Power conditioner, avr or ups?

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Every pc I've built in the last decade has the same issue to varying degrees and I have spent years trying to figure it out. Audio pops, clicks and stutters. There are 3 common denominators. All were running windows, the same anti virus (tried a clean install with no av and same issues) and same house so same outlets and electricity. I have done every bit of troubleshooting you can imagine and everything came up empty. Like dpc latency for example, my pc isn't perfect, but these issues can happen any time, even when the dpc latency is below 100 on latencymon which should be ideal in general. All my machines could always pass any stability test like memtest or prime 24 hour runs error free. I'm finally starting to consider external causes, like the electricity in my house. Can dirty or unstable power cause or at least be part of the cause for something like this? If so, what hardware do you suggest?

UPS?
Iso transformer?
Power conditioner?
AVR?
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
Well, an ISO transformer would not assist in this issue. The UPS, AVR & Power Conditioner are basically synonyms for the same device.

You need a means to record power on the house 24/7, like a strip recorder. Any mastive drops (from line to zero quickly) would indicate some form of conditioning is necessary. I protect my high value equipment (pc, network and even smart-tv) with a UPS/AVR device to smooth out any such transitions.
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Honestly I think this has nothing to do with my issue, but I'm out of ideas so I'm willing to try anything. Any idea what could cause the audio issues I mentioned? Any pc I plug in here will at some point do this so if it's not an eelctrical issue, what on earth could it be? I never really have power issues that I can notice and no crashes or any damage or strange behavior with any other devices plugged in here. Tried different headphones and speakers, onboard, sound card, wireless headphones. Different anti virus, no anti virus, dpc latency is normal, no viruses, windows well configured, powerful hardware, but at any random moment, clicks, pops, crackles and stutters can happen in my audio. Doesn't matter the load either, many things open or just a game or video full screen or not, it can happen. Always random, like I would expect electrical issues to be although I have no real knowledge.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
All of this is typical of AC power that fluctuates at odd times. The audio system is always sensitive to this issue, so get the POWER company or a good tech to monitor the AC line condition.
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Can't afford ANY professional help so I need low cost options I can try and then return if they don't work. I can spend up to about 200. I am inclined to believe the voltage is stable and regulation isn't required, but that's just based on nothing crashes or act up other than this audio issue. The issue I would suspect more is line noise, but I know very little about it. If I were to buy a power conditioner and based on my stated budget, could you suggest something? If it doesn't work I'll just take it back and try something else. Maybe a Furman power conditioner or something like that.

Also thanks for the replies so far guys, I appreciate it!
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
Before spending, you might want to check house ground. If you find dual paths that can be a problem as it can result in a ground loop. Also, a poorly connected outlet or a cracked wire in the circuit you are using could be the cause. If moving your equipment to another circuit 'fixes' the problem, it could be that simple.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
Without a good measurement, the only thing I can offer (having built mobile rx/tx for automobiles) is audio WILL pop and crackle L O N G before fatal power outages.

I can't lead you further if you've already made-up your mind...
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Tried almost every outlet in my house, same results. Keep in mind I've been looking for a solution to this for many years across many pc's. I suppose it is vaguely possible that every time it was unrelated and I just have the worst luck humanly possible, but with multiple systems that all had such different hardware and were tested to be very stable, all suffer intermittent audio issues. If not dpc latency, faulting hardware or bad drivers aren't the cause, besides electrical, what else could it possibly be?
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Without a good measurement, the only thing I can offer (having built mobile rx/tx for automobiles) is audio WILL pop and crackle L O N G before fatal power outages.

I can't lead you further if you've already made-up your mind...
Something like this to test?

This 'noise' issue isn't related to voltages is it and if not, how would one detect noise?
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
"Tried almost every outlet in my house, same results. " - so it is not a circuit, but could still be panel ground (the universal ground for the house) - do you have any sub-panels? old wiring using plumbing ground?
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
I dunno much about electricity. I live in an apartment btw so I'm not sure how much access I have to anything. Sounds like you guys are far more knowledgeable than me and my aversions to any suggestions only have to do with expense. I cannot hire a professional or do anything complicated with a high cost.

I'm looking for advice in the plainest and simplest terms possible and if anyone believes my problem is just not gonna be simple or cheap to track down and fix, I'd still like to know the course.

My current sound solution is a headset, the steel series arctis 7 wireless. It's dongle/receiver plugs in via usb port so what about some kind of audio cable that has properties to it for signal purity and quality, could that help?
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
Possibly. "Lossless 2.4 GHz wireless audio designed for low latency gaming " in specs for your wireless headset - may conflict with other 2.4 Ghz signal (other wireless, esp WiFi). Since you are in an apartment, you cannot get your neighbor to change channel on his wireless router (try this on yours, but may not be any help).

Contact arctis for greater insight. I doubt 'line conditioning' will help (see, I saved you a $100)
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
You didn't save me anything. As I said, I have had the issue across many pc's and sound solutions. I have multiple pairs of headphones and even sound cards. My wired headsets plugged into the onboard or a usb sound card exhibit the EXACT same issues as the wireless headset so this obviously has nothing to do with 2.4ghz. Even standard desktop speakers exhibit the exact same issues. The sound device itself changes nothing.
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Looks like I just have no choice other than to buy something and try it and if it doesn't work, return and try something else. I appreciate the replies and information, make no mistake. You'd be frustrated too if you had the same issue for a decade across 5 computers, 5 onboard sound solutions, 3 pcie sound cards, 3 usb sound cards, 7 pairs of wired headphones, 3 pairs of wireless, 4 sets of speakers. All those different combos and the issue remains exactly the same every time. Very random pops, clicks, cuts or stutters even when the cpu load is minimal and dpc latency is nearly ideal.
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
If not a channel conflict in 2.4Ghz (which can include routers, modems, cell phones, microwaves, etc - bluetooth can be similar - yours and all of your neighbors) then I would suspect the house ground. Sorry, but troubleshooting is laborious - replacing components with other 'known good' components until the problem 'goes away'. No magic. If you had same problem but with an 'all-wired components' setup, then it would make house wiring the more likely cause. Perhaps same router? same modem? a cheap idea is to reconnect (loosen and snug up again) all cables.

