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Crackling & Distortion w/ PCI-e SB X-Fi Titanium

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December 14, 2008 3:44:34 PM

Hi guys,

I wonder if anyone can offer any constructive advice. When I first built my system, I figured since I was only going to use two speakers I might as well not go overboard on a soundcard - but I wanted a distinct audio device so I could run WoW game sound through my speakers and a voice chat client over a headset separately. I bought a Creative SB Audigy.

I had trouble with terrible crackling and distortion in games like Crysis, and even some in WoW if there happened to be music playing. Being a hardware noob, I just figured maybe I needed a better soundcard with better hardware processing. I ordered a PCI-e SB X-Fi Titanium.

The problem was worse with the new card. I was getting the crackling and popping even in Internet Explorer; if I happened to have music playing, there'd be crackling and popping when I scroll up or down, or as each graphic file renders. I worked with Creative's support and eVGA's frustrating support (maker of my mobo) to try and resolve the issues. Eventually I flashed the motherobard's BIOS with an update, and that helped a little bit - now I don't get the crackling in my browser, and it's less pronounced in some games. Still terrible in Crysis, though, and I imagine it'll be the same in anything else that taxes the system.

Creative is more or less at a loss. They note that even though I've uninstalled everything, disabled onboard audio, and done a clean install of the new card, the system still shows it as "WDM", according to them. I'm damned if I can find out what they mean by that.

Also, they note that the soundcard shares an IRQ with the graphics card. This is true; the boot sequence shows multiple devices using IRQ 11 (including the soundcard and graphics card). If I look in Vista's device manager, I see multiple devices sharing IRQ 16 (including the soundcard and graphics card).

eVGA's stooges haven't been much help in helping me resolve the IRQ conflict. They told me to set IRQ assignment to manual in the BIOS, which I did - but it doesn't let me assign anything, only reserve an IRQ (and not even for a specific device).

Microsoft's support assures me that I can't assign IRQs in Vista SP1, so I seem to have invested in a pair of paperweights from Creative (the old Audigy and the new X-Fi Titanium PCI-e).

Has anyone else found a good solution for crackling and popping with a Creative SB X-Fi Titanium PCI-e on an nForce mobo with a GeForce 9800 GX2 graphics card? My system specs are in my profile, and are current (except for the new sound card).

I appreciate any advice you guys can offer, thanks.

December 14, 2008 4:15:46 PM

It's an Creative/nForce issue. No problems with intel chipsets.
December 14, 2008 7:53:54 PM

...I would have though that the PCI-e based Titanium would have been safe even for nforce borads, but I guess not.

This is the reason why I refuse to recommend any Creative made product; its not just nforce boards that have this issue; its Biostar boards (and some Gigabyte and ASUS boards) that run into this problem.

Replace with either a Razer Barracuda or a ASUS Xonar; its a compatability issue that can't be fixed with nforce boards.
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December 14, 2008 11:16:16 PM

Does the onboard do the same thing... I actually found that my onboard had the same problem and it was an interference issue rather than driver/hardware conflict. I dont have an nForce board though
December 15, 2008 11:23:29 AM

If his onboard does the same thing, it might be an IRQ issue, but the fact remains: you can't reliably use a Creative sound card on a nforce motherboard. Even Creative admits this.
December 15, 2008 3:29:24 PM

Oh great! Maybe that's why I am having an issue with the card too?

Mine is not the crackling, but other oddness. Using the Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series Soundcard, with the front I/O box, if I use the mic on the front of the I/O box, I can hear myself talking back in my headset.

The volume for mic and headet dials don't work and neither do the lights light up, even though all connections are double-checked.

The Mic socket on the back of the card (back of PC) doesn't work, but I have been told to un-install the drivers that came with it and then use the latest Beta drivers.

Well I did this and after a re-boot, the Volume dial was on the taskbar, but double-clicking it gave the message "their is no audio device installed on your system" (or very similar message.

I am using an nforce 680i chipset on an Asus P5N32E SLI and after reading this thread, maybe all my issues are down to the chipset?

I'm currently looking at getting the Asus P6T Deluxe (i7chipset), would this possibly be the cure?

Cheers, MP

PS. hope this isn't seen as hijacking a thread as I'm interested in the nforce chipset as identifying the problem?
December 15, 2008 4:05:58 PM

Creative has addmitted, on its own forums, that the cards won't run right on nforce chipsets. (This, after a several hundred page thread, since locked, that tried to identify the issue). However, its not nforce exclusive; some Biostar, Gigabyte, and ASUS boards are also known to have issues.

We don't know for sure what the issue iteslf is though. A lot of us thought is was a bandwith issue, but the Titanium is PCI-e based. So much for that theory...
December 15, 2008 4:29:40 PM

Its normal with SB, especially x-fi makes cracling noise. There is nothing wrong with anything
December 16, 2008 1:29:07 AM

2 problems : 1) Creative issue with N-Force chipset - can't fix this
2) Crappy drivers for Creative in VISTA, I would try XP I bet will fix 95% of this issue :) 
December 16, 2008 11:11:28 AM

The second issue is a direct cause of Vista blocking direct access to hardware, making EAX pointless. EAX effects had to be emulated through Software (Alchamey), which is what other cards have been doing for years. Theres really no reason to buy a Creative card, as others are simply better at this point.
December 22, 2008 8:48:51 PM

It turns out that the integrated audio on the motherboard (an EVGA nForce Ultra 790i) doesn't have any problem at all - it's just Creative's cards, I guess. For now I'll stick with the onboard audio and a USB headset if I need a second device. Thanks for the feedback, guys, and I hope by learning this lesson the hard way, someone else might see this thread and save themselves $130 and about 12 hours of head scratching.
March 7, 2009 10:30:21 PM

2 bad i lost 69 Euro on it. By the way does this count as a reason to return the hardware to the vendors?
April 21, 2009 3:24:42 PM

I have a asus rampage formula, so no nforce, and still i get random distortions, any way to fix this crap in vista?
April 21, 2009 4:31:38 PM

Nice bump :D 

As I said several months ago, its not just nforce boards that have issues; its just more commen with them for some reason...hence why I refuse to ever recommend a product made by Creative.

Best bet would be to sell it on newegg and buy a ASUS Xonar D2(X) instead.
!