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Vista X64 - a very persistent audio problem

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I have a very persistent problem with my computer audio. The problem is that the sound gets distorted with intermittent intervals.

My computer is a custom pc, mobo Asus P5Q-E (ADI 2000b), CPU Q9550 @3,2GHz, Radeon HD 4870 512mb, Vista x64 (tried both SP1 and SP2, no difference), MPC HC v1.3.1249.

I've tried both of the digi outputs on my mobo, the HDMI out on my graphics card, a couple of USB devices and Virtual Audio Cable. I've tried both DS audio renderer and Reclock. I've tried DS (with and without Reclock), WASAPI (with Reclock), KS (VAC audio repeater). I've tried Microsoft's standard drivers, latest chipset drivers, a dozen different Catalyst versions and a few versions of Realtek's ATI HDMI drivers.

With all of these and the different combinations, the problem is there. Sometimes it can go for hours without a glitch, usually though it takes about 15 minutes. Some combinations have been more, some less vulnerable, but none have been perfect. When ever the distortion comes, it can only be removed by restarting the Windows audio service.

The sound almost never gets distorted when playing a game (for a reason unknown to me). The sound rarely gets distorted when listening to Spotify (with the usual changing of the track  every now and then). The sound gets distorted very often when watching a movie (with no pauses for a long time). It seems to me that whenever there's software resampling involved, the distortion comes more often. However, even with no resampling the problem is there.

With VAC, when I get the distortion and go to the Windows sound devices screen, the VAC sound device has the distortion with the test sound but the actual sound device (be it what ever it may) does not. With no VAC, the test sound of the selected sound device is distorted. When using VAC and it's audio repeater, there are no reported overflows or underflows with the I/O buffers even when the distortion is there. I've also tried all kinds of buffer values with Reclock, seems to have no effect.

So, it seems to me there is a fundamental flaw with how Vista is communicating with my default sound device (again, what that device is seems irrelevant). It can't be bypassed with WASAPI or KS. AFAIK, it isn't an audio renderer issue or a buffer size issue.

As you can probably tell, I've tried everything I could come up with to resolve the issue. If anyone has any ideas worth trying, your more than welcome to share them here. Only thing I have yet to try is a new OS, so maybe Windows 7 is the way? Or is it possible for a hardware problem (mobo?) to cause a problem that on surface seems to be so unrelated to any sound device?

PS. Sorry for the rambling, but it felt therapeutic.

post #2 of 16

Just curious, is this a Wi-Fi machine or is it connected via Ethernet?

 

If its Wi-Fi you might want to look into these, either way they benefit Windows machines in stopping latency spikes which can disrupt audio playback.

 

http://www.wlanbook.com/vista-wifi-60-second-lag-problem/

 

http://www.martin-majowski.de/wlanoptimizer/

 

You may also want to use this latency tool and reduce your processes until you get to acceptable levels.

 

http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml

 

Here is a good place to find out which processes you can kill

 

http://www.blackviper.com/Windows_7/servicecfg.htm

 

As you have already noticed, CPU intensive tasks like upsampling increases the likelihood of audio playback problems.  Windows has a lot of processes running continuously and at intermittent times, reducing and/or stopping these will likely solve your problem.  You might also want to go into your Task-Scheduler and disable tasks that you don't want to run like Indexing for example.

Good Luck

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips, Dynobot!

 

No WiFi, just Ethernet.

 

Already tried DPC, reports absolutely no problems.

 

Indexing and superfetch are disabled. Haven't gone through all the processes, could give that a try.

 

PS. Forgot to mention, I did a complete re-install of Vista a couple of days ago. Formated the system disk, installed Vista, installed antivirus program (avast this time, have tried others too), let Windows Update do its thing and then installed nothing else but VAC, MPC-HC and Reclock. So kept it as clean as possible. Result: same problem as ever.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by pategen View Post installed antivirus program (avast this time, have tried others too),...Result: same problem as ever.


You do realize that antivirus programs are CPU intensive.  If this is an audio only PC I really don't think you need a antivirus program, of course that is up to you.

 

If you find yourself against the wall and at your whits end you might consider switching to Linux.  Even if you are not using it only for audio, Linux can offer a perfect replacement for Windows easily with all the functionality.  If inclined you might consider Linux Mint, its extremely polished and full featured works great out of the box with no user input.  If you want an OS strictly for audio you might consider Lubuntu Linux, its extremely light weight and fully functional.  With any Linux distro Music Player Daemon is the best imo, but you have choices.

 

Otherwise you can continue to struggle with issues in Windows if it suites you....either way Good Luck.  And if you do want to go the Linux route I have a step by step guide for Music Player Daemon that should have you up and running quickly.

 

http://sites.google.com/site/computeraudioorg/linux-for-audio

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Too much stress on the CPU is most definitely not the problem here. Four cores running at 3,2GHz should be able to handle antivirus and audio, don't you think?

 

This is not an audio only computer. It is very much a multi purpose machine, games, movies, music, work stuff, you name it. I do have Kubuntu on my laptop and I have thought about making it my main audio source, but I still need a fully functional Windows computer as well. I think its time to go Win 7.

 

Thanks for the Linux guide, that might come in handy.


Edited by pategen - 7/30/10 at 2:57am
post #6 of 16

You could always set core affinity for your audio player and/or for the antivirus this might help...

 

http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/how-to-set-processor-affinity-to-an-application-in-windows/

 

You may also try setting the priority of your player to Realtime and that of any CPU intensive process lower.  You can write a small bat.file that launches and sets priority to do this.  Perhaps something like this...cmd /r start /Realtime fooar2000.exe


Edited by Dynobot - 7/30/10 at 5:42am
post #7 of 16

You could try a Linux boot disc like Gnome or Knoppix, try to get some audio going, and see if the problem repeats. Fairly easy to download and burn onto CD. Have you tried Windows safe mode with audio drivers loaded?

