Why do I get audio glitches and dropouts in Windows 7

Recently I have been experiencing small dropouts in audio playback, roughly every 15 to 20 seconds. Sometimes its a tiny silence, or maybe a pause, or sometimes a small stuttering glitch. Only a fraction of a second but noticeable.

I have tried my best to troubleshoot, below is what I have tried and the result, so now I am stuck.

I first noticed it whilst playing music in itunes. But after testing I have found it also happens when playing the MP3 directly in Windows Media Player, plus also Youtube videos suffer from the same issue, so I assume its affecting any kind of audio playback.

I updated the drivers on my soundcard. Same issue.
I installed an external hardware USB soundcard and routed all audio through that. Same issue.

I have tried restoring the PC back a few days to before this issue started, but the issue is still there.

I have tried general spyware checks, scans, virus scans, disk cleanup programs but it hasn't helped

I don't really know what to try next. My hunch is that there may be a short burst of CPU usage coming from somewhere that is just tripping up the audio. I don't know for sure but I don't know where to look or how to monitor what may be doing this.

Any ideas for troubleshooting this are welcome

Many thanks
Steve
mr_steve_esqAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
How much memory does your system have?  If Windows 7 32-bit, it is limited to 3Gb which may not be enough. If 64-bit, make sure you have at least 4Gb of memory.

Try running Disk Defrag to see if that might help. Disk Defrag is part of Windows 7 under System Tools.

Open Task Manager and look at Performance. It should be running < 5% CPU most of the time.  Open Resource Monitor (link on the Performance window) and click on Disk.  Is the Disk constantly busy?  That may be an issue.

.... Thinkpads_User
mr_steve_esqAuthor Commented:
Thanks,
Its got 4GB of RAM
Processor is Intel Core Duo 2.93 GHz
32 bit

Task manager CPU: With itunes playing, Outlook and Firefox open it moves somewhere between 15% and 20%, but it does seem to spike

Disk activity does seem to be ticking constantly. The KB/sec window is onstantly changing anywhere from practically zero, to a few hundred, with the occasional spike of thousands (just saw it do 2352 then back to 268)

Is there a tool to see clearly what its doing during these spikes?
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Play the file in Safe Mode & see what happens.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
First, I think you are saying this is Windows 7 32-bit, so it can only use 3Gb of memory. 32-bit systems are slower than 64-bit systems.

Is there a tool to see clearly what its doing during these spikes?

Resource Monitor will certainly tell you. It will tell you what is running. Does disk activity substantially stop when you stop playback?  

Did you run Disk Defrag?

.... Thinkpads_User
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantCommented:
I would suggest Process Explorer: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx

Not only will it show cpu/hdd/network/memory activity, if you hover over the graphs it will actually tell you the process that caused the spikes.

HTH,
Dan

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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Also try playing back with networking disconnected and see if that makes any difference.
mr_steve_esqAuthor Commented:
So using Process Explorer I found the spikes caused by audiodg.exe
I googled that and found some settings to tweak and it seems to be OK so far

Many thanks
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks for the update and I was happy to help.

... Thinkpads_User
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Windows 7

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