Fixing sound interference on the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe

If you’re running an Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard like me, and are using the onboard Realtek ALC850 audio (AC ’97 compatible), you may have experienced high levels of sound interference on the audio outputs. This interference manifests itself as “static” on your speakers, and appears to be correlated with system activity, such as: accessing the HDD, network activity or even moving the mouse. The static can be quite noticeable, and is especially annoying when there’s nothing else coming out from the speakers, or if you’re using headphones. In particular, the interference is unacceptable at high volume levels.

The cause

The cause of this interference is from the PC speaker, or rather, how the pass-through of the PC speaker to the onboard audio, was implemented. The onboard audio is automatically setup to receive PC speaker signals from your motherboard and route them to the outputs. This path was not very well isolated and as a result interference (EMI) from other system components can creep in, resulting in the noisy output from your speakers.

Solution: Mute it

The solution is to mute the PC speaker output on the onboard Realtek audio. This can be accomplished in two ways, depending on your situation and needs.

The first is in software, and requires that you have the Realtek audio drivers installed, not the default nForce audio drivers, despite the fact that they work well with the A8N32-SLI Deluxe, an nForce 4 board. You can grab the Realtek drivers from Asus’ site or a later version from Download.com.

  1. Open volume properties (either by clicking the systray icon or through Control Panel)
  2. Click on Options > Properties and make sure that “PC Speaker” is checked, then click “OK”
  3. Now, mute the PC Speaker input

This should have removed or reduced most of the sound interference – this worked well for me. If not, try muting other inputs, such as AUX or Line In, that you may not be using.

Getting rid of interference while using NVidia’s drivers

The second method, if you choose to stick with NVidia’s nForce audio drivers, is a bit more complicated. For some reason, the nForce audio drivers do not give an option to mute the PC speaker. I am guessing this was because the nForce audio drivers need to work with a variety of nForce motherboards, so they have to stick with something that’ll work with a reference design. Since not all nForce motherboards might use the Realtek audio and may not use the PC speaker input functionality, it could be problematic to code the drivers for this.

Thus, you’ll have to disable the PC speaker in hardware. This is done by opening your case and disconnecting the PC speaker connector from the motherboard. This seems to break the connection to the PC speaker input to the onboard audio, removing most of the interference. This also worked for me. While you’re inside of your case, you may want to clean out some of the dust like I did.

Which method is better?

At the surface, it may seem like the software solution, using Realtek’s drivers just to disable the PC speaker input, is better and easier. While it is easier, I didn’t really like the audio control panel provided by Realtek. While it had plenty of features, I just didn’t like the look & feel, nor did I appreciate the lack of an equalizer.

Realtek control panel

The NVidia control panel, by contrast, looks more polished and offers a fully-featured graphic equalizer, that not only shows the different frequency ranges but also each channel. It also has a convenient “Night Mode” that automatically reduces bass and dynamic range for a quieter listening experience.

NVidia control panel

I was living with this problem for over eight months, and just assumed it was because of the low-cost onboard audio. I was at the point of buying a separate soundcard just to alleviate the problem, before I stumbled across the solution in several forums. It seems like quite a lot of other people have experienced this trouble. Hopefully Asus won’t let this happen in any more of their motherboard designs. However, Asus motherboards have always been rock-solid in terms of stability for me, so I don’t think I’ll switch anytime soon.

41 Comments »

  1. This issue fixed my long-lasting problem. I also noticed that it’s a interference, but did not know between which components it is. I own Asus A7N8X, and this works perfect!
    Thank You very much! Respect!

  2. Had this problem with a new asus a8n32 – sli deluxe that I got to replace a mobo bios failure problem. I too thought that it was multiple things – wrong sensor jacks, active woofer/sound connector issues. Nice one – the fix is common sense – nice to have the reason brought to light.
    Cheers
    Mark

  3. Finally! I have struggled with this problem with my last two Asus SLI boards, Fixed in 30 seconds.
    Thanks

  4. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
    I just upgraded from the a8n-sli deluxe to the a8n32-sli and this sound bug just about had me returning the board for another. I decided to do some googleing first and it paid off!

    Thanks again!

    OC

  5. Just built a system with this motherboard but couldn’t find the solution for the audio problem. Tried the ASUSTeK forums (for a bit) and Googled but no luck. Eventually sussed out the nature of the issue and blogged about it:

    http://www.roundtripsolutions.com/blog/2007/07/22/272/snap-crackle-and-pop/

    It was only when checking the Technorati tag for “A8N32-SLI” that we happened upon your blog post. Cool you’ve confirmed everything we found or should that be the other way around as you were here first :-).

