1 2 Previous Next 29 Replies Latest reply on Aug 16, 2016 2:45 PM by Intel Corporation

    Persistent Audio Issues




      I'm looking for some help in tracking down the source of a persistent audio issue I am having.  There is a very faint but continuous hum being transmitted through my audio devices.  The tone and pitch changes depending in what I am doing; moving the mouse, dragging windows, etc.  It changes depending on the program, for example dragging a Firefox window makes a different sound from Chrome. It also changes depending on what type of mouse I use; wired or wireless. 


      Windows System volume does nothing to this issue but when using speakers with their own volume control, keeping that dialed back can mask the issue.  This doesn't work for headphones, headsets, or IEM/earbuds due to them not having built in volume controls, so the artifact is always at its loudest, the same as when the speaker is at max.


      Even having an audio device connected, powered on but muted and/or disabled as a playback device, will produce this hum.


      The audio devices I have used are: Apple Earbuds, Steelseries Flux Headset, an unbranded battery powered portable speaker and Harmon Kardon HK395 Dell 7E840 set.  The Harmon Kardon set has its own power cord.  They all used a standard 3.5mm audio jack.  None are USB powered.


      The mice I have used are:  Logitech G602 (Wireless USB), EVGA Torq X5L (Wired USB), Corsair Scimitar (Wired USB), an old Dell mouse (PS/2)


      When using the Logitech wireless mouse the hum is almost inaudible compared to the others.  I suspect that this problem has gone unnoticed for a long period of time, perhaps from the day I built it, because I used that mouse exclusively for years. 


      I have tested all these devices with a Macbook Pro 2010, and found no abnormalities. 


      Other steps I have taken in trying to isolate the issue. 


      • Removing and updating the Realtek audio driver
      • Tested both the front and rear analog audio out
      • Tested all USB 2.0/3.0 ports on the case and motherboard IO
      • Updating the UEFI
      • Replacing the PSU
      • Removed the GPU
      • Booting into Windows Safe Mode
      • Disconnecting my drives and booting off a live fresh install of the latest version of Kali Linux using a USB stick
      • Testing each DIMM slot
      • Testing each stick of RAM separately
      • Testing to see if modifying the RAM frequency would cause a change
      • Testing to see if modifying the CPU frequency would cause a change
      • Tested the motherboard outside of the case.
      • Running Intel's CPU diagnostic (No issues found)
      • Testing multiple power outlets and multiple power stripes in different locations within my home.
      • Using a ground lifter to see if it was a grounding issue


      *I may have forgotten a step or two that took in my testing.


      After doing all to these things I contacted my motherboard manufacturer, ASRock, believing it to be an issue with the onboard sound of my Z87 Extreme6.  They agreed to a RMA and two weeks later (7.5.2016) my replacement board (not new) arrived.  After rebuilding the computer I found that I still had the same issues present and so I went through my list of tests again.  There were no changes until I tried the following.


      I recently bought a Blue Yeti microphone and during my testing, found that plugging my audio devices into the audio out of the mic would eliminate humming.  I don't know exactly why it does this but I expect it is because the mic has its own built in AMP and DAC.  This is really only a temporary solution though, one that I only happened to have on hand.


      I know this is quite a long post and thank you for reading all of it.  I am also in continued contact with ASRock, trying to find a source and resolution to this problem.  However, so far I’ve had little success. Hopefully, someone at Intel can shed some light on what the cause of this hum is or what component in my system is failing.



      Part list:


      OS: Windows 10 64-bit

      CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K BX80646I74770K

      MOBO: Z87 Extreme6

      BIOS: P2.40

      RAM: G.SKILL Ares Series 16GBF3-1866C10D-16GAB

      GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 770 02G-P4-2774-KR,PCIE

      SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB MZ-7PD256BW,SATA

      PSU: PSU: Corsair HX 850


      Realtek driver: ver.

