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Soundcard noise floor

Hello,
I'm looking for a new soundcard because i'm constrained to put a -20dB resitive lpad on my loudspeakers inputs in order to lower the loudpeakers NF under the room NF.
It is not really a problem, my amps are very cheap and the lpad is a good counter-electromotive force eater...  ::)  but if anyone knows a soundcard with an awesome NF, i will be pleased to know it !


Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #1
What is your room NF?

DAC noise is mostly limited by the recording, all are well below 16 bit theoretical noise.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #2
So basically you have 20dB too much gain and are loading the circuit with an iPad (headphone jack?) To lower the gain? If buying an amp with less gain isn't cost effective, I would buy an attenuator to replace the iPad.

Why do you need a sound card with a lower noise floor? Combined with the 20dB attention, almost any sound card should be fine.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #3
What is your room NF?
DAC noise is mostly limited by the recording, all are well below 16 bit theoretical noise.
28-30dB in the night and 45-48dB in the journey, but the there is an audible hiss only when i play a song on foobar or audacity.

So basically you have 20dB too much gain and are loading the circuit with an iPad (headphone jack?) To lower the gain? If buying an amp with less gain isn't cost effective, I would buy an attenuator to replace the iPad.
Why do you need a sound card with a lower noise floor? Combined with the 20dB attention, almost any sound card should be fine.

I'm using an USB soundcard with equalizer APO, my amplifiers have a 24dB gain with around 120┬ÁV of noise, the attenuation is fine but i'm wasting energy.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #4
Sorry for my english, i was hurry to prepare the dinner.
I've created a silent WAV file, tried to play it on foobar and the hiss is still there when i play the file, but there is no hiss at all when i don't.
Do you think that the problem is software? hardware? both?

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #5
Sorry for my english, i was hurry to prepare the dinner.
I've created a silent WAV file, tried to play it on foobar and the hiss is still there when i play the file, but there is no hiss at all when i don't.
Do you think that the problem is software? hardware? both?

It is the sound interface (hardware) only prosumer interfaces are silent.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #6
what is prosumer and what isn't?
I think I have met some hardware which is pretty much silent, but would not be usually categorized as prosumer.

if your speakers are connected by a wire and not digitally, and there's hiss only when something is played, then the sound card is to blame (DAC, and/or any amplifier that's directly controlled by it).
good DACs aren't expensive, if you don't need a powerful amplifier with it. if your loudspeakers have their own amplifier, any cheap sound card will do that doesn't hiss and catch interference. which is pretty easy to test, if you don't hear any garbage when playing silence on this sound card, then it's good to go.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #7
I don't have a recommendation for you.

It gets tricky because the noise often gets into the soundcard from the computer's electronics and a particular soundcard may be better or worse in a different computer.   That my be why you get more noise when your computer is "doing something" like playing a silent file.    I read something recently where someone was getting noise when they move the mouse.

You can try an inexpensive USB soundcard.  That gets the soundcard away from the electrically-noisy internal computer electronics.   I have one like this that I got for "troubleshooting purposes" and it's "dead silent" with headphones on my laptop.    Noise can still get into a USB soundcard through the USB power but playback is usually less of a problem than recording.

Or, you can get a higher-end USB Audio Interface.     With USB-powered interfaces you can still get noise through the USB power, but again this is more of a problem with recording because the noise can get amplified by the microphone preamp..

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #8
what is prosumer and what isn't?
I think I have met some hardware which is pretty much silent, but would not be usually categorized as prosumer.

if your speakers are connected by a wire and not digitally, and there's hiss only when something is played, then the sound card is to blame (DAC, and/or any amplifier that's directly controlled by it).
good DACs aren't expensive, if you don't need a powerful amplifier with it. if your loudspeakers have their own amplifier, any cheap sound card will do that doesn't hiss and catch interference. which is pretty easy to test, if you don't hear any garbage when playing silence on this sound card, then it's good to go.
I don't have a recommendation for you.
It gets tricky because the noise often gets into the soundcard from the computer's electronics and a particular soundcard may be better or worse in a different computer.   That my be why you get more noise when your computer is "doing something" like playing a silent file.    I read something recently where someone was getting noise when they move the mouse.
You can try an inexpensive USB soundcard.  That gets the soundcard away from the electrically-noisy internal computer electronics.   I have one like this that I got for "troubleshooting purposes" and it's "dead silent" with headphones on my laptop.    Noise can still get into a USB soundcard through the USB power but playback is usually less of a problem than recording.
Or, you can get a higher-end USB Audio Interface.     With USB-powered interfaces you can still get noise through the USB power, but again this is more of a problem with recording because the noise can get amplified by the microphone preamp..