    Anyway, I’ve updated the initial blog story pointing people over here for additional reading. Hopefully, this will also improve its Google positioning and save other users similar heartache.

    Thanks for having your findings available.

    Regards

    John
    Roundtrip Solutions

  6. Yipee !

    what a headache cured.

    big thanks.

  7. WORKED! Sure do appreciate your sharing! I have two of these boards. Second board bought to replace the first. Bought first from Mwave.com. Mwave never sent an RMA. Filed three online RMA forms, to no avail. Mwave’s phone support promised to send an RMA number but never did.

    Interference on second board is less intense but still there. I suspect ASUS was keenly aware of the defect but shipped the boards anyway. I would have gladly paid the same amount for a clean board.

    No board manufacturer produces a clean board nowadays. Think Abit was the last to make clean boards — KG7, KD7.

    Anyway, I muted “Aux” and “PC Speaker” — this eliminated 98% of the whistle and all of the scratch.

    Fairly certain that the board’s onboard sound is picking-up SATA drive activity.

    BTW, ASUS’s Troubleshooting Guide for this particular issue is hogwash. My interference issue actually worsened, after following their fix. I.e., forget the paper washers. Isolated my board, my drives, added shielding to my cables, installed and reinstalled drivers — this was an utter waste of time.

  8. To all those who have left their kind comments – your feedback is appreciated!

    As I mentioned, I was tearing my hair out over this problem – it’s very annoying, especially when you’re using headphones, for example, in a VoIP application. In fact, I’d categorize the problem as borderline unacceptable.

    While the fix here is less than ideal, it works most of the time and makes things functional. And, that’s something I can accept.

  9. Funnily enough, I just came across this whilst looking for vista drivers for the onboard sound.

    Not what I was originally looking for, but your solution has just solved something that has been bugging me since I got my A8N32!

  10. I fixed my problem by just disabling the audio speaker then enabling it again.

  11. Thank you so much, i just upgraded my headphones to some HD ones and the feedback was just killing me, THis took about 5 seconds to fix, awesome

  12. Thank heavens this was so easy. I don’t eve remeber when this started, my Audio worked correctly for so long, then i was trying to watch an episode of “Weeds” and had this horrible buzzing. now its all gone

  13. Thanks! Sometimes the easiest solution is also the correct one 😉

  14. Another Note, Most Asus MOBO’s place their Aux mod chips directly adjacent from the main sound chip. Go into sound properties. This will show you Master Volume,Wave, SW synth,Cd player,Line or something similar. To see everything, click on “Options” and highlight “Advanced controls” put a check next to everything. Now, MUTE “Aux”…problem solved. For more info, email me at xvfossen@verizon.net

  15. Cheers for taking the time to set this page up!

    After weeks of trying to figure out what the hep was going on and reformatting (needed to anyways) i could’nt undestand what the distortion was from… im using 2 Gig of XL Pro Lo-latency and thought the LED’s might be giving off static. Tried multiple Drivers, Everything really and i thought the jacks had taken a knock moving the P.C damaging the connections on the Mobo.

    Then i tried a cheapo soundcard off a mate and the problem dissapeared!? Was on the verge of buying a new soundcard and hated the fact that the board might have a fault.

    Came upon this by chance really, and solved the issue by simply swithching the pc speaker input down, clicking mute and then removing the option/facility to turn it back up!

    Now works perfectly and i can ebjoy movies through the surround without my right eye twitching LoL 🙂

    Thanks again, Alan.

  16. P.s shurley Asus must know this is a common problem!? and should give the above simple advice freely.

    Another problem i had when plugging in 5.1 sound is the color coded connectors didn’t match the mobo for correct sound stage… front, centre, rear and sub.

    You have to follow the dispay on the Asus graphic interface! it contradicys its-self by being different colors from software to jacks.

    Still its better to waste and hour sorting it out, than weeks with the distortion issue.

    Cracking mobo’s… pants software support :/

    al.

  17. Hi Smiley/Alan,

    Thanks! This problem drove me nuts as well…

    I also experienced the same problem as you of the colour-coded audio jacks not matching up. However, I believe this only happens when you are using the Asus drivers.

    When I switched back to the Nvidia drivers, the colours matched up, or at least they did with my speaker system. (Green, black and orange)

    Cheers,

    Peter

  18. Thanks! The software method worked better for me. Unplugging the PC speaker helped. I know longer got fluctuating sounds with system activity but there was still some static/feedback. The Realtek method, has cleared it up greatly. I can faintly hear a little noise in the backgroud but it’s MUCH quieter. I only wish I would have stumbled upon this sooner.

