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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » Windows as a music workstation
Audio Distortion in Windows 10
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MusicMan11712



Joined: Aug 08, 2009
Posts: 1043
Location: Out scouting . . .

PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 7:52 pm    Post subject: Audio Distortion in Windows 10
Subject description: one solution that has worked several times in a row
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I wasn't sure where to post this, but "Windows as a music workstation" seemed the most relevant.

General issue: JMO: Windows audio consistently causes audio anomalies [aka artifacts].

Recent issues: I have been having two main issues: (1) Windows stops seeing my audio inputs and (2) I get a constant distortion that sounds to me like two drivers (or audio paths or something) are competing for the audio.

Solutions tried include:
--rebooting apps, sound card software, even the entire PC.
--running the Sound Troubleshooter
--changing settings (e.g., software routing, sample rate, etc.)

Solution I stumbled onto that has worked at least three times in a row (enough to be a possible pattern--until Windows is updated again) when the distortion suddenly appears:
1. Right Click Sound [Speaker] icon.
2. Change "Spatial Sound" setting.

See attached.

If others have this problem, maybe it will work for you, too.


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flagada



Joined: Dec 15, 2016
Posts: 18
Location: Amsterdam

PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2019 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Do you use an audio interface from the Focusrite Scarlett family? They seem to have issues in windows. They 'crash' from time to time resulting in a distorted noise. It has to do with the windows buffer. It sounds a bit similar to your problem.

Maybe this video could help you understand were your problem is coming from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aToJBNjOgzI
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JovianPyx



Joined: Nov 20, 2007
Posts: 1822
Location: West Red Spot, Jupiter
Audio files: 216

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

@flagada: There is probably more to that than what you've written.

I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 and it has worked perfectly - under Windows 7 - no crashes, no device disappearance, no distortion and in fact gives really excellent sound quality. My system is a 7th Gen i7 6 core (12 thread capacity) ASUS mobo which overclocks to 4.0 GHz with 64G quad port DDR4 RAM at 3.1 GHz. So at least with the combination of hardware and software I have, this particular Focusrite Scarlett interface works without issues.

I also have an ASUS laptop with i7 4 core that has Windows 10. Haven't tried the Focusrite on the laptop yet (no real need), but I can say that I whole-heartedly detest Windows 10. It is radically different from Windows 7 and I find it cumbersome to work with and change settings. The whole update thing is abominable. As such, my suggestion for Steve (OP) is to replace the Windows 10 on his system with Windows 7. I know that 's a lot of work, but that would at least eliminate Windows 10 as the problem. No guarantee, but if the problem appears to be "Windows", then this is at least a troubleshooting test to confirm or deny. As a former Windows IT professional, this is where I would go. It may be possible to repartition the drive as it is and install Windows 7 along with the current Windows 10 (dual boot). Or if there's another disk drive available. That would allow switching back and forth to test things.

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flagada



Joined: Dec 15, 2016
Posts: 18
Location: Amsterdam

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree about Windows 10. I never used it and I am sticking to windows 7 as long as possible!

I wanted to buy the Focusrite 2i4 and I read some reviews that mentioned the crash issues. I ended up buying the Mackie Onyx 2.2. I just picked it up today! Very Happy
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JovianPyx



Joined: Nov 20, 2007
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Location: West Red Spot, Jupiter
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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think that this is a very tricky issue. Windows (any version) is a combination of both random hardware and random software. Random hardware can be rock solid, or barely useful depending on mfr, model, age, firmware updates etc. The same goes for software; conflicts may be present that never seem to actually print a useful message, rather stuff just doesn't work as it is intended.

Regarding hardware - If more than one sound interface is available, I'd disable all but the most important one - for now - just to test to see if it remains stable. This can be done from Device Manager. Once stability is ascertained, additional interfaces can be added one at a time followed by testing long enough to know it's stable or unstable.

