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I have a new Mackie Onyx 2x2 running into a Win 10 pro Intel i5-2500K CPU @3.30 Ghz w 8 gig ram, running Cubase 10 elements. I have terrible noise via the usb connection to my PC. I have tried various ports, cleaned all of the usb ports but still massive noise. How do I keep the USB cable from picking up all of the noise? The noise doesn't seem to make it onto recorded tracks as much, but monitoring and tracking is a huge pain!

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  • Is it more of hum, from a ground loop maybe?
    – Marcel
    May 2, 2022 at 13:38
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    Troubleshooting is nothing, but guessing without having your system in one's hands. Word "terrible" gives no hint of the origin of the noise. You told it's not in the recorded tracks, but it obviously is too high in monitoring and when playing back. Disconnect all items from PCs own audio connectors and let the headphones be the one and only device connected to your Onyx. (+ the USB cable to the PC). Is there still noise? If inserting one certain device back to the system pulls the noise up, tell what it is, where it's connected to (all connections) and how it gets its power.
    – user35252
    Aug 25, 2022 at 14:01

2 Answers 2

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You don‘t have the unspecified noise in your recording, because the audio data are already in digital format.

If you hear it in your monitor, which is likely to be a pure analog path, as was already stated, you managed to build a closed loop from conductors. Tis inductance picks up any varying electromagnetic field, where CPU-related are the most annoying ones.

The loop comprises one complete round. Starting with your USB cables outer shielding you run through the Audio interface, its internal power supply, the power cables inside your walls, to the power plug of your computer, its internal power supply, to its USB port, back to the USB cable. The larger this encircled area, the more signal is picked up, i.e. the louder the noise. Keep in mind, that both galvanic connections (by wires) and capacitive coupling (including stray capacities) are effective in this frequency range.

Or in short: it sounds much like an EMC or EMI problem.

Countermeasures to break this loop, also in combination:

  • use an USB cable with ferrites (these bulky cylinders close to both ends)
  • reduce the loops area, by bringing all mentioned cables closer together (often fails, as you‘ll have a net of loops: reducing one enlarges the other; just a geometric effect)
  • turn one of the power connectors if your plug design allows it (i.e. interchange conductors this way; sometimes this works)
  • look for a galvanic breakup of your power supply lines (a fancy description for inserting a dedicated power transformer; BUY, don‘t build !)
  • check the impact from your audio cable to the monitor: if it‘s part of the problem (second loop through monitor, too), consider inserting a DI box in the audio cable (which inserts a transformer, again; lift the ground connection at the DI box, to break that loop, too).
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There are many possible reasons for noisy audio. I personally don’t believe it is the cables if the recorded audio is cleaner. In any case it is always good to test with other cables if you have them laying around. I would think it might be something on the software side. More specifically I would begin by increasing the buffer of the audio interface (from its software or DAW). Often the small buffer sizes are too much from the cpu and they produce lags that sound like noises. How much is the cpu usage according to the indicator in cubase?

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