when doing something else it changes to a a coil whine type but comes through distorted as a sort of dial up noise.

I am quite certain now its the PSU leaking into the system.
The question is would a 1st class Gold/platinum PSU do the trick or are there other ways to reduce/eliminate this leakage?

Keep in mind it only comes through the headphones as they are extremely high output and are capable of playing back every and any detail in the source which is why I suspect they pick up this noise. I used to hear the same on speakers on lower end PCs too.
nobusCommented:
so you don't use the onboard sound; but what do you use for output??
rindiCommented:
First the electrical system of your house must have proper grounding.Most AC plugs have ground wires, and those must of course be attached. On the PC, the casing metal of the PSU must be connected really well to that ground wire, and the power supply must also make proper contact with the PC's metal case. The mainboard also has grounding points where it is screwed to the case, so those screws must be metal and tightly screwed on so that also those points are electrically connected to the case and the grounding wire of the mains cable.
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Nobus, its explained in the question please read. Via HDMI bitstream.
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Rindi, all those conditions are met.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Just another thought - do you have a choice of headphone sockets?
Often the rear port has better shielding and the front port is more of an afterthought with just a simple wire running across the board (and any other cabling inside!).
nobusCommented:
well - you could test if the video card is the cause, by enabluing  the onboard sound, and connecting to it
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Agree with trying the onboard audio outputs.    Even onboard audio these days usually has an optical output with 8-channel audio => so give that a try and see if it has the same noise issue.
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Optical does not support the sound quality which I need which is Dolby  Atmos unfortunately. But yes for  testing purposed its worth a shot.
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Just thinking testing optical may be pointless as I cannot use it anyway (it won't support the high res audio I need) and even if the noise is not there we still won't know it its the PSU or video card.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
30 years ago I might have had the same thought, but I seriously doubt I could hear any difference between an optical output and a bit stream, especially when listening through headphones ... even the ultra-high quality electrostatics you have.

I'd also think that if the PSU is generating excessive electrical noise that you'd likely hear it through the onboard as well.

Have you considered using a high-end sound card that supports bit-stream output?

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nobusCommented:
i lean more to the video card as a cause - but i have no proof
it would be nice if you had another one to test with
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
It could also be your monitor grounding as well.  Easy to test by turning off the monitor.  Somewhere you have some poor shielding and the digital noise is getting into your audio stream.  If you use the headphone output from your amplifier do you have the same digital noise?
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Gents,
Here is my signature form another forum so you can see my full setup. There is no monitor it is a dedicated home theater room and the PC is a HTPC.

Onkyo TX-NR 3030, Martin Logan Motion 40 fronts, Martin Logan Motion FX rears, Martin Logan Motion 30 centre, KEF R50 front Atmos, Onkyo SKH-410 rear Atmos, Martin Logan Balanced force 210 as the beast. Sony VPL-HW40ES, 120" curved screen, STAX-3170 earspeakers, HTPC, PS4, PS3, Amiga 500 etc..

Gary, there is a rather big difference in audio quality between optical and full HDMI if you have a capable delivery system which I do, the STAX headphones are the worlds best as well. They are electrostatic speakers hence you hear absolutely everything. Also Dolby Atmos is at an entirely different level which requires full HDMI bitstream but this is a whole other story. Optical will only do for an average home cinema mid-range speakers.

For reference: http://www.cnet.com/au/news/hdmi-vs-optical-which-digital-audio-connection-to-use/

I've just spent 30K on audio for the room hence this noise bothers me I know it might be silly for some but when you have the best and is spectacular to your ears it is a big issue.

Just ordered a platinum PSU to see if that makes a difference.

Yes I've considered to use a sound card but I cannot see one that has HDMI, can you please recommend one?

Nobus, yes it would be nice to have another card handy but I sadly don't have one.

David unfortuantely I cannot use these headphones with the normal output as they have their own amp and connection but other normal headphones do not pick up the noise.

Here are the specs:

https://www.staxusa.com/stax-srs-3170.html

I suspect the headphone amp having an extreme spectrum of amplification has something to do with picking up the low noise floor.

Thank you everyone so far.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I'm not surprised you have very high quality gear -- I'm very familiar with the Stax electrostatics (although I don't personally own a pair).    Until about a decade ago I had a pair of Klipschorn's in my listening room that were absolutely superb for listening to music.    That was in a much larger home than we have now and my hearing was still excellent in the 25 years or so that I had them.    But a system of that caliber would be a waste for me today.

Which begs an interesting question -- do you hear the noise you've described when listening to the speakers ??
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
Glad you understand my frustration. No, via the main speakers I only hear a faint hiss if cranked up loud its the headphone amp that simply amplifies the low noise floor. I am getting a new Platinum PSU and will report back.

Thanks
CompTroubAuthor Commented:
OK so swapped out the PSU for a platinum one and the noise is much improved. Its still there if I crank it up to near 90% of volume level but that would blow my off so I am happy now. Thanks everyone.
MikeIT ProfessionalCommented:
No comment has been added to this question in more than 21 days, so it is now classified as abandoned.

I have recommended this question be closed as follows:

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