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Soundblaster Z crackling sound

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I have a brand new sound blaster Zx and I'm getting crackling from Dolby Live or DTS Connect. I swear it didn't crackle for the first few days. Now it's crackling during music playback, but not during games like PUBG. This was supposed to be an upgrade from a Xonar DSX that sent a loud pop over SPDIF every time I shutdown the computer (super annoying)... I really need dolby or dts to run my surround off an AV receiver.

I fixed the win10 master volume remapping using the program Volume2 to map the windows volume control to "What U Hear" -- no problems there.

Ha, reply to my own post. Reinstalled the drivers and reconfigured everything and it's perfectly fine again.

My next gripe is the beam forming control pod / microphone. This thing is odd, with any of the CrystalVoice settings turned on, my friends say I sound far away or under water. A big step down from my generic chinese knockoff $5 mic. Anyone have luck setting one of these up yet on the Zx?
 
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I stopped using the soundblaster z and am running my sound now over hdmi. crackling with DTS and DD
 
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Got a Soundblaster Z from fleabay for $55 shipped and when I got it, at first it did great - No issues when first used.
However after a little while it suddenly began dropping audio as if it was just cutting off. After a few moments the sound would come back but then cut out again, this happening over and over again.

So.......
The Mechanic/Engineer/Mr. Fix-It in me just coudn't let it go.

After thinking about it and looking the card over I remembered it has an amp built-in for headphones and the cover is an enclosure with little to no way for any air to move through, the back of it being the only real opening.
Removed the card from the machine and after looking around I found what I was looking for - A fan that was close to the size of the window it has and it's screw pattern was very close to what the slits around this window are. The fan is from an older AMD Regor CPU cooler (The really cheap units, all aluminum) and started from there.

Removed the card's cover and got to work.
There is a "Ring" of metal on the inside of the cover that holds the little window in place, that had to come out so took a flathead screw driver and worked with it until I got the ring to pop out with it's window. There are some tiny spot welds/stamped places that holds it in, just drove the screwdriver in at these spots until those broke loose and the removal of the ring was done.

Next, I placed the CPU fan from the cooler onto the cover and using the stock screws with the cooler I made them screw into the slits to hold the fan in place. 3 of the holes I made line up no prob, the 4th wouldn't line up but no prob, it's securely in place with the three screws.
Checked it and the screw ends were well clear of touching anything after screwing them in and made sure the cover would go back onto to the card itself - Re-installed the cover and popped it back into the machine.
Hooked the fan to a chassis fan header on the board and tested.

The audio now plays without cutting out (So far) at any volume level and there is air coming out of the cover with a little bit of heat as expected. Will continue using it and if it cuts out again I'll say so but so far it's working, listening to some music as I type this post about it. No buzz, noise/bleedover from the fan or anything.

Hope this helps solve a few issues with these cards.
 
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@Bones do you have an IR temperature gun or anything to see the temps with and without the fan? Curious idea that it's the card overheating
 
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No I don't have an IR gun but wish I did TBH - Got the thought about it when I looked the card over and noted it has an amp built-in and aside from the rear opening, no real way for air to move through it.
As said for now it's working fine, the cutting in and out of it's audio has stopped.

From what I've ever known about amps from way back in the day (80's when big car audio systems were a thing) an amp does put out at least a little heat and although I can't confirm it as things are now it did figure into what I came up with in the end as a solution.

It's certainly possible it had a heat issue with it's amp making it do the thermal-trip thing.
Only real way to know is to keep using it and see if the problem comes back or not.
 
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Followup:
Since the above post, the card has been used for gaming, music listening and all else you'd expect.
The card has not once dropped audio since the mod was done, also no unusual noise, crackling or anything else issue-wise.

I believe that was the problem and adding the fan solved it - Certainly seems that way from the results.
 
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Seems like you might have just needed to mount a heatsink to the overheating component and all would be well. I actually do that with all of my SB cards. If the chip doesn't have a HS, I put one on it.
 
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If you can get to the speaker levels menu... mute everything other than main audio source used.

That has been used to solve cracking I read about somewhere.
 
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This particular card was dropping audio as in just quitting, then starting back up again and kept doing it over and over..... Didn't have issues with crackling noises.

