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ASUS Xonar cards and loud white noise issue

Page about the the loud white/static noise or screech issue on Xonar cards that some experience.

Page updates
  • 16 May 2020: Possible solution 1 updated.
  • 11 May 2020: Page updated.
  • 10 May 2020: Article published.

Why it happens

I personally only had such an issue only 1 time in over 10 years on my old PC, a Intel Core 2 Duo with DFI P35 motherboard, AMD Radeon HD7790, Xonar DX and Windows 7. At that moment my PC was under heavy load and I jumped to a different position on a YouTube video. Most of the reports involve playing a video on YouTube or another video site or in a video desktop application. Currently, I'm thinking it has to do with some sort of big delay in processing the sound which causes the driver to go haywire. Could be related to very high DPC latency or something else.

Some reported having this issue only after updating to Windows 10, never had this on Windows 7.

Other discussions outside this page that have been taken place about this subject #1(head-fi.org), #2, #3, #4.

Possible solutions

1. Disable all of Xonar's recording inputs and use the Microphone or Line In from the onboard audio card or buy a USB microphone

To do so, open Windows Sound (right-click on Windows Volume tray icon-> Sounds or if missing type in Windows search: “change system sounds”)-> Select Recording tab-> Right-click and select Disable for: Microphone (ASUS Xonar...), Line In (ASUS X...), ALT (ASUS X...), AUX (ASUS X...), Stereo Mix(ASUS X...) and Wave (ASUS X...). Then right-click on Microphone (HD Audio.../Realtek.../SupremeFX.../USB Mic...) and select "Set as Default" and "Set as Default Communication Device".

Thanks to Louis for sharing this solution, you can read more about this here. Here is another report that might indicate some of these cases might have something to do with the microphone input.

2. Lower your system DPC latency
  1. Install UNi Xonar drivers with Low DPC Latency or C-Media Panel configuration. Optionally, use XonarSwitch to control the sound card settings. Do not use ASUS Audio Center.
  2. Do not enable any sound enhancements in ASUS/C-Media/XonarSwitch panel.
  3. Disable SpeakerCompensation.
  4. Check this article for other tips to reduce DPC Latency.
3. Avoid IRQ sharing between Xonar card and other devices

To do so you could try switching the other devices interrupts from Line-based to MSI, see info here. Do not switch the Xonar card to MSI as it will prevent your system from booting. You can try this in conjunction with moving the card to a PCI/PCIe in which the Xonar card IRQ is shared with less devices.

Please leave feedback in the comment section below if one of these methods worked for you. Mention your sound card, motherboard, video card, and OS.

General recommendations and what else can you do

As a precautionary measure, you should set the volume in Windows and applications close to 100% and control the volume from the amplifier, speakers or headphones. If you are using headphones that do not have a volume control, you should buy a headphone amplifier so that you can control the volume.

Keep in mind that nothing is worth permanently damaging your ears.

When the issue happens you can try the Xonar Driver Restart instead of restarting the PC.

---

My old answer from the UNi Xonar FAQ page:

Occasionally, I get a loud white/static noise or screech. Why is that and is there something that can be done to prevent this?

There are at least two instances:

  1. It may be a issue or incompatibility between the motherboard and the Xonar audio card. Ironically, ASUS motherboards seem to be most prone to this issue. Unfortunately there isn't much it can be done. You should look into updating the motherboard BIOS to the latest version. If that does not solve the problem a possible solution would be to change the motherboard if you think the card you own is worth it.
  2. A Windows 10 only issue. Discussions for this case are talking place on this page. No solution has been found so far except reverting back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

General recommendations: If you run into this issues and have not found a solution you should either buy a different audio card that's not powered by C-Media audio chips (so no ASUS or HTOmega), buy an external DAC or at least take some precautionary measures like controlling the volume with a amplifier while having Windows volume always set to 100%. Keep in mind that nothing is worth permanently damaging your ears.

Applies to:

  • ASUS Xonar DG, Xonar DGX, Xonar DG SI, Xonar DS, Xonar DSX, Xonar D1, Xonar D2, Xonar DX, Xonar D2X, Xonar HDAV, Xonar HDAV Slim, Xonar Essence ST, Xonar Essence STX, Xonar Essence STX II, Xonar Xense.
  • Other C-media CMI8786 and CMI8788  audio chipset cards:
    • Auzentech: HDA X-Purity 7.1, X-Meridian 1G, X-Meridian 2G.
    • HTOmega: Claro, Claro Plus, Claro II, Claro Halo, eClaro.
    • Razer Barracuda AC-1.
    • TempoTec HIFIER Serenade
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34 Comments

  1. MT09 May 2020 @ 17:42

    Some update on this high pitched sound (My experience):

