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DAC Problems

Common Digital Troubles

Yeah, we know, computer audio should be as simple as "plug and play." But in a world where even simple things like keyboards are sometimes balky, it ain't always so easy. Don't panic—we have some answers for the most common digital problems right here.


DAC Not Recognized/Disconnecting

1. You may have a low-power USB port. In their quest to save us from excess USB power consumption, Windows and MacOS can cause problems. Just Google "windows 10 USB port power management" or "yosemite USB port power management" if you don't believe us. In addition, many Android and all iOS devices are limited in USB power output. 
 
2. On PCs and Macs, you may be able to eliminate it by disabling port power management. See here:
 http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-fix-annoying-windows-usb-problem.htm
http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1885037/windows-usb-devices-disconnect-reconnect-power-saving.html
 
3. For all devices, a definitive solution is to buy a $10-20 externally powered USB 2.0 hub and insert it between your computer and your DAC. This provides power that an underpowered USB port cannot.
 

Clicking When Changing Sample Rates/Pausing/Etc.
 
1. It’s totally normal for our Bifrost, Gungnir, and Yggdrasil DACs to click (mechanically, from the chassis) during normal operation. That’s the muting relay, doing its job. It clicks whenever the SPDIF datastream is interrupted. 
 
2. If it’s clicking excessively on a Mac or PC, you can reduce it by routing system sounds to the speaker on a Mac, rather than to the Schiit USB Audio Device output. On a PC, you can set system sounds to "no sounds." In both cases, using USB largely eliminates it.
 
3. If it’s clicking excessively on a CD transport when in pause, the CD transport has a cycling interruption in the datastream. There’s no real fix for this, except getting another CD transport. It won’t hurt the Bifrost or Gungnir, though—the relays are rated for several million cycles.
 

No Output from the DAC
 
1. If you're using a computer source, make sure you’ve selected SPDIF output in BOTH System Preferences/Control Panel and your non-iTunes player software (Bitperfect, Amarra, Audirvana, Foobar, JRiver, etc…) Sometimes you’ll have to restart the player again, too.
 
2. If you're using a disk player, ensure you're plugged into the digital output and that it is functional.
 
3. If you're using an SACD player, remember that it will not output digital content from SACDs. This is not our fault. Blame Sony's lawyers for that one.
 
4. A DAC with multiple inputs, like Gungnir or Bifrost, has to be set to the correct input. Believe it or not, some people miss the button on the front panel.
 
5. If it’s set to the right input and you’re still not hearing music, make sure you don’t have the volume turned all the way down on your player software. 
 
6. Try a different optical or coaxial cable.
 
7. Try a different transport or computer source.
 
8. Still no sound? Are you using an amp and headphones or speakers? The DAC won’t make sound by itself. 
 

No 24/176.4 or 24/192 from Optical
 
1. Most Apple computers lock down the optical output above 24/96. If you’re using a Mac, that’s all you get. Complain to Apple.
 
2. Many PCs also cannot output anything higher than 24/96 on optical. Even if the PC claims higher than 24/96 on optical, the BIOS or drivers may not be able to enable it. Check the manufacturer’s website.
 
3. Many longer optical cables will struggle with 24/192 data rates. Use a short, high-quality optical cable. And cross your fingers. Really, if you want to do 24/192 reliably, use USB or coax inputs.
 

Drop-Outs, Glitches, and Distorted Sound
 
1. Optical cables can be problematic at higher data rates. See above. 
 
2. USB cables can be problematic as well. Try another one that's 2M or less in length, and at least USB 2.0 rated. Also see power management tips above.
 
3. If you’re using your computer for more than listening to music, it may have trouble keeping up with your work and your music—especially if it’s a few years old, or using an older operating system. 
 
4. Some anti-malware and anti-virus software may interact with Windows UAC2 USB audio interface and cause audible problems such as dropouts, pops, and glitches. Consider disabling such software and using the standard Windows Security options in Windows 10 or 8.1, including Firewall and Defender options if needed, since these are engineered specifically to work with all Windows drivers and capabilities