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The background:

I just purchased and installed my first studio monitors and connected them to my audio interface. I had to buy separate RCA(f)–1/4”(m) adapters, since the cable included with my monitors is RCA-to-3.5 mm and my interface has 1/4” outputs.

The problem:

Every now and again (anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour apart), my studio monitors will emit a loud pop, regardless of what audio is playing or what application is running. The sound is jarring enough to distract and irritate, so I want it gone. The audio itself is fine otherwise – good quality and clarity, no persistent clicking, etc. I’ve already tried some obvious things, such as ensuring the cables are properly plugged in, jiggling them to see whether one might have a faulty connection, playing with the various volume dials and internal settings, etc. That said, I’m new and untrained in audio equipment, so I don’t really know what I’m doing.

Before I bought the aforementioned RCA–1/4” adapters, I had plugged the monitors the other way around, with the two RCA cable ends into the monitors and the 3.5 mm end into the audio interface’s “Phones” output via a 1/4” adapter. The audio quality seemed decent, and I never noticed any popping for the roughly 24 hours it remained connected that way. (Secondary question: If I cannot fix the pops, is there anything wrong with this particular setup, or would it be acceptable for recording/mixing?)

This is a new problem that never occurred prior to the current setup. Nothing has changed in the computer settings or in how the audio interface is connected to the PC.

The gear:

» Computer: Asus G750JZ-DB73-CA (Windows 8.1 Pro x64), all drives (incl. audio drivers) up-to-date
» Audio interface: PreSonus AudioBox USB (with 1/4” (6.5 mm) main outputs)
» Studio monitors: IK Multimedia iLoud Micro (with RCA cables)
» Audio interface software: PreSonus Universal Control (v2.2.0.44119)
Settings:
— Sample Rate: 48.0 kHz
— Clock Source: Internal
— Block Size: Auto
— Safe Mode: Standard
— Input Format: 2 ch, 24 bit
— Output Format: 2 ch, 24 bit

  • Check whether the fridge motor is suspiciously synchronous to the pops... you have internally-amped monitors on unbalanced cables, lots of room to pick up stray EMF. Shorter cables may help, if so. – Tetsujin Sep 13 '17 at 9:27
  • Great idea Tetsujin, also a/c motors or even light switches. – frcake Sep 13 '17 at 9:39
  • My total ignorance is making itself felt right now. I’m guessing you (Tetsujin and frcake) are saying some electrical interference from an appliance in my environment might be causing the pops? My fridge is clear across the house, so I have no way of testing whether it matches the pops. I do have an A/C in the room, and as I type this the speakers just popped again whilst the A/C didn’t change modes or anything. The monitors’ cables are already as short as they can be whilst still reaching the audio interface. I just flicked my light switches and they don’t seem to affect the speakers. – Walter Sep 13 '17 at 9:55
  • That said, if the cables are picking up interference, it would explain why there’s a quiet buzzing from my speakers that I can’t get rid of no matter what I try with the settings or volume knobs … – Walter Sep 13 '17 at 9:56
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The comments to my question helped me troubleshoot until I found the culprit. I forget to mention in the OP that I also used a 6-foot 3.5 mm extension cable, since the monitors’ RCA cable didn’t reach on its own. I just did some testing, and trying the RCA cable without the extension eliminated the background hum, and presumably the pops as well.

I’m now browsing Amazon for a shorter and higher-quality 3.5 mm extension that’ll hopefully eliminate the buzzing and popping. (I do need one, unfortunately, since the monitors’ cable won’t reach my audio interface otherwise.)

So basically, it’s my bad because I have no idea what I’m doing. Sorry.

  • There's no substitute for good cabling, especially when you're running unbalanced to powered monitors. The monitors are always on full power, meaning the slightest click will come out loud. – Tetsujin Sep 14 '17 at 7:54

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