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Sound Distortion On Certain Notes - Not Speakers

Posted on 2003-03-18
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Last Modified: 2008-03-10
When playing certain piano or acapella music using my Audigy Soundcard, I will get distortion through my speakers on certain notes in the song. In most other music (R&B, hip hop), it is unnoticable, but during classical, vocal, or piano it is easily heard.

I have loaded the same song onto my portable MP3 player, and hooked these up through my speakers. When using my portable MP3 player, I recieve no distortion on my speakers. I believe it is isolated to a hardware issue. I have an onboard sound card (nforce2 chipset) that is disabled.

I have tried using the nforce2 sound (soundforce chipset) and for some reason, the sound was incredibly soft even at high volumes (I would just get 'hiss'). Even though, I could hear the music distort during the same portion of the song.

I really have no idea on what could be causing this if the Audigy and the onboard sound are indeed both distorting, and the speakers are not at fault. Any ideas?



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Question by:soltrain5
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26 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:ShadowWarrior111
ID: 8164691
Have you tried playing the same music on another pc? It may just be some problem with the music file and not with your hardware problem at all.
If you suspect the problem is with your sound card, you can try this step. First, remove your sound card driver and reinstall the latest driver. Then try to play the sound again and see whether the same problem still happen. If it still happen, the only way to try whether your sound card is faulty or not is to take it out and put it into another working pc. Then try to play the same music on the other pc (your sound card plug into with).
You can also try to plug in your speaker to another pc and try playing the same music file.
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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8164968
I know it's not the music file as the same file moved onto the MP3 player sounds great with no distortion playing on the same speakers. I've also tried moving the card to another PCI slot. I'm not sure if it's the Audigy, as I thought I heard distortion on the onboard sound card also. I'll try the CD drivers from the Audigy CD (creative recommend this for some reason).
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Expert Comment

by:gooopil
ID: 8164994
Maybe it comes from your speakers since you have the problem with both your audigy and nforce... real instruments such as pianos and guitars are harder to play than RnB electonic sounds. I don't know what quality are your speakers but it may come from that if you're just having troubles with this kind of music
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Expert Comment

by:Reapage
ID: 8165035
i have SB live platinum 5.1, its hardware pretty close to the audigy, and im sometimes facing problems with its integrated software-controlled preamp.
When i turn windows' volume(play) control> bass and/or treble tone controls to [near] maximum, and if wave/mp3 and master volume controls are at max, it can sometimes result as rather heavy distortion both in mp3 playing or on games.

Try cranking down the volume and tone controls (to ½) and maybe use an external preamp on your speakers instead to control volume (this worked for me).

-Reapage
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:esmogen
ID: 8165257
maybe try to reduce the dB output before it enters the sound card. It solved one of my songs problem in Winamp.
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Expert Comment

by:Popmartian
ID: 8165856
Go to windows master volume (the one in the taskbar, alternatively, type "sndvol32" in the Run dialog box and press enter).

Lower your wave and master volume sliders to about 20%.

Now play the same music, (also lower the volume in the mp3 player to about 20%) and raise the volume from your speakers, not from windows (and not from the MP3 player).

This might make the distortion go away. If it does, then well, some sound cards have problems with volumes set more than 50% of max.
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Expert Comment

by:abugintheground
ID: 8166580
Sounds most likely that it is a problem with the speakers.  It could be to do with the impedance of the mp3 player vs the soundcard.  Have you tried playing the sound through your soundcard to another set of speakers?
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:kiranghag
ID: 8171142
make sure you are changing the bass and treble level at the sound blaster mixer only...if your sound pogram (onewhich u are using for testing, may be a game also) is also altering bass and treble levels...you may have distortion...
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:ShadowWarrior111
ID: 8171344
I also think there is some problem with your speaker. As I said earlier, plug your speaker to another pc to see whether the same problem occurs.
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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8177738
I'm running my music through Klipsch 2.1 speakers. When I'm listening to music off a portable CD player, I get crystal clear sound. I've tried lowering the volume on all software sources (using windows volume control, creative surround mixer, windows media player). Even when all volume is set to very low (~20%) I can still hear distortion over the speakers. I haven't tried a new set of speakers yet, but when I hook up my headphones to my audigy, I also hear the distortion during the same kinds of music.

I've called Klipsch, and they said that since the music plays clearly when using the MP3 player, the speakers are working fine.

I'm about to kick back to the old drivers and see if it has any effect.

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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8177757
I believe that all the creative mixer does is just sends commands to the windows mixer. You can see the windows mixer bars slide when you adjust the creative mixer..
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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8177839
Reinstalling to the Audigy drivers off the CD also had no effect.
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Expert Comment

by:Reapage
ID: 8180022
This also can be in some cases as simple thing as the connector on the soundcard being dirty or corroded or something with the stereo plug on the speakers, pry the plug on the soundcard while listening to mp3s, try if it makes a difference
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Expert Comment

by:Reapage
ID: 8180052
you may try to troubleshoot the issue by disabling the soundcards drivers from the device manager and installing the nforce integrated soundcard drivers and then listening to mp3s with it, If it works, the speakers work ok and theres no distortion, the problem could be in either SB drivers or the audigy's preamp being physically broken. a good trick to determine whether is a physical hardware issue would be borrowing the same type of audigy and replacing it and see what happens.
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Expert Comment

by:Reapage
ID: 8180073
Heres just some general troubleshooting steps you can try to find out whats wrong with it:

