Light scratching noise on headphones - wifi maybe?

So I woke up this morning with my mesh router satellite busted. So while I wat for that to be replaced I changed my Star to run on WiFi. This is the first time I run my Star on WiFi since I purchased it.

However when I listen to it now I get a very very slight scratching noise (kinda sounds like an errant data signal) on the right channel which is only audible on headphones with low impedance.

So on my Mezze classics 99 and apple headphones I hear it. One both my sennheisers I don’t. I tried the Mezze’s with both cables and also on another source to make sure it is not the headphones.

I use the Mezze’s a lot so with my last listening session two days ago it was not there.

It is also not audible via the speakers.

It is volume independent and seems to get worse when I open the Naim app and connect to the streamer.

So can this sounds be caused by the WiFi circuits? Or was there some sort of power event that took out my router satellite and damaged my Star’s headphone amp?

Could it be a dodgy headphone socket?

I know this would normally affect all headphones you try but worth checking out.

Well I dunno. It could be something that happened. Just odd, as you say, that it is not for all headphones and the sound gets more active when I connect to the streamer.

If with headphones using cable then oxidation on the jack is a common issue.

Thanks for the comments already. I also let the dealer know and the technician at the local importers immediately asked for it to come for a service. Being picked up next week. So clearly something that needs attention.

Make sure your phone isn’t too near the Meze headphone cable. I’ve had a similar issue only to realise my phone was right next to the headphone cable - move it and problem gone.

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Nah I was actually thinking of it and tried that already. Even plugged the headphones into an extension cord and stood as far away as I could from the streamer and the phone.

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I am afraid it sounds like the Star needs checking… there might be some decoupling capacitors which have gone open/closed circuit.

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Yeah they are fetching it next week and leaving me a loaner for the repair time.

Never had that issue with my 99’s and Atom sounds like an issue with the unit.

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Do you have an idea of what might have killed your Mesh system? Could it be the same that might have affected the Star?

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@Richard.Dane no I don’t as it broke down somewhere in the night so I can’t exclude it. However when I say “killed” it is a bit strong. The satellite wont connect to the router anymore. Still comes on but stays in update config mode forever. The Router is working fine. And the satellite has been randomly rebooting and taking longer and longer to connect to the backhaul for a few weeks now.

So as none of the other devices on the same power banks are effected and the satellite had issues before I am leaning towards it being coincidence.

The new mesh system is arriving today and I am pretty curious to see what happens when I wire the Star into the network again. If the noise goes away again it could have been a hidden defect as I have never had it on WiFi before in its lifetime. If not I will need to see what the service tech finds.

OK, keep us posted.

Thanks, @Richard.Dane, I will.

Have some new information already. New mesh wifi installed so I can wire the Star in again to an ethernet port. And the headphone sound is gone. It is therefore definitely to do with the Star running on WiFi.

Ok in discussion with the dealer the unit is NOT going for service. Only happening on wifi and with a headphone that seems to be prone to RF interference.

I don’t believe the headphones are prone to RF interference at all. They are designed for mobile use as much as home hifi experience and this would be an immediate issue with them as phones put out a lot of RF. I’ll put my Atom on wireless and try it out with the Mezes and see but when I did use wireless when I first got it I don’t recall any issues.

Yes I agree with @CrystalGipsy … this does doesn’t sound right at all.
Headphones are relatively low impedance passive devices, and in them selves are not prone to RF interference…
Acid test … if some one using a mobile phone say 15 feet away causes a loud buzzing in the headphones… then you could say there is some thing about sensitivity to RF interference. Headphones could couple to connected electronics with broken or faulty filtering and cause RF intermodulation distortion, such as very low level birdie, rustling or buzzing sounds than come from the electronics. You sometimes may notice this with unshielded valve amplifiers… which can be prone to RF interference… and this is more noticeable with headphones because of their sensitivity.

But wifi is significantly less powerful than mobile phones … I still maintain it sounds like is a coupling / decoupling issue with the Star… if it is a coupling issue you may be degrading the audio performance in less obvious ways too.
Another test… does exactly the same thing happen with another Star?

I see you have a TT connected too. Do you still get the noise on headphones with Wi-Fi with this disconnected from the Star. What position is the ground switch set to on the Star ?

@CrystalGipsy, @Simon-in-Suffolk perhaps it was a bit soon to make the statement yes. Was combining what I experienced with what @adeypoos said:

The thing is, when it runs on ethernet cable it is silent. On WiFi it was not. The noise was so low that my wife could not hear it but I am extremely sensitive to these things. And I tested it on a number of headphones:

  1. Meze - sound noticeable for me
  2. Old apple iPhone headphones - I thought I could hear it
  3. Razer Kraken gaming headphones - Inaudible
  4. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro - Inaudible
  5. Sennheiser HD 660 s - Inaudible

Also on speakers it is unaudible.

So this brings in the problem of being able to reproduce this issue. This would not have been my first rodeo in returning something with an intermittent issue in HiFi. I fear with the test results I had it would be a very long road to get it reproduced, if at all possible.

I am not discounting the fact that there may be a fault in the WiFi circuitry of the Star. But it may also be interference caused by my setup, or WiFi radio or who whoknowswhat. Perhaps after the virus has gone on extended holiday OR I ever need to play over WiFi again I may find the energy inside myself to persue it again.

I am currently unable to easily test on another Star, once again due to the gift of viral evolution.

When you plug the Ethernet cable in, I believe most Naim units power off the wifi module and electronics…
So if there is a coupling/decoupling fault with the wifi streaming module you may not hear it again until the wifi electronics are re enabled… ie you unplug the Ethernet lead…

As I say… if you are not getting interference from nearby mobile phones, you are unlikely to get wifi rf interference, as wifi is significantly less powerful than mobile… so than tends to rule out RFI… and suggests more digital electronics decoupling issues such as a capacitor has gone open or closed circuit… either way I would get it checked by Naim when you can.

For the record don’t hear any such issues with my Meze Empyreans albeit plugged into non Naim amplification… in fact they possibly provide some of the best replayed audio I have heard in recent years…