I talk for those that don't have any resistive padding between all the impedances adaptations before the amplifiers ouputs (digital filtering), it is not so easy to find a silent sound interface in the consumer market (it is very hard) and the professionnal ones are the safe bet (but not all)

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #9
I talk for those that don't have any resistive padding between all the impedances adaptations before the amplifiers ouputs (digital filtering),

There is a lot to unpack there.  What are you trying to say? 

it is not so easy to find a silent sound interface in the consumer market (it is very hard) and the professionnal ones are the safe bet (but not all)

This is not my experience. 

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #10
Not mine as well. I get no audible noise from all of my Android-based phones 3.5mm jack. Also no audible noise from all outputs of an external soundcard Steinberg UR12, which is a cheap card (at least if you count that it can be used to record and monitor a guitar; the main purpose why I got it in the first place), I'm pretty sure that if you don't need recording, there are easily even cheaper solutions that work just as fine.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #11
Not mine as well. I get no audible noise from all of my Android-based phones 3.5mm jack. Also no audible noise from all outputs of an external soundcard Steinberg UR12, which is a cheap card (at least if you count that it can be used to record and monitor a guitar; the main purpose why I got it in the first place), I'm pretty sure that if you don't need recording, there are easily even cheaper solutions that work just as fine.

I need at last 4 ouputs, and the steinberg despite her "audiophools" capacitors don't perform extremely well at measurements :
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fprosound.ixbt.com%2Finterfaces%2Fsteinberg-ur22mk2.shtml&sandbox=1
It discouraged me to test this brand, i'm perhaps wrong.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #12
What exactly isn't extremely well in measurements? -78.2 dB of distortion+noise, that's what they call "average" (other things they consider better, so let's focus on this one), is it something that human ear can hear? and is it a measurement of outputs or inputs or both? it seems it could be the latter, in that case in isolation the outputs must perform a lot better.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #13
What exactly isn't extremely well in measurements? -78.2 dB of distortion+noise, that's what they call "average" (other things they consider better, so let's focus on this one), is it something that human ear can hear? and is it a measurement of outputs or inputs or both? it seems it could be the latter, in that case in isolation the outputs must perform a lot better.
It is just rightmark numbers, i don't really trust them, also don't know if the steinbergs are good or bad and if the audiophile capacitors with their high end output operational amplifiers can help to judge.
I've taken an Presonus because i've tested one model and it is awesomely silent.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #14
That link shows a noise floor 100dB below peak. That is literally orders of magnitude better than you need. If that is all you care about just buy that device.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #15
It is just rightmark numbers, i don't really trust them, also don't know if the steinbergs are good or bad and if the audiophile capacitors with their high end output operational amplifiers can help to judge.
I've taken an Presonus because i've tested one model and it is awesomely silent.
Differences in quality don't matter if in both cases the total amount of distortion (all things that worsen the signal, combined) are totally out of reach of human hearing.
If you don't trust measurements, then what's the point of bringing them up btw?
Quote
if the audiophile capacitors with their high end output operational amplifiers can help to judge
is there even a definition of "audiophile capacitors"?
IMO it's best to ignore that as a meaningless detail.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #16
Differences in quality don't matter if in both cases the total amount of distortion (all things that worsen the signal, combined) are totally out of reach of human hearing.
If you don't trust measurements, then what's the point of bringing them up btw?
Who can believe that a single number can substitute a complete measurement procedure with some graphs and their technical analysis... sales managers or supermarket buyers perhaps ?
Here is a interface with good measurements :
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fprosound.ixbt.com%2Finterfaces%2Fesi-gigaport-hd.shtml&sandbox=1
I've got that interface, the NF is one of the worse of all my interfaces, even entry level ones (professionnal).

Quote
is there even a definition of "audiophile capacitors"? IMO it's best to ignore that as a meaningless detail.
The expensive output buffer is taylored for a very low NF and the NF is not better than a cheap one, IMO it is not the most cost effective possible design.
Why don't put the money in a better USB bridge or better DACs (because this interface must be fullly compatible with I-things from Apple inc)

PS : audiophile capacitors definition : gold colored casing capacitors with a very high price tag and a low life expectancy that perform worse than some good standard capacitors.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #17
Quote
I need at last 4 ouputs, and the steinberg despite her "audiophools" capacitors don't perform extremely well at measurements :
I don't understand what that means either...