    I've not seen this in a year, and first encounter a week after my new system (new mainboard) has been installed. Notable changes:
    - I used to use my STX only for my K701 headphone, and normally used onboard for both speakers, gaming headset and mic. Now I use STX II completely as the onboard soundcard increases dpc as much as the STX II so might as well skip using onboard. (30-40~us dpc latency on playback)
    - I tend to hibernate PC nowadays (Suspend to disk), not sure if this screws up something in the driver state after resume. (The pitch happened roughly 10 hours after coming out of hibernation) by playing a video in VLC. Nothing changed before that on a low level.
    - My new board has a ton of low-level tweak options (also for PCIE) like LTR, OBFF, power down lanes, power gating, its too much to name. But maybe I can tweak some of this on the specific port and maybe it will help. I already disabled all possible power saving on all pcie root ports but maybe for STX II its a bad thing?
    - My Nvidia gpu is the only device running in emulated line-based interrupt mode, not sure if forcing pure MSI mode would help with the STX II (conflicts?)
    - I can adjust logical interrupt redirection in my bios (This affects on what cores the ISR is processed, hash vector, round robin, fixed (All on core0)
    - When it happened, I had high disk load on my Intel RST RAID controller (for a few hours) but its running in MSI-X mode so it spreads interrupts around all available cores).

    We need to find a way to reproduce this high pitch state in order to find out where its coming from.

    Oh something else, also PCIe options i.e. to enable peer write (Allow pcie devices to talk to each other directly). Maybe I should isolate the card on the slot, or isolate them all and disallow those functions.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside13 May 2020 @ 04:52

      I manually moved (copy-pasted) your comment. I wanted you to do that because I didn't knew if you subscribed to receive notifications of replies by e-mail but it seems you didn't see my reply to you on the UNi Xonar page.

      It's really great that you've provided all these details.

      1. Tell me your new motherboard, OS and video card model.
      2. Tell me your old motherboard and if you had a different OS and video card then.
      3. Did you ever had this problem with your old motherboard? You had the STX or STX II then? How many times you would say it happened?
      4. Does the STX II card does not share the IRQ with other devices than maybe "PCI standard PCI-to-PCI bridge" or similar (which is the PCIe bridge on the card).

      A solution to trigger this would be very helpful in finding the solution. At the moment, I don't have any specific idea.
      Let us know if you find anythings or one of the possible solutions that I've posted above works.

      Reply

      • MT14 May 2020 @ 23:56

        1. New board is a MSI MEG Z390 ACE, Windows 1809 LTSC (Heavily dumbed down, remove any potential interference for gaming and multimedia), Nvidia 2080 Super.

        2. Asus 270G Gaming, 1607 LTSB, Nvidia 1070 GTX.

        3.I've has the STX II on both configurations. The screech happened (from what I can remember) once on each configuration, in the whole lifetime that I've had these setups. The new board/setup only a few weeks now and happened not soon thereafter. However it must be noted that I was still in the process of optimizing bios and my overclock was not entirely stable then.

        4. The card has never shared any interrupts to my knowledge, and it doesnt seem as if pci bridges get assigned an interrupt. All my other devices have always ran in MSI or MSI-X mode.

        With the exception to my Nvidia cards which by default run in line based interrupt emulation mode (Still in MSI as afaik PCI-E no longer has physical lines for it). But also they never shared same interrupt with the STX II.

        Another side note, the board came with a integrated Killer network which also runs in emulated line based interrupt by default as it can allegedly bug out in MSI-X mode. I do not trust the device in its entirety and opted for a proven Intel I210 pci-e card which is at least proven stable. But when the screech happened I still ran the onboard killer and not sure if in MSI or INT mode.

        Another few notes; The STX II card runs on PCH lanes due to physical restrictions, but when I tried it in a cpu connected pcie slot my DPC latency went up double time.

        Reply

        • MT15 May 2020 @ 00:06

          So far the most significant changes I've made:

          - Defaulted to 16/44Khz from 24/44Khz
          - Disabled Pci-e peer write.
          - Specifically dropped to Gen1 speed on the port for STX II
          - Remove all non essential devices by disabling pcie root ports in bios.
          - Stabilized my overclock

          Maybe a few other bios settings but no clue if they will actually be effective.

          Reply

        • CarvedInside17 May 2020 @ 01:05

          Interesting thing about the CPU connected PCIe slot and DPC being double. I find it strange but I haven't tested this myself with my Xonar DX card or other PCIe cards. Maybe someday I'll test this on my system. My motherboard is a MSI Z390-A Pro, which has only a PCIe x16 slot connected to the CPU, but I could switch the GPU in the chipset PCIe slot. Ideally this behavior should be tested with other PCIe cards as well, currently I don't have any.
          Since you have that Intel network card, maybe you can try and see how DPC goes with the card in the CPU connected slot.

