Faint crackling Harman Kardon Soundsticks III

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by MattTheMedic, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. MattTheMedic, Feb 11, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015

    MattTheMedic macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    #1
    I recently bought the Harman Kardon Soundsticks III, i connected them to my early 2013 rMBP. When music is playing the sound is great but when there's no sound i can hear a faint crackling. Its not very hard but it's very annoying when i'm doing things on my laptop that doesn't involve sound. (The crackling continues when playing sound but is so faint you can't hear it anymore.)

    Is it normal for speakers to have this faint crackling when on? Ive read several articles on the internet that say i might have some sort of interference or that the speakers might be faulty. When i turn up the volume the crackling doesn't get louder. Connecting the speakers to my older (2010 unibody) macbook doesn't solve anything either.

    Does anybody have any idea what might be cause, or is it normal to have a faint gain/crackling?
     
  2. SaSaSushi, Feb 11, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015

    SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #2
    I don't know what the cause of your noise is but even with my HKIII at max volume while not playing audio and pressing my ears to the speakers I cannot hear any noise at all. The 5.1 home theater system I was using prior to the HKIII connected via s/pdif was quite noisy in comparison.

    I'd try connecting them to another computer/audio source and if that doesn't change anything have them exchanged.
     
  3. You're Kidding? macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2015
    #3
    I get similar problem with brand new Soundsticks III... very disappointing. I have what is a low, mid-frequency rumble type hiss through both satellite speakers. I have found that the volume of this is directly proportional to the volume level set on the satellite speakers themselves and is ALWAYS present so can hear it through low volume music playback. The problem is that in order to reduce this sound (which, given the pin-sharp stereo imaging the speakers produce, places the sound right in the middle of my iMac's screen) - I have to back off the satellite speaker volume level to less than 50% of its range. Subsequent volume adjustment using the volume controls on the Mac keyboard will not introduce the hiss again but unfortunately if I choose this method I cannot achieve anywhere near the higher volume levels the HK is capable of (the satellite speaker buttons act like "pre-amp" volume control if you like.)
    This is nothing to do with the headphone connection to the Mac - simple test - when I disconnect the lead or even have the Mac switched OFF - I still get the problem with the Soundsticks powerd-up.
    I have discovered this hiss will start to diminish and actually disappear after around an HOUR of use - something clearly needs a long time to warm up before it functions properly - any electronic engineers out there read any big clues here?
    Not being able to enjoy low volume level quality music playback on the occasions I am working late on my Mac whilst my partner is trying to sleep is a real dealbreaker.
    I am suspecting either cheap and nasty components used in the PSU - possibly shoddy filtering. This is a great shame because it is very annoying and reflects poor attention to detail on the part of HK - opposite to the ethos I thought I was buying into when I made the purchase.
    Another small but concerning issue HK have overlooked (and again suggests the concept/design people live on different planet to the manufacturer) is the slight problem that the Bluetooth pairing is completely insecure and essentially means you could wake up in the middle of the night with your soundsticks blaring because one of your neighbours has discovered your device with their smartphone or tablet and just logged in - no password required!

    Regarding the main issue here (or should I say mains issue...) I rang HK once on this and allowed myself to be fobbed off when they claimed this was "normal". At the time it was first couple of hours usage for me and I had mistakenly thought the hissing actually stopped when music playback began - this is not the case as I have found out.
    Going to have to get a bit stroppy with HK now... Will let you know outcome. Whatever the outcome will be it will not be a DIY fix or software update.
     
  4. MattTheMedic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 29, 2014
    #4
    I did a few tests and concluded that the soundsticks caused the problem (not the mac's soundcard, interference or a ground loop).
    I got an replacement. Still the same noise. This leads me to believe the problem is with all soundsticks. Such a shame because they provide nice sound. I asked HK if this was a problem or normal but they said i should get the soundsticks repaired. I refused because I already got a brand new replacement that had the exact same problem.

    I'm must say i'm getting used to the buzz now but it's definitely not nice.
     
  5. You're Kidding? macrumors newbie

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    Mar 8, 2015
    #5
    Lengthy call to HK today - in conclusion the poor chap I spoke to seemed willing enough to help but unfortunately all could suggest was setting the Mac volume levels very high and the Soundsticks very low... then control volume from the Soundsticks. A flawed idea on several angles - mainly because he clearly ignored the fact that the problem was in no way related to the volume control/processing on the Mac itself. He suggested they could be replaced (via Apple in my case as they could be defined as DOA as only took delivery couple of days ago) however, like you, I would bet a large sum of money the replacement set would be exactly the same and I don't want to add more to some remote landfill site. Like you, despite its foibles, my love for the rest of the Soundsticks experience is beginning to outweigh my gripes about the slight hiss at low volumes.
    ...I have been concluding in recent years that actual perfection does not exist on this Earth and we waste huge chunk of our lives chasing after it like chasing a rainbow. Think I'll rough it - it is an easier ride.
     
  6. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #6
    How strange, because I can detect no such buzz, hiss or otherwise with mine and I'm a professional musician so I consider my ears particularly sensitive to such. :eek: In fact, the clean, noise-free quality of the SoundSticks in comparison to systems I've used in the past is the one feature that has most impressed me.
     
  7. Centaurr macrumors 6502a

    Centaurr

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    Feb 9, 2015
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    i never had that issue? take them back to the store
     
  8. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

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    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #8
    Testing the speakers should involve connecting them to a different source, trying different outlets in the home, and trying them in someone else's home (not the same building).
     
