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Computer Hardware Audio interfaces, MIDI interfaces, control surfaces, MIDI controllers & USB MIDI keyboards (not motherboards or system components)

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Old 8th November 2008 , 01:59 PM
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Default High Specs But Low Performance - Pops Glitches Dropouts

Hi mates,

I have just built my new PC system for audio purposes.
_____________________________________________________
ASUS P5QL-E
Intel Dual Core E8400
4 GB Dual Channel Corsair XMS2 DHX CL5
ASUS EN7300GT 512M
Western Digital SATA2 250GB 7200rpm 16 MB Cache (WD2500AAKS)
Raidmax 520W PSU
Windows XP x64
_____________________________________________________

Regrettably, my purpose has not been achieved as I get glitches, pops and severe dropouts even at 1000 Samples (Buffer Size) which is inappropriate for my specs. I use Ableton Live 7.03 and the problem occurs only in ASIO mode especially when I move parameters in Ableton.The CPU Meter jumps crazy and I can barely do anything. Confusingly, this does not happen in MME Mode. I do get constant glitches and pops if I set the buffer to low but these are not influenced by anything. I can move whole song sequences or parameters around and the playback is very constant. I can get to a balance with the buffer but unfortunately, I cannot set multiple outputs in MME mode, nor I can get below 18ms latency without glitches, pops, crackle. I was expecting at least a 10ms latency.

I have tried different approaches from thoroughly optimizing the system, to asking a friend to borrow me a new Hard Drive, Graphic Card and Memory Stick which I tested one by one, but with no result at all. After searching the google a little I found out that Gigabyte EP35C-DS3R which was my motherobard had some problems with the P35 chipset and I was not the only one having serious problems with it. Not having any other options I changed my motherboard to an well respected P5QL-E ASUS but I shocked to see that the problem was exactly the same. Moreover I installed other OSs than XP x64. XP x32 was working better. A 144 samples buffer in ASIO mode was pretty stable although I was still getting pops and dropouts from time to time. Vista x64 was a mess. The pops and glitches were at their peak.

Convinced that the sound card is the problem (a Hercules DJ Console - 24bit/48000) I installed it on my brother's computer (an old Intel P4 at 3.00GHz with 512 RAM) together with Ableton and he didn't experienced any glitch or dropout even at very low buffer sizes as long as the CPU was below 80% usage.

I am very disappointed as I have spent a lot of money, time and effort for building my DAW System and the reward is an incapable one.

I have no idea what might cause the problem but I think it is something related to compatibility or something between the CPU and Motherboard.

I would really appreciate any help,

I look forward to hearing a response soon,
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Old 8th November 2008 , 03:38 PM
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Board and processor should be all hunky dorey. Check your MOBO revision and Bios as there could be an issue there (although this is unlikely to be causing your problem, you'd be getting a a CPU uCode load error usually). Check you have multiprocessing on. And yes 32 bit is what your going to have to use right now as the others will make a mess of it, plus chances are your audio driver will be flipping the 64 bit system out (unless you have a proper 64 bit driver available).

This sounds to me to be soundcard problems more than anything else.

Make sure that u've installed all the tools and utilities that come on th ASUS board disk and check for any chipset updates. One last thing (before anybody laughs i have seen this happen before) put the machine direct into the wall, so no multisockets and run burn in test see how your performance works out.

Could also be your board and OS not liking 4gb ram in 32 but that wouldnt explain its performance in xp64 unless that was then due to the driver.

Im presuming youve checked things like the temps to make sure that its not getting way too hot in there?

520w supply should be fine in the config so i can see that being a problem really as long as your using a 24pin board connector and not a 20 and if the GFX card powers off the board your using the 8pin connector up by the CPU or the 6 pin connector on the back of the card (wouldnt have thought that a 7300 would require it but could be wrong).

If your powering the interface from USB your not doing this from a PCI based USB hub ? this could be an issue if you have a wireless card or otherwise installed at the same time (not very likely but could well be)

Last resort is reset the CMOS just to make sure there weren't any bizarre configs going on in the BIOS when you first had it, if your running any overclocks id suggest dropping those too.

The final thing that could be causing issues is the onboard soundcard (although thats a very rare problem these days) if so just kill it in the bios and see what happens

The p5q is a great board and i cant undertstand why you'd be getting these issues as a friend has the P5Q-deluxe and an e8400 an it flies along (although hes not really doing much audio work i would have thought that if there was an issue it would have shown up when playing games).

