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Jaybzee
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Jan 9, 2018
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If you're new to quality audio, like I am, and you're trying to get started with onboard sound, you might be experiencing pretty severe humming and squawking due to ground loop issues. If you're hearing a ton of noise on the speakers and very little through decent headphones on the same 3.5 mm jack, this could be it. Try temporarily plugging a speaker into an ungrounded extension cord to see if audio quality is improved, but don't leave it like this!
After a ton of experimentation, I spent about $40 (CAD) to run audio from the TOSLINK optical connector on my motherboard to a FiiO TAISHAN-D03K DAC, into which I plugged the supplied 3.5 mm to 2x 1/4" TRS cables. The point of this is to ensure that there is no ground conductor between the PC and the independently grounded speakers. The speaker and DAC are now isolated from the noisy ground in the PC, and the hum is gone.
With these monitors and a pending headphone purchase, I'll have a good baseline for experimentation with better DACs (>95dB SNR on the TAISHAN objectively isn't great, and there may be other issues I'm not aware of yet), but since getting to this point involved a lot of frustration and restocking fees, I thought I should share this with the community to help any neophytes like myself. Good luck out there.
Jan 9, 2018
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