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Audio fades in and out from speakers, not sound card

By Je Hones · 10 replies
Sep 29, 2011
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  1. I first noticed this a few days ago, when I was playing a video in VLC player. At the time I figured the audio of the .avi was either encoded badly or VLC was acting up, so I dismissed it as an anomaly. However, I started noticing it more as I watched something else later that day, on files that usually play sound and video perfectly. I still thought it was VLC player though, so I restored all the default preferences, which didn't work, and I reinstalled and fully updated it but that didn't make a difference either.

    Today though, I realised the problem isn't VLC player because I noticed it while playing back a video on YouTube, and now I can hear it just playing audio through Foobar, which I couldn't before.

    I've tested playing the audio through my headphones and there is no fading in and out or jumps up in volume but there is when I play through the speakers, which makes me think it's down to the speakers. I also checked all the connections, cleaned and rewired them back up. Still, no difference. I checked whether I had any stupid audio effects on that might mess things up too, but I don't, so that can be ruled out too.

    Anybody have a differential diagnosis?

    I suspect that my speakers are sort of dying, and they are pretty old so it's not a surprise, although it is a pain in the ****. I accidentally had the speakers so loud the output audio distorted today too, which could have made it worse and led to it becoming more noticeable. The sound doesn't distort when it happens though, just turns itself down and up at seemingly random intervals, so I don't think I blew a speaker. Could it be a faulty connection in the hard-wires of the speaker setup?

    I'm running Windows XP with service pack 3, a Toneport UX1 soundcard, AMD Phenom II X4 840 processor, 4GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GT 440 graphics card.

  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,243   +234

    I will say that replacing the speakers would be the next thing to do
  3. Je Hones

    Je Hones TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yeah, that's what I was thinking too, but could it be anything else do you think?
  4. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,243   +234

    No, you said the speaker sound system is old, so why not upgrade them now?
  5. Je Hones

    Je Hones TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Because it's costly, and I just spent £3600 on a MA degree. They are old but sound great and never had any problems before this, so if the problem isn't ultimately them being physically broken, I'd be happy keeping them if it was down to some other issue I could resolve.

    But if I have to replace them, I will. I just want to find other possible explanations and refute them before I do.
  6. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,243   +234

    "But if I have to replace them, I will. I just want to find other possible explanations and refute them before I do"...

    Good luck :) What is the make and model of this old speaker system?
  7. Je Hones

    Je Hones TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I can't be very specific until tomorrow; I'm away from home at the minute, but they are a 5.1 speaker system that came with a Creative SB Live soundcard about 10 years ago.
  8. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,243   +234

    Well, when you can replace them. There's nothing more to do
  9. Je Hones

    Je Hones TS Rookie Topic Starter

    ^Yeah, I will do. Thanks for the reply.

    The speakers are Cambridge Soundworks Fourpoints Surround FPS1600 by the way. I'm home now, and just had a look. Strangely, I've been playing music from them for about ten minutes now and there have been no dips in audio level. Before, it was something like every 10-20 seconds.
  10. Je Hones

    Je Hones TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I feel like I should update this thread on what's been going on because I know how annoying it is for people to Google these problems and only find dead end threads.

    I'm pretty sure that the problem is just the potentiometer in the volume control that comes with the speaker setup. My sort of educated guess here is that the problem is most likely due to the fact that the copper wiring running through the volume control has become less taut, or perhaps gathered dust or rust or something that is interfering with the signal, and when I mentioned in my above post that I had not experienced any dips in audio level, it might have been because I was playing the music loud, which required I turn the potentiometer anti-clockwise, therefore tightening the wires and keeping the signal consistent.

    I have an external sound-card with its own volume control/potentiometer too, so to counteract how far up I needed to turn the speaker volume control, I turned that down to achieve a sensible audio level with no dips.

    Even if my explanation isn't actually what is going on, it's fact that there are no dips in audio level when I turn the speaker volume control way up, even when I turn the sound-card volume control way down to counter-act it.

    The volume control that comes with the speakers is peripheral, rather than physically attached to it, so I might see if I can find a replacement. When I do, I'll post again confirming whether or not it worked.
  11. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,243   +234

    You can buy electrical contact cleaner/lubrication at stores like Fry's or Radio Shack. This cleaner will restore rusted or corroded contacts into working order

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