If non of this works then im stumped and the only thing i can suggest is to get a copy of hirens boot CD and run some serious tests on the machine.
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Old 8th November 2008 , 03:43 PM
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I thinik you could be suffering for an incorrectly attached CPU heatsink - modern processor will cut their speed dramtically if they are overheating which will translate into a complete inability to play audio from an audio application without distortion, dropouts, glitches etc.

The tell tale sign for me is that the CPU meter is going nuts as well, so I allmost guarantee this is the problem. I am assuming that the CPU cooler is adequately specified.

I am also guessing this could a first or second time you have built you own PC - can you remember what kind of heat transfer pad or paste was between the CPU and its cooler and if a pad - you *did* take the paper backing sheet of it?

If paste, did you stuck the right amount on? Too little and you dont get good contact between the CPU and the cooler, too much and it start to act as an insulator between the CPU and its cooler.

Another posible cause, but TBH this tend to only kick in when you are stressing you computer is that you have the an inappropriate CPU fan control mode mode set in the BIOS - I allways set it for max cooling and disable any BIOS options for speed step and anything else that degrade performance, however I *NEVER* switch off the thermal throttling options as they arfe what protects your CPU should you have a problem with the cooler - if you switch those off - you will fry your CPU in the event of a cooler failure of any kind.

Hate to say this, but this is a very good reason to buy pre-built systems from the likes of DV (yeh - no good to you now - I know ) etc unless you really know not only how to put a michine together for reliable operation, but also how certain kind of symtoms can related to hardware build problems.

Anyway - check your cooler - I'm absolutely sure thats the problem. If you have any doubt about correct mounting and application of heat transfer paste/pad etc, then read and follow the the mounting intructions carefully.

BTW - if the cooler had a heat trasnfer pad on it (intel standard coolers used to), and you toiok the paper off it, then it will stick to the CPU a little. Aso check that the cooler is very securely clamped down. If the CPU has allready overheated and been throttled, then the heat transffer pad may be near useless - if so, then the only option is to carefully scrap it off (Dont not use anything metal for this as it will badly score the soft metal of the cooler) and use a high quality thermal transfer paste - arctic silver for eg or some of the even better newer heat transfer pastes.

If you have doubts - then find a PC tech to do this for you.
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Old 8th November 2008 , 03:47 PM
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Just had a look at the Herc support site, make sure you have the newest driver issued - 01/10/08 otherwise this may be spazzing the whole thing out. Az K said overheating or bad contact between the sink an heatspreader is a common problem. Especially using the crappy Intel stock cooler with those damn clips (worst clamping system ever).
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Old 9th November 2008 , 10:52 AM
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After many hours of googling I came over a thread on the Cubase forums.
[url]http://www.cubase.net/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=789735&sid01438fd679905ae3a5e0[/url]

I noticed that the problems issued are resembling mine strongly. I do noticed that every time I get Dropouts I get some Spikes also (from 10% to 100%) and when I get spikes, I hear the Hard Disk grinding and the Hard Disk Activity LED flashing.

The only think that does not resemble is that I am running SATA in [IDE] Mode and not RAID and I use Intel ICH10R not ICH9R as those on the Cubase forum. Firstly, I disconnected my old IDE CDROM and diabled JMICRON in BIOS, but the problem was the same. The sunshine came when I followed Q-Bass's suggestion to set Ableton's process priority in the Task Manager to "Realtime". The spikes, dropouts, glitches or anything else gone away IMEDIATELY . I set the buffer to 48 Samples (2ms latency) and not a single glitch even if I open a game at the same time :P.

Also for those who didn't take a look at the Cubase thread, disabling Multi Core Processing in Ableton's Preferences also fixed the problem but thats not a cure, its more liek a trick. It's like driving a F1 Formula in town with 50km per hour. The Priority thing could be an option but thats also a bypass-kind procedure and I am sure the problem comes from somewhere else.

All that I said above was tested on my old XP x64, but I have recently purchased Vista x64 and I wanted to make use of it. I installed a fresh Vista and with this opportunity I switched to AHCI mode in BIOS (as those on Cubase recomended). This didn't take the problem away though, and Vista doesn't let me to set the priority to realtime, only to High. have no idea why ?

I hope this approach lights an idea for someone, to help me fix this problem once and for all.