          BTW I am amazed at how many BIOS options your motherboard has compared to mine, like those low-level tweak options that you've mentioned and chipset PCIe slots gen switching. My motherboard only have the option to switch PCIe for the CPU PCIe x16 slot and for DMI(chipset) connection.

          Reply

          • MT17 May 2020 @ 15:31

            I actually cant remember if all these advanced settings came with default bios as well, or with a modded bios by someone who exposed the HPET timer option.

            I think these are all on my board by default tho (some are kind of hidden or have a shortcut to get to them)

            Its like all the options you can ever dream of to min-maximg a system 🙂

            Reply

            • CarvedInside19 May 2020 @ 02:22

              A modded BIOS would explain these advanced options. Can you provide a link to where you've found the modded BIOS?

              Reply

              • MT19 May 2020 @ 16:03

                https://www.win-raid.com/t5705f54-MSI-Z-MEG-ACE-BIOS-REQUEST.html

                Not sure if one for your board exists, or how hard it would be to mod yourself assuming you have the right tools. The most important feature seems to be that exposes a whole new 'Chipset' menu.

                Can even change APIC interrupt redirection and stuff!

                You would really ask yourself buying a 300+ euro enthusiast mainboard why these options are not exposed to the end user on default firmware.

                Reply

          • MT17 May 2020 @ 15:38

            You sure you only have 1 16x slot? I thought pretty much every board has a few CPU and a few PCH lanes and it automatically scales down to 8x once another card is slotted so they share bandwidth.

            Reply

            • CarvedInside19 May 2020 @ 02:20

              I'm sure. All the low end z390 boards have only 1 PCIe slot wired to CPU. You can find out how the slots are wired by looking at detailed specification or sometimes in the motherboards manual on the block diagram. MSI obfuscates this very well in the detailed specs, for my motherboard they list "2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots(support x16/x4 mode)". If it where to have 2 slots wired to the CPU they would have listed "2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots(support x16/x0, x8/x8 modes)".

              Reply

              • MT19 May 2020 @ 16:06

                Ah gotcha.

                Yeah my manual actually shows all possibilities and combos and which physical slots are connected to what lanes.

                Too bad your board can't share multiple slots 🙁

                But looks like keeping the cards on PCH is the best idea anyhow, a latency hogging card connected directly to CPU doesn't look like a very good idea.

                Reply

  2. MT10 May 2020 @ 23:07

    Is it confirmed that it only happens on start of a new audio stream in Windows? So far I've only seen it happen right as I started a video in VLC.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside13 May 2020 @ 04:35

      The majority of cases at least. There is this page with a lot of reports. At some point I've read them all, but I don't remember all reports.

      Reply

      • MT14 May 2020 @ 23:59

        Ah i see.

        Something else I noticed with latencymon is that the card is 'silent' on activation, once a program that claims or activates a stream (probably voice activated mic) dpc's start to happen. Strange thing is even after closing the particular program, dpc's keep going until i disable and re-enable then card in device manager.

        Reply

        • CarvedInside16 May 2020 @ 23:54

          That behavior is it only for voice recording/transmission programs or it happens with audio players as well? Which driver version you have installed?

          Reply

          • MT17 May 2020 @ 15:26

            I always used the latest signed driver for STX II.

            http://uni.maxedtech.com/download/uni-xonar-stxii-11-5-v1-80b-r3/

            I would have to check if the same thing occcurs with only playback software.
            LE: Confirmed also with simple program like Winamp, once stream started, stopped, close the software, dpc's just keep going until I restart the driver.

            I doubt it is a problem, but it is strange for sure. Seems like overhead that shouldn't be there? Looks like the card/driver remains in a different state .. could this become a problem in the long run perhaps?

            I could try if the same thing happens with the built-in audio chip next.

            Reply

  3. Feyire13 May 2020 @ 10:34

    This issue drives me crazy to this day. I've come to the point numerous times where I just wanted to trash my STX in the bin or just fall back to the motherboard's audio, simply because I don't want to have my ears almost blown out every damn time it happens.

    The most common occurrence for me seems to be when playing videos on YouTube in a browser, often when I skip forward or backward.

    Respect for still going after STX issues after all these years!

    Reply

    • CarvedInside14 May 2020 @ 01:53

      Thanks for sharing. If you can tell me your motherboard, video card and OS.
      Let us know if the possible solutions work for you.

      Reply

      • Feyire14 May 2020 @ 21:02

        Gigabyte X570 AORUS ELITE
        AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
        Windows 10 Pro x64
        Xonar STX with Xonar Driver Version: 10.0.8.1825

        Since the last time the issue occurred, I've made the following changes:
        - Disabled SpeakerCompensation
        - Close AsusAudioCenter on Windows startup and make use of XonarSwitch instead

        So far no issue yet, however not enough time has passed in order to tell if these changes have had any influence or not.

