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Speakers Popping and Background Noises w/Xonar STX
post Nov 30 2012, 00:01
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Recently, I switched from a conventional component stereo to computer audio; my son set up the computer and installed the ASUS Xonar Essence STX sound card. Although it sounds good, I found a few problems and would like to have suggestions from computer audiophiles.

I am almost exclusively a classical music fan. I have nearly 200 CDs that I made by recording CBC FM broadcast in the past 10 years. I have a few commercially recorded CDs, most of which I do not like, as a quiet section is almost inaudible and a loud section makes me jump out of skin.

Also, apologies for my English; it is not my native language.

1. Popping noise, through speakers, when restart the music from pause

While playing a CD on my computer, I may interrupt the music by clicking on the start/pause button on the Windows Media Player. When restarting, a popping (explosive) sound may come out of the speakers. The sound is similar to one that happens in an old radio set with a dirty on-off switch. It could be quite loud. It does not happen all the time but does quite frequently.

Now, beside the sound card STX, I still have my old Yamaha hard-drive recorder (CDR/HD1000, a year 2002 vintage) which has a DAC mode. As a test, when I use it as an external DAC, bypassing the STXs DAC, it never pops in the same pause/restart operation.

2. Low background sound (noise) when playing a CD via STX

This occurs in a section of the CD where no music is played, such as the very start of playing the CD, in a pause between movements, or at the end of music. The sound is significantly reduced or nearly eliminated when the music starts. There is no such sound in the section of the CD in which no recording was made. If I play the same CD via the Yamaha recorder as an external DAC, it is almost absolutely quiet. This might be because the STX has a wider range of audible frequencies than the old Yamaha, or the Yamaha DAC might have a device to attenuate the noise; just guessing.

BTW, to my personal taste, the Yamaha DAC sounds more musical (very comfortable to listen to for a long period of time), as compared with STX that sounds, albeit crisper and more detailed, somewhat too bright to my taste. Of course, it may be that I am more comfortable with the Yamaha as I have used to it for the past 10 years.

3. Volume control in the Xonar Audio Center

At which level should it normally be set for playing a CD? At the moment, I set it about 40% so that the highest sound level is about 0 dB, and use the volume control of the amplifier for finer adjustments.

Thank you for any advice given.

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post Nov 30 2012, 00:42
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Some additional information would be helpful:
1. Please describe in detail the type of PC you are using and how it is connected to your audio system, e.g. Between what components and into which jacks? What kinds and lengths of cabling?
2. Is the PC plugged into the same power circuit as the audio system?
3. When you "play" a CD are you inserting the CD into your computer and playing audio from it or are you playing files previously ripped from the physical CD and stored on the PC hard drive?
4. You mention better results using your Yamaha CD recorder as an external DAC; how is this wired up?
5. Have you visited the ASUS website and updated to the current drivers?
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