 

However unless there are other Asus users on the net complaining about their onboard sound, my bet is you have a fundamental hardware problem. Watch a movie on Linux to be sure. I don't know enough about hardware to guess from your symptoms, but it would seem the only possibilities would be the mobo, the CPU (cache), or RAM, and anything else which is consistently in the pathway from your storage to the output device. A little chip overheating maybe.

 

Worrying about AV, processes, affinity etc is really a bit la-la-land. Resource problems will result in playback disruption (halting), not distortion. Vista is fine and I doubt 7 would make any difference other than possibly mandating different drivers for something.

post #8 of 16

I very much doubt it's a lack of processing power that is causing your problem mate.

 

I have an ASUS board, Intel quad core CPU, 4870 and Vista 64 and haven't experienced that particular issue. So it's not general or someone else would have chimed in by now.

 

I know that doesn't help much. I suspect you have a faulty component somewhere in the chain but finding which one will be a tedious and time consuming affair. best of luck.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Damn. I would have much rather gone for Win 7 than got a new mobo. But come to think of it, there probably is something wrong with the chipset. I don't think its an overheating problem, since gaming is usually ok. A Southbridge fault seems like the most likely answer. If the audio controller has a glitch, that would basically explain why the distortion is there no matter which audio device I use. But there is one thing that still puzzles me: if it is a hardware problem, how come the actual sound device doesn't have the distortion problem when at the same time the virtual audio device (VAC) does? VAC doesn't operate on the hardware level, so shouldn't it rather be so that the VAC device doesn't have the distortion while the actual hardware audio device does?

 

Still, I suppose I just have to live with it or go for a complete system upgrade. I can't see myself getting a new S775 mobo, although the rest of the system is still ok.

 

Thanks a lot for all the input. You may have saved me from a complete meltdown after I got Win 7 and the distortion was still there.


Edited by pategen - 7/30/10 at 12:15pm
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by badmonkey View Post

Worrying about AV, processes, affinity etc is really a bit la-la-land. Resource problems will result in playback disruption (halting), not distortion. Vista is fine and I doubt 7 would make any difference other than possibly mandating different drivers for something.


Yeah you're right, even though when I use a Latency tool and can visually see spikes in CPU latency when processes start, it does not mean it will affect audio.

dpclat1.jpg

 

I mean even though it clearly says "This machine should be able to handle real-time streaming of audio and/or video data without drop-outs".  It's prolly all BS, because resource problems would cause halting not disruptions.

 

Yeah listen to the Monkey.

 

post #11 of 16

If it's a southbridge problem, setting foobar to cache files up to 100mb should fix it.

I have to do it...

 

I don't think Gigabyte would let me rma my board, they have something in their policy against sending stuff back that still "works"...

post #12 of 16

He said "Sometimes it can go for hours without a glitch, usually though it takes about 15 minutes" if its the Southbridge it would likely be due to cooling than anything else.  The sound might not be okay for minutes or hours with bad buffering.  Delayed issues like this really seems like cooling....if not due to some arrant processes running and hogging up CPU cycles.

 

He also said "I've also tried all kinds of buffer values with Reclock, seems to have no effect."  Seeing that ReClock does not work with Foobar but only with a few programs like KMPlayer, changing the buffer value in any player might not help much.

 

Personally I would go with Linux, you can install it on a USB stick and test it out without even bothering Windows.  And if the problem persists even with Linux then it must be the MB.


Edited by Dynobot - 7/31/10 at 1:15pm
post #13 of 16

have you tried updating your sound drivers?

 

you can try using drivermax to find updates, it tends to be able to find newer drivers then asus offers(asus driver updates for all but their latest and greatist boards tends to be pretty shit)

 

I use to have that problem at times, only seems to happen if I leave mpc-hc running for days at a time paused between sessions(for video).

 

Havent had it happen in a while tho, updated my audio drivers and codec pack and it cleared up for me.

 

for the best codec pack  I have found to date(out of 15+ I tested) try http://shark007.net's codec packs see if that helps, and also try his version of mpc-hc(he keeps both the codec pack and mpc-hc up-to-date unlike most other packs/sites. 

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureSky View Post

have you tried updating your sound drivers?


In his post he states "I've tried Microsoft's standard drivers, latest chipset drivers, a dozen different Catalyst versions and a few versions of Realtek's ATI HDMI drivers.", so it might not be a driver issue.

 

Nice pic, you do know "Desu" means "Is" right....???

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynobot View Post




In his post he states "I've tried Microsoft's standard drivers, latest chipset drivers, a dozen different Catalyst versions and a few versions of Realtek's ATI HDMI drivers.", so it might not be a driver issue.

 

Nice pic, you do know "Desu" means "Is" right....???

I'm sure he knows. Suiseiseki or w/e the character's name is excessively abuses the word and it became a meme.

 

And as I said: Try setting foobar's full file buffer to full-size. This is not the same as normal output buffer. The normal buffer is for decoded audio, the full file buffer just caches the data to the ram to reduce disk hits. If your disk or southbridge/sata controller are really at fault like it is for me, this will help.

 

So does anyone know if Gigabyte would charge me for sending my mobo back despite the fact they'll probably say there's nothing wrong with it? My drives are pretty new, seem to function properly, and the issue happens regardless of what drive the audio data comes from, no dpc latency issues,  so it has to be the southbridge or something...
 

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