Ensure your Sound Blaster card is installed in a PCI slot as far away as possible from components such as graphics card, CPU and hard drives. (electrical interference, also different PCI slots have different memory and interrupt allocations)
Ensure that the PCI slot doesn't share resources with other devices in your PC (mainly graphics card, drive interfaces, etc...)
Remove all unnecessary hardware. Every device installed in your system uses some of the available resources, even if you do not actively use it.
Tidy up all cables inside your computer as electrical interference may be caused otherwise. (and make sure the speaker audio cable plug and the soundcard connector is free of dust etc)
Ensure that audio drivers are up to date.
Download and install the latest chipset drivers and BIOS update.
Try replacing the audigy if you can borrow another same card
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:gbaughma
ID: 8185330
Well, since everyone else has thrown in a full range of thoughts, here's mine:

1) If you're playing an MP3, try extracting it to a .WAV file.  Could be something to do with your MP3 decompression codec.  I have seen some MP3 files where the bitrate changes on the fly, and that has had some weird results.
2) If you're using amplified speakers, make sure you're plugged into the LINE OUT not the SPEAKER OUT on the sound card (not familiar with your particular setup, but I know what sending speaker outs into a line in can do).  If you are using amplified speakers, and don't have a line out, try a set of headphones.  If the problem goes away, then use an attenuating cable between the sound card and the speaker inputs (or some sort of attenuator...)
3) As Reapage said, get the latest drivers for your sound card.
4) Try bringing your audio file into a program like Sound Forge, and do a Normalize on it... could be that you are just peaking the D2A converters....
Just my $.02

--Greg
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:kiranghag
ID: 8188969
creative comes with a control panel that lets you play midi music notes in the form of a piano....if thats not there you can install keytar.
use that and test the particular type of note...
if al notes come out fine then it could be the problem of codec as gbaughma  suggested.
mp3 is a lossy compression standard and hence should not be used to benchmark sound quality...it changes depending on the decoder....in fact u can benchmark codec and not the mp3 quality...
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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8228015
Been on vacation for the past week ~ thanks for all the updated comments.

I'm still having problems with my sound card - getting very confused onto what the problem could be.

I've taken out the audigy completely and tried playing music using the onboard Nforce2 sound controller, and have heard the same distortion. However, I feel that the drivers for the Nforce2 may be corrupt altogether as I couldn't get sound output anywhere near normal, even when maxing all software volume controls. The volume would be incredibly soft for some reason, although I was still able to discern the distortion from the music. Furthermore, I've tried to update to v.2.03 of Nvidia's Unified Nforce2 Drivers, but the package would not install upon running setup (no error messages). I've tried installing the audio package directly from the .inf file, but not sure if this has had any effect.

I've since reinstalled my audigy, and disabled the onboard Nforce sound again. Haven't yet been able to obtain another audigy for testing. Inside of case is very clean, connections are all very clean. I'll try and update to the newest version of my bios (running an Asus A7N8X-Deluxe)

I've extracted some of the mp3's to wavs, and have heard the same distortion even when the music is converted to a wave. This distortion occurs in multiple songs, so I'm tending to believe that it's not the codec that is the problem, but some kind of hardware / software issue.

I notice that my audigy is sharing an IRQ with the Radeon 9700 (IRQ 19). I know that XP is able to place devices on the same IRQ for some reason, but am not sure why. Could this be a contributor to the problem? When I try to change the IRQ, the 'use automatic settings' button is grayed out along with the 'change setting' button.
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:kiranghag
ID: 8228931
can u play the same mp3 file from the pcm source, i mean the audio CD..???
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Expert Comment

by:abugintheground
ID: 8230255
What kinda speakers are you using?
Get your computer hooked up to a proper hifi man!
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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8233210
Hrm, I'll try testing out different music from Audio CDs..

I'm using Klipsch's ProMedia 2.1's. I love my speakers - they sound amazing when hooked up to my CD player. My computer is just acting up for some reason.
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Author Comment

by:soltrain5
ID: 8259194
Just had a thought - anyone think this could be occuring because I've overclocked my Proc and FSB? I'm running a Athlon 2400 XP (133FSB) at about 1.9 Ghz with a 174FSB. My board is a A7N8X and I belive that the PCI freq is locked, so perhaps it isn't a factor? Or is it?
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:gbaughma
ID: 8269334
<Sigh>  Ah, yes... the forgotten piece of information.  Yeah, I would say an overclocked bus would cause some problems... you're probably out of spec for sending the information to your sound card.  Can you try turning OFF your overclocking and see if your problem goes away?

First step in solving a problem is making sure the playing field is level.... if you're running things outside of specs, that's almost *always* the first thing to change.

--Greg
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by:FriarTuk
ID: 10439537
No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave the following recommendation for this question in the Cleanup topic area:

Split: ShadowWarrior111 {http:#8164691} & Reapage {http:#8165035} & esmogen {http:#8165257} & Popmartian {http:#8165856} & kiranghag {http:#8171142} & gbaughma {http:#8269334}

Please leave any comments here within the next four days.
PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER!

FriarTuk
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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