  19. hi,
    i have an new model acer aspire 5270 and cant get rid of the interferance eventough im running an external soundcard through my firewire port…
    any suggestions?
    cheers
    dave

  20. Hi Dave,

    I have experienced that problem before on a laptop, but for some reason it only occurred when it was plugged into certain outlets… it may be a grounding issue, but I’m not sure. The problem was sporadic.

  21. i solved it. i made up a plug with the earth left unconnected…its working perfectly 🙂

  22. Ah, okay. Seems like a `dirty` ground was the issue.

    Be warned though – disconnecting the ground from a device is not recommended for safety! You shouldn’t be in too much danger with a laptop… but just to let you know.

  23. You my man are a genius , this has baffled me on many occasions with various realtek devices 🙂 and all down to that poxy little mono speaker, Thank you very much dude.

  24. Thank you so much! Worked like a charm for me!

    Top drawer.

    -vb

  25. I have the same motherboard and I used the help here and got rid of the static problem, thnx. But I have another issue: My mic is not working at all. Instead somehow the audio output is redirected as input and it gets recorded instead…

    Any ideas?

  26. THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH. After RMAing this board 3 times with Asus and them sending it back to me, I finally managed to find your site. All the grounding of the Mobo and electric tape washers on the screws are completely useless and almost fried my board!

    Asus should redirect people to this site rather then tell them to do manoeuvers that could fry their boards.

    Thank you so much for bringing peace back to my home office 🙂

  27. Thanks again to everyone who offered their comments!

  28. wow! I’ve lived with this for 2 and 1/2 years and just thought I’d do a google search…you sir, are a saint in my book!

  29. hmmm, i just went to the volume control with the nforce drivers installed. went to options and added the pc speaker option, then muted it, worked for me.

  30. options, then properties, my bad

  31. @phil
    This article is roughly 1.5 years old. In that time drivers, BIOSes and other factors may have changed so that there are new ways to correct the problem. I appreciate your advice.

  32. Well if i mute it,i cant hear anything anymore?Its a solution if u dont want to hear anything,otherwise it sucks..

    I got another Problem with it.If i plugg my Headset Medusa 5.1 ProGamer on the Frontside of my PC,i can only hear sounds on the left speaker of the headset..if i plugg it on the backside of the pc my microphone is mutet.Does anyone know why this happens?i googled a lot but i couldnt find anything about this problem.

  33. @Velcrol
    We’re only muting the PC Speaker. Normally, that’s not used for much anymore so I don’t see it as being a huge issue.

  34. Fantastic fix, after having installed traktor it messed my audio settings.

    Muting some of the inputs fixed it

    😀

    Thankyou

  35. hmm i’m googling all day and didn’t find a fix for my problem .. its a crackling sound who I hear on max level of my headphones … I solved this problem “don’t know how” … It just stopped last month, one month later “when i bought this computer, M3A32 MVP Deluxe 1988B sound driver”

    and now, I reinstalled ATI Catalyst and the crackling started again when the windows start up, and persist on the use

  36. Thank you so much! I’ve been looking for a solution to this problem for over a year.

  37. I own a m3n-ht, one of the best MB available down here in Chile, at 10.000 miles of the US, and was pulling my hair to eliminate this annoying wirlrssssslrlslsls.

    You know, I’m an 46 years old electronics engineer with MANY years of experience and when I read it I was thinking, “no way this could solve this, this should be a ground loop or EMI pick up by poor cables or faulty design or the MB”. After the few seconds that took me open my PC case and disconecting the PC speaker I was astonnished “damm, It worked”.

    T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!!!!!!!

    Saludos desde Chile mi Amigo!!!

    Pedro

  38. Disabling the speaker worked. Finally that annoying sound is gone.

    Works for other mainboard of course aswell 😉

    Thank you very much.

  39. […] http://unitstep.net/blog/2007/05/1 […] li-deluxe/ Answer: […]

  40. Thank you, for such a simple solution to a problem i couldn’t imagine to get rid without changing my MOBO !

  41. Hello Peter,

    I think I owe you a great thanks for keeping this web page alive! I also had this annoying sound experience since a very long time ( I think it started when I re-installed everything.)

    Just decided this week-end to look for help, and found your explanation and how-to-fix-it !

    Very appreciate to have people to share their experience.

    Best regards !

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