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Onboard sound ages exponentially faster than 7GHz Athlons

Posted on 2005-04-25
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My friend's onboard sound on a Gigabyte motherboard inside an HP died.  My dad's friend's onboard sound on a who-knows-what in a Compaq died.  Now, my dad's MSI K7T's onboard sound is dead.

Every once in a while, on some random PC at some random time, the onboard sound dies.  It just goes out, and no operating system recognizes an audio device even having once existed.  I hate cheap sound cards to replace onboard sound that has no reason not to work.

All the BIOS options are perfectly fine, and all the audio options are available.  All IRQ settings are set so as not to interfere with anything else, and this is why I see no reason to buy another cheap sound card.  For a PC that powers speakers no more powerful than 5W per channel, a sound card isn't necessary if there is onboard sound.  Why can't the video die?  I can live with a useless parallel port or two, but the absolute absence of any hint whatsoever of any sound capabilites ever in the entire history of the motherboard at all is just ridiculous!

I can't stress enough how annoying it is to boot up a PC at some random time and have the sound just not be there.  No Windows audio device is ever found afterwards.  I have another thread going because the dead Compaq's onboard sound cannot be replaced.  The first sound card didn't work at all, but it's alive and well in another PC that doesn't need it.  I can't say much about the HP's motherboard because my friends and I took a few screwdrivers to it when all of its disturbingly painful faults became too annoying.

Anyway, I need to know either the details of the sick marketing scheme that was formulated to make sound cards sell more or how to help sound not die randomly.

Thank you very much.
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Question by:radomirthegreat
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Callandor earned 160 total points
ID: 13863506
The sick marketing scheme is that onboard components are cheap and tend to last as long as the current movie on the charts.  Sound is not the only thing that goes out - onboard LAN and onboard video are not exempt.  It's easy to overdrive the sound because almost everyone cranks it up for games and movies; but it doesn't have a decent amplifier circuit, so it begins to fail as it tries to draw more current.  I have had maybe one dedicated sound card go out on me.
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by:chiingliang
chiingliang earned 120 total points
ID: 13864382
the controller chips on the motherboard are all delicate items, and a lot of time i see people's mb are dust covered, causing strange hangs and yes, even burnt network controller, soundchip etc.

so do a airblast once in a while to prevent this. just get a canned air and blast away the dust.

you mentioned that windows can't detect the sound chip at all? did anything changed on the bios? built-in soundcard can be disabled in bios.

there are no sound? check if the volume is turned up and the drivers are ok.

what kind of speakers do you use? passive? active?

also, avoid plugging in and out at the jack too much. when you plug in/out slowly, it creates a short circuit and will fry the amplifier chip.
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by:nobus
ID: 13864815
Callandor, i may be wrong on this one, but in my opinion, the sound cards (onboard or not) do not contain a power amplifier, as this is located in the speakers (that is why they are powered).
So  you can just change the output level voltage. Again, if i'm wrong, correct me please, but i think that the dying sound section has nothing to do with the output, but more with the connection of the speakers to it, and grounding issues, power spikes and such.
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by:Callandor
ID: 13866268
The circuit for the headphone jack contains an amplifier, and you can control the volume.  Some people use that to drive unpowered speakers, but it certainly wouldn't qualify as a "power amplifier" in my book.
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by:nobus
ID: 13866779
That's right, and fully agreed to.
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by:lar006
lar006 earned 120 total points
ID: 13867241
radomirthegreat,
I used to see this all the time, especially in the big name brands.  99% of the time we could get a Sound blaster Live to work in the system.  They are a little more pricey, but they seemed to work when none of the cheaper cards would.   Cheaper components have been discussed, but you need to realize that many low-end computers are designed to only last a few years.  For us to build a name brand computer out of manufacturer replacement parts (which are generally designed not to be standard) would have cost 10 times more than the computer cost new.   For example, I used to pay over $100 for a compaq power supply that I needed for a $500 computer.   All I can say is custom built computer may cost a little more, but you can make sure that you have enough extra slots to replace any on-board part that fails (it is also generally simpler).
~LArry
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 13872538
My dad's computer was custom-built by me, and I pretty much know the BIOS like my own motherboard's setup.  I know the components are cheap, but they shouldn't just burn out like that.  I want a few warning signs.  What, besides maxed-out volume, would be a "good" warning sign that the sound is about to burn out?

Callandor, thanks a lot for the input.  I haven't had the resources to consider that.

I believe that all the dead onboard sound is AC '97, but because there are so many versions of it, what do I trust?  I know it's always good to use a dedicated sound card, but it's so tempting to hold back on that for my own systems because I can't settle for a dedicated sound card that doesn't have a huge performance boost from my own onboard sound.  As for brand name computers, I can't really control what goes into them unless I sell the sound cards individually immediately after a sale.

Well, thanks for the input.  I ordered a Phillips to replace my dad's onboard audio, and a Creative Labs will do for the other PC.

Anything else?
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 13902240
I just thought of something:
My friend and my dad's friend both used headphone jack-powered speakers, and my dad used headphones and jp-speakers.  I've been using onboard sound on my own PCs, and their onboard sound has not died.  Is this the solution?  Just buy speakers that plug into a power outlet?
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by:Callandor
ID: 13902927
That would be a good course of action.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 13907160
Supposing, for fun, that someone were to be stuck with headphones, would simply not maxing out the volume help prolong onboard audio life?
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by:nobus
nobus earned 100 total points
ID: 13907281
if you ask more power, the chances of a burn out are higher; personally i never had a case like that though
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by:Callandor
ID: 13914713
Of course, we have no idea what people actually do to a headphone jack in terms of things it wasn't designed for, but if you drop the resistance, you will draw more current and increase the likelihood of damage.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 13923884
All right, then.  Thank you all very much.  It's been great.
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