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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 26th December 2008 , 05:15 PM
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Unhappy USB Soundcard Problem

Hello everyone,

I hope someone might be able to help because this is driving me nuts!

I'm using an external USB soundcard (not a swish professional one - it's by creative labs) and when I record via either the Mic and Line-In sockets I get a weird crackle feedback every 30 seconds or so and obliterates the recording for a few seconds at a time . . .

My motherboard has on-board sound, so I'm wondering whether they are both having a bit of a punch up? I'm recording in Ableton by the way if that makes any odds.

Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.

Cheers.
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Old 26th December 2008 , 05:54 PM
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On Board Sound is certainly a likely culprit. Disable it on BIOS best or at least Device Manager. But I fear some of the "damage" is already done but worry not, I think you can sort it.

Disconnect the usb device and run "Revouninstaller" and run the most advanced setting to rid the pc of every trace of the usb AI. Next disable the OBS best way you can and run Revo again for that ( also Ccleaner is a good idea).

Now find the March 2002 article at www.soundonsound.com "Optimising Windows XP for Music" This might be a bit dense for you but just do the Windows sounds shut off and "run in background" tweaks at the very least. DO NOT IMHO disable "Restore"!

Now re install the usb unit TO THE LETTER!

I have no experience with Abe L but it has a good rep' If you still have problems download the very simple but solid Audacity as a check DAW software.

Dave.
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Old 26th December 2008 , 05:54 PM
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Have you disabled the on board sound card and is it on a laptop or desk top? What OS?
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Old 27th December 2008 , 12:09 PM
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Thank you Dave, I'll try this and let you know if it works.
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Old 27th December 2008 , 12:17 PM
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Sureno, sorry should of said - I'm using XP on a desktop. I asumed that the USB card would disable the on-board sound when it's plugged in . . . but from the sounds of it it's probably not that cleaver! I'll have a route around in the devise manager and see about disabling it there first. If that doesn't help I'll do Dave's more in depth disable and re-install . . . fingers crossed.

Thanks for your help guys . . . Merry Christmas to you both.

Jon
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Old 27th December 2008 , 12:38 PM
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And a merry one to you Jon,

Let us know how things go, all too often we never know if we have got you guys cooking or not!

Dave.
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Old 27th December 2008 , 12:46 PM
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All the computer I use for audio (laptops running vista and my workstation running XP) have an active soundcard or build-in audio as well as the studio audio interface on them - both are active and without any problems.

I suspect you actually have some device driver or service that is periodically doing something and that is interfering with the USB audio.

I suggest following one of the windows XP audio tweak guides and/or increasing you audio buffer size. With a well setup machine you shouldnt have to disable a whole bunch of services etc, however there are many third party apps and services which do cause problems with audio streaming, particularly over USB. Also make sure your audio interface is not on a root hub sharing with other devices.

Look for installed printer utilities and applications in the sys-tray - they are often the cause of periodic audio problems - HP in particular I know can upset audio in this manner, so with my HP printer I only have the basic drivers installed and non of their applications.

Multiple audio interfaces/soundcards are not in my experience a cause of problems on their own, for eg I regularly play stuff in windows media to either a build in audio interface on the laptop or the creative sound card on my workstation while Live/Cubase etc are using ASIO driver to a different pro-audio interface - no problems at all with this. Just make sure that the default audio device is not your audio production interface so that windows beeps and other applications that make noise dont interfere with audio work. Sometimes you may have to disable non-ASIO drivers on your production audio interface to be absolute sure that only applications supporting ASIO will talk to it.
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Old 27th December 2008 , 12:49 PM
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No probs, I'll give it a go later.

One other thing on the subject of sound cards. I've just been watching Hot Chips video on using Ableton and he mentioned that the sound card he used gave a nice sound and that the Drums really punch through etc. So, doe's the quality of the sound card effect the final outcome of the track when it's 'rendered'? I assumed that the sound card just dealt with play-back and prosessing speed. . . ?

If the sound card has an impact on the final rendering I probably shouldn't be using such a cheapo one in any case when all my other stuff is decent quality!

I apologise for my ignorance if it's obvious to everyone else!
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Old 27th December 2008 , 04:10 PM
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You don't have to disable cards
Just make the onboard soundcard the default for windows
And just use the external card for your DAW
They will not have any issues

Check your power status is set to 'always on' and you don't have any wireless running.

