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Anything I can do to stop this annoying crackling noise ?

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January 15, 2007 2:36:19 AM

I have an Audigy 2, an ABIT KG7-Lite with the AMD 761 Northbridge/VIA 686B Southbridge, and an Athlon 1.4 Thunderbird. I used to run a SoundBlaster Live Value card, and that worked flawlessly. Ever since I moved to the Audigy 2, I have gotten crackling sounds coming from the speakers when audio is playing, and sometimes when nothing is playing at all. Most of the time I can get it to start by playing a game, or listening to MP3s. After a reboot, it generally won't happen for 5-10 minutes, but then it starts and it never stops. I am running XP SP2.

I have found that if I install alternative SoundBlaster drivers from KX Project, the problem is almost completely resolved. I very occasionally hear snaps, or pops from the speakers, but they are still there. It is much better than with the latest CL drivers, but I want it to go away completely or else I will just have to go back to my Live card.

Things I have tried thus far :
- I have tried to move the Audigy 2 to a different PCI slot, but to no avail. When I moved it to the closest one to my AGP card (ATI 9600XT), the popping was more or less constant. Please note that it was not the shared PCI/AGP slot, it was one away from that one. I tried it in every available slot, some cause more popping but none are clear.

- I have also tried to underclock my CPU by setting the PCI Bus to 30 MHz, but that also changed nothing.

- I have lowered the soundboard hardware acceleration feature from Full to None, and all settings in between. Same for vidcard settings.

- Installed George's patch to turn off Creative Labs turbo mode. http://www.georgebreese.com/net/software/#CREATIVE

- I have upgraded to the latest Audigy 2 for XP drivers, but there has been no change to the behaviour.

- Removed all CL software but drivers.

- I have also tried disabling the FireWire port on the card since I have a separate FW PCI card, that seemed to work after a reboot but the popping came back soon afterwords.

- SB Diagnostics always comes back with a Pass for every test.

- I have tried muting Line-In (as I read on the Internet, which seemed to help some people).

- I have used PowerStrip to play with the PCI Latency settings of both my Audigy 2 and my Asus 9600 XT (currently set at 64 for SB, 80 for Asus)

- I tried headphones in the speaker port on the back to be sure it wasn't my speakers (it wasn't).

- I swapped my Live back into the system after removing the Audigy 2, and I found that the popping ceased. Given the number of hits on the Internet for this exact problem, I don't think I have a bad Audigy 2 card, but rather I have a problem with that card in this system.

I have done some additional research on the Internet, and have found that this is a very common problem with newer SB cards, for instance the brand new X-Fi Fatal1ty cards but I was hoping as my system was a little older that I would not have the problem with an Audigy 2. For reference, here are the massive boards detailing the problems on the X-Fi directly from the Creative forums :

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...

The first thread was closed after 188 pages of discussion, the second is already up to 119 and still going strong.


Any suggestions people can make are much appreciated. I am just about ready to give up, and see if I still have the problem after my next upgrade to a dual-core (some time later this year).

BM.
January 17, 2007 12:56:41 AM

I don't know what version of kX you have tried. I had popping / clicking problems with a number of kX versions and finally settled back on 3534f. I use it on 3 different systems with no glitches.

I think that the latest version 3538L has also gone a long way in eliminating the pops and clicks

On this system

PIII 800 Mhz, 512 Meg RAM, 40 Gig 7200 RPM HDD, XP Pro SP2
I have an Audigy 2 ZS (SB0350) and an Audigy 1 (SB0090)

I can record 8 Mono tracks simultaneously and can playback around 15 tracks of audio recorded at 48 Khz, 16 bit with no pops or clicks and as you can see, I have an older system than yours.

I have "hardware acceleration" set to full and "sample rate conversion" to best.

You can get 3534f fom here - click kX drivers button.
http://www.electricstart.de/index.htm

3538L is available in this thread
http://www.driverheaven.net/showthread.php?t=118620

Check out audio tweaks here
http://www.pcmus.com/TweakXP.htm

Read the kX Getting Started Guide
http://kb.kxproject.lugosoft.com/guide/index.html


In the end, it is possible that your motherboard hates Audigy cards. I had one motherboard that would not work at all with an SBLive. It wouldn't ever find the card and a manual install of the Creative drivers or kX drivers just didn't work.


What is the model number of your card?

Good luck.
January 17, 2007 2:18:22 AM

Ah, thanks for that informative answer. Model number is SB0240. SB Audigy 2.

I had tried the KX Project drivers because the popping was so bad on the CL drivers that I just couldn't use them any longer. KX was a considerable improvement, but it still came back after just under a week of more or less continuous testing (playing games, MP3s, etc.). With the CL drivers, as soon as I install them, I hear it even on XP boot. MP3s make it so bad I can't listen to them without getting irritated, and games are just as bad.

I was using the KX 3537 drivers. They were the latest non-beta release. I'll download the 3534f and give them a try, but I think your conclusion is correct. The Audigy 2 is simply not compatible with my motherboard. I have already read though that KX Getting started guide, and had a few questions answered in their forum. I'll have a look at the TweakXP link and see if I can find something I haven't already done. I have been fighting with this problem for months, and have tried most things people recommend in forums. For now I put back my Live! card, and it is working just fine. No crackling at all. But that is not really the point since I bought this damn Audigy 2, I want to use it.

