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Please help me diagnose PC sound pops, clicks and cutting out.

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I originally posted this on the overclock.net forums and I was hoping to get some help here too maybe. Due to the length I'm just going to copy what I posted over there.

Hopefully this is the right forum category.


Thanks in advance.

For months now I have been tearing my hair out trying to fix this issue ive been having.

In a handful of games my sound pops, clicks, skips etc. Its only during certain parts of the games. Far cry 3, hitman absolution, metro 2033 are the main ones. Half life 2 does it as well if I keep clicking the gravity gun secondary fire. It pops.

I have checked my dpc latency, not an issue well within limits. I have changed so much hardware and still nothing. I went through new motherboard, hdd, gpu,sound card,CPU and it happens with all kinds of headphones and my speakers too.

I was on windows 7 64 bit and then upgraded to windows 8. No change.

I've done so many fresh installs of windows its insane.

I've fiddled with hpet and every timing setting and nothing. Reset and upgraded BIOS, overclocked and set as default.

I love PC gaming but I'm ready to give up
I don't get what's left for me to fix? Psu, ram? That seems doubtful.

Please help guys. I will rep for any suggestion
If you fix my problem I'll even buy you a beer lol.

My specs:

Windows 8 pro x64
Msi p67 gd65
Msi gtx 680
2600k
Sound blaster z( also had essence stx)
Corsair hx1050 watt
Ocz vertex 3 240gb
Wd black 750gb
G skill rip jaws 4x2 gb 1600mhz.
Corsair m60 mouse
Razer black widow ultimate
senheiser pc350(fpshero mod)
post #2 of 28

How's your pc temps?

Also check the pci latency settings.

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Sorry should have mentioned I have a custom watercooled loop for the cpu and gpu.  They never go above 50 celsius and the rest of the board is way below average.  My basement ambient is 20 celsius always.

 

And the PCI latency is 32 in the BIOS.  I have never touched that from default.

post #4 of 28

Could be a faulty sound card?

post #5 of 28

Maybe try tweaking your sample rate settings? Test between 44.1kHz and 48kHz. Maybe even between 24 and 16 bit if that doesn't change anything. Also if they are in two separate locations(sound card control panel and Window's settings) make sure they match.


Edited by chewy4 - 2/1/13 at 10:45am
post #6 of 28

The reason for the pops and clicks is due to the way the audio snippets have been assembled and added to the game. This problem can also be heard when changing channels on a TV or when playing audio on a DVD. The Iomega Screenplay Director also has this problem.

It's primarily noticeable when the audio is routed to a DAC. The internal muting circuit in the equipment normally mutes out those pops and clicks before the real audio starts. But when the audio is passed to an external DAC there is no muting performed in that signal path. It is down to the external DAC to mute out the pops and clicks. That's however easier said than done. When audio snippets are assembled it can be a seemless one or a patched one. Patched audio can have gaps in them. The end and start bits can be rough cuts that don't end at the audio "zero" crossing point, but at a random  signal level.

 

Do a search on how Triacs work. These are regularly found in light dimmers. They are designed to switch OFF/ON at zero mains levels. Digitally edited audio switching should also be done in the same way, but unfortunately it isn't in most cases. Especially when games are written in a basic format that is then converted for use on multiple platforms.

 

Coming back to the gaps in the patched audio snippets (i.e. gunfire, car engines etc): these gaps are a problem for the DAC chip and the DAC designer. If the digital signal is temporarily muted in between the gaps then this will sound like signal dropouts. If it is not muted then they can be picked up as pops and clicks.

But to add to the problem, the speed of the audio decoding is vary much faster than many muting circuits can react to. A transistor muting circuit would be faster than a relay muting circuit. But wait: there is more! Some DACs don't use any sort of muting at the output. So these will pass every pop and click no matter what you do.

 

The issue is a complex one to wrestle with. Some DACs are fast enough in their muting of the error, but they might not be good enough for the user as far as playing high quality audio is concerned. So it's possble to end up with two DACs. One of games and one for music.

 

By the way, if you try the the TEAC DAC with games you could well find yourself going crazy from the constant in and out clicking of the relays inside the DAC as it tries to mute the dropouts.
 

post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AUDIOBREEDER View Post

Could be a faulty sound card?

I have used onboard, 2 different sound cards and the gpu hd audio sound, no difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

Maybe try tweaking your sample rate settings? Test between 44.1kHz and 48kHz. Maybe even between 24 and 16 bit if that doesn't change anything. Also if they are in two separate locations(sound card control panel and Window's settings) make sure they match.

I have tried this, but no difference, however going from 16 bit to 24 bit does make the pops worse and louder.  Probably because of the data thats being "padded" along side the sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baxide View Post

The reason for the pops and clicks is due to the way the audio snippets have been assembled and added to the game. This problem can also be heard when changing channels on a TV or when playing audio on a DVD. The Iomega Screenplay Director also has this problem.

It's primarily noticeable when the audio is routed to a DAC. The internal muting circuit in the equipment normally mutes out those pops and clicks before the real audio starts. But when the audio is passed to an external DAC there is no muting performed in that signal path. It is down to the external DAC to mute out the pops and clicks. That's however easier said than done. When audio snippets are assembled it can be a seemless one or a patched one. Patched audio can have gaps in them. The end and start bits can be rough cuts that don't end at the audio "zero" crossing point, but at a random  signal level.