Also check latency settings.
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Old 29th December 2008 , 02:26 PM
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Oh dear. I've experimented with all of the above, but nothing helped. . .

I've plugged straight into the on board sound card and tried recording from that and it's fine, so it's definitely the USB devises fault! Interestingly the sound it makes is very much like the crackling when you mess about with the latency settings. I've got the buffer set to it's max.

Also, I noticed that I'm using the MME Direct X drivers rather than the ASIO ones. When I select ASIO and then my USB device it says "Failed to open the audio device 'ASIO Sound Blaster USB Audio'"

I wonder whether the card is just knackered . . .
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Old 29th December 2008 , 02:44 PM
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Can we actually hear it. Might help.

Do you know if the distortion is being recorded to audio, or if it is being generated by the outputs?

Creative are quite frankly...rubbish at soundcards for music. Games and dvd etc they are ok, but not really upto the standards of cards for music. Their drivers are esp bad. They own EMU funnily enough, who make good music cards.
If you are having problems with ASIO. Do a google for ASIO4ALL. There are also some custom drivers for Creative cards that helped me a few years back when I was stuck with one of them, but can't remember who made them. More info here in the driver soft mod section of the page

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_Blaster

Have you tried doing things like turning the input gain down. That's normally the start of most feedback loops..

We'll all work it out
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Old 29th December 2008 , 03:46 PM
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Yes, quite agree. Yes, the distortion is being recorded. Here is a clip of what it sounds like you can hear how it builds up and then disappears. Oh, actually I've just tried to upload an Mp3 but it won't let me . . . is it possible?

The input gain is set quite low.

I've just tried the ASIO4ALL which works! However, the sound quality has the same crackle as I experience when recording but on general playback. Increasing the buffer size doesn't help in this instance.

Maybe I should bin it . . . . ! Dave has kindly recommended an M-Audio Fast-Track Pro which sounds good . . .
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Old 29th December 2008 , 05:26 PM
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i had a creative external usb card too years ago and i had to get rid of it ..i had asio problems and thats why i was getting crackles pops and drop outs there useless for making music..there fine for apps like ejay and for games and movies but for daws like cubase ,logic...etc then best get rid..

theres lots of excellent cheap pci cards out which will be fine for you theres the emu 0404 card which i still have now its excellent for music because its got its own dsp chips and very low latency so great for recording live takes or using vsts..

or theres the m-audio delta cards there really good and with the updates m-audio provided awhile ago they can now run protools or any daw you like..theres lots of different options too suit your needs and bank balance too ..instead of using external cards if you can find space in yopur computer use a pci card there cheap and will be ok for you too use..heres the links--

http://www.dv247.com/invt/4604/

http://www.dv247.com/invt/22115/

http://www.dv247.com/invt/4605/

http://www.dv247.com/invt/24167/
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Old 30th December 2008 , 04:20 PM
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Do me a favour.

Download Audacity for free, and record into that. Lets just eliminate any Ableton related issues. If the fault persists, then we can deffo start looking at hardware problems.

It could even be something like a shared IRQ line. We'll delve into the hardware issues later though. Lets just make sure its not something further up the pipes thats the problem.
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Old 3rd January 2009 , 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdRyan View Post
Do me a favour.

Download Audacity for free, and record into that. Lets just eliminate any Ableton related issues. If the fault persists, then we can deffo start looking at hardware problems.

It could even be something like a shared IRQ line. We'll delve into the hardware issues later though. Lets just make sure its not something further up the pipes thats the problem.
Hi Ed,

Sorry for the delay in my response, what with Christmas and discovering WOW online is actually very addictive!

I've tried recording through Audacity and that works fine - so It must be a Soundcard/Ableton specific problem. As I said before Ableton records fine via the on-board sound card, so it's just the USB one which it has a problem with. Do you think I should just buy a new internal sound card to avoid any potential USB problems. I would rather have a USB one but I don't want to spend £xxx on one and then find it does the same thing!

Doe's anyone else use a USB sound card with Ableton . . . ? If so - what works well?

Many thanks and 'Happy New Year'.

Jon
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