#1
Hi guys, bit of a persistent issue that will require some explaining so bear with me.

I have an iMac and a newly purchased Focusrite Saffire 26 interface. I am running Yamaha HS50s into the interface. I also have an external hard drive, and a second display, if that matters.

So, with my old interface (Presonus Audiobox) I had some speaker buzz which became very irritating at lower volumes. It seems to be some kind of interference from the computer itself, because every time I move the mouse the buzzing gets louder, and when I stop it stops etc.

I had multiple reasons to upgrade the interface, hoping to remove speaker buzz was one of them. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have made a difference, so the interface is not the issue. I have also tried speaker cables so I am confident that isn't the issue either. Each speaker and the Mac itself are all plugged into individual wall sockets, so that can't be it either.

I am running out of things to try. I have lived in three houses for a short period of time with this same setup so it can't be poor internal wiring or something. Could I be positioning my gear sub-optimally? Is this buzzing inevitable?
#2
I'd first say are you drivers up to date on everything? Then from there I'd say, what are the speakers like when they're not running with the mac, say wired up to an iPhone or whatever? Does it still buzz at low volumes? If you can isolate the speakers and determine whether they're the problem or not you know then it's either the speakers or something else.

Do you have speaker buzz when not in a DAW? Or does it still buzz when you're just on like the desktop/youtube/listening to other music?

I can't see the extra screen and external drive being too much of an issue - unless the external hard drive is some crazy low speed. Perhaps remove the external hard drive and see if the buzz persists.

I've never had the correlation between mouse movement and buzz, that's quite strange. Is the mouse wired or wireless? If it's wireless it might be sending a signal that the DAW or interface is picking up - does it occur when not in a DAW or when the interface isn't in the chain?

I doubt it's the speakers talking to each other or doing something mad like that - but it could be that the mouse is talking to the speaker? Like some kind of phone interference, i mean if it is wireless it could be broadcasting just like a phone and jacking the speakers output. The issue could be a somewhat faulty mouse or something, have you tried a different mouse? Or have you moved the mouse further and further away at set intervals to see if the noise persists?

I hesitate to say, but how 'clean' is the wall power? How good is the Mac power supply? Crappy power supplies on computers can create a fair few issues - especially if their power output isn't regular. I mean this is probably the last thing to check when you run out of other ideas, but it's something to consider.

TL;DR (if buzzing still occurs move down the list)

1. Make sure all drivers are up to date, pc, daw, interface, even mouse drivers

2. Incrementally move the mouse the away from the computer (like 15cm a go) and see if that stops the buzzing

3. Take the speakers out of the system loop and plug them direct into something else to see if buzzing remains

4. Take the external hard drive out of the equation, does it still buzz?

5. Try out a different mouse

6. If buzzing still remains, remove different pieces of the puzzle to work out what exactly is buzzing. So remove the mouse, still buzzes? Put it back in the loop, now remove something else like the interface and repeat.

Let us know and we'll see what else can be done; i'd avoid spending any more money until you've done step 6 to try and work out what component is causing the issue.
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#3
Thanks for the reply, I'll go down point by point

Quote by Anthony1991
I'd first say are you drivers up to date on everything?


Yes.

Quote by Anthony1991
Then from there I'd say, what are the speakers like when they're not running with the mac, say wired up to an iPhone or whatever?



I can't plug them into anything else because they take a 1/4" jack or XLR, so the only thing I can run them off is the interface.

Quote by Anthony1991
Do you have speaker buzz when not in a DAW? Or does it still buzz when you're just on like the desktop/youtube/listening to other music?



Yes the buzz occurs regardless of what I am doing.

Quote by Anthony1991
I can't see the extra screen and external drive being too much of an issue - unless the external hard drive is some crazy low speed. Perhaps remove the external hard drive and see if the buzz persists.


I will try this when I get home.

Quote by Anthony1991
I've never had the correlation between mouse movement and buzz, that's quite strange. Is the mouse wired or wireless? If it's wireless it might be sending a signal that the DAW or interface is picking up - does it occur when not in a DAW or when the interface isn't in the chain?



I have the wireless trackpad that came with the mac, and also a wireless gaming mouse. The buzz occurs with both, even if I don't use the gaming mouse wirelessly.

Quote by Anthony1991
The issue could be a somewhat faulty mouse or something, have you tried a different mouse? Or have you moved the mouse further and further away at set intervals to see if the noise persists?



I will also try this later.

Quote by Anthony1991
I hesitate to say, but how 'clean' is the wall power? How good is the Mac power supply? Crappy power supplies on computers can create a fair few issues - especially if their power output isn't regular. I mean this is probably the last thing to check when you run out of other ideas, but it's something to consider.



I wouldn't know how to check this, but I think dodgy wall power outputs in three different houses would be a bit of a coincidence. The Mac power supply is the one it came with, and has worked fine since.

It's a bit difficult to troubleshoot more than you have suggested because I have no other way to plug anything other than my Mac into the speakers. I don't have access to another computer, and I have no way to plug a phone into those speakers.