Thanks,
BM
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January 21, 2007 8:09:19 AM

I've actually started having this problem with my Audigy 2 as well (SB0420, I believe). The strange thing is that I bought the card the same time I bought my A8N-Sli Deluxe fifteen months ago. It worked beautifully. No problems whatsoever. Then I stopped using this machine for about three months and decided to reinstall everything from scratch on it. And from the get-go, I get constant crackling. Even though it previously worked.

I've installed the latest drivers available from Creative (god, the only worse driver page from a manufacturer I have found so far is Asus where the links to the A8N drivers don't even WORK!).

Anyway, it seems to be from the card as I've tried two sets of speakers and both have the same problem. The crackling doesn't occur when on mute, turned off or plugged into the onboard AC97. It also seems to happen more often with certain types of media than others. For example, content from YouTube crackles like hell whereas MP3s and podcasts are just fine. Games exhibit the problem, but usually not when running in "software audio" mode (or at least, not nearly as bad).

I've checked IRQs, reinstalled the entire system, installed the latest drivers. Nothing seems to work. All I can think of at this point is that my actual card must be damaged somehow. Which is odd, because I would expect the crackling to happen all the time then.

I'd be interested in buying one of the new X-Fi's for $92, but I have no way of knowing they won't have the same problem as well.

Oh well. Meh.
January 21, 2007 2:26:23 PM

Hi Cronjob,

I looked up your mobo, it is an nForce4 chipset. I can't explain how you managed to avoid crackling sounds the first time you had the Audigy 2 running with your mobo, but I know your problem after the reinstall really well. The Audigy series of cards are not completely compatible with the NForce4 chipset (as well as many VIA chipsets), there are a lot of sound issues. There are many different theories on why crackling occurs, but no answers. Unfortunately, you will very likely have the same problem with an X-Fi, so I would not recommend the upgrade. This has nothing to do with a bad card (ie. broken hardware), this is a fault you have no control over.

Here is a listing of Creative Labs forums on the problem :

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...
188 pages, 1871 replies, NO FIX!

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...
122 pages, 1211 replies, NO FIX!

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...
29 pages, 289 replies, NO FIX!

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...
15 pages, 146 replies, NO FIX! (CL Admins killed the thread)

As you can see, this problem is very well known, and there is no solution. It is very interesting that you didn't have the problem initially however. But as you can see, despite the best efforts of hundreds of people, no one has been able to resolve this issue. Personally, I had to finally give up on my Audigy 2 and go back to my old SB Live card, which works with my VIA 686B chipset.

If you want my advice, since this problem is unique to Creative Labs cards, you should probably look into getting a Razer Barracuda sound card instead. It supports all major sound output (Dolby 7.1, DTS, EAX 2.0, etc.) but does not have this problem.

Good luck,
BM.
January 22, 2007 6:20:23 AM

Yeah, I had actually come across a number of those threads previously when I was trying to debug the issue. I considered that there could be a problem with (my) individual card only because it had previously worked just fine for most of a year and only started to have problems after I reinstalled. It literally went from being a perfectly performing card to a card that hurts your ears to use. Sometimes it never stops. Other times (like right now) it crackles for about twenty minutes after booting up and then I can play some music (listening to some The Who FLACs right now) and they'll largely play without issue.

I also considered it must have just been a driver issue... but after throwing on a test install of Debian, that linux install had the same problem. Just as bad.

I'm looking at building a new machine shortly with an eVGA/NVIDIA 680i and am hoping that board doesn't have the same issues as I'd like to throw in an X-Fi (though I've heard that some people do have the same problem with it). If that has the same problem, I will probably just switch to a pro-line audio card. I'm not much of an audiophile, but a $250 card with amenities is better than a $100 that doesn't even work. :) 

I've been using Sound Blaster cards as far back as I can remember (at least a decade now) and this is the first time I've ever encountered this kind of problem, though I have heard complaints frequently around the net. :/ 
January 23, 2007 6:11:52 AM

I just found something strange today (I have the same audigy as batman, above). I needed some temporary additional cooling for testing so I slid the side panel off my case and took a 600 watt Vornado room fan on medium about five feet away from my PC.

Up to this point, I hadn't had much crackling in a bit and I wasn't playing any audio at all. Within seconds of pointing the fan at my system, I started to get a LOT of crackling. At least as much as I get any other time when the snap-crackle-pop problem appears during normal use.

I'm not sure what that means, really. It just struck me as odd that something as simple as blowing air on the card would cause it to S-C-P. Maybe this tells some of you something about the nature of the problem. Hell if I know. Just thought it was interesting.
January 24, 2007 12:44:52 PM

I can't think of why that might be, but you might want to post a note to DWH in the Creative forums. He was the one who was trying to help me with my own crackling problems, and seems to have at least an idea of why it is happening (no solution unfortunately, but he seems to understand the issue).

