Back in 2021 I assembled a brand new desktop PC. After years of heavy coil whine, I finally found a way to solve the sound issues. The solution was not a
new Power Supply Unit, under-clocking the GPU or an external sound card… but a combination of using optical and RCA audio cables, along with a digital audio converter with a separate power supply.
What is Coil Whine?
“Coil whine” refers to the audible noise that is produced when an electrical current runs through electromagnetic coils. While the noise can be drowned out among the whir of high-speed fans or muffled by an insulating case, this high-pitched “whine” can be particularly annoying for many users and is especially noticeable in notebooks. It can be even more distracting in quieter fanless devices.
The coil whine was caused by the GPU. I tried all of the recommended ways of solving it, I could find online. Nothing worked for me.
Welcome S/PDIF (Toslink)!
I was not familiar with S/PDIF and didn’t really know anything about the benefits of this type of digital audio interface. Using S/PDIF — with a Toslink connector, was the only thing I didn’t try while trying to solve the coil whine issues. My on-board sound card had this type of connector and so I decided to give it a go.
The only thing I was missing was a cable.
I bought a Clicktronic Casual Opto-cable set. As a sound output I use a pair of KRK Rockit 6 G3 studio monitors and that was an additional problem. These speakers don’t have a Toslink connector. They usually come with RCA or XLR connectors. So, I needed to find some kind of converter that could take the S/PDIF signal and convert it to either RCA or XLR.
I decided to go with a Nedis Digital Audio Converter. I deliberately chose the version with its own power supply. I previously had already tried external sound cards without a separate power supply and the coil wine always went through them.
So, now the only thing I needed, was a quality stereo RCA cable. I picked a gold plated Nedis Stereo Audio Cable with 4 RCA connectors. I used the RCA cable to connect the studio monitors with the digital audio converter.
The Moment of Truth
I connected the S/PDIF (Toslink) cable in the on-board sound card with one side of the digital audio converter. Then, connected the RCA cables from the studio monitors with the other side of the digital audio converter. I connected its power supply and switched the sound to the Digital Output (S/PDIF) in the operating system (LinuxMint/Windows 10). And FINALLY, the coil whine was gone. Sound quality was perfect and even though just stereo, that is all I currently need.
Thank you Internet for all the available content on coil whine. It was a long ride, but in the end it was worth it.
My nightmare is over.