I apologize for the 'money savings' - was trying to inject humor - flopped.
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Have had only 3 modems (dsl) in this apartment and all pc's have been wired connection. I have a laptop I use from time to time via the wireless connection, but haven't noticed the audio issues on it although I never use it more than a couple hours at a time. Can 2.4ghz signals bring noise into an environment that can get into audio even when the audio is through a wired connection? In other words, could the modems be noisey and producing interference? If that sounds dumb, I know almost nothing about electrical and technical things like this. Building a pc and installing windows is the only 'techie' thing I know how to do and these days most kids can and have built a pc.
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
3 DSL modems - um, err, I'm not experienced with dsl, but my guess is that you need a separate pair of wires for each one OR you should use a router if only using one pair.
See discussion here: https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/1-dsl-connection-using-two-modems-95970/

Yes, I think for instance that a wireless phone and/or cell phone using WiFi and/or the WiFi on your network could in some cases result in interference for the operation of a system - jobeard is expert on this. I'm a 30 yr PC builder - go back to IBM XT and TRS-80.
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
I just meant that while I have been living at this location, I have only owned 3 different modems. Every time my isp decides it's time for an upgrade, they have sent a newer model and that's what I use. So I started with 1 and have gotten 2 upgrades since. Anyway these issues were present with every 1 of them. Like I said many systems and combos over the years all producing the same types of pops, clicks, crackles, stutters. The pops and clicks lately are stronger than ever and sometimes nearly as loud as the sound of clipping a fingernail. Sometimes I can go days with no issues, have even gone many days, but randomly and unexpectedly it can begin. Sometimes 1 random click in a single day or many throughout the day. Sometimes just 1 pop/click, sometimes a couple. Stutters are more rare, but occur with the same randomness in terms of not being related to anything I can measure like dpc or cpu load.
 

Cycloid Torus

Stone age computing - click on the rock below..
OK, let's review:
- audio pop/click/stutter being a sporadic issue appearing for a decade over a wide spectrum of systems and connections ("5 computers, 5 onboard sound solutions, 3 pcie sound cards, 3 usb sound cards, 7 pairs of wired headphones, 3 pairs of wireless, 4 sets of speakers" AND 3 modems)
- this is becoming louder (but not more frequent?)
Is there any correlation? Time of day? Wind? Rain?I thought over "All were running windows, the same anti virus (tried a clean install with no av and same issues) and same house so same outlets and electricity." and I am inclined to drop Windows and AV from the list - Windows because of a decade of updates and the AV because you tried the clean install. This leaves power as last on your list. It would not hurt to try some line conditioning (I avoid UPS).
However, I have another possible 'common denominator' - the ISP wiring from modem to pole. Early on, I spent almost a year to discover squirrels in the connection box on the pole. 3 years later it was a crack in the ISP wire which let in moisture.
So, it may be house electrical supply or it may be the ISP wiring. You seem to have eliminated all else.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
DSL MODEMS: They take in raw phone lines and connect or contain a Ethernet Router.
There is a an absolute requirement to have a "line filter" attached to every piece of equipment attached the the PHONE LINE(S) except the DSL modem(s).

This 'noise' issue isn't related to voltages is it and if not, how would one detect noise?
Here's a link to an overview on AC line noise:

You can make a simple filter yourself ( if you have skills or know someone that does) with
* 200v 0.001 uufd capacitor connected to
* 100 ohm, 1 watt resister in series

On a 60~ one phase power system, connect one end to the hot(black) line and the other to the neutral(white) line

On a 220/240v 50~, you need three filters and the capacitors MUST be 400v. Connect one filter to each leg of the input power and all three go to the COMMON.
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Man that's a lot of information, over my head tbh. I took a look and have no idea where to begin. It sounds like you're saying I need a filter on either the phone line going out to the modem or the dsl line going from my router to the pc? As for making my own filter, again over my head. I do appreciate the help, but I just don't know what to do with that jobeard.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
The DSL line comes from the Telco, into the home and attaches to the DSL Modem.
The Line Filters attach the the Telco lines, NOT the DSL Modem, anywhere.

Here's a guide for UPS usage and IMO, it's the path you should take.
There are three types:
* Standby (offline)
* Online
* Line-Interactive

The best solution is the Online style, but then it can be expensive. The Line-Interactive UPS’s is good enough for most of us and much cheaper.

Truth be told, I have a CP800AVR for the computer room and
APC-XS-1000 in the multi-media room
 
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pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
At least that's something I can easily buy, try and then return if it doesn't work. The more I think about it, I'm wondering why I never bought 1 before. Anyway within the next week I'll pick up a line interactive sine wave ups. Brand and model suggestion perhaps?
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Plug all pc related stuff into it? Or just pc, display and modem?

Also what about odor, I hear the battery can have an odor and my pc area isn't all that well ventilated.