Have a look here :
http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...

Then make a new post to his attention. He will answer it, and maybe that will provide a good clue as to the origins of SCP.

BM.
January 24, 2007 2:36:38 PM

I'm in a serious hunt for Creative alternatives for my new box (I'll use onboard until then). There are a couple cards out there that are looking really good right now, even if they're not $92 like the X-Fi.

Creative sure seems to have settled on the "It's NVIDIA's fault! PCI timing! No more for us to do, thanks!" tactic, sadly (so far at least).
January 24, 2007 3:01:35 PM

Yep, my next sound board will be the Razer Barracuda when I finally get around to upgrading to a dual-core. It supports everything I need, including EAX 2.0, so I won't lose anything I have already (except annoying SCP!!!).

BM.
January 24, 2007 3:14:37 PM

I considered the Razer, but reviews indicate that it drops framerates by "as much as 20%". The numbers I specifically saw was 5fps (I don't remember how powerful the rig was). So, I'm a little tentative about that.
January 24, 2007 3:44:36 PM

I'm not interested in going through all the pages in those threads to see what's been done, but we had similar trouble with an older SB card on some of our Asus boards a few years ago. We were able to correct the problem by increasing the latency on the PCI bus. If that option is available to you, give it a try.
January 24, 2007 5:09:54 PM

As I mentioned in some other thread awhile back, the strangest part about my experiencing of this problem is that I have an ASUS A8N-Sli Deluxe and have been running the SoundBlaster Audigy 2 in it for about 15 months. Only after recently reinstalling the OS and drivers did I start having this problem in the last couple months!

Anyway, I am hoping I can find another line of cards that is not merely "an okay substitute", but actually WAY BETTER than Sound Blaster. Sadly, it is looking like the only good card with a company that has been around awhile is the Creative line. Razer has their Barracuda, but it's their first attempt at a sound card and it's a company that already went under once (during the .com bomb), so . . .

I was sort of considering this card, except it doesn't do any of the fancy 5.1/7.1/EAX stuff (which I guess I care about since this will be a rig used largely for gaming and music).
January 24, 2007 10:28:10 PM

I don't think it's EMF, because the fan doesn't cause it if it is one foot from the machine. However, if it sits four feet away and blows on the internals, it *does* cause it.

It's really odd.

Oh well. I'm going to test the card in my new machine this week and I'll try those kX drivers (though as I understand it, they don't support certain aspects of the card?). If that works, I hope to get the X-Fi.
January 25, 2007 2:58:07 AM

Yeah, I ran the KX drivers for a while. They definitely improved my SCP problem, but didn't eliminate it. The KX drivers do not have full EAX support. You will hear the EAX sounds (I tried the drivers with Far Cry), but not the complete effect. The KX project is for musicians, so they won't be adding full EAX support. Plus I think Creative keeps that info to themselves anyway.

As to your last post about the Barracuda, I don't have one so maybe you should post in their forum if you are interested, but the card supports everything you are listing in your last post :

http://www.razerzone.com/Products/Gaming-Audio/Razer-Ba...

Dolby ProLogic IIx for 7.1 sound
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS
EAX 1.0 and 2.0
DirectSound
A3D

I don't know anything about them other than what I have read in reviews and in the forums, but people who have purchased them seem very happy. And the most important thing for me? No SCP!

BM.
February 3, 2013 10:38:13 PM

Solved the problem after 10 years and reading much advice . . . I have Dell 8250 running XP with a SB Audigy 2 card.

1. I used Sysinfo and determined that there are 3 devices sharing the SB IRQ (network card and 2 USB controller).
2. Could NOT manually re-assign IRQs vis HW properties or BIOS, so . . .
3. I pulled out the Dell manual and they noted that there was only 1 preferred motherboard PCI slot for the sound card. I had inadvertently moved the SB card to a different slot some time ago to improve air circulation around the video card.
4. Made sure all PCI cards were in the Dell recommended slot.
5. Used Sysinfo again and determined that SB now shared IRQs with video card and 1 USB controller. (You may want to note which USB in case using that causes problems in the future.)
6. Uninstalled ALL SB software and used a registry cleaner to ensure no remains.
7. Installed Creative Sound Drivers [Daniel K] (1-April-2008) – DRIVER ONLY.
8. Under Hardware | Device Manager, made sure all IDE controllers used DMA (not PIO). (Why? Because the IDE controllers share the PCI bus.)
9. Under Hardware | Device Manager, made sure all CD/DVD properties had UNCHECKED digital audit and VOLUME slider set to min.
10. Using the XP Volume Control Panel | Options | Properties – checked ALL playback boxes (e.g. display all).
11. Open the XP Volume Control Panel and MUTE everything except WAVE, and put all unused sliders to MIN volume. Hopefully, all noise and popping has cease and the sound is clear.
12. You will notice noise & popping (sometime violent) during boot-up until all of the correct settings kick in.
13. If noise is still heard, it is because XP periodically un-mutes some of the devices. Just open the Volume Control Panel and mute everything except WAVE.
14. ENJOY pure sound again!!!
!