My computer's audio output keeps blowing out my external audio amplifier
March 18, 2009 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I just blew out an old Nakamichi stereo receiver because the signal from my computer's audio output seemed to overload the machine. The receiver clicked a couple of times (reverting to silence each time before resuming normal volume), then quite literally heated up and died. I don't think it's the receiver's fault necessarily, since something similar happened with my previous stereo receiver--in terms of its getting overloaded from the computer's audio signal and shutting down with a loud click. I'm just using the sound card that came with my 3 year old Dell desktop--and I want to make sure this doesn't happen again to the next receiver (I'm using a receiver because I need to drive some old ADS speakers). Any suggestions? I tried using different inputs on the receiver (video, tape, CD, even phono) thinking it might be an issue of too strong a signal coming into the machine. But regardless of the input selection, the same problem would occur--whenever volume got too loud (and I did try lowering the volume on the computer itself) there would be a loud click, then silence. Should I just forget using an external amplifier at all and just use the horrible computer speakers that came with the machine? Thanks
posted by quintno to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Are you using the same speakers you used with both receivers?

If there's some kind of short or something in the speakers or the impedance is wrong that seems a more likely candidate than the lineout, to me.

You could also get another sound card if you are pretty convinced that it's the dell's built in one.
posted by aubilenon at 6:45 PM on March 18, 2009

Are you in Seattle? Northwest Audio Service will probably resurrect your receiver for less than you would suppose....
posted by carterk at 7:11 PM on March 18, 2009

Response by poster: Speakers work fine when I used the receiver for other input sources (tuner, tape, etc.). Only the computer input made the receiver go into overdrive and start the click/shutdown mode.
And to make matters more mysterious, sound card was fine when I used it to drive the external speakers that came with the computer.
And unfortunately, I'm in NYC, not Seattle.
posted by quintno at 7:45 PM on March 18, 2009

Seconding getting a new sound card, as it sounds like your might be bad for some reason. I have run several different computers into several different amps/receivers and have never had a problem.
posted by peewinkle at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2009

OK, I've yet to see a stock sound card on a PC have the power to blow a receiver. My guess would be that the sound card has gone wonky or you're facing some other electrical weirdness inside your computer. Have you tried connecting other speakers directly to the PC? You can pick up a pair from a thrift store for fairly cheap.

Furthermore, is this a standard audio out you have on your computer? Do the computer speakers plug into the wall? I'm asking because you say that you've only used the speakers that came with the PC. I have seen speakers that got their 12V DC straight from the computer through the same cable (it wasn't a standard cable, though). Also note that this was a very long time ago and is most likely not the case here!
posted by wsp at 8:09 PM on March 18, 2009

I think CrayDrygu has the right idea. I don't see how it could be the sound card, unless it was wired real funny (in which case I suppose you'd be getting distortion or ground hum if it worked). If it does turn out to be the card, a cheap replacement is only $10-15.
posted by neckro23 at 10:26 PM on March 18, 2009

Response by poster: All components were plugged into the same power strip. And speakers that did come with computer required separate power to run them. Never had hum from them (or from amplifier-powered speakers).
Guess I'll try a new sound card. Thanks for all the help so far.
posted by quintno at 1:50 AM on March 19, 2009

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