      GeForce Driver: ver. 364.72

        • 1. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
          Intel Corporation
          This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

          Hello Argent:
          In regard to your inquiry, it is very hard to tell exactly the reason for this problem to be happening, especially after you tried all those troubleshoot steps, those are normally the steps that we recommend in order to fix the problem.
          The BIOS is up to date and the audio drivers as well, so, it might be a hardware problem.
          You already replaced the board, so at this point, as an option we can replace the processor for you, it is very unlikely that this problem will be related to it, but that is the best thing that we can do for you right now.
          We know you are looking for the reason of the problem, but that is really hard to tell, let me apologize for that, and you basically tried everything.
          Even though this is a sound problem, let me give you the latest graphics driver for the Intel® i7-4770K processor:
          You can try to install it, also you can uninstall and reinstall all of the drivers, or reinstall Windows® from scratch, those are just some suggestions to try in order to try to fix it.
          If you are interested in the replacement of the processor, in order to do that, please get in contact directly with us through chat, email, online support or phone support, here is the link to do that, you just need to select processors on the product and you will be able to see those options:
          Any questions, please let me know.

          • 2. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

            Thanks for the reply Intel.


            I had the version of the graphics driver before updating just now.  As expected, there was no change.


            Over the weekend I did a fair bit more testing to see if I could narrow things down more.  I ended up reinstalling Windows and updating/replacing all the drivers I could.  There were no changes there either.  I ended up discovering a couple other issues with the motherboard, first it appears ASRock shipped me a board with one of the BIOS profiles corrupted.  Secondly, there is an issue with the booting from the 6 Intel SATA ports after switching from the ASMedia ports.  After a fair bit of tinkering, I managed to get the ports to work, but the steps I took did not reliably reproduce the “fix.”  All ports work just fine for my DVD drive at any time.  I don’t believe this SATA port issue was a problem with the board I had before.  This leads me to believe it’s probably just a bad board that shouldn’t have passed validation.


            I thank you for the offer to replace the CPU, but I feel that I should have seen some other abnormalities that could be traced back to it, were it the cause.  I don’t want to send in a perfectly good CPU unless there is some way for you guys to send me a test cpu or board beforehand.  I can’t afford to have my computer down for another two weeks. 


            ASRock support seems to have been overloaded by this issue and seemingly has given up, telling me I should begin another RMA.  I don’t have the greatest confidence in them right now unfortunately. 


            Once again, thanks.  Hopefully I can figure something out.

            • 3. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
              Intel Corporation
              This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

              Hello Argent:
              Thank you very much for that information.
              I will check if there is an option to send you a processor for testing, in order to find out if the problem is related to it.
              If the option is available I will let you know on this thread as soon as possible.
              The option to replace the processor will still be available for you, in case you want to use it, you have 3 years of warranty on it.
              Please let me know the results of the troubleshoot steps you are going to try, that will be very useful for us.
              Thank you.
              Any questions, please let me know.

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

                Thank you Alberto.  I'd be most grateful to you and Intel if you can send me something to test. 


                I'm still in talks with ASRock about my board but it seems from the last couple of emails from their technician that they just want to move to the RMA process again.  I'd rather get any last testing with alternate components out of the way before that.  I'll see if ASRock can provide a test board or advanced replacement this time around.


                I hope that this has just been an unfortunate coincidence and not an indication of some systematic defect in the manufacturing process that has caused components to degrade over the last few years.  If it is the latter, then I'm afraid that any z87 board they might send will have the same issue.  I'm not looking forward to the shipping bill once this is all done.


                I'll come up with a more detailed plan of testing when I have a bit more time.


                I also made a recording of the sound should someone need to hear. https://soundcloud.com/eventhorizon-5/noise-from-hk-speakers/s-7Go3Q 

                It is faint, so you may need to turn up the speakers. 

