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digital audio issues with sound forge and m-audio

Discussion in 'Recording' started by voiceman, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. voiceman

    voiceman Guest

    I purchased a hot rod PC from shop specializing in silent audio workstations. I am using Sound Forge 8.0 with, first, an m-audio: audio quattro usb 4 in 4 out box. The PC was randomly restarting and I was getting a lot of static and short dropouts in my recordings. The static is sometimes only in playback and sometimes in the recording but the dropouts are always permanently in the recording. Also on playback, the sound files often didn't play until I hit stop and start again. This happens in Sound Forge and Windows Media Player. I had previously used the box on my older PC and thought it might be bad. I was also told by the PC maker that a firewire interface would be far superior. So I bout the m-audio Firewire Solo box. Same problems.

    Then I was told that the restarts were really crashes and that if I change an XP parameter I would see the blue screen and be able to document information on the crash. When the PC maker reviewed the crash data I sent them, I was also told that the data was pointing to m-audio's drivers and that they aren't the best. I should try removing them and see if the crashes go away. Well I removed the driver for the Quattro but not the Solo. I stopped getting the blue screen of death (what used to be the random restart until I changed that XP parameter to let the blue screen come up). progress...

    The static and dropouts and silent playback continues. Neither the PC maker nor m-audio have had any concrete suggestions or solutions except: The PC maker suggested a PCI sound card. I ordered an m-audio Delta 44 and it should arrive today. I find it hard to believe though that both external boxes (one USB and one Firewire) would be the source of these audio issues. If they were that unreliable, m-audio would be out of business. If the PCI card doesn't solve the problems, I'm hoping someone here can help. In either case, I can return the PCI card if it doesn't work but I'm stuck with the two external boxes. Any ideas?

    One more thing. I was getting similar staticy recordings on my laptop with a third model m-audio box (USB) but not the dropouts. I noticed that the static was happening consistently about every 5 seconds. A light bulb went off and I dissabled my wireless connection. Voila, my laptop now records perfectly. But dissabling the internet connection has not helped the PC issues at all.

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Problems such as you describe can often be caused by a hardware and/or software conflict or something hogging the CPU or PCI bus. I'd first check that you do not have any IRQ conflicts of any kind. It could be as easy as uninstalling, moving the PCI card to another slot and reinstalling drivers. You also may need to adjust your ASIO latency value assuming you are using ASIO drivers, which if you have available, you should always use. Make sure that you are not running any programs or services that are not directly related to audio. No internet, virus, spam blocker, ect... If you have any USB or FW devices attached, (other than a keyboard or mouse) disconnect them as they could be causing you a problem.
  3. voiceman

    voiceman Guest

    Thanks Audiogaff. I coudn't find my post so I didn't see your reply until today. I finally found the search function and located my post.

    I was told about IRQ conflicts. It seems strange that these conflicts are pretty uncontrollable. I moved cards around and I can't get rid of the conflicts.

    I did though, install a PCI sound card rather than the USB or Firewire. It arrived the day after I posted my question. It got rid of about 80% of the problem but I need it to be perfect, of course. One pop or other anomaly will cost me $$.

    At this point, I think I'm going to ship the computer back to the builder under warranty to have them analize it. I've tried everything short of reinstalling the OS.

    It's been a frustrating 2-3 months.

  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Ok, good luck. Let us know if you find anything that might be of value to others.

    Some tidbits for you and others reading:

    Keep in mind that if you are moving an audio PCI card from one slot to another, that you should uninstall it's software/drivers first, move the PCI card and then reinstall software/drivers. In addition, you might also need to optimize your system specific to audio. http://www.musicxp.net has some good info and the link below specificly.


    Not all PC's are the same and some systems, no matter how much you tweak, adjust or try to move things around, will never be stable or problem free. Most bargin off the shelf computers are nortorious for not meeting the requirements for professional audio production.

    There are many times when reinstalling the OS is required and often can resolve problems and issues.

    Having more than one audio soundcard or audio interface installed in any system in most cases causes more problems that anything gained by having more than one installed in your system.

    I've never been a fan of M-audio interfaces. If you require an interface for a serious business, get something worthy and then buy a complete 2nd system for backup. Only a fool bases their entire business around any one peice of gear.
  5. voiceman

    voiceman Guest

    I did implement every tweak from musicxp.com. No change. Although outside of soundforge I like the way my system responds.

    Now that I've tried 3 m-audio interfaces I've heard from several people who don't like them. Oh well. I'm going to send the PC back to where I bought it so they can diagnose and hopefully fix it.

    I used to have only one system and would use outside studios as a back up. Now I have a PC system, a Mac system, and a PC/Laptop system, each a stand-alone operation.