A heatsink could have worked but the fan in my case was the easiest fix to try, have several spare CPU coolers and simply robbed one I'd never use for anything anyway for the fix. If I ever run into crackling with it I'll remember your suggestion NatrOn. :toast:
 

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Seems like you might have just needed to mount a heatsink to the overheating component and all would be well. I actually do that with all of my SB cards. If the chip doesn't have a HS, I put one on it.

I guess if I ever encounter that I will, my card is a ZXR and doesn't exhibit that activity.
 
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I returned the second soundblaster Z i got because nothing helped with the crackling. I didnt want to mount any fan on it or something. amazon said they pay me back the money. i give up on soundcards with DTS and DD now. Most of them are ancient like a asus one that only had PCI that i dont have on my mobo
 
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I returned the second soundblaster Z i got because nothing helped with the crackling. I didnt want to mount any fan on it or something. amazon said they pay me back the money. i give up on soundcards with DTS and DD now. Most of them are ancient like a asus one that only had PCI that i dont have on my mobo

It is all doom and gloom in that department if you use DTS and DD.

The latest W10 insider builds doesn't work with X-FI's at all. Sound Core based devices... alias all cards like Z, Zx, ZxR, AE-5 etc bug out using DTS also... if you use them without any, pardon me - crap enabled, it works fine. The M$ audio stack develops also, you cannot influence that.

Known issues
  • Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly. We are partnering with Creative to resolve this issue.
 

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It is all doom and gloom in that department if you use DTS and DD.

The latest W10 insider builds doesn't work with X-FI's at all. Sound Core based devices... alias all cards like Z, Zx, ZxR, AE-5 etc bug out using DTS also... if you use them without any, pardon me - crap enabled, it works fine. The M$ audio stack develops also, you cannot influence that.

Good OL ms, breaking their OS since ME...
 

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Just another disappointment from MS on PC audio. I'm still upset that they killed off true hardware sound processing after XP...
 

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Just another disappointment from MS on PC audio. I'm still upset that they killed off true hardware sound processing after XP...

I think they fixed it in 7.
 

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I've never heard that before...
 

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Oh, that. Isn't Alchemy a shoddy emulation work-around for processing EAX effects? It's still not true hardware accelerated sound.
 
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Oh, that. Isn't Alchemy a shoddy emulation work-around for processing EAX effects? It's still not true hardware accelerated sound.


No not really it's actually a wrapper it sends D3DS and DSound and EAX calls to OpenAL instead of letting Windows own API screw shit up
 
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I had a similar issue, but solved it.

I found that ASUS motherboards this generation have ALOT of EMI bleed; I replaced my old soundcard to the SBZ and still had the problems.

Changing my motherboard to MSI... zero issue perfect audio.
Asus in my opinion isnt top tier for motherboards anymore, TONS of people have EMI issues with asus this generation.

Keep this in mind.

Power supplies can cause this too.
But my motherboard caused the problem before.
 
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I had a similar issue, but solved it.

I found that ASUS motherboards this generation have ALOT of EMI bleed; I replaced my old soundcard to the SBZ and still had the problems.

Changing my motherboard to MSI... zero issue perfect audio.
Asus in my opinion isnt top tier for motherboards anymore, TONS of people have EMI issues with asus this generation.

Keep this in mind.

Power supplies can cause this too.
But my motherboard caused the problem before.

Got an asus mobo so that could be the cause. amazon gonna shoot me the money back and sell the card in its warehouse deals
 
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I was able to replicate this issue, when sound processing is layered on the SBZ it can crackle. Example, SBx PRO STUDIO + Dobly Atmos = Crackle, but when Nahimic 3 + Atmos = Fine. If you have crackles disable SBX and other processing that may be layered ontop of it. Zero it and then try it again.

Seems to be the cause, Also in addition try the SBZ PAX drivers they seemed to get rid of the strange combinations all together.
 
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Hey guys,
I might have stumbled upon a solution for the SBZ cracking/channel swap issues on Windows 10! With that "fix" I've got more than 3 hours yesterday of perfect 5.1 Dolby Digital Live sound and I'll continue testing for the next day or two to make sure it works properly. Before that "fix" I couldn't even get 10 minutes of proper sound.
BTW I'm running Windows 10 Pro 64bit v1903 on a Threadripper 1950x.
Will let you know how it goes.
 
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