Distorted Audio

I am running Win2000 Professional on a generic PIII-500MHz machine with 128MB RAM. The setup is a clean OEM install with an IDE 10GB hard disk, 8MB ATI Rage Pro AGP graphics, PCI Ethernet card, and an IDE CD-ROM drive.

I have a SOundblaster PCI128 audio card as well. All of my audio (WAV, MIDI, & CD) plays back highly distorted, but no skipping.

I'm using pretty stripped down powered speakers.

All of my PCI devices are sharing IRQ 9.

Any thoughts on solving this problem?
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The first thing that you want to do is troubleshoot where the problem is coming from.

isolate the pieces.

first, plug your computer speakers into another source, like a walkman or portable stereo, if the speakers sound fine, then its probally not the speakers.

plug another set of speakers into the sound card, you could use your friends computer speakers or a pair of headphones.  

if the sound that comes out of the soundcard is flawless then you know that the computer is in good shape.  which means that you may have a bad wire, or poor connection, causing the audio to be good sometimes and bad at other times.

but if you plug another source into the computer and the sound is still distorted, then it is probally the computer/configuration.

the first thing that you need to do is to verify if the correct driver is installed for the sound card:

right click my computer and choose manage...

computer management pops up

click device manager from the left pane, and then on the right side, expand the sound, video, and game controllers hierarchy by clicking on the little plus (in the right pane).

note: if you see a little yellow icon with an exclimation point under the sound, video, and game controllers group, then you know that there is already a problem.  either the driver is installed incorrectly, may need to be reinstalled or there is a irq or i/o conflict.

if there is no yellow exclimation point then proceed to double-click the main audio device.  since there will be a few you may need to click several of them.  it will not be the codecs, but it will probally be the one with the most broad description (eg. CreativeLabs Sound Blaster PCI128).  you will know when you have double-clicked the right one, as you will see three tabs instead of two.  you are looking for the middle tab, titled, driver.  click the driver tab.  see if windows 2000 installed the driver or if it has the Creative Labs native driver.  if its the windows 2000 driver you may want to click the update driver, and then install the Creative Driver.  If that fails you can always go back to the Windows 2000 driver by again updating the driver and letting windows 2000 detect the card once again.

just because you do not see the yellow exclimation mark, does not mean that you are exempt from an interrupt request) irq or i/o conflict.  9 times out of 10 jotty or distorted sound comes from an irq conflict.  if you are an advanced user, you can configure the irq settings in the resources tab.  if you are not, i do not recommend changing any of these settings.

the best thing that you can do is remove the cover (if you are familiar with upgrading/repairing hardware), ground yourself appropriately and move the audio card from its current PCI slot to another available, if you have no other available slots, swap it with another pci card.

this may also help in freeing up a resource that is needed by the card.

unfortunately creative labs usually hard wires their sound cards to take (HOG) irq 5, therefore, if another device is set to that irq you have a conflict, and problems occur.  so if you were the advanced user, described above, then you would assign whatever was on irq 5 to another available irq that the device could function on, and then let the sound card happily have irq 5.

by playing musical chairs with the cards, in the latter suggestion, you are in essence hoping that the sound card will get irq 5 and the other device will take the next available irq.

good luck

natec2112Author Commented:
I will check out your suggestions, and get back to you on accepting/rejecting your solution...sounds like what I would have tried so far!
natec2112Author Commented:
Thank you. The speakers sound like crap on my portable CD player also. I gave you an excellent for providing such a thorough troubleshooting package.

Here is what microsoft says about all your irqs being 9.

In Windows 2000, peripheral component interconnect (PCI) devices can share interrupts (IRQs) by design. Per the Plug and Play capability that is defined by the PCI specification, adapters are configured by the computer's BIOS, and are then examined by the operating system and changed if necessary. It is normal behavior for PCI devices to have IRQs shared among them, especially for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (APCI) computers with Windows 2000 ACPI support enabled.

In Windows 2000, some or all of the devices on your ACPI motherboard may be listed on the Resources tab in Device Manager as using the same IRQ (IRQ 9). You cannot change the IRQ setting because the setting is unavailable. This occurs because Windows 2000 takes advantage of the ACPI features of the motherboard, including advanced PCI sharing. IRQ 9 is used by the PCI bus for IRQ steering. This feature lets you add more devices without generating IRQ conflicts.

Note that Windows 2000 does not have the ability to rebalance resources as does Microsoft Windows 98. Once PCI resources are set, they generally cannot be changed. If you change to an invalid IRQ setting or I/O range for the bus that a device is on, Windows 2000 cannot rebalance the resource it assigned to that bus to compensate. Windows 2000 does not have this ability because of the more complex hardware schemas it is designed to support. Windows 98 does not have to support IOAPICs, multiple root PCI buses, multiple-processor systems, and so on. Rebalancing becomes risky when you are dealing with these hardware schemas, and will not be implemented in Windows 2000 except for very specific scenarios. However, PCI devices are required to be able to share IRQs. The ability to share IRQs should not prevent any hardware from working in general.

The Plug and Play operating system settings in the computer's BIOS should not affect how Windows 2000 handles the hardware in general. However, Microsoft recommends that you set this setting to "No" or "Disabled" in the computer's BIOS. For information about viewing or modifying your computer's BIOS settings, consult your computer's documentation or manufacturer. Manually assigning IRQs to PCI slots as a troubleshooting method may work on a non-ACPI system, but these settings are ignored by Plug and Play in Windows 2000 if ACPI support is enabled. If you need to manually assign IRQ addresses to a device on an ACPI motherboard, disable ACPI in the computer's BIOS before installing Windows 2000.
no problem, hope it helped you solve your problem, if you have anymore questions, dont hesitate to ask.

im more than open to questions : )

thanks again.
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