Perhaps these are two separate problems?
1) In my setup high-frequency crackling noise over top of the music occurs intermittently for a couple of seconds at a time, usually repeating several times over the course of an hour or two's listening. It sounds a lot like somebody crinkling Mylar wrapping paper in front of the speakers, but even higher in frequency. The noise bursts are only occasional, not occurring at all on some days and on most other days only over an hour or so, so they are difficult to troubleshoot. This has been going on for some weeks.
2) This morning, however, things were worse; I had actual dropouts (silence) for a fraction of a second at a time a few times within a half hour, but no crackling. I checked my Internet connection with speedtest while this was happening but detected no slowdown.
The signal chain is Qobuz->Verizon Fios (typically >400Mbits/s)->Gbit router->wired Ethernet->BlueSound Node 2i->external Topping D50s DAC (via digital coax)->preamp->graphic equalizer->power amp->speakers. I've never heard this kind of crackling noise from my CD player, turntable, or FM tuner, all connected to the same preamp, etc., so I'm inclined to rule out the analog components. The Node 2i, preamp, equalizer, amp, and speakers are all relatively new. The D50s and digital coax are the oldest links in this chain, having been in service for a few years, but there is no buffering inside the D50s.
Some specific questions:
1) Is the crackling a symptom of buffer underflow (as I'm sure the dropouts are)?
2) Has anyone else had similar problems with the Node 2i (or with Qobuz in the eastern US, for that matter)?
3) Is there any reason why the coax output should be more prone to these types of problem than the optical or analog outputs?
4) Any suggestions how best to get rid of the problem?
Grateful for Any Solutions -- jclarkw
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