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Piyono

Hard Drive and Mouse Cause Speaker Noise

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I'm sitting at a computer on which hard drive activity is audible through the speakers, as is mouse activity. There's also just plain idling noise.

The motherboard is a VIA P4MA, and the mouse is a Logitech Mouseman Optical Wireless. I haven't cracked open the box to see what HD it's got.

The sound is harsh and unpleasant. Anyone know what's causing it?

I've pulled all the external cables out (except the sound card, of course) but that didn't help.

I've tried moving the speakers around but that didn't do it.

Could it be some sort of inductance inside the box?

Piyono

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I've had this problem on a few machines, nothing in common, and the continued to work for some time. I think they all had onboard sound? Dunno, never fixed it...but you aren't crazy :)

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I did have one machine that seemed to be picking the interference up through the CD-Audio cable.  Muting CD Audio or removing the cable made it go away.

Noop.

Muting the different mixer channels was actually the first thing I did. Even with all channels off the noise still comes through.

I figure the cause must be some sort of electrical interference, and not

drivers beause static aside, system sound works properly. I'll see what happens when I remove the CD audio cable.

Stay tuned.

Piyono

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I hat this happen last night on a system with AC'97 onboard audio ( VIA EVEm motherboard) And the thing didn't even have a CD-ROM (much less a cable)

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Is there a a high pitched sound coming out of your speakers everytime the harddrive writes/reads?

Becuase I had this problem (documented for the Creative Live cards) and I really couldn't do much about it.

I know this doesn't really help but just to let you know if your experience is the same as mine.

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Does it still happen even when the speakers are off? Unplugged from the computer?

A few weeks ago, I was getting interference-type noises whenever I moved my (USB) mouse or did certain things in programs. But they were coming from the internal (USR) modem. No change of settings or rerouting of internal/external wires helped, but when I went into my modem's advanced properties from Control Panel and entered a diagnostic mode, the crackling dissappeared, and never came back! :D

If your modem outputs to your speakers rather than its own internal speaker, perhaps that's the cause? Try to find its internal diagnostics from control panel, it might just work...

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If your modem outputs to your speakers rather than its own internal speaker, perhaps that's the cause? Try to find its internal diagnostics from control panel, it might just work...

Interesting.

I don't know if the computer has a modem, but I'll check next time I'm there.

Piyono

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Yes, I've also seen similar behaviour to this in various systems with various degrees of severity ranging from barely audible to extremely annoying.

You were correct to try and identify it by muting channels. Sometimes this type of thing can be traced to a open microphone, aux or cd input. Unfortunately many times the noise is as you descibe and not cured by muting. This same situation happened to me recently on an old system I was "reviving" for a freinds kid. Excessive noise was present even with all channels muted but his actually gave me the idea of how to improve things.

As this noise seemed to be largely uneffected by the position of the (mixer) volume sliders I simply turned the volume down on the external speaker's volume knob and up to maximum on the relevent mixer sliders (Volume, wave ,cd etc). This kept the overall speaker output level largely unchanged but greatly improved the signal to noise ratio. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it did make a very significant improvement in this case.

BTW, this may not help in every case. In this particular case I think it was an old sound card that was designed to drive unamplified speakers directly. As I was driving amplified speakers I only needed a the mixer sliders set to a quite low level in order to be able to get the full volume range I required using the speaker volume knob. This was in fact what was compounding my problem. Once I adopted the opposite approach and turned the mixer sliders up near maximum and the speaker knob down near minimum then the situation was greatly improved.

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Although it sounds like RF interference, I think this is in fact caused by a combination of cpu AutoHALT and VIA AC'97 sound interaction.

I have experienced this while trying to watch a DVD - there is a faint sound that co-incides with the disk-access light.

The actual reason for this is that the AC'97 sound needs a constant data stream and only has a one cache-line buffer. When AutoHALT is active, the cpu will halt during idle time and will wake when there is an interrupt from the AC'97 (it is running out of data). However it takes too long for the cpu to wake up and there is a break in the data stream - this is the noise that is heard.

It may be possible to solve this by changing various chipset registers, but a simple solution - and proof that this is the problem - is to disable AutoHALT.

This can either be done using a suitable program or some people remove the ACPI function in Windows. To do this easily and temporarily, just put the file ACPI.SYS in the recycle bin (I think it is in "windowssystem32drivers").

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I have also heard this problem on several different computers, all of which were using on-board audio or very cheap audio cards. In fact the computer I am using right now (Asus A7V333 using on-board C-Media audio) exhibits this problem, though it's barely audible. I believe (not certain though) that the movement of the cursor on the screen, rather than the mouse interface itself, causes the noise. Changes in the video screen image certainly do cause noise, as well as disk activity.

Though Orca's suggestion sounds interesting, I doubt it applies here as the noise is present even when there is no data going to the sound card or chip.

I have noticed that the speaker load makes a difference. The noise is louder when using high impedence mini-earphones and quieter when using lower impedence large headphones or speakers. This would make sense if this noise originated from RF or even power supply interference since these would probably represent high-impedence sources which would be attenuated on low impedence loads (the audio source is low impedence and thus not affected, at least if the interference). However, I'm just guessing. I haven't found a good solution and usually just avoid earphones on problem systems.

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I should point out that I noticed the change due to load on a couple of systems. I didn't experiment on any other systems and I would be interested in the observations of other people. My previous "explanation" would only be valid for interference picked up after the driver transistors. The change in noise wouldn't occur if the interference occurred before the speaker drivers.

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I used to repair lap tops a few years ago. This was a common problem with almost all of the lap tops. Nothing could be done about it. My guess is that sinnce everything is so close to eachother inside a computer (Especially lap tops), there will be electrical interference between the components.

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I have heard interference from the computer in speakers many, many times, from all sorts of computers.

In all cases, it is caused by CHEAP sound card hardware. Especially cheap sound card hardware connected to cheap onboard amplifiers. These pick up interference from everything, and they sound utterly terrible.

In all cases, the solution is to ditch the cheap sound card a buy a half decent sound card. Like an SB-live, or a Santa Cruse Turtle Beach. Or that Phillips sound card :)

What do you really expect of onboard audio chipsets? (They shouldn't be called AC'97 sound codecs because virtually all real sounds also have a AC'97 codec on them) They are only really designed to be added to the feature list most of the time. Sometimes they are good, sometimes bad, but they are never predictable.

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