Help - crackling from my monitors just came out of nowhere

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Music Afficionado
Member Since: Aug 12, 2008

(My gear list is on my profle if that helps)

I have been up and running in my new space for over a year. Over the past few weeks, I noticed a little bit of crackling coming out of my monitors - but could not figure out a rhyme or reason to what was causing it. Restarting the computer would usually take it away.

I ruled out the actual monitors themselves and then thought I had it pinpointed to Digital Performer b/c it would happen when I enabled record whenever anyone would speak through the mic. Then, it got worse and would actually come through on the recording itself through the mic or when recording in from a synth. I increased the buffer size from 512 to 1024.

But again, it came back. Then I noticed it while playing something out of iTunes. Again, no rhyme or reason to it, I just think when the computer is overworked, the souncard starts to tweek out a little bit. I have a Focusrite Saffire soundcard - it does not have a powercard, so occasionanlly it falls asleep if the computer is inactive, but other than that I have not had any problems with it for almost 3 years.

The computer is a Mac G5 with dual 2gig and 4 gig of RAM which should have plenty of power to run DP or hell - iTunes for that matter.

I havent changed anytihng in my set up, monitoring chain, etc.

Is there any routine maintenance I should be doing on the Mac (like how you delete temporarly files on a PC, defragment the disk drive, etc)?

Could the firewire cable on the soundcard be bad?

Any ideas?!?!

Even if the ideas are how to better troubleshoot the problem to nail down the cause more definitely - I'd appreciate them. Thanks.

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Since: Dec 04, 2007

Dec 01, 2009 03:26 pm

Well, do you have another source you can hook the speakers up to? Like another computer, or a CD player...onboard soundcard, or ...anything? Just to determine whether or not the crackle really is the speakers or not. It could be a bad speaker cable, or it could be a dirty connection between the cable and the port.

When tracing anomalous crap like that, it's usually a good idea to go by process of elimination. Start with the suspect themselves (the speakers) plug em into something not related to the computer, play something back through them, and see if they still crackle. If they do, try swapping the speaker cables to a pair that you know are good. If the crackle stops, then it's the cable. If it's the speakers, it might be wear and tear of parts, or a dirty connection.

If you have another firewire cable laying around you could try swapping that out. Sometimes the connectors can get dirty over time too, so checking for grit and grime may not be a bad idea.

I don't use Macs a whole lot, so I'm not sure what kinda spyware/etc. removal tools are available. But it can't hurt to do a little cleanup and maintenance. Disk space/temp files being there shouldn't hurt the playback though.

Anyway, I'd say check the speakers themselves with an alternate playback source (not computer related) check the cables, and check the connectors for any grit or grime.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head.
Since: Nov 11, 2007

Dec 01, 2009 07:40 pm

Deleted By Quincysan

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Dec 01, 2009 08:19 pm

You don't say exactly which Saffire you have, there are actually about 6 of them. But I'll venture a guess here and odd's are very good it is the root of the problem.

it does not have a powercard, so occasionanlly it falls asleep if the computer is inactive

I do realize that you have not had any issues for 3 years. But I can attest that you probably have been very, very lucky. If the unit was built to use an external PSU and be bussed powered then you should by all means be using an external PSU whenever possible.

There are very few units that are truly built to be buss powered only and sadly the Saffire was not one of them.

Odd's are good you have either a PSU issue in the Mac were the buss simply cannot supply enough juice to the Saffire or the Saffire itself may be starting to have issues.

All the warning signs are there with the fact that rebooting solved the issue on occasion and or restarting.

As well, you should never allow an interface to be put to sleep when it is buss powered. Bad for the unit and can cause possible issues with the driver install.

Music Afficionado
Since: Aug 12, 2008

Dec 07, 2009 04:01 pm

Sorry - I didnt realize there are so many - this is the one I have:

I have a call into Focusrite for a new powercord and am downloading hte driver updates now - hope to have an answer soon. Thanks.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Dec 09, 2009 07:57 pm

Indeed that unit should really not be running off the buss. Unless you have a 650 watt power supply in your computer. Then it might work OK but even then I would be skeptical.

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