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Q: When I start up or shut down my computer, I sometimes get a loud popping- or screeching sound in my speakers or headphones. I'm afraid this may damage my speakers (or ears for that matter). What can I do about this?
A: Commonly (and this is even the case when working in high end studio environments), all devices and computers should be powered up BEFORE the amplifier- or powered speakers is/are turned on. Your amplifier or powered speakers should be turned on last with the master levels turned all the way down.
The reverse procedure applies when shutting your equipment down. First, turn down the master levels and then turn your amplifier or powered speakers off. After that, shut down your computer and other audio peripheral.
When an audio device is switched on and during the time it takes for its internal components to be charged up with power (this may take up to a few seconds), undesired signals may be passed to the devices outputs until all components are fully charged and ready for normal operation. The same applies when turning an audio device off –stored power is dropping under the required operating level and during this time, undesired signals may be passed to the devices outputs. This is normal – as mentioned previously, the common procedure is to turn amplifiers or powered speakers on last (after the computer is started up), and turn them off first (before shutting down the computer).