A good LONG run of a RAM diagnostic (Microsoft has a free one, and there are others) could flush out RAM problems. It should be set to beat the hell out of RAM, but that is most comprehensive and will take the longest time - however, it will increase confidence regarding the system's RAM. Bad RAM is not necessarily bad bits that never properly record data. RAM can be intermittently bad where certain patterns may cause problems. Power supply problems can cause erratic and sporadic crash-like problems (devices disappearing, that kind of thing). A good RAM diagnostic does not run under Windows, it runs stand alone so that nothing else can access the memory being tested. A proper RAM diagnostic is not installed, it is placed on a DVD, CD or thumb-drive which is then booted.

Keeping things simple is another suggestion I'd make. Remove any and all software that is not absolutely necessary. I am not a security freak, but I know how to be careful so that I've not needed to run anti-virus software or other malware traps. If fear of hacking is that strong, then I suggest removal of the computer from the internet. This may sound extreme, but it is necessary to begin eliminating components that may be at fault. Once the source is discovered, assuming it's not the hardware itself, the other software can be reinstalled and then tested again.

_________________
FPGA, dsPIC and Fatman Synth Stuff

Time flies like a banana.
Fruit flies when you're having fun.
BTW, Do these genes make my ass look fat?
corruptio optimi pessima
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MusicMan11712



Joined: Aug 08, 2009
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Location: Out scouting . . .

PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

flagada wrote:
I wanted to buy the Focusrite 2i4 and I read some reviews that mentioned the crash issues. I ended up buying the Mackie Onyx 2.2. I just picked it up today! Very Happy

I can relate!! I have had some success getting "old drivers" for "legacy gear" to work under Windows 10. It isn't always easy to sort out. And then, Window 10's Compatibility Wizard [or is it Compatibility Telemetry?] or some update process or feature will create the need for additional attention.

On the positive side, it seems the updates (for me at least) no longer put desktop icons where MS says they should be and the updates no longer seem to make a partition disappear. With the latter problem, it took me a while to figure out I use needed to install the HDD's partition software and the files were still there.

Of course, there is no guarantee that "they" won't change something again to make my gear have issues again. In fact, I had solved several audio issues a few times, usually after an "update."

Steve

Last edited by MusicMan11712 on Sat May 04, 2019 8:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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MusicMan11712



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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

JovianPyx wrote:
I think that this is a very tricky issue. Windows (any version) is a combination of both random hardware and random software. [snip]
Regarding hardware - If more than one sound interface is available, I'd disable all but the most important one - for now - just to test to see if it remains stable. [snip]

Good points raised (including the ones in the full version of your post).

Regarding these two points, I like the new flexibility the Sound/Speaker Icon tool/shortcut adds. Now that I understand it and how the integrated troubleshooter attempts to function, I think finally MS is staring to pay attention to those of us who use audio for own own music--i.e., not just assuming people use audio to play mass-marketed/commercial music.

I'd recommend people with Windows 10 explore the Sound Task Bar/Control Panel App (or whatever they call it), maybe even before they have an issue. If the troubleshooter is non-invasive (i.e., it let's users choose what fix they want to try), it might be good to tun it.

After running it myself, I decided to rename some of my audio ins and outs so I would know what MS was really telling me!

Thanks for chiming in.

Steve


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MusicMan11712



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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I am in the process of visually mapping the Windows 10 Sound Task Bar hierarchy (conveniently accessible via the speaker icon). Why? To help me understand as completely as I can what does what so I can get my PC sufficiently stable so I can get back into making music again.

In case it helps others who have Windows 10, I will post my map when I need to get on to other things.

IMO (feel free to ignore):

(1) Complexity is neither good nor bad. It can have advantages and disadvantages. For me, the more complex something is, the steeper the learning curve. If I don't use (or do) something frequently enough, I tend to forget. So, that's where the visual map comes in. I am just sharing in case others find it useful. Different techniques work for different people.

(2) The more I look into the convenience of the Sound/Speaker Icon system, the more I like it. It makes me think that finally MS is doing audio so it benefits home-based musicians (and sonic hobbyists). In this case, I think transparency is good. Putting options and choices in the hands of users (and making them easily accessible) is good.

JMO--not intending to start any controversies, just offering an explanation of why I am posting these maps. If they are helpful, great! If not, there's plenty of other useful, fun, etc. stuff in the forum.

Hope this helps.


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