  9. You're Kidding?, Mar 10, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015

    You're Kidding? macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2015
    #9
    ...Having been philosophical about it earlier - I paid a lot of money for an SSD iMac in order to have a super quiet desktop computer - which it is. Plonking these Soundsticks in front of it has kind of defeated the purpose. (And before the sarcasm kicks in - I am of course referring to the times when I am NOT playing music)

    ----------

    I would describe the sound as a low level "gurgle" rather than a hiss - it sits right in the mid-range frequency area rather than at the top end. Are you positive you cannot hear this? (It stops of course when the speakers go back into stand-by mode if no sounds are played for few minutes).
    Should I be expecting audiophile quality? I suppose not but I expected better. By comparison my "proper" hifi comprises of an Arcam system running through a pair of not insignificant Monitor Audio floorstanding speakers and they are as good as silent when the system is powered-up. Maybe I was spoiled?
     
  10. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

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    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #10
    If the sound isn't constant then the power source wouldn't be the sole cause (although it could be a contributing factor). My first thought is that the device is amplifying what's coming into it which leads me to the next question: Do you hear this noise with a set of headphones in the iMac jack?
     
  11. You're Kidding? macrumors newbie

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    Mar 8, 2015
    #11
    The sound is constant (contrary to my original thought that it died down after an hour of use)... it can be heard when the audio jack is not even attached to the Mac, in fact the Mac does not even need to be switched on. Clearly the interference (if I can call it that) is generated by the HK hardware itself.
    I am actually beginning to wonder whether the touch-sensitive volume controls on the Soundsticks themselves may be generating this problem. Perhaps the circuitry facilitating the volume buttons was never properly filtered.
     
  12. MattTheMedic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    #12
    There indeed is a faint crackling when touching the sound buttons.

    ----------

    That's nice to hear.

    ----------

    I did all of these except in another building. So theoretically this could be some sort of interference.
     
  13. Maylow macrumors newbie

    Maylow

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    #13
    Hollo. Strange thing is, that when i touch both volume buttons at the same tome, that terrible noice dissappears. I will give it back.
     
  14. wayne smith macrumors newbie

    wayne smith

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    Jul 11, 2016
    #14
    I know it's been a while since you started this thread, but I'm curious if you figured it out? I'd say word for word, I have the same problem. I also checked with Harman and they tell me I'm hearing just static noise when it is powered. I have these connected to my imac retina and only in the past 30 days have I noticed this constant hum of air, with an occasional static crackling when silent. When I'm playing music, they still sound good. But when it is silent, it crackles and makes static even when disconnected from a sound source.
     
  15. MattTheMedic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    #15
    I replaced the HKSIII with new ones. They crackled as well (just like you said, even when disconnected). Apparently (at least in my experience) the music source doesn't matter, nor was the individual set of speakers faulty (after all, the replacement ones have the same problem and many other HKS owners don't notice crackling/hum). That leads me to believe that, in my case, there is probably some sort of interference or ground loop causing the crackling.

    So, unfortunately, I couldn't solve the problem. At least, when you leave the speakers on, they will automatically turn off after a while when there is no audio signal.
     
  16. wayne smith macrumors newbie

    wayne smith

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2016
    #16
    Thanks much for the response. I actually own two sets of these speakers for different computers and did some testing and both are demonstrating the same behavior. I have not tested them in another building but plan to do so.

    Is it possible to have a ground loop issue when these speakers are only two prong speakers? I am a novice but I thought there would need to be three prongs to introduce a ground loop issue.

    I ordered a new surge protector arriving today to see if that will eliminate some of my line noise. I have made no changes or Introduced new equipment so I am puzzled why this started. Appreciate your taking the time to respond. Thanks.
     
  17. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #17
    Ground loop can happen with two prongs.

    I have a Bose Soundlink Mini and get a big hum when it and my old MacBook Pro are both connected to power (and using a 1/8" aux cable) and there's no sound playing. Take the Bose off the charger stand...and no hum.
     
  18. BenBrook90 macrumors newbie

    BenBrook90

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2017
    #18
    --- Post Merged, Oct 10, 2017 ---
    Sorry if this is too little too late, but I had the same problem with my HK3 sound sticks. Luckily I have 2 pairs for different rooms. I tried switching the speakers and configurations around to try and determine what was at fault, and it turns out it's the power supply. I used the new plug and my old speakers and the problem started there too. When i used the old power supply, the problem went away. so if anyone calls HK again, tell them it's the power supply being faulty and you want a new one!
     
  19. MrBungleBear macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    I had the problem you had, but... with the first version of the HK Soundsticks. They were perfect for years and years and, suddenly, a horrible low Hz hum. They hummed from a different outlet, even disconnected from the mac. To the landfill they went, and I ordered the v.III ones. After returning a set (Amazon screwed up and send me a returned set rather than a new set), my new speakers have arrived and they are perfect... except:
    - Having them go via headphones means the are not identified - this is NOT an impvrovement
    (I now have a USB to jack adapter - they're still not identified, but at least they turn up as USB Audio device and I can still use headphones!)
    - They go to sleep!! And they make a sharp "crack" sound when they wake up.
    - You miss the first few seconds of anything that plays. This is a pain for songs or YouTube, but worse, it also means that you completely miss some of the audio alerts.

    Has anyone found a way to stop these things from going to sleep??
     

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