                • 5. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
                  Intel Corporation
                  This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                  Hello Argent:
                  Thank you very much; we appreciate all the details you have shared on this thread.
                  There are no know issues regarding sound problems between the Intel® i7-4770K processor and the Z87 chipset, so, this might be an unfortunate coincidence.
                  Thank you also for posting the link where we can hear the sound.
                  All that information is extremely useful for us.
                  As soon as I get the resolution of us sending you a processor for testing, I will let you know on this thread.
                  Any questions, please let me know.

                  • 6. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

                    Hey Alberto,


                    I didn't mean to imply earlier that there were any inherent problems with the chips or in the board design, but rather that perhaps certain components ASRock sourced to use in their manufacturing may not have been of the highest quality.


                    ASRock has informed me that are not willing to send an advanced replacement or test board for me to try; expected but unfortunate.  I'll wait on hearing back from you before starting another RMA with them.  I'll also need to find out if they are sending back the same model or will be upgrading me to something else since last time they didn't have another Extreme6 on hand. 


                    Thanks again.

                    • 7. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
                      Intel Corporation
                      This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                      Hello Argent:

                      We are still checking on the option for us to be able to send you a processor for testing.

                      In the mean time, we do have an option to replace the processor, where we can send you the processor first, overnight shipping, and then you just need to send back the defective one.
                      Please let me know if that option works for you.

                      Any questions, please let me know.


                      • 8. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

                        Thanks for the offer Alberto but for the moment I'm going to hold off RMAing my CPU as we both agree that it is likely not the cause and I don't have the funds right now to be juggling 3 or so RMAs. 


                        I have not heard from their CS today so there is no new information. 

                        • 9. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
                          Intel Corporation
                          This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                          Hello Argent:
                          No problem at all, yes of course we understand, and yes, , it is very unlikely  for this to be a processor problem.
                          The option for you to replace it will still be available, so if at some point you decide to do that, just post the comments on this thread and we will do that for you.
                          Any questions, please let me know.

                          • 10. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

                            After not hearing from ASRock since Tuesday, I gave them a call.  I spoke with a new technician there who claimed that all their board pass stringent validation procedure and he could not believe that I would get two boards with the same problem (he seemed to ignore the fact the replacement I was sent actually had two new issues). It feels like this board just didn't get set in the right pile and perhaps that their normal testing to see if boards work don't check for this exact issue.


                            He also wanted me to send in my RAM and CPU with the motherboards RMA so that they could test them.  I declined to do that because of his comments that they can't protect their boards from damage during transit, the lack of what I would consider sufficient packing on the replacement board I received, and that they are liable for any extra parts sent.  I don't have the greatest confidence that the parts I send will be returned undamaged.


                            So, I have a few questions for Intel.  What are the differences between a standard RMA and an Advanced Replacement?  How much would they cost?  Would a new processor be sent or would it be refurbished?  How long would the RMA take?


                            I'm also guessing that there was no way to get any sort of test CPU sent to me since it hasn't been mentioned.

                            What sort of audio problems has Intel heard of that are hardware related; what causes them and how were they solved?


                            Lastly, unless something else comes up I'll probably be sending out this board early next week. 

                            • 11. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

                              So this weekend I had a bit more time to run some more tests to try and discover the source of the audio issues I have been having.  I had a nagging suspicion that my CPU tests had been insufficient, so I set out to check what more I could do. 


                              I opened up CPU-Z again to check my current settings.  I ran their CPU benchmark and while the results weren’t anything out of the ordinary to my untrained eye, I did notice that the core clock speed went from around 3900 to 3600 MHz.  This prompted me to run the test again but listening for a change in the audio.  I found the hum to be a fair bit less during the benchmark than when at idle.


                              Seeing this change, I looked into my Windows power options.  My power plan was set to High Performance.  I switched to Balanced and Power Saver, running the benchmark each time.  I found that both had the same issue, which wasn’t surprising.  However, at idle using the power saver settings, there was no discernible hum. 


