Help with a whine.

Well, the two cables I mentioned above - - I ordered. One will be here Sunday (the USB A to B for the M-Track Solo ) and the other will be here next week sometime (The USB A to Micro USB B) . Also, due to the 2 channel but left side only and no 1 channel / mono option with the M-Track Solo I also ordered the Scarlett Solo and will be returning the M-Track Solo. So we’ll see how the ferrite cores will do on reducing noise. Worse case, I suppose, I can get a can of electronic cleaner and a can of air, power down the system, unplug it, and soak the snot out of my USB ports before blowing them out dry, see if it’s dirty contacts.

I’m not going to recommend a specific one, as they are all pretty much the same and it’s against forum rules.

Nobody minds you telling people about your specific, real-life experiences. Try not to make it sound like a sales pitch.

The strands (especially the earth), is far too thin and has loads of resistance.

I agree completely, but one of the symptoms in this case is the noise changing slowly over time after swapping a cable.

SPDIF might be an interesting test. It’s optical, so there is no copper connection between the ends. We note when the poster took one of the cables out as a test and ran a device on batteries, the noise immediately got worse.

Nobody said you can’t have more than one problem.


Yeah, starting to wonder if there is a grounding issue between the M-Track and the PC. But it only gets louder if I up the gain on the PC input. But, then again, the M-Track gets power and grounds though the USB on the PC, the monitor port on the M-Track grounds between the M-Track and the mixer though its patch cable, the mixer gets it’s ground though the USB Charge Station or the PC though it’s USB cable, and the mixer also has a ground between the PC and the mixer though the patch cable. Hmm… I dunno. I haven’t used my electronics training in over 20 years, forgotten most of it. O.o

USB Charge Station

Did you mention that anywhere up until now?


Koz wrote:

Nobody minds you telling people about your specific, real-life experiences. Try not to make it sound like a sales pitch.

OK, the units I normally use are Ultralink, have several of them and they have always performed well and cost around 20 bucks.
I doubt very much that Ultralink makes the SPDIF chip set used inside, so you may find that other models will work exactly the same.
Only reason I went with them was, the first shop I went to had them, so I have just stuck with them.

Here is what the packaging looks like (I always keep them in case I need to return a unit).

What I like about these units is, optical and coaxial SPDIF inputs and RCA outputs (on the rear).
They come with their own PSU which is important, as using USB power would negate the whole thing.
The last point about the PSU is important to anyone wanting to use a SPDIF converter, make sure they come with a PSU
as then it is completely isolated from the USB from the computer.
Never power a SPDIF converter from USB.

Another important thing, make sure whatever converter you decide on, supports both 44.1 and 48 KHz sample rate.
Not all do.
The units I use do 44.1 KHz and 48 KHz but not 96 KHz.
If you need 96 KHz, best look for other units.

Koz wrote:

We note when the poster took one of the cables out as a test and ran a device on batteries, the noise immediately got worse.

Makes sense as you may find that the cable that was disconnected was the best (lowest impedance) path to earth and by
removing it, another, worse path then became the default.

It’s important to keep in mind that the OP is using both USB and RCA leads.
Although they do different things, they still share a common earth in the computer.
As there is no CMR (common mode rejection) filters anywhere, the noise on the common earth will be on
USB and RCA and any other port that shares the same common.

The OP mentioned leads with ferrite beads/cores, that can alleviate the problem provided that the windings
around the ferrite are bi-filler.

RCA? I never mentioned RCA. All my audio connections are XLR (mic to M-Track Solo) , USB (M-Track Solo to PC for both audio in to PC and power to the M-Track and the mixer’s power lead) , and 3.5mm patch cables (PC to mixer, M-Track monitor port to mixer, USB C to 3.5mm to mixer ) .

RCA? I never mentioned RCA. All my audio connections are XLR (mic to M-Track Solo)

In this case it’s actually the same thing.
Yes I know RCA are un-balanced whilst XLR are balanced, but from an earth’s perspective, it is still connected
to the same common earth as USB.

The only advantage to XLR is, longer runs without the fear of external interference ingress as the audio
is balanced.
Assuming of course it’s true balanced and the old trick of connecting “cold” to gnd was not used.

So your saying I might need another XLR cable? Ok.

So your saying I might need another XLR cable? Ok.

Not necessarily:

  1. Check that there is no continuity between pins 1 (ground) and 3 (cold) of the XLR.
    If there is, then “cold” is connected to ground, chuck it away.
    If there isn’t, then all OK.
    Provided the cable is not otherwise broken or misbehaving, you don’t need a new one.

