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Intermittent Clicking Popping from Headphones

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September 30, 2010 6:55:59 AM

MOBO: Gigabyte x58a-ud3r
CPU: i7-930 OC'd to 3.8 ghz
RAM: OCZ gold series - 6gb DDR3
HD: WD Caviar Black
PSU: XFX 750w (Modular)
GPU: MSi Cyclone NVidia GTX 460 SLi (x2)
Headphones: Sennheiser HD595
Display: 1x Asus MS238H, Samsung 1080p LCD 40"
Stereo: Logitech 5.1 surround (older)

ISSUE:

I am 99.99% sure I have narrowed this issue via troubleshooting to my PC (and I think to my motherboard). I will occasionally (and fairly frequently - enough to annoy anyway) get a clicking and popping noise in my headphones. It's fairly regular - seems like it's 4/4 timing ...click.click.click.click. Only when audio output is being played. It doesn't matter the source of that audio (flash, winamp, games) though fooling around between them has made it stop before (though that could have been my imagination - since it doesn't work most of the time).

So far I have tried: changing headphones (ipod headphones - problem persists); changing source of connection (from audio out on PC to audio out on ASUS monitor to headphone jack on logitech surround - problem persists); trying alternate devices to confirm the issue is not with headphones - problem non-existent (Motorola Droid X streaming pandora). Reinstalling newest HD audio drivers from Realtek - problem persists.

The sound is definitely coming from the headphones - as it goes away completely when there's no audio playing. None of the wires in the case seem to be touching anything inside the case.

Any suggestions on what could be causing this problem, or suggestions on how to fix it?

Thanks a lot.
September 30, 2010 7:10:36 AM

I ran the DPC Latency checker. Everything came out EXTREMELY high latency... went through the device manager... eventually came up all green and happy. Went back and enabled everything... still all green and happy?

When the latency shows green I'm not getting clicking and popping.

If a device caused the latency issue, disabling it would restore proper latency and re-enabling it would bring back poor latency ... correct?
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September 30, 2010 8:20:41 AM

Also - I am running Windows 7 64-Bit.

I've tried disabling/enabling everything I have, nothing seems to make the DPC latency change, it seems to be changing on it's own.
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September 30, 2010 9:22:50 AM

I tried disabling HPET in bios, and checking to see if I am in need of a bios update (gigabytes @bios program is pretty adamant that I do not). Problem persists the spike is random but consistent. I'll have very low latency (sub 50) and then all of a sudden it will spike to almost 30,000 and up to 60,000 and will stay there for some time until (seemingly at random) it comes back down. I've tried disabling devices but I can't seem to pinpoint anything....

Hopefully someone can help me :( 
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a b V Motherboard
September 30, 2010 8:07:49 PM

You've tried a lot of things, but maybe we need to go back again systematically to help.

Not sure I understand your whole audio setup yet, but:

1) Check internal case wiring to ensure the (front panel) audio jack we're going to use is not running over a fan motor, etc. If necessary, leave the case open while going on.

2) Disconnect any and *all* other audio feeds from the PC to any external device, and any internal device other than the front panel.

3) Use either of your headphones from the front panel audio jack. Can you recreate the noise? If so, does it correlate to cpu utilization (have Task Manager cpu utilization graphs visible so you can look for spikes after you hear the noise).

4) Unplug the front panel audio connector from the motherboard, and use the backpanel jack as the sole audio source and repeat #3.

Let us know what happens.
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September 30, 2010 11:14:20 PM

Hey Twoboxer - thanks for the reply.

1) I've been using the rear panel audio jack for my headphones - because for whatever reason the front panel headphone jack never sounded as good. (Quite possibly due to a wiring problem, or it might be because I've used the cases HD Audio plug instead of the AC '97 plug or vice versa).

2) This proves slightly difficult, as my nvidia cards seem rather interested in transporting my audio signal to whatever they are connected to (two displays as noted above). However, I have gone in device manager and disabled all the nvidia audio (also disabled in sound settings). So hopefully they aren't sending out audio from the PC to any other sources. Therefore - the only source should be the audio out in the back of my comp (direct into mobo) which my headphones are plugged into.

3) Recreation of the noise is QUITE difficult. It seems absolutely random. I was tooling around with some BIOS settings and uninstalling some unneeded things on my desktop between posting and now. After which I ran DPC checker - and let it sit for quite some time (6 hours I believe) also I ran some games to check it's reaction under load. So far it's yet to rise over 556ms. With it's usual position being in the sub 10ms range. However, it seems to be....degrading. The 500-ish spikes seem to be occurring more often now since it's been sitting. But again that could just be my imagination.