    Thanks again for the advice.
  6. bwmac

    bwmac Active Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    If you have SP2 here's a trick

    If you have SP2 here's a trick


    Your Software more then likely does the same
    heres the page like if you like


    Service Pack 2 (SP2) is the newest update to Windows XP. It installs a new security feature called data execution prevention, or DEP. DEP works by preventing viruses from entering your computer through a data buffer or protected memory address. Once a virus enters your system this way, it can successfully run its code from the memory location. The protection provided by SP2 therefore is very valuable.
    Our initial testing with SP2 and current Cakewalk programs revealed an adverse interaction that does not appear to manifest in the released version of SP2. In the unlikely event Windows ceases your Cakewalk program, citing a security violation after installing SP2, complete the follow instructions.

    Because Cakewalk programs use self-generating/modifying code that runs in protected memory, certain functions within our programs may cause Windows XP to stop the program and display a security warning. To prevent Windows XP from stopping your Cakewalk program, follow these simple steps:

    1. After installing SP2 for Windows XP, right-click My Computer and choose Properties from the menu.

    2. Next, go to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button in the Performance section.

    3. In the Performance Options window click on the Data Execution Prevention tab and choose "Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select:".

    4. Click the Add button towards the bottom of the window and navigate to your Cakewalk program. For example, the default location for Sonar is
    C: Program FilesCakewalkSonar. Once inside the Sonar folder, double click the file SONARPDR.EXE to add Sonar Producer Edition to the list of programs that will be excluded from DEP. If you are using the Studio Edition of Sonar the default location will be the same, but the program's executable file is SONARSTD.EXE. For Home Studio users the file is CWHS.EXE. As you can see the file name you need to add will depend on which Cakewalk program you are using. For all of our programs the default location of the program folder is C: Program FilesCakewalk.

    5. Click Apply and OK.

    That's it. Now Window XP will continue to protect your system from viruses and your Cakewalk program will remain unaffected.
  7. voiceman

    voiceman Guest

    I don't think the Cakewalk info applies to me since I don't get any kind of warning or blocking message. Do you think I should try your suggestion anyway? I suppose it can't hurt, right?
  8. bwmac

    bwmac Active Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    Tweeking for more power

    Tweaking for more power

    Hay voiceman ;

    ya it can't hurt, I just mentioned it because it is supposed to allocate all extra memory
    to the Program(s) listed but still be controlled by windows.
    I have a AMD 64 with xp pro 64 Edition on my main recording PC.
    When I followed the instructions,(a few times) it always told me that it was not
    compatible with my 64 bit system. Sucks to be me but no reason that it wont work
    on someone else's system and is completely reversible by unchecking the box.

    I hope it works for someone, maybe a patch will come out for me later.
    Good luck and don't give up.
    I'm still tweeking this new PC that I'v had since November. LOL
  9. voiceman

    voiceman Guest

    Well, I've made some progress. First I held back on returning the PC for diagnostics because of the expense and wanted to exhaust all other possibilities. I turned off the internet connection, I turned off virus protection. Things at this point were very close to perfect but not quite. Then I noticed that my Belkin wireless adapter's little blue light would blink even though the network connection was disconnected. During the blinking my playback would faulter and give me that darn staticy playback. So I disconnected the adapter and playback was perfect. Now I have to see if the dropouts in recording go away too. I find this to be very frustrating that I have to strip my systems run time operations down to nothing to be able to record and playback without problems. My old PIII system worked perfectly and I never had to consider any of this stuff. Is this the way it is in this day of bloated software and constant internet polling of various software? Is it possible that an IRQ conflict is making the recording process so sensitive to the wireless adapter operation?
  10. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    Perhaps it would be helpful to list what components the computer has installed?
    Motherboard model w/ chipset; RAM brand, size and model; CPU model; hard drives models (PATA or SATA?) and how they are formatted; power supply; any other components installed.

    The reason is that some hardware and/or software seem to have documented problems with certain models of their product when used with certain brands or models, revisions, etc., of other things. VIA chipsets come to mind with certain things, like some M Audio stuff. They seem to have caused problems with other things too.

    Sometimes, it may be handy to download a later version of drivers/firmware...or even possibly roll back a later version to an earlier one.

    It seems that no matter WHAT you do, you just can't get the thing to work properly. A company that builds specialized computers for audio SHOULD be aware of all this, and not let anyone choose to let them install something that would cause problems. Like someone coming in and saying "Well...it costs so much for all that stuff that I have to sacrifice somewhere....how about installing Kingston Value RAM (KVR) instead of that premium RAM? That'll save me $50." A competent builder might have told you that it is NOT a wise decision, and that if YOU want that installed, then the warranty doesn't cover problems associated with that particular RAM. I'm not insinuating that they DID sell you something bad, but it's worth it to look under the hood to see if they put a 4-cylinder engine in that 2-ton truck.