        Reply

    • AM01 Jun 2020 @ 15:56

      The problem arose in my browser chrome, not only when watching YouTube, but when playing any sound in the browser. Player Foobar often caused white noises.

      Reply

  4. MT17 May 2020 @ 16:29

    Just a general note, it could be possible that this random NOISE screech is simply not solvable, but potentially only possible to fully minimize its occurance by optimizing a system as much as possible, and i mean everything (from bios to windows). Minimizing race conditions, interference, points of failure.

    This is a method I've been applying to my systems for years now, because there are plenty of other problems in computer land that are caused by bad configurations/junk running. Maybe this is also why I've only encountered this issue twice in the last 2/3 years and I use my PC quite heavily (daily).

    What I could do is run a default Windows unneutered, default bios settings and see how fast i can make it happen, and from there start to apply every single tweak and option, but this seems to be days of work at minimum.

    Reply

  5. riki20 May 2020 @ 00:05

    I have noticed that this happens when using wasapi. i use firefox and the audio output in firefox is wasapi, so watching youtube sometimes causes this extremely loud white noise to come up. I was using wasapi in Potplayer and i was often getting the same issue. Switched to waveout and it hasn't happened since. For audio Foobar with asio and no issues there.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside21 May 2020 @ 04:20

      I am using WASAPI as playback in AIMP and in SMplayer for a couple of years now, never had this problem with any of them.
      Maybe WASAPI playback is a factor but I don't think it's what is causing this.

      Please mention your sound card, motherboard, video card, and OS.

      Reply

      • riki22 May 2020 @ 18:54

        Using windows 10. For me now this only happens with firefox. After changing the output to my video player haven't had any problem. Before it was happening quite often when playing videos. Only solution disabling windows audio service, restarting the sound card from device manager and re-enabling windows audio.
        Could be that some xonar cards come defective from the factory, because this white noise is usually followed by the right channel cutting off. Lots of people complaining on the internet, no solution and Asus doesn't care.

        Reply

        • CarvedInside23 May 2020 @ 13:23

          Please mention your sound card, motherboard, video card, and OS.
          Let me know if you try the possible solutions above and if it worked in your case.

          Reply

          • riki23 May 2020 @ 22:49

            I have tried those methods long time ago. The card is Xonar D1 and i think it does this since the beginning. Not sure if it was happening on Windows 7, It could be that it started with Windows 8. Maybe some conflict with windows audio system and the driver.
            I will try using Chrome for youtube, it doesn't use wasapi by default.

            Reply

        • MT01 Jun 2020 @ 01:42

          WASAPI Push or Event? Shared or Exclusive? Windows sound settings (Exclusive on? High priority on?)

          Reply

          • MT01 Jun 2020 @ 01:46

            Interesting though, last time it happened I could remember running VLC player which seems to use WASAPI by default. But could just be coincidence as well. Maybe it only happens in exclusive mode and the fix would be easy (disble exclusive in windows sound options) 🙂

            However is Firefox is also using Wasapi... I shouldve seen loads of screeches lol.

            Reply

  6. luk04 Jul 2020 @ 11:59

    I have this problem also, couple times per day + quiet right channel couple times per day....
    Important thing is that it is not a hardware defect but a driver problem. I'm sure about it cuz on Linux everything works like a charm. Problem occurs only on Windows. I've installed it many times with different xonar drivers, doesn't matter, it ends up with white noise or almost non existing right channel.
    BTW. I have Xonar DX.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside05 Jul 2020 @ 23:15

      Does the white noise issue and quiet right channel issue happen at same time? Which motherboard do you have? Which Windows?

      Let us know if any of the possible solutions presented in the article above work for you.

      Reply

  7. MT04 Aug 2020 @ 23:38

    So update after a long time using my new system:

    Hasn't happened for 3 months straight until now. I was watching a Twitter video in Firefox (Something I never ever do until now) and the screech happened. I quickly switched profiles with XonarSwitch and it disappeared ofcourse.

    Strange... I've used Youtube in Firefox (and other random vids) on the web for all this time. Does twitter use a different api maybe?

    Ps. It was a cold boot (Probably an hour uptime at best).

    If it is (Exclusive) wasapi, perhaps unticking the 'Take exclusive device stuff and priority' could solve it?

    Reply

    • MT04 Aug 2020 @ 23:48

      Some website mentions that you should not use 24-bit sampling rate (in shared mode) and the driver sets it to 24/48 by default.

      Also: I usually put my Nvidia card interrupt affinity to a different core than 0, it is known that Nvidia drivers cause latency spikes on certain events (Up to 1ms+~ dpc latency) like transition to full screen games, or opening up a video, even opening any metro based apps like SearchUI or start menu can trigger this.

      If there is any device I can change to significantly lower the system DPC latency and even the driver execution times is by setting the GPU to a different core.

      LE: Obviously it was still on default (which usually defer it to core 0)

      Reply

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