Thank you for your time,
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Old 9th November 2008 , 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monome View Post
After many hours of googling I came over a thread on the Cubase forums.
http://www.cubase.net/phpbb2/viewtop...d679905ae3a5e0

I noticed that the problems issued are resembling mine strongly. I do noticed that every time I get Dropouts I get some Spikes also (from 10% to 100%) and when I get spikes, I hear the Hard Disk grinding and the Hard Disk Activity LED flashing.

The only think that does not resemble is that I am running SATA in [IDE] Mode and not RAID and I use Intel ICH10R not ICH9R as those on the Cubase forum. Firstly, I disconnected my old IDE CDROM and diabled JMICRON in BIOS, but the problem was the same. The sunshine came when I followed Q-Bass's suggestion to set Ableton's process priority in the Task Manager to "Realtime". The spikes, dropouts, glitches or anything else gone away IMEDIATELY . I set the buffer to 48 Samples (2ms latency) and not a single glitch even if I open a game at the same time :P.

Also for those who didn't take a look at the Cubase thread, disabling Multi Core Processing in Ableton's Preferences also fixed the problem but thats not a cure, its more liek a trick. It's like driving a F1 Formula in town with 50km per hour. The Priority thing could be an option but thats also a bypass-kind procedure and I am sure the problem comes from somewhere else.

All that I said above was tested on my old XP x64, but I have recently purchased Vista x64 and I wanted to make use of it. I installed a fresh Vista and with this opportunity I switched to AHCI mode in BIOS (as those on Cubase recomended). This didn't take the problem away though, and Vista doesn't let me to set the priority to realtime, only to High. have no idea why ?

I hope this approach lights an idea for someone, to help me fix this problem once and for all.

Thank you for your time,
drivers. vista 64 is a nightmare for drivers
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Old 9th November 2008 , 05:21 PM
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I know this is no consolation but this is exactly the reason why i moved over to Mac , the amount of money i wasted over the years trying to get Audio PC's to work smoothly.Just a silly thing like buying a TC powercore firewire had me going through 2 PC's and god knows how many Firewire cards.
Its only when you own a Macpro take a look build quality then look inside one at lack of cables that you realise just how good they are.
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Old 9th November 2008 , 11:15 PM
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I would say driver related because you should have no trouble with those specs.

It'll sound a bit odd saying this but your system is a good build it just needs fine tuning to work.

I don't know about 64bit but there are folks around who do.
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Old 10th November 2008 , 12:06 PM
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I tried the system on XP 32 bit too. The dropouts and glitches happen more sparsely but they still occur.

I'm on XP x64 at the moment. The drivers for the sound card are the latest I don't have doubts about their compatibility, but today every thing is possible, so I think it's worth emailing their support.

Any other ideas?
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Old 10th November 2008 , 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monome View Post
Also for those who didn't take a look at the Cubase thread, disabling Multi Core Processing in Ableton's Preferences also fixed the problem but thats not a cure, its more liek a trick. It's like driving a F1 Formula in town with 50km per hour. The Priority thing could be an option but thats also a bypass-kind procedure and I am sure the problem comes from somewhere else.
Yeah having to disable Multiprocessing to get any music software package working properly in 2008 makes no sense.

You should not even have to think about thread priorities either.

Quote:
All that I said above was tested on my old XP x64, but I have recently purchased Vista x64 and I wanted to make use of it. I installed a fresh Vista and with this opportunity I switched to AHCI mode in BIOS (as those on Cubase recomended). This didn't take the problem away though, and Vista doesn't let me to set the priority to realtime, only to High. have no idea why ?
I use Sonar on Vista 64 (and other apps) and have never touched the AHCI option. You really should not need to.


Quote:
I tried the system on XP 32 bit too. The dropouts and glitches happen more sparsely but they still occur.

I'm on XP x64 at the moment. The drivers for the sound card are the latest I don't have doubts about their compatibility, but today every thing is possible, so I think it's worth emailing their support.

Any other ideas?
Background tasks?

When you open up the task manager what do you see? Is your internet connection live while you use Cubase (Firewall + Antivirus e.t.c) ?

I have been on Vista 64 for some time now and so far so good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cane creek
Its only when you own a Macpro take a look build quality then look inside one at lack of cables that you realise just how good they are.
I must say while the interior of my PC is very tidy IMO (especially in a big case) MAC's certainly do have a lovely interior
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