4) I'll try unplugging it all together and see what happens and report back, I don't really use it anyway as I said - so no harm there.


Note: I also ran a program called "LatencyMon.exe" - Found here: http://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

It reports quite a different story from DPC checker- and points directly at my NVidia drivers as the cause. There's been some reports of people with different mobo's and my graphics cards having similar problems with latency caused by the GTX 460's (another big problem there - only one driver version to work with, not so helpful).

Another note:

I've been using the dev build of Google chrome - and it appears that switching tabs and fooling with it has some correlation with that 500-range spikes (but not with the massive 30000+ spikes of long duration). I'm guessing this might be from mem-leaks in the dev platform.

Also noticed that when my mouse is asleep (Logitech G700 wireless gaming mouse) to save battery - it will wake and cause a spike around 550-ish, which immediately drops. These things probably have a rather unnoticable impact on audio - so they aren't really a GRAVE concern, I'm more worried about the 2 minute long 30,000-60,000 ms spikes that cause the clicking popping.

I'll open the case shortly and see what I find.

Thanks again.
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September 30, 2010 11:18:48 PM

Well what do you know, as SOON as I made that post, the comp decided that it had been a while since a latency spike. And Lo' and behold 20k+ spike for a long duration.... Trying to see what's running




Still trying enabling/disabling devices. I killed the video out to my secondary monitor (the samsung tv) and that's what seemed to have caused the red to return to green there on screen. Whether the two are related or it's purely coincidental, I am not sure. Nothing out of the ordinary was running at the time, and it doesn't seem to correlate with CPU usage (usage was at like 5% at the time of the DPC spikes). Pretty much the same exact things were running both during the DPC lag spikes and the Green happytimes. :-/ Grrrrr, this ghost in the machine is just messing with my head! :fou: 

Those red bars will fill the screen for some time when DPC Checker is running at full screen. So it lasts for quite a while.

Don't mind the fact that I was googling how to print screen with my crappy mac keyboard - I'm currently looking into investing in a nice Deck Legend mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX clears. ^_^

Also, there appears to be no correlation between wireless usage / internet usage and the DPC spikes as seen below.



Ok... I've since opened up the case.

Unplugged the cases audio plug from the mobo entirely. Also disconnected any loose SATA cords from the mobo (those that weren't plugged into anything.

Starting DPC Checker, and running it until I'm blue in the face hoping to catch these spikes and the cause of them.

I'm not sure if a BIOS update would help or hurt this problem, I can't really tell what bios version I'm currently running (I want to say it's from 4/20/2010 or 4/21?) when I boot it says UD3r FA. I know I'm running the rev 2.0 of the ud3r.

What next?

Edit: Since I've done that it appears the comp's already had a dpc spike up above 20k, but it must have been short because I did not notice it. Still waiting and checking that bar graph like it's my job. haha.

Bah - Problem persists - this is what it looks like when the issue occurs...



Tried - getting a screen cap of the resource monitor when this was happening, but by the time I opened it up, the spikes dropped back to the greenzone. Curious little bugger... :-/. It seems like this might be connected with Hard Faults in the system, but I don't know the first thing about that. But there definitely is a spike in Hard Faults per second that seems to maybe correlate with the spikes.
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October 1, 2010 1:21:25 AM

Ok, Managed to get screencaps of pretty much every tab in resource monitor when the issue occurs (which it still is obviously).


CPU Freq at 100% - but usage at 2%



Ram - about 30% usage.



Overview



Network



Disk.

I did have DPC checker running that whole time - so I had to print screen / past in paint / save / new / repeat 5 times during that period it was all spiked. Tried playing audio from winamp too - confirmed cause of my clicking/popping, it's not present during green, and is present when I get the DPC spikes. Ideas?

I have heard some conflicting reports of the newest Nvidia beta drivers helping with this issue.... but I'm hesitant to install beta drivers.

I may have stumbled across something interesting....




Ataport.sys related?




DirectX / Nvidia Drivers related?

Both? The delays for each of them seem to be curiously similar in latencymon as to the 27k+ figures in DPC latency checker.

Currently downloading and then clean installing the NVidia beta drivers, we'll see if that helps any. The ataport.sys really worries me, perhaps there's a BIOS issue causing this?

New Nvidia Beta drivers - first impressions - seems to have at least partially resolved the problem. LatencyMon is not returning nearly as many high values for the nvidia driver DPC resolution times. (0 above 500 ms). DPC Latency checker seems to be running in the green.

