So if I build up a lot of static and put on my headphones, it creates this loop in the circuit or whatever and produces constant static until i somehow ground it out. It has even shocked me on the head sometimes. Any idea how to fix this issue? How can I troubleshoot it? I've tried plugging my headphones into just integrated audio with the mobo and there's no static. No static on the front port either.

edit so it seems like if I turn off my computer... flip then switch on the power supply, and then turn it on... it grounds out the sound card.


So I have this theory about Ground Loops. It goes like this: If someone blames a ground loop then it most certainly is NOT a ground loop. So far my theory has been correct, and this case is no different.

What you are experiencing is a simple electro-static discharge, or ESD. Just basic static electricity. You move around in your chair, or rub your feet on the floor and build up a static charge on your body. Eventually that charge gets big enough to jump across the air gap between your headphones and your ear.

There are several ways to fix it. Here are some ideas:

  1. Change your shoes and/or clothes. Different materials are more or less capable to generate ESD. I can't tell you which materials are better or worse, since it depends on what your chair is made from and other random things. Just try different things and see what happens.

  2. Remove your shoes. Rubber soles are generally worse than socks or bare feet.

  3. When you do laundry, use a fabric softener that reduces static. I use Bounce brand dryer sheets, but there are many others.

  4. Use different headphones that provide better insulation. Maybe wireless bluetooth headphones.

  5. Use an anti-static spray on your floor and chair. There are commercial versions that tend to be expensive, or you can use a mixture of UNSCENTED liquid fabric softener and water and sprayed out of a simple spray bottle. Do not make the mistake of using scented fabric softener! Mix so that there is 25 to 50% softener to water.

  6. Get a humidifier.

I should also mention that ESD is bad. Even though most headphone jacks are protected from ESD, if it happens enough then it could still damage your computer. It is worth it to take the time to figure out how to reduce or eliminate it.

The only thing that I am not sure about is when you said in your question, "produces constant static". Most people consider "constant static" as white noise that is always there. But I think you mean "pops and clicks" that you hear frequently. If you do mean pops and clicks then that is most likely still ESD. If you mean white noise then you likely have a second problem.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've seen AGCs going nuts and steadily increasing white noise, till there's some actual audio... then once there is silence, the hiss/pop increases slowly again. Admittedly this has always been in prehistoric tape players :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Dec 5 '12 at 7:07

-Did you try just turning the computer off without flipping the psu switch? What happened?
-How old is the computer?
-How old is the sound card?
-How old is the power supply?
-Do the headphone wires overlap with anything?

If there is a fault in the voltage regulation, the noise on the vcc can get coupled into the audio signal.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ -I'm pretty sure I've tried just rebooting / turning off the computer and it didn't fix the issue. Computer is just custom built. It's only about a year old. Sound card is a year old. Powersupply is a year old. I don't think the headphones do. \$\endgroup\$ – Supa Dec 5 '12 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok got it. All I have left is did you put all of the screws in the mobo to the chassis? Mobos need a good chassis ground. Second, did you put the screw in for the pci slot of the sound card? The sound card uses this for chassis ground. The fact that the problem does not go away until you shut off the switch on the psu makes it seem like the sound card has an issue that is fixed from disconnecting standby power. Best of luck. \$\endgroup\$ – Reza Hussain Dec 6 '12 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would just a few screws matter? I'm pretty sure the card is screwed on the pci slot. \$\endgroup\$ – Supa Dec 6 '12 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It can matter based on the quality of the chassis ground, if it is poor quality you need all the screws you can get. Something might be happening on the sound card itself though..maybe a failed component. \$\endgroup\$ – Reza Hussain Dec 7 '12 at 19:53

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