Squealing/whining sound when recording

I’m not sure where exactly I should put this, so I apologize if there’s a more appropriate section for this. Also, in order not to leave anything vague I’m going to try to be thorough, so bare with me if this post gets long.

If this post is too long for you, just skip down to the red “in a nutshell” part.

I’m an avid user of microphone-utilizing software such as Audacity, TeamSpeak and Skype, and I’ve had few problems with them so far. But just today my friends on TeamSpeak reported that there was a disturbing squealing / whining / whistling sound in the background whenever I talked (and if I kept my microphone on constant transmission, it would be heard all the time). I tested this on various audio software such as Audacity and Windows Sound Recorder, and that squealing was present in every recording I would make.

I have sound clips from just a week past where there was absolutely no whining sound in the background; only faint static whooshing/rustling that is completely normal with most microphones and didn’t disturb anyone. But today it somehow changed.

Here’s my audio setup (knowing this is necessary to understand my further explanations):

  • Windows 7 64-bit, ASRock Z68 Pro3 mobo + on-board sound card
  • SteelSeries Siberia V2 headset with 3,5mm connectors:
    → (red) mic pin connected to 3,5 mm extension cable, which is connected to mic connector in computer’s motherboard
    → (green) sound pin connected to Logitech Z4 speakers which are connected to audio connector in computer’s motherboard

Here I’ll list what I’ve found out about the problem when trying to narrow down the cause to one piece of hardware:

  • Squealing is level regardless of how far away (or close) the microphone is from the headset’s earcups
  • Squealing is present even if:
    → I detach the headset’s audio pin from the speakers and turn them off (aka. no sound output at all) (this means it can’t be sound looping, right?)
    → I detach the headset’s mic pin from the extension cable, and/or if I connect another headset to it
    → I get rid of all middle-men and connect the headset directly into the mobo’s connectors
  • Fiddling with Windows sound options (microphone volume / boost, Noise Suppression or Acoustic Echo cancellation does little to nothing to the relative loudness of the squealing compared to other voices (= doesn’t filter it out in the slightest)
  • Uninstalling & deleting sound-related drivers from Device Manager, restarting the computer and re-installing them (automatically + the motherboard’s own Realtek HD audio driver) didn’t remove the problem
  • System restore to the day before (when I talked extensively on TeamSpeak and no-one reported any problems) didn’t remove the problem

After doing all of this I think the whining noise is slightly reduced, but it’s still there and it’s still annoying.

In a nutshell:
Yesterday: no issues whatsoever. Today: annoying, static squealing sound in all audio input to the computer through mobo’s mic socket.
As long as computer recognizes something is connected into mic socket, the whining is present (otherwise there’s no sound at all, obviously).
Bazillion fix attempts → noise reduced but still present, and still disturbing.

I’m not able to try a different mic socket, because the computer’s front one isn’t working (Windows doesn’t recognize anything that is connected there, only the audio socket works).

So am I right in my guess that the mobo’s sound card, or the interaction between it and Windows somehow got busted overnight? Or what could be the issue? I’ve spent hours trying to find a fix, and despite having lots of experience in DIY troubleshooting I just can’t seem to fix it, or narrow it down any further than this.

Please help, I’ve run out of ideas. :frowning:

If the (feedback ?) squeal occurs even when no speakers / headphones / microphone are attached then a possible explanation is feedback within the Windows mixer, i.e. the output sound has been included as an input source , e.g. “stereo mix” aka “wave out” aka “what-u-hear” has been selected a “recording” input.

This could have happened automatically when you ran some audio software, or deliberately if you were recording from the internet, (where you’d have to select “what-u-hear” aka etc as an input device). If “what-u-hear” aka “stereo mix” aka etc is enabled as a recording device disable it to stop the feedback loop …

http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Mixer_Toolbar_Issues#Using_the_Control_Panel ]

Hi and thanks for the reply,

I did use Stereo Mix once for doing something like that, but currently it’s Disabled in the Recording tab of Sound options. The only enabled device for me is the headset mic. There’s no way I can “disable” it any more than it is now, so I don’t think that’s the answer.

The squealing sound is what you’d expect feedback/echo to be like though, which is mysterious considering there’s no apparent way of that being produced.

Here’s my Recording tab.

Right-click over the mic > Properties and make sure on the “Listen” tab that “Listen to this Device” is unchecked.


Yes, it’s unchecked.

I would try turning off first TeamSpeak only, then Skype only to see if that gets you anywhere. I know you want to use those apps of course.

Do you have another mic or headset to try? The quality doesn’t matter for testing purposes.


Well, since today the whining has mysteriously disappeared again. It’s not present when recording with Audacity, or talking in TeamSpeak / Skype. Funny…

To answer your question (I’d be interested to know what the cause for the yesterday’ish might’ve been, in case it comes back again), yes it was present regardless of what headset was being used; in fact even when the extension cable alone was connected to the computer it would still be there (since the cable is enough to trick the computer into believing that there’s a recording device connected there).

I didn’t get to properly try your first suggestion before today, but yes, as far as I remember that didn’t help either.

Regardless, thanks a ton for all the help, I greatly appreciate the gesture and I’d still be interested to know what it was that I was suffering from yesterday.


Now I’m once again suffering from this problem. It came seemingly out of nowhere, and disappeared in the same way, and now it’s back again. Earlier today I had no such problems, but now, without even turning off the computer mid-way, it’s back.

And no, I’ve thought hard but came up with nothing that I would’ve done and accidentally make this problem appear/disappear on these particular moments. I haven’t as much as touched my computer case or any windows settings, and it’s the very same case now (meaning changing headsets etc. doesn’t cure it).

Could a faulty sound card really be the cause here, or is there still something I can try?

An intermittent short-circuit in a headset extension cable carrying output and input could cause a feedback loop.
You could try eliminating this as a possible source of the problem by plugging the headset directly into the computer, not via an extension cable.