  2. irrespective if you have a good or bad XLR cable, the earth (pin 1) is still connected
    to common earth, this is by design.
    Changing the XLR cable will not change this.

What you need more is, isolation between all the common grounds and the mixer.
Hence the recommendation of trying SPDIF (optical).

Before we get too far into the technical weeds, a note on what’s happening.

USB service has data running in one direction and ideally pure, clean, perfect 5 volt battery running the other. If for any reason, the data contaminates the battery, you get “dirty” 5 volts. That’s not immediately deadly if you’re running a USB mouse or keyboard. Would you know if your mouse doesn’t track straight and true?

If you have a USB sound device with analog electronics, the analog electronics will produce dirty sound. This is where the Yeti Curse came from. Blue applies USB 5 volts directly to the Yeti Microphone Preamp. Boom. Noisy sound.

The most likely cause for dirty 5 volts is a sloppy computer, made worse by sloppy cables. After weeks of different solutions and patches (I still have some of the “USB Filters” in my desk drawer) the only sure solution was change the computer.


We got super close with the idea of running your USB through a splitter powered from the wall. Only use one of the splits. It’s an isolator.

Resourceful users immediately found affordable splitters with wall power hum, buzz, and noise.


Spot on Koz.

And since the dirty 5V supply is referenced to a common earth, any port/connector having that same common earth
is going to suffer with the noise.

As you have written before, for some reason/s, it’s mostly on Windows computers.
So when ever I come across a Windows computer that is being used for any audio work, my default solution is to use
SPDIF, or, if budget is not a concern, I resort to using “hum buckers”.

They however are very expensive for proper ones with a good flat frequency response and constant phase delay across the audio band.

There are cheap ones available but they are simply not worth it.

Oh… So this - - won’t work? Huh. Ok. So a powered USB hub and only use one port, that shouldn’t be too pricey.

That unit is essentially a low cost “hum bucker”.
For the price, I don’t expect very good high end and probably distorted or severely attenuated low end
as the core starts to saturate.
But hey, it may just surprise you… your choice as to whether you want to take the $11 gamble or not.

Well, to go back to the other idea, to isolate the USB, how about - ?

That USB hub does not seem to give any isolation, all it’s doing is breaking the 5V supply from the computer
and replacing it with it’s own external one.

However the question has to be asked, is it only the 5V supply that is isolated or the common ground as well?
If it’s only the 5V line, I suspect that it won’t bring an end to your woes.

Well… * peers * Dedicated USB ground loop adapters are like $60 plus for the ones with high ratings, saw a $20 one that had only 3 and a half stars and the biggest complaint (only two comments, one good and one bad ) was Win 10 recognized no device plugged though it. O.o What did you use to isolate your USB?

What did you use to isolate your USB?

I have never bothered to isolate the actual USB ports, instead I isolate only the audio by using either
SPDIF or a “hum bucker”.

(If quality and latency are not of prime concern, then sometimes Bluetooth will work too, but I’m not a fan).

As Koz wrote above, dirty USB is not a problem with digital devices like keyboards, rodents,etc.
Plus, if one filters USB too aggressively, you start getting data drop-outs, especially with USB 3.

Win 10 recognized no device plugged though it.

Yep, all part of the problem of filtering USB too much.
The time constant of the cleaning filters, start messing with the power-up slew rate
(as prescribed by the USB spec) and the USB device does not initialize properly and the host
lands up not recognizing it.
On the other hand, if you don’t filter USB enough, then there will still be audible noise on the audio.
Common problem and starts becoming an endless loop of frustration.

So, I concentrate only on audio and don’t bother with the actual USB ports.
However, using good quality USB cables is still important as low quality ones, do contribute to overall noise,
possible corrupted data and it’s just bad engineering practice to use sub-standard parts which contributes
to less than ideal operation and possible early failure.

BTW, in the early days when composite (analog) video was still a thing, noise from computers was also
a problem and to isolate video (even analog video), required a bandwidth of 20 Hz to 5 MHz with fast rise times
due to the sharp pulses used for the synch.
Plus, depending on video format, the colour burst was at either 3.58 MHz or 4.43 MHz.
In comparison, for analog audio, you only need around 0.025 MHz of bandwidth.

You should have seen the prices for video “hum buckers”.

These days with HDMI, which is digital video, noise is not a problem, unless of course the noise is so much
and of such amplitude that it starts showing up on the screen.

Yeah, high stars ‘hum blockers’ ground loop isolators for 3.5mm is just as expensive and if I need 3 of them, yowch. O.o