Troubleshooting MegaThread

In an effort to keep the noise level down here as well as keep the forum tidier we are creating one thread for all troubleshooting posts to go in. All future troubleshooting posts will be moved here.

The thread will get updated with issues as well as solutions as it continues. If you are having any troubleshooting issues, we encourage you to use the forum search function as your issue may have already been solved.

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Liquid Platinum Channel Imbalance Issues

Left channel 1db lower than right channel

11 Likes

If you were to make this a wiki, people could contribute directly reducing work for moderators.

1 Like

Hi all,

I’m running into an issue with my Focal Arche that I would like some help with.

I have my Arche hooked up to my PC (Windows 10 1909) via a USB A -> USB B cable.
When I set the bitrate manually to 48 kHz, or 96 kHz and don’t use exclusive mode via Tidal, Arche works flawlessly and there are no issues.

My issue is that when I set the bitrate to 16/44.1 kHz, or 16/88.2 kHz or when I play Tidal via the app in exclusive mode where Tidal sends the bit perfect signal directly to Arche and the bitrate on Arche changes based on source file, after some random time - some hours of listening I get “NO SIG” on Arche and no sound is played. Windows and Tidal look like all is working normally, no errors or signs of issues are to be seen. After this happens the only way to have Arche play music again is to set bitrate to 48 kHz, or 96 kHz manually and unplug the USB from the PC (unplugging it from the back of Arche does not help) and plug it back in. When I change the bitrate to 16/44.1 kHz, or 16/88.2 kHz or play Tidal in exclusive mode the sound cuts out within seconds and “NO SIG” is shown again.

I have to turn the PC off (restart is not enough) and back on for the issue to be gone, but it is only a matter of time until it pops up again.

What I have tried:

  • I thought the issue may be my PC, so I plugged Arche into my laptop, but the problem manifested itself there too
  • I tried connecting Arche to my PC via toslink, here the sound does not cut out (although I would have to test this more), but exclusive mode in Tidal does not automatically change the bitrate in Arche, so this is not an ideal solution for me. Also when plugged in via toslink, there is a weird pop every time I start a playback or a new sound (Windows notification etc) is played and it drives me crazy.
  • I tried multiple USB ports on my PC, all behave the same way
  • I e-mailed Focal, but I only got a generic reply to get in touch with my local dealer

What I think may be the issue:

  • issue with Arche driver for Windows - if this was the case, there would be more people with this issue, but I have not found or heard of anyone else
  • issue with my PC - I ruled this out as the same issue was seen on a completely different machine (my laptop)
  • issue with Windows - no other device is having these issues (I have a PC soundcard - Soundblaster ZxR and have no issues there, the onboard Realtek soundcard is also ok as demostrated with toslink connection)
  • issue with my USB cable - this is one common variable (aside from the Arche) for both devices I tried this on, will try to get a new cable and see if that helps, but it is still strange that issue would be only with some bitrates and not with others pointing me more to a software issue rather than hardware
  • issue with my Arche - hardware issue? it acts strange after it heats up? will test a theory where when the issue occurs I will stop using Arche for a couple hours to let it cool down and see if the problem is fixed then

Did anyone with Arche or any other USB DAC experience similar issues? Do you have any possible ideas on what may be wrong and how to fix it?

Thanks for any ideas.

1 Like

It is known that many products do present some level of channel imbalance – e.g.: left channel is louder than the right one – and many issues are due a faulty (or cheap) volume/gain pots.

Context

My Liquid Platinum at low volume levels, left channel is typically 1dB lower than the right one. Volume knob was around 10 o’ clock.

How I found this out? A simple A/B against Liquid Spark (and/or my Scarlett 6i6 jack).

Did this bother me after finding out? Yes. You can’t unhear things, right?

Was I happy before finding this out? Yes. :pill:

Work-around

In my case:

  • Set the volume to noon position;
  • Control digital volume through PC (or physical monitor knob in the Scarlett interface).

Questions

  1. What is the imbalance dB threshold for a given product to be considered faulty? E.g.: 1dB, 2dB, or higher?

  2. If this happened to you, would you return this product*?


* I’ll most likely keeping this amp and crank the volume up when listening. After all, it is a hybrid tube amp. At moderate listening levels I’ll just reach the Liquid Spark.

1 Like

I’m sure someone can explain this better than I can but channel imbalance at low volumes is usually due to analog volume pots being used (although price of the pot could also play a large part in it).

The majority of items that use analog vol pots have some kind of imbalance at the lowest end of their travel. Products that do the volume control in the digital realm (such as dac/amp combos etc) usually avoid these issues.

Again, I hope someone can explain it in better detail.

How much imbalance is considered faulty? I suppose that it depends on what the channel imbalance is on the rest of units of the same amp.

Would I return it? That totally depends on whether the volume imbalance is something that affects your enjoyment of the amp. First find out from other users what the average is and then decide if yours is faulty and if you can live with it or if it will drive you crazy.

4 Likes

Anyone having issues with Tidal Offline Mode not working today? 6/22/20. Worked fine yesterday, but today it’s not working. Source is Iphone XR with current iOS version 13.5.1, and current Tidal version. Tried rebooting the phone and the app multiple times, but no go. Really don’t want to delete and reinstall the app as i’ve got well over a GB of offline content that I don’t want to redownload.