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 From Computer

1. Welcome to Windows 8/10 (or Apple Mavericks/Yosemite/El Capitan/Sierra) awful "port power management." In their quest to save us from excess USB power consumption, they have caused all sorts of problems. Just Google "windows 10 USB port power management" or "yosemite USB port power management" if you don't believe us.  
2. You may be able to eliminate it by disabling port power management. Maybe:
3. A definitive solution is to buy a $10-20 externally powered USB 2.0 hub and insert it between your computer and your DAC. Or use a Wyrd. This provides power that an underpowered USB port cannot.
4. If you use Windows, and are comfortable with editing the Registry (danger Will Robinson!), then the following advanced fix can eliminate the problem on Windows machines:
1. Open Device Manager.
2. Click "View" in the top bar of the open Device Manager window and select by connection type.
3. Open the tree for your USB Host Controller and find your Schiit Audio Device.
4. Once found, right click to open the Context Menu and select "Properties"
5. Click on the "Events Tab."
6. In the "Information" pane will be text that will read something like: 
"Driver Management has concluded the process to add Service usbaudio for Device Instance ID USBVID_XXXX&PID_XXXX&MI_006&21084A46&0&0000"
7. The above string tells you the Vendor ID (VID), Product ID (PID), and Instance ID of your Schiit Audio Device.
8. Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Enum USB"
9. Open the "USB" tree and find the VID & PID string that matches the one of your Schiit Audio Device, open this tree as well.
10. Find the Instance ID that matches your Schiit Audio Device and open that tree, then click on "Device Parameters."
11. Double Click on the "EnhancedPowerManagementEndabled" to edit the value, set this value to 0 (zero) and click OK.
12. Now close the Registry Editor and reboot your computer.

Clicking When Changing Sample Rates/Pausing/Etc.
1. It’s totally normal for our Bifrost and Gungnir 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.

Distorted Sound or Drop-Outs
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. Macs work best on 10.6 and above, and Windows works best on 7 thru 10.