I'll post back after I have tried these things when I get home.
#4
BTW, these iMacs are horrid - I feel for you, just had a recording enthusiast colleague turn his into a brick because they're designed to run hot, the graphics interface eventually melts and the whole thing fails due to poor ventilation. They look purty though.

Are you sure you're using the right cables for these (balanced/unbalanced)? That might make a difference where you'd hear noise. Is your USB cable quality? There are some really nasty Chinese cheapies and for something like that you might want to splurge on a good Belkin or something...

Try also shutting down your wireless and bluetooth...but I am actually afraid that this noise is coming down the USB bus and thus affecting all your interfaces.

I'll suggest trying a more robust Mac and music related forum, like soundonsound.com where there are more people struggling with the vagaries of Apple.

I'd say try thunderbolt interface if you can still return your new Focusrite.

How about shutting the mouse? If that solves it, maybe a bluetooth mouse or wired usb mouse/keyboard might do the trick.
Last edited by diabolical at Jan 13, 2016,
#5
You could always buy an adaptor/converter to check the speakers - but I really don't think the speakers are the issue since they're good quality
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#7
Quote by Random3
One thing I forgot to mention is that if I unplug the speakers from the interface the buzzing stops completely. I assume that rules out the speakers as a point of fault.

not really, something has to be feeding them that noise and it could be from the interractiokn speakers/interrface
Last edited by diabolical at Jan 13, 2016,
#8
Quote by Random3
One thing I forgot to mention is that if I unplug the speakers from the interface the buzzing stops completely. I assume that rules out the speakers as a point of fault.


As in no power in the speakers? Or is that speakers with power but not connected to the interface?
You Dont Know Me

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#9
Quote by Anthony1991
As in no power in the speakers? Or is that speakers with power but not connected to the interface?


Speakers with power and not connected to the interface.

I have tried unplugging and removing batteries from the mouse and trackpad and I still get the same buzz.

Also I have tried removing the hard drive and that makes no difference.
#10
Have you tried running the speakers and PC on the same power strip?

I found this - apparently ground loop noise isolator fixes it. My guess is faulty USB design.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2491373?start=0&tstart=0

You might want to try an isolated USB cable, or maybe one of these:
http://www.amazon.com/1-Port-USB---USB-Isolator--2pack/dp/B00O0M9NO8/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1452731805&sr=1-4&keywords=usb+cables+ground+loop+isolation
Last edited by diabolical at Jan 13, 2016,
#11
Quote by diabolical
Have you tried running the speakers and PC on the same power strip?

I found this - apparently ground loop noise isolator fixes it. My guess is faulty USB design.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2491373?start=0&tstart=0


Cheers.

I have had a look at that thread and someone linked this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000NVWB9O/ref=oss_product

Possibly a stupid question but how exactly are you supposed to use it? I connect my monitors to my interface with an XLR to 1/4" jack, so how would I put an RCA in/out device in between the two? Would I need to buy a 1/4"jack to RCA cable and an RCA to XLR cable and literally plug all three together?
#12
#16
OK, in that case I think it is pretty safe to say that the buzz is coming via the USB port.

Some people also say that putting in a powered usb port has fixed the issues in some cases although you're supposed to notice degradation of audio speed as soon as you put in another port in the chain.
#17
Not sure how it could be the USB port, unless I am missing something.

Here's what I have plugged into the Mac:

USB - Gaming mouse. Also can be plugged into the charger for the mouse for wireless.
USB - iLok
USB - Hard Drive
Firefire - Focusrite Saffire
Thunderbolt - external display via HDMI

Before I got the new interface I had my hard drive in the Firewire and the old Presonus in USB.

So if I remove the gaming mouse from the equation and unplug it, I still get speaker buzz passively that is louder when I use the bluetooth trackpad. Even though if I were to do that the only things plugged into USB would be the hard drive and the iLok.

If you are right and it is caused by this, would you say a ground loop isolator could fix the problem?
#18
How are you connecting the Saffire? That FireWire dapter might be the other thing generating noise, in some instances I've seen it happen. I've seen this on USB interfaces, noise due to crappy mobo design on Toshiba PCs especially, somehow the fan and USB ports were subject to noise.
So try another fw cable first, then last resort would be the isolation transformer.
#19
Quote by diabolical
How are you connecting the Saffire? That FireWire dapter might be the other thing generating noise, in some instances I've seen it happen. I've seen this on USB interfaces, noise due to crappy mobo design on Toshiba PCs especially, somehow the fan and USB ports were subject to noise.
So try another fw cable first, then last resort would be the isolation transformer.


Saffire is hooked up via the Firewire cable that came with it. I can try another Firewire but the same thing was happening with the Presonus which is USB. If that doesn't work I'll give one of those isolators a go. Thanks for all the help!
#21
Ok so I purchased one of these: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-MICROHD-Hum-Destroyer-HD400/dp/B000KUD2G4/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455374052&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=behringer+hum+isolator

The issue is now completely resolved. No buzzing whatsoever.

Thanks for all the advice guys because this has worked better than I had expected!