Question USB sound card: distortion and crackling but only with my headphones

Jul 13, 2019
I'm using a StarTech ICUSBAUDIO USB sound adapter on a Windows 10 laptop. It shows up as a C-Media audio device.

If I plug my -known good- Bose "On Ear Headphones" into the output jack, I get very low volume and a lot of distortion and crackling.

If I plug my speaker plug into the output, the sound is crystal clear.

The headphones work perfectly with my desktop so I know they are good. What could be going on? Is it an impedance mismatch?

I had some trouble finding the input impedance of my Bose "On Ear Headphones", but a reference website measured them at about 25ohms average depending on frequency. I think they're probably rated at 32ohms in specs I'd guess.. Using the industry standard 1/8 rule, the output impedance should be about 3-4ohms. IDK what the actual output impedance is on it.

Could this be causing my problems?
Jul 13, 2019
They are Bose "On Ear Headphones". As far as I can tell from their website, "On Ear Headphones" is the model.
It's a standard 3.5mm plug and jack..I'll double check that though.
I have a couple other headphones I will test it with.


Sounds like you need a better USB sound card. If you want good quality and good enough to drive headphones .
This is probably the cheapest card I would have someone get, even then I would not get it for myself

This is also marginal but better than the cheaper stuff

The one I would get, and actually did for my car is this They work fine for computers as a sound card, clears up the audio and adds more punch to headphones. Anything lower end than this I would not use with anything past cheap kid-like headphones. Plus it acts as a very nice bluetooth adapter.

If you will be using this at a desk, this is probably the cheapest decent amp/dac for headphones for desk use
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