Thursday, March 29, 2012

Solution to the Sound Blaster X-Fi Go! Pro Buzz (Hiss) Problem

This hack solved the buzzing (hissing) noise problem that I was having with the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Go! Pro USB Audio Card. The problem, noticeable as a bug-like high-frequency harmonic distortion associated with bass frequencies from 50 to 150 Hz during otherwise silent musical segments, is caused by impedance mismatch between headphones and the device output circuit. My Sennheiser HD 518 was particularly affected.

The solution was to introduce a 100 ohm resistor connected in series with the left output line and another matched resistor in series with the right output line. I used a 3.5 to 6.35mm headphone adaptor internal space to hide the resistors and forge a damping device (see the picture below).

The increased output circuitry impedance lowers power delivered to the headphones but solves the output impedance mismatch. No more buzzing or hissing. Sound levels remain high enough for my needs. After the fix, the sound card deserves five stars for sound quality, specially considered the convenience of its size and the quality and flexibility of the surround processor. I can only wonder how their engineers let this gremlin pass through QC.


wings-on-water said...

I just bought this soundcard (X-Fi Go! Pro) and tried it out today, and I'm having this exact problem! I haven't been able to find any other viable solutions listed online. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no expertise with DIY electronic things, so I don't think I'll be able to make my own resistor.

Do you think the only thing left to do would be to return it? The hiss/buzz is completely intolerable - it sounds like a piece of tissue paper vibrating on the string of a guitar!

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Yes, that's the annoying sound I was talking about. A solution is to return your Go! Pro and buy instead the wireless USB transmitter and receiver. The transmitter works with headphones like the Go! Pro, doesn't have the noise problem, and you get a wireless receiver, all for less money than the Go Pro!:

Brian Drew said...

for about $1 USD a suitable solution is on ebay. Do a search for "3.5 mm volume control". A volume control is nothing but an adjustable resistor and will achieve the same effect.