There's nothing special about capacitors with audio.   Audio is "easy".  Audio only goes up to about 20kHz (low/slow for electronics) and it's low voltage.    Capacitor values usually aren't super-critical for audio either.   The engineer might calculate a minimum of 1uF and then specify a 4.7uF capacitor.  (There's little, if any, cost difference.)   Or, maybe there are 10uF capacitors elsewhere on the board so he decides to make purchasing & assembly easier by specifying 10uF capacitors "everywhere".

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #18
Quote
I need at last 4 ouputs, and the steinberg despite her "audiophools" capacitors don't perform extremely well at measurements :
I don't understand what that means either...
"Why put an expensive capacitor if a cheap one perform better"

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #19
Differences in quality don't matter if in both cases the total amount of distortion (all things that worsen the signal, combined) are totally out of reach of human hearing.
If you don't trust measurements, then what's the point of bringing them up btw?
Who can believe that a single number can substitute a complete measurement procedure with some graphs and their technical analysis... sales managers or supermarket buyers perhaps ?

Noise floor is a single number, and it is what you asked about, so I am not sure where you are going with this. If you don't care about it, then why do you keep talking about it?

Here is a interface with good measurements :
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fprosound.ixbt.com%2Finterfaces%2Fesi-gigaport-hd.shtml&sandbox=1
I've got that interface, the NF is one of the worse of all my interfaces, even entry level ones (professionnal).

Are you saying that you don't think 100dB was enough? That is better than the intrinsic noise floor of CD audio. If you think you're hearing noise below what even your recordings can contain, you are doing something wrong.

Explain what you are doing and what the problem you have is.

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #20
If you increase volume up to eleven, don't you hear some  noise?

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #21
Differences in quality don't matter if in both cases the total amount of distortion (all things that worsen the signal, combined) are totally out of reach of human hearing.
If you don't trust measurements, then what's the point of bringing them up btw?
Who can believe that a single number can substitute a complete measurement procedure with some graphs and their technical analysis... sales managers or supermarket buyers perhaps ?
Noise floor is a single number, and it is what you asked about, so I am not sure where you are going with this. If you don't care about it, then why do you keep talking about it?
Here is a interface with good measurements :
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fprosound.ixbt.com%2Finterfaces%2Fesi-gigaport-hd.shtml&sandbox=1
I've got that interface, the NF is one of the worse of all my interfaces, even entry level ones (professionnal).
Are you saying that you don't think 100dB was enough? That is better than the intrinsic noise floor of CD audio. If you think you're hearing noise below what even your recordings can contain, you are doing something wrong.
Explain what you are doing and what the problem you have is.

I don't think anything, just see that the measurements are inaccurate and don't match reality. So, i've solved the problem with a better interface, happy end.

If you increase volume up to eleven, don't you hear some  noise?

It works only if you have a volume control (i don't have), you should raise the quality of your jokes, especially in the area of the context please (see Reply #8)

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #22
I really don't get it, which part of your setup is without a volume control? Soundcard or Windows or amp? :D

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #23
Differences in quality don't matter if in both cases the total amount of distortion (all things that worsen the signal, combined) are totally out of reach of human hearing.
If you don't trust measurements, then what's the point of bringing them up btw?
Who can believe that a single number can substitute a complete measurement procedure with some graphs and their technical analysis... sales managers or supermarket buyers perhaps ?
Noise floor is a single number, and it is what you asked about, so I am not sure where you are going with this. If you don't care about it, then why do you keep talking about it?
Here is a interface with good measurements :
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fprosound.ixbt.com%2Finterfaces%2Fesi-gigaport-hd.shtml&sandbox=1
I've got that interface, the NF is one of the worse of all my interfaces, even entry level ones (professionnal).
Are you saying that you don't think 100dB was enough? That is better than the intrinsic noise floor of CD audio. If you think you're hearing noise below what even your recordings can contain, you are doing something wrong.
Explain what you are doing and what the problem you have is.

I don't think anything, just see that the measurements are inaccurate and don't match reality.

I can't speak to the accuracy of those specific measurements, but they're very typical, and you could find 100 devices that really do have that performance.  I don't think your skepticism is well founded.

So, i've solved the problem with a better interface, happy end.

Is this the same problem you were posting about above?  So you've solved whatever you were asking about?

Re: Soundcard noise floor

Reply #24
> you should raise the quality of your jokes

why don't you also raise the quality of your threads then.

 
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