                              I switched back to High Performance and then went into the advanced options to change the processor min/max power states.  I set both to the same for each test and recorded the Voltage, Core Speed, and Multiplier.


                              Processor State
                              VoltageCore SpeedMultiplierNotes
                              5%.709 V799.53 MHzx 8Inaudible
                              10%.709 V799.53 MHzx 8Inaudible
                              15%.709 V799.53 MHzx 8Inaudible
                              20%.709 V799.53 MHzx 8Inaudible
                              25%.709 V799.53 MHzx 8Inaudible
                              30%.734 V999.41 MHzx 10Very faint noise
                              35%.753 V1199.29 MHzx 12Low, fuzzy noise
                              40%.777 V1399.17 MHzx 14Faint humming
                              45%.797 V1599.05 MHzx 16Humming is present at all times
                              50%.801 V1599.05 MHzx 16Humming  has reached a distracting level
                              100%1.134 V3897.69 MHzx 39.0Loud humming at all times.


                              I also ran the CPU-Z benchmark at these levels and found that during the CPU Single Thread test that the noise would be the same as when not running it.  But when the test switches to CPU Multi Thread, the noise would seemingly disappear.  Using the CPU-Z Stress Test I found that sound was much quieter, but still present.  I then retested with the Intel Processor Diagnostic tool.  There I found that the noise present until it finishes the graphics module, after which the processor usage goes up to 100% and the noise nearly stops, changing to a faint sort of static that is quite difficult to hear. 


                              I did further testing by checking to see if the noise was present with certain cores/threads disabled.  These tests showed the same behavior as before no matter what combination I used.  I know I can also set a process's core affinity, which might help see if there is an issue with a specific core.  And while this could potentially lead to some new information, possibly if Core_0 is having problems, I’m not sure it’s possible to get that set properly for this situation.  Nor am I really confortable modifying things like that. 


                              Anyways, I still don’t have a clear indication as to whether this is a problem with part of the motherboard failing or if it is due to the CPU or some combination of both.  It does seem to rule out a software problem and show why it is present across multiple operation systems.  With this information, does anyone have a better idea?


                              Regardless, the board still needs to be replaced due to the Intel SATA ports not working correctly and the bad BIOS profile.  What if any significant changes were made between the Z87 and Z97 boards that might affect this issue? 


                              Thanks for taking the time to read another long post.

                              • 12. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
                                Intel Corporation
                                This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                                Hello Argent:
                                Thank you very much for all those details, the trouble shoot steps you have done are great, and the information provided is very useful for us.
                                Since you used the IPDT, did the processor passed the test?
                                Now, it is really difficult to be sure that this problem might be related to a core or to a thread on the processor, despite all those steps you tried, it is just really hard to find the reason for this problem.
                                At this point, since you are replacing the board anyways, then the best thing to do is wait for it, and then test it, just to see if the problem persists, that will be the best way by swapping parts.
                                And the same goes to the processor, that is why we offer you the option to replace it, and that option is still available by the way, because by using a different processor we will know, if there is a known issue between the board and the processor, of it is just a defective processor or board, or if it could be related to a different component.
                                Please, let me know the results of testing the processor with the replacement board that you are going to get.
                                Any questions please let me know.

                                • 13. Re: Persistent Audio Issues

                                  Yes, the processor passed the IPDT.


                                  Do you or any of your colleagues have a good guess as to why running audio through an external amp/dac removes the humming?

                                  • 14. Re: Persistent Audio Issues
                                    Intel Corporation
                                    This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                                    Hello Argent:
                                    Thank you very much for that information.
                                    Yes, I actually been checking with my colleagues about this case, since it is very unique, and you did all the correct troubleshoot steps to fix it.
                                    We come to the conclusion that the humming sound disappears when you use an external amp/dac, because the problem seems to be related to hardware, most likely the motherboard, not software, so when you use a different device for the humming sound to disappear is expected.
                                    Not sure if this information helps, but this is what we think.
                                    Any questions, please let me know.

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