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Static in PC sound, only when performing local network downloads

By jbenward
Jan 10, 2012
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  1. Hey,

    I've got a Dual Xeon Dell Precision T5500 Workstation (running Windows 7 x64) that I use for graphic design and some music production. I have, up until last week, used a M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB Audio Interface for recording (as well as my primary sound card). I decided to get rid of the Fast Track and upgrade to an M-Audio Audiophile 192 PCI sound card.

    Here is my issue-

    With the Fast Track USB Interface, I have always had a noticeable static/popping sound when any audio is playing while I am transferring files on my local network- but I have isolated it specifically to copying files from anywhere on my local network to this PC- so only downloading to this computer. I didn't pay much attention to it, as I thought that was the price that was to be payed because of using a USB sound card.

    After I installed the Audiophile 192, I am still getting this popping sound on network downloads. Just to test, I pulled out the Audiophile 192, enabled the on-board sound card, and the popping was still there with the on-board sound card.

    Any idea what could be causing this? My network adapter is the Broadcom 5701 on-board Gigabit LAN card. The only other PCI or PCI-e cards I have installed are the Nvidia Quadro 4000 Video Adapter, and a SIIG USB 3.0 PCI Card (I have taken this out and the popping is still there).

    All of PCI bus components were different when I started hearing the popping from the Fast Track Pro, so I don't suspect that any of those items would be the culprit. When the popping first started, nothing was even in the PCI/PCI-e bus, except for my old Quadro 580 video card, which I took out months ago and swapped for the Quadro 4000.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that most of the components have been removed or swapped and the sound continues. I have the onboard sound card disabled normally, so I know that also isn't causing it.

    To describe the popping/static, it doesn't make the noise until I'm downloading something and there is a system noise playing, or I have some other audio going (YouTube Video, MP3 played locally, whatever). So if I was to download a file locally and not play any sounds, then you would never know that anything was happening.

    The speakers I'm using are KRK Rokit 5 Active Studio Monitors, so even if there was any background static, I would hear it. These monitors are connected to the computer via a Balanced TRS input, so I don't even have any normal line "hum" at high volumes- so that is how I can tell there is absolutely no static or popping until the PC plays it's own audio.

    Also- I've tried reproducing the problem by playing audio and downloading a file from the internet. It won't produce the popping sound at all.

    Here is my system info:

    Dell Precision T5500 Workstation
    Windows 7 x64 Ultimate Service Pack 1
    Intel Xeon CPU E5520 @ 2.27 GHz & 2.26 GHz (2 Processors)
    Intel x58 Motherboard
    Intel ICH10(R) Family Controllers (I/O Hub, PCI Express Root, Storage)
    12 GB RAM
    Nvidia Quadro 4000
    M-Audio Delta Audiophile 192
    Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx Gigabit Controller

    That's everything I have hooked up right now- anymore questions and I'll be glad to post what I know. I'm hoping that this is something common that I just couldn't find in my searches on google. Any help/advice you could offer, I would appreciate it!

    One last thing- I uninstalled and updated all of my system drivers 2 days ago to see if that would stop the problem. It didn't change anything.

    Thanks!

    -Ben
     
  2. Buckshot420

    Buckshot420 TS Enthusiast Posts: 467

    Did you uninstall your old sound drivers? Are you using ASIO drivers? Im assuming the M-Audio card already has ASIO built-in? Do you get the pop/static when using the onboard sound? You should stick to XP for music production. Even a dual boot WIN 7/XP setup. Im into music production as well and all of my problems stopped when I ran everything on XP. You can try using virtual XP on Win 7 and see if it helps anything. What DAW are you using?
     
  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    You might try grounding the computer by attaching a grounding wire to a screw hole with a screw and driver and grounding it outside the computer to a ground wire (rounded) plug.
     
  4. jbenward

    jbenward TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The case actually is grounded- a ground loop was the first thing that I thought of. After I installed the ground wire, there was no help.

    1. "Did you uninstall your old sound drivers? Are you using ASIO drivers? Im assuming the M-Audio card already has ASIO built-in?"
    I always uninstall the old sound drivers before I install new ones, so yes. The drivers are the stock M-Audio drivers which include low latency ASIO.

    2. "Do you get the pop/static when using the onboard sound?"
    Yes, I was able to reproduce the problem across 3 cards using completely different interfaces- the on-board sound card, USB sound card, and my current PCI sound card. This would only make sense if this was some sort of Windows Issue, not a hardware problem.

    3. What DAW are you using?
    I use Steinberg Neundo and Propellerhead Reason 6.0.

    Some more info...
    Did a fresh installed of Win7 x64 on another hard drive on the same machine, installed all the newest drivers, and still static (only when downloading on the local network) as before. I also installed Linux (Ubuntu 11.10) on another drive and still get the popping (again, only when downloading from the local network). I guess it seems to be some sort of hardware issue or interference across the PCI bus.

