PC DAW Hardware Tips

Grounding/Noise Issues (on the analog outputs)

I have tried all sorts of rational and near rational things to eliminate hum,buzz,whine
and clicking sounds on the analog outputs from the several DAW's I have built.
These tips all work but
may or may not work in your particular case!
All are safe for the PC if properly
executed. Please email me with any new tricks!

1. Ferrite Chokes - Adding clip-on ferrite chokes to the the PWR cable going to
the motherboard from the PWR supply and to the PWR cables going to each peripheral
(like the CDROM drive, AX44 unit, Harddrive etc) This supposedly breaks off any
RF feedback /interference that can heterodyne down to make audible noises.

2. Ground Strap - locate a pass-thru hole on the motherboard (the holes the standoff
screws go thru to hold the board in the case) with a ground island around it that has
enough area to solder a piece of stranded #20 or so wire to it. Just a little tack solder
connection is fine. make the wire about 8 inches long - long enough to let the other
end reach the card edge row where all the PCI cards are screwed down. Add a lug to
that end and screw the lug down under the screw on top of one of your card edges
(video card etc) This will insure a good solid ground for the whole PC. You should use
a meter to confirm "ground" from this island with the "ground" pins at the PWR supply
connector of the motherboard. The black wires in front of the "lockdown bump"
are GND (pins 15,16,17) Best to remove all cards (if not the whole motherboard)
to accomplish this.

3. Ground buss - Add a piece of buss wire(approx 8 inches) with loops placed so
they line up with each screw of each card in your PC screw it down under each
screw on top of each card edge. This is especially effective when added to the Ground
Strap! This will insure that all the cards are properly grounded. Ideally this is not
necessary yet in many PCs, the cards have plating or paint on that outfacing edge
(like the Yamaha DSP cards which have a heavy black paintjob) so they do not
ground out properly to the chassis when you screw them down. You can just sand
the area where the screw contacts the card and put a toothy lockwasher on the hold
down screw and this will help insure a solid ground connection. The buss wire is
nice since it grounds the cards together and only one need be making good contact
for ALL to get grounded!

4. Faraday Shield - these are easy to make and you only need one or two at the
most. Oaktag (manilla folder) material works great for this. Just cut a couple of
3 1/2 inch  by 6 inch pieces (any size that fits for you) . Cover them with
aluminum foil, and cover THAT with clear or brown plastic packing tape.
(MUST be totally covered so as to insulate and not allow shorting stuff out!!!)
BEFORE you cover the foils with the tape, add a ground wire of #20 or #24 or so
with foil contacting end stripped and flared out so the tape will hold it to the foil
and give you a good ground. The other end gets a lug so it can be grounded to
a card screw. Place these on either side of your audio card or between your
video card (major noise maker!) and the rest of the cards. they just sit between
the cards with no fastening needed. Don't worry they will not move around!

Cooling /Venting

I am a major fan of liquid cooling! I thought it was kind of extreme, but the
reduction in acoustic noise from the machine is massive. I use the Iceberg 1
cooler from Ahanix   This baby was easy to install and is super quiet as well
as cooling the CPU very effectively. There are several companies making
super quiet fans for cases but none of these is TRULY quiet for a CPU
as the airflow requirements are just too great. Look for the VERAX fans
on line if you want the latest in a quiet CPU fan or case fan.

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