Continuing to monitor for at least a 24 hour period with various levels of load on the CPU and GPUs, including idles, will report back tomorrow night.

So far this is an example of how it looks after the change to Nvidia's Beta Drivers


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a b V Motherboard
October 1, 2010 4:11:26 AM

To stop the vid cards from using audio, uninstall the vid drivers completely. Reboot and let it run with whatever it installs.

You may have two problems, you may have just one. But the most likely way to solve it is to go back to basics.

Then test the basic audio available at each of the jacks for the ticking. Good idea removing the unused SATA wires from the mobo. While you're there, remove anything similar that isn't connected/grounded.
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October 1, 2010 6:59:55 AM

Ok, after the clean install of the new beta NVidia drivers, I haven't seen a spike go over 1100 ms, and I believe that was from loading up Battlefield Bad Company 2. Flash video (hulu), VLC video, and winamp all seem to be working flawlessly with audio.

Currently audio is running out of the audio out in the back of the computer. All loose ends are tied up inside the case - nothing plugged into the mobo is not plugged into something else.

Audio is currently driven via RealTek drivers out the back. The ataport.sys latency issue hasn't returned yet. I've read online there's some correlation with JMicron drivers messing up DPC latency, and that disabling that in bios can help.
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October 3, 2010 4:12:51 AM

I have since updated the SATA drivers from the bios that I have. Problem had returned and I wasn't sure what I could do. Uninstalled the beta NVidia drivers. Rebooted, with the drivers gone the computer installed HD Audio drivers from MS. I then went ahead and reinstalled the beta drivers with a custom clean install, unchecking the "HD Audio" drivers, so that they would remain uninstalled. So far problem has yet to return, will continue to monitor and report for others.
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October 3, 2010 7:41:21 AM

Problem has returned, not sure where to move on from here.

Suggestions?
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a b V Motherboard
October 3, 2010 7:52:22 AM

Once again I'd suggest going back to basics.
Twoboxer said:
You've tried a lot of things, but maybe we need to go back again systematically to help.

Not sure I understand your whole audio setup yet, but:

1) Check internal case wiring to ensure the (front panel) audio jack we're going to use is not running over a fan motor, etc. If necessary, leave the case open while going on.

2) Disconnect any and *all* other audio feeds from the PC to any external device, and any internal device other than the front panel.

3) Use either of your headphones from the front panel audio jack. Can you recreate the noise? If so, does it correlate to cpu utilization (have Task Manager cpu utilization graphs visible so you can look for spikes after you hear the noise).

4) Unplug the front panel audio connector from the motherboard, and use the backpanel jack as the sole audio source and repeat #3.

Let us know what happens.
IOW, stop the audio from going anywhere but out via the front and rear panel jacks. Disinterest the nVidia cards from your audio stream by uninstalling the video drivers, or disabling that audio stream.

Try to eliminate a fundamental electrical issue - noise, interference, poor ground somewhere - as the cause.
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October 3, 2010 8:07:08 AM

ISR routine execution time: 27503 µs
Responsible driver: dxgkrnl.sys

Other things that have come up in ISR routine execution times with similar amounts of high time.... ataport.sys, and hal.dll

NVidia cards should not be playing audio at all, there are no nVidia audio drivers on the computer whatsoever, but I've disabled every other audio stream anyway.

When I opened the case before, there was nothing I could see as causing a ground anywhere in the PC or attached to the mobo.
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October 3, 2010 8:07:48 AM

ataport.sys has also come up in the DPC latency section of latencymonitor.

Could this be a Gigabyte BIOS issue that would be fixed by updating? I'm pretty sure there's an update that might be available. But at this point I'm running out of options on what I can do to resolve this issue, especially as it appears it's not necessarily related to nVidia now...

Also add usbport.sys to the list of high ISR routine execution times

Add this as well

Highest DPC routine execution time: 7238225 µs
Responsible driver: ntoskrnl.exe (NT Kernel & System, Microsoft Corporation)
DPC count (<500 µs): 606600
DPC count (500-999 µs): 0
DPC count (1000-1999 µs): 0
DPC count (2000-3999 µs): 0
DPC count (>=4000 µs): 2


This is getting ridiculous, you kill one bug and 800 more show up the next day. :fou: 

Did some looking, noticed that I'm running the old BIOS, could updating to FB solve these problems?


I've recently updated to the most updated bios version available - FC1. Testing....
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October 20, 2010 10:40:49 PM

To anyone experiencing these issues, try the BIOS switch. I think that did the most to alleviate the issue, so far it's been completely unnoticeable.
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