No soundcards working?

23 Dec 2010
Newcastle, Staffordshire
Hello all,

Two years or so I purchased a Soundblaster AE-5 soundcard and it worked superb until last year when I turned on my PC and all I got from the card was low, crackling audio. I troubleshooted it like so:

- Re-seated the card, issue remained
- Tried different outputs, issue remained except the front I/O Panel headphone out worked fine
- Reinstalled Windows, issue remained
- Tried Linux (Manjaro) issue remained
- Tried a different PCI-e slot, issue remained
- Tried onboard, it works flawlessly. I tried ensuring onboard was both enabled and disabled but makes no difference.

Now this is where the issue gets weird:
- I tried my old Soundblaster Z card and that showed exactly the same symptoms so I figured maybe it was my motherboard having some weird issue (My GPU was working fine mind you)
Recently I upgraded my PC so new CPU and Motherboard (everything else the same) and the issue remains with both soundcards?

I thought maybe it was my PSU (A Be Quiet! Pure Power 10, 700w) though the Z doesn't need molex power like the AE-5 but I connected up a 350W PSU to my old motherboard without a GPU/case etc as a test bench just to test and the issue remained

I am super confused. 2x soundcards not working with the exact same issue on 2x motherboards with 2x OS's
22 Jul 2004
I gave up on sound cards about 4 years ago. On one card, the Asus Essence STX, I had a random screeching noise (may not happen for a month or two, then you get the loudest possible volume high frequency squeal right in your ears until reset). The next was Powercolor Devil HDX, and that one refused to start up consistently on each boot, and I had to power fully off and on again to try again and have a chance at getting it to initialize. That's when I gave up with internal sound cards and since I only had a 2.1 setup, I moved to external DAC and AMP. Specifically what is known as a "Schiit Stack" from Schiit audio, comprising a Schiit Modi and Magni. The only trouble is, they keep releasing incremental revisions of their products, i.e. Magni 1, Magni 2, Magni 3, Magni 3+ and so on. The latest headphone amp is the Magni Heresy, but it has a different layout to the Magni 3+ so they both have their own sound.

So, if you're going the route I've gone, you'll want a Schiit Modi 3 for DAC (or Modi Multibit for more features), Schiit Magni 3+ or Heresy for Headphone Amp. I've also got a Schiit Loki for a nice hardware EQ, but it's only available in silver. You'll also need a few dinky little phono cables to connect them all up. On the speaker amp side, I've got an S.M.S.L. SA300. Cheap, but highly rated Chinese DAC / AMP, but you can pass through the line-level signal from the Schiit Magni, assuming you buy the plus version.

If you need surround sound, I have no clue. Can't think why two different sound cards in two different motherboards aren't working and are displaying the same symptoms.
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