    Now that I'm thinking about it- the only difference between a file transfer on the local network and a file transfer on the internet is speed- my local network is completely Gigabit- so I suppose that maybe it is a bandwidth issue? I've been working with computers a while, and I've never seen/heard anything like this. If there is some sort of interference, will a new PCIe NIC help? Am thinking about giving that a try and disabling the on-board NIC. It is an annoying problem, but I would rather just deal with it than replace the motherboard because of something so silly.

    I am going to try using a Wireless-N USB Adapter to see if the problem can be replicated with a USB NIC. I am also going to try an install of Windows XP x32 to see if the problem replicates. I'm thinking that it will (since both Win7 installs did, as well as the Ubuntu install). I'll report the results. If anyone has anymore ideas, please let me know.
     
  5. Buckshot420

    Buckshot420 TS Enthusiast Posts: 467

    I second that. Must be a hardware issue.
     
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,515   +336

    what are sequence of PCI cards; ie what is next to what?

    there's a condition known as cross-talk where emi from one device interfers with another. Moving the sound card may be a solution :hopefully:
     
  7. jbenward

    jbenward TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The USB NIC still elicited the same static issue. So no help there.

    I was able to recreate the static/popping manually- this may be of some help diagnostically.

    1. To recreate the popping, sound should be playing from any program/source. I have started using the a 400 Hz test tone (created in Ableton Live) as my test/reference tone. Using a clean tone helps ensure that any popping/static is not coming from the source or encoding of the audio.

    2. Open up my ASIO driver control panel. The initial settings are:

    a. Sample Rate - 96,000 Hz
    b. ASIO Buffer Size - 512 samples

    The sample rate is locked because Ableton is opened and using the driver right now. "Buffer Size" is editable, though. I start reducing the buffer size... first to 384, then to 256. Everything sounds fine, still. When I hit 128 samples, a very audible (but not too intrusive) popping/static begins (on top of the reference tone), and repeats itself at a regular (but random) frequency. There are half second intervals without static occasionally, but it's semi-continuous. The reference tone is still clean, but there is a popping/static along with it. When I reduce the buffer size to 64 samples (the smallest buffer size), the static/popping overlay stays at the same rate/volume, but now the reference tone itself sounds distorted.

    Of the two sounds, the 128 sample sound is more like the "local network file transfer" popping sound- except the file transfer popping sound is more louder and more frequent, but it still doesn't distort the sound itself (just adds some static on top of it).

    I tried adjusting the Buffer Size higher while doing a file transfer, but it didn't make any difference at all. In fact, the only way I was able to change the sound at all was to adjust the Buffer Size back down to 64 samples, at which point the distortion kicked back in.

    Not sure if all this info would help, but I was hoping against hope that there could be some sort of connection between some ASIO control panel setting and the "file transfer popping sound."

    In RE: to another poster, I thought about PCI crosstalk, but why would the USB audio interface be affected? I made sure that as of right now, the only items in my PCI/PCI-e bays are the M-Audio sound card, and my video card. I am still able to get the popping with this setup.

    Besides adding a bit extra distortion while lowering the ASIO Buffer Size to 64, I cannot create any other affect with the popping sound (either adding to it or stopping it) while the local file transfer is happening.
     
  8. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,282   +157

    After using Flstudio for a while i usually found that popping or crackling was usually related to asio latency settings. Setting to the lowest possible latency usually helped.

    Or try removing/ disabling the asio drivers to narrow things down a bit?

    Sorry i cant be more help, Yor setup was way way more complex than mine .
     
  9. jbenward

    jbenward TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the help anyways! I know its a complex setup- which is why I don't really expect anyone to diagnose the issue over a forum. I was really hoping to find someone who had the same (or similar) issue that could give some advice. I'm still open to any thoughts or suggestions!
     
  10. jbenward

    jbenward TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for all of your help- I think I was able to figure out the issue- I'm working through this guide right now and will post my results- for anyone else having this issue, it seems to be related to the PCI bus, as I thought originally.

    Here is the guide:
    http://raincomputers.com/pro/software/adjusting-pci-latency/
     
  11. jbenward

    jbenward TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well- dang it- I found out that Windows 7 x64 doesn't have any tools to adjust the PCI latency. If you can't do it in the BIOS, there isn't a way to do it that I know of. Anyone have any ideas? Any hidden registry tricks? I'm almost positive that PCI latency is the reason that the popping is happening- I just don't know how to fix it.

    Does anyone know anything about adjusting Win 7 x64 PCI latency?
     
     
  12. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,184   +177

    Maybe try a PCIe card instead as another option. They have dedicated channels whereas PCI shares so latency isn't so much an issue with PCIe.

    And yes I do believe you can only do it in bios - the older boards where I had the same issue I solved via bios timing settings anyway. I doubt the OS has any control over that sort of thing.

    There are forums around that do modded bioses. Might need something better than the factory one for the options you are after.
     


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