 

Do a search on how Triacs work. These are regularly found in light dimmers. They are designed to switch OFF/ON at zero mains levels. Digitally edited audio switching should also be done in the same way, but unfortunately it isn't in most cases. Especially when games are written in a basic format that is then converted for use on multiple platforms.

 

Coming back to the gaps in the patched audio snippets (i.e. gunfire, car engines etc): these gaps are a problem for the DAC chip and the DAC designer. If the digital signal is temporarily muted in between the gaps then this will sound like signal dropouts. If it is not muted then they can be picked up as pops and clicks.

But to add to the problem, the speed of the audio decoding is vary much faster than many muting circuits can react to. A transistor muting circuit would be faster than a relay muting circuit. But wait: there is more! Some DACs don't use any sort of muting at the output. So these will pass every pop and click no matter what you do.

 

The issue is a complex one to wrestle with. Some DACs are fast enough in their muting of the error, but they might not be good enough for the user as far as playing high quality audio is concerned. So it's possble to end up with two DACs. One of games and one for music.

 

By the way, if you try the the TEAC DAC with games you could well find yourself going crazy from the constant in and out clicking of the relays inside the DAC as it tries to mute the dropouts.
 

That's what I have thought for quite a long time now.  I knew there was some problem in the sound not being transitioned properly in some games.  It was never evident until I bought my headphones though.  Now that my headphones are more sensitive and pick it up a lot more, it drives me insane.

 

Would this account for when you stop youtube videos immediately or exit games quickly?  It doesnt happen to every source, but when it does its quite annoying.

 

My frustration stems from the reason that nobody else seems to report these type of issues?  It cant just be me if its not my hardware combination since I have changed almost everything that could make a difference.

 

 

 

P.S. thank you all for your suggestions. 

post #8 of 28

Are these pops really minor?

 

Three of those games are some pretty stressfull games on a system too. The Source engine(or at least the physics part of it) can be to an extreme extent but usually just in Garry's mod and such...

I don't recall ever hearing popping in Hitman or Metro myself... I can see if I do hear the popping in HL2 when I get home from work since that's easy to check, but I think I would have noticed it by now.

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

Are these pops really minor?

Three of those games are some pretty stressfull games on a system too. The Source engine(or at least the physics part of it) can be to an extreme extent but usually just in Garry's mod and such...
I don't recall ever hearing popping in Hitman or Metro myself... I can see if I do hear the popping in HL2 when I get home from work since that's easy to check, but I think I would have noticed it by now.
Well I dont know how minor id consider them since they are major enough to ruin my gaming atmosphere.  Like I said they were not apparent with my 5.1 system since I never had it loud due to neighbours, however they were there.  Now with headphones its so much more apparent since its right by my ears.  

In hitman its more like audio skipping and popping.  Really apparent when on the 3rd level in the old library when you get caught and the music is going. Metro 2033 it only pops when you are breathing through the gas mask outside, so every 1 minute there is a pop.  Its really specific I know it makes no sense.

In far cry 3, when you are in the map screen and you hover over some of the locations it pops and clicks now and then. Also when there are a lot of animal sounds in the area they cut out too. Also going under water and coming back up clicks and pops too.

For HL2, when you have the gravity gun, spam the mouse button that is for pulling(i think right button?) and the sound begins to cut out.  If you can let me know if yours does that too, Id really appreciate it.

If these were game engine issues then some other people would have reported it by now no?


thanks.
Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 2/1/13 at 1:19pm
post #10 of 28

Yeah, I do hear a slight popping when spamming the crap out of the alternate fire on the gravity gun.

post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 

Ok so its not just me at least for that game. 

 

But the other games nobody else really seems to have the same issues...  which blows.

post #12 of 28

hmm... try the bass setting in windows and see what thats set to?

I noticed having high bass made it easier to spot these annoyances.

 

as for temperature... I have had all my dives run 'red' on the temp guage and CPU fine and still play games on my card with no issues, but i dont do water cooling,

 

i dont get clicks and pops from exiting games, maybe every now and then when a game or movie is starting up but its not really something that stays long term and my tv gets that every now and then too anyway.

 

I havent had clicks and pops from metro 2033, and i dont know about HL2 that was years ago for me...

 

I know of clicks pops and abberations if the CPU is under high duress or your hard disks are too, anti virus has been known to annoy gamers before.

post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 

sorry which bass setting are you referring to?  Do you mean the full/limited range option under sound settings when setting up speaker config?

 

I wish it was as easy as the cpu but its not since I changed the cpu and even kept it stock and it made no difference.   

post #14 of 28

under the speaker settings for sound there is a tone tab on most sound cards,

 

under there if the level is avaliable to use, try setting it to the middle if it isnt already there and then try that with bass down, i wouldnt recommend going up to full bass that might be too much,

 

im just curious if the sounds are coming from bass being too high and the sound are coming from that.

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

Im assuming you mean the speaker level balance?  I can adjust the sub level individually from the rest of the speakers for sure.  For both my 5.1 system and my headphones.  However my headphones are already at only 30% since the headamp drives it pretty loud.  I dont know if going any lower in sub will help but I will try when I wake up.  I just got off a nightshift so im dead tired.  I will report back the results when i wake up.It makes sense that too much sub level might clip sounds somewhat so i will try.

 

Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it.

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