View Full Version : White noise of death

2006-01-20, 02:39
I think I may have experienced the White Noise of Death issue. I have only had my SB3 for about 36 hours so have never experienced anything like this before.

I had my SB3 on yesterday morning - could have been listening to Radio 1 via AlienBBC or possibly an MP3 - can't remember which it was last.

Switched the SB3 into standby mode and went to work. Stayed at the girlfriends last night so not sure whether my housemate had listened to anything last night (more than likely not) but came home this morning and he told me (quote) "Your speakers were making a hideous noise when I got up this morning so I switched off you amp" (unquote).

I powered the amp back up and was greeted with a high pitched white noise. Switched the amp to another input and it went away - back to the SB3 and there it was. I power cycled the SB3 by pulling out the 5v supply and plugging it back in and it solved the problem.

I have not run SoftSqueeze since I received the SB3 and my housemate would not have done either. There is a real possibility he would have been playing with iTunes last night as he has just bought a new MP3 player and we have c. 200 albums in iTunes.

My amp is an ARCAM Alpha 7R connected to the SB3 with a reasonable quality (c. 20) interconnect via the analog outs. The amp is typically kept powered up all the time. All of my music so far has been ripped using iTunes which stores it on a Linux box via Samba. Slimserver is 6.2.1 on Linux. SB3 Firmware is 28. This morning I have left the SB3 in standby and was listening to Radio 1 before I left for work. The amp however is in mute mode (although still powered).

Did I experience the White Noise of Death? Has this been resolved in the latest software release? (has 6.2.2 been released yet?) Any other comments?

Many thanks

2006-01-20, 08:04
Did you use the iTunes tool that adjusts sound levels?

There appears to be problems in that area.

2006-01-20, 08:11
Is that an option that you can switch on in iTunes or a tool you run seperately? I can check my options in iTunes when I get home, but the player was in standby at the time. Surely if nothing is playing, then the format of the mp3's really shouldn't matter should they?

What actually is standby? Is it just a dimming of the screen and a pause of the currently playing files or does standby actually shut down any of the circuits inside the player?

2006-01-20, 08:41
I'm not sure what you mean by standby. There are I think 3 states a squeezebox can be in: on, off, idle. The last means on but not playing any music.

Whether the display dims, and what the display shows, in any of these states, is a setting of the individual player, which you can set at any time.

Whether "off" state has more meaning, i.e. actually turns off any audio circuitry, I don't know. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can chime in and add something.

I don't run iTunes, so I don't know how this feature is accessed, whether it's integrated or a separate tool, but some people who used the iTunes replay gain feature to adjust the volume of their tunes reported having this white noise problem. And "undo"ing it (again, I don't know how) reversed the problem.

The white noise problem appears to be a hardware glitch where 2 chips within the Squeezebox are set up with different parameters that don't mesh and don't make sense together. The result is noise. Why this should happen when the player wasn't playing anything is beyond my understanding of the problem, but it has been reported before.

The meta-problem with this problem, if you will, is that it is quite rare. It is relatively hard to debug because (a) of it's rarity and (b) most people experience the noise as being so loud they are not motivated to debug it, just turn it off before it damages their speakers or their ears.

2006-01-20, 08:50
Thanks for your reply. I will check what options are set in iTunes later.

My definition of standby is probably what you are calling off - i.e. I have pressed the power button on the remote and the box (in its default state) is showing me the time and date.

Off to me would be with the power cable removed!

2006-01-20, 08:54
Yes, Slim calls that "off". It's true, lots of equipment calls that Standby. But not Slim, for some reason.

2006-01-20, 10:51
Sounds like you indeed experienced the "White Noise of Death". However, this is a new wrinkle on the problem - the noise evidently spontaneously erupted with the player powered down (the amp was obviously left on) The two times my player has experienced this problem - I was listening to streaming music. I know that Sean theorized the problem has something to do with the sampling rate of the music being played. However, it's clear that the best theory is seriously flawed, since in this case NOTHING was playing, and the reason for the problem remains a mystery.

Even if one was disciplined enough NEVER to leave the house with Squeezebox playing, there is still a danger of severe speaker damage even with SB3 "off". Many amps, like my McIntosh 7100, have no "on/off" switch, so wiring the analog outs from SB3 to the 7100's inputs (or similar amp that stays powered on) would be very risky. Since the 2nd occurence (for me) of this problem, I have completely disconnected the analog outputs on the Squeezebox. I *think* that McIntosh's Power Guard system would protect my speakers (it did the first time it happened!) - but I'm not willing to risk it again.

I've been reading audio forums for over two years now, and I've NEVER heard of a piece of source equipment spontaneously 'powering on' and issuing forth potentially speaker-destroying distortion. This is a serious problem, and it's clear it's not an isolated incident involving one or two players. Slimdevices needs to make this a high-priority fix, IMO. It will only take a few incidents of speaker damage to ruin SB3's good reputation

2006-01-20, 11:52
My SB3 didn't actually power itself on - it was off! Although of course off appears to be relative - perhaps someone that knows the hardware can confirm what off actually means with regards to shutting down parts of the circuitry etc.

Fortunately I can switch my amp off completely which I am probably going to have to do - I can mute it with the remote, but it switches itself back on at the first sign of an input signal I think.

I colleague of mine at work has said he has heard a similar occurance with his seperate DAC (and he doesn't have a squeezebox). Could it be an issue with the DAC chip or something like that? This would also explain why those using Digital outs dont hear it. He told me that when he has seen (heard) it, the input level has been so high, he can hear it crossing the input channels on his amp! If that isn't going to damage an amp or speakers, I don't know what is!

I am really hoping this purchase doesn't turn out to be a turkey!

Greg Klanderman
2006-01-20, 13:32
Has this ever been reported on an SB2? Not that I recall, and the SB2
has been out for a lot longer than the SB3, but I thought they were
the same underlying hardware?

Does the WNOD only effect the analog outputs?


2006-01-20, 17:34
I believe SB2s have been reported to have the same problem.

No SB1s, though ... :-)

2006-01-25, 13:11
Last night I got white noise out of the optical output. (sb3, 6.2.2, fw28) I went to "Now Playing" using the remote and scrolled up the list to play a song that had been played previously. I hit "play" and out came white noise. I either hit pause to stop or fwd to go to the next song, I don't remember now, but the noise stopped and the normal behavior resumed. I could not replicate.