    And don't forget that even if they did put premium RAM in there, that a module could STILL have problems. Do a MemTest on the computer to see if it brings up anything. (Just Google MemTest, download it for free, make a bootable floppy or CD, and run it for a couple passes). Keep in mind that MemTest will NOT definitively tell you that that module is bad or which one it is right off the bat, just that something is having trouble using the RAM. If you have more than one module, just test it first with all modules. If it starts getting errors, remove all RAM but one, and test it separate. If it's clean, swap it with another IN THE SAME SLOT, and test it. If they all pass, move one to another slot, and start over. If they start failing all in the same slot, it's the slot. If one fails in one slot, but no others fail in that same slot, and you move the failed one to another slot and it fails there...but no others do...then you know it's following the bad RAM. (Yeah, I had to explain this concept to everyone at work when we started seeing the crappy KVR RAM they installed in A/V servers fail at about a 40+% rate. They were deeming ALL the modules bad and replacing them...sometimes with more bad modules. They have since decided to change brands for new and replacement...DUH!).

    Once you find all your documentation for all your components, start Googling for info. Get on any M Audio groups or sites, and see if there seems to be a recurring problem with that particular combination. See if Sound Forge has any problems with any particular component or combination.

    The problem here is that, as stated earlier, nearly nobody has the same exact combination of hardware/software on their computer...unless it's a cloned brand name directly out of the box. Once YOU tweak ANYthing...add a component, add a piece of software, etc., you have basically changed the computer into its own unique beast.
    Hardware and software makers cannot possibly test their products on every conceivable configuration. It just cannot be done. It's possible that you can make ONE change in a setting, and it affects something else.

    So, list what you have, and possibly search on your own for clues. I'm guessing it's a problem that may be easy to narrow down, but may cause a bit of expense to remedy. Or not. You may have to get another motherboard, different RAM, etc., if you want to continue to use a certain product. You may have to only download different drivers/firmware. It may be a simple BIOS setting that needs changed. You may have to change the brand of audio interface if you want to continue to use your currently configured computer.

    Once all that has been cleared and remedied (or ruled out), then you know it has to be settings in your DAW and/or interface, or somewhere else in your computer. Diagnosing problems is sometimes more ruling out what it probably ISN'T, then trying to poke around to focus on what it IS. A bad cap on the motherboard is an obvious and quick diagnosis. Most of the time we don't have that luxury, so it's helpful sometimes to work backwards and decide what it AIN'T.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.

    Kapt.Krunch 8)
  11. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    If you desire or are interested in best possible problem free performance, it is ALWAYS best to dedicate/optimize/configure your PC for only audio work plain and simple.

    * Goto Start - All Programs - Accessories - System Tools - System Information.
    * Click the + next to Hardware Resources.
    * Click on Conflicts/Sharing
    * If you see you audio interface listed unders Devices catagory, then you have a conflict of some kind, likely IRQ related.

    * Post the results or a picture of that window.

    * If you have not already done so, get M-audio tech support a call. I would also go to their website looking for user forums or knowledge base articles that may6 be of help.

    If it were me, and I could not resolve the problem or was unwilling to waste much time from something that should be easy enough to work as expected, I would demand to return the M-audio product and get something else. Honestly though, if you bought an expensive PC from a place that is supposed to sell specialized PC's for audio and it can't work a cheap ass USB interface, that would be grounds to demand a full refund.
  12. voiceman

    voiceman Guest

    With the USB wireless adapter disconnected, so far, recordings have been flawless. I suppose I have to come to grips with the fact that this is the way I'll have to do things from now on. (or maybe I'll go back to my pIII Dell which never gave me any trouble). It's really a pain in the (&*^ to have to disconnect the adapter to record and reconnect it to upload files especially since it takes 10-15 minutes for adapter to connect. That's another issue of course (If I don't unplug the adapter then the connection happens within about 20 seconds.) I guess I'm willing to deal with things this way rather than go through all of the suggestions that were posted as appreciative as I am that you all took the time to reply.

    How do studios run a network, local or otherwise and still have decent recordings?
  13. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Wired networks usually aren't a problem. Wireless networks tend to take priority with your cpu and since they are constantly "searching" the network for a connection or to maintain a connection, they tend to have spurts of high cpu use. Hence, the pops and clicks.
  14. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    By not having the recording computers on the network. External FireWire drives come into their own here. Use a pair of them, one plugged into the recording computer at a time, then swapped with the one on the networked PC. This saves time as well as eliminating problems on the recording computer due to network activity.

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