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Sound crackles, microphone doesn't work


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#1 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:18 AM

I have a lot of problems with my computer. In an effort to keep myself from doing unnecessary work (Like reformatting.), I'm going to try and solve things, starting with audio and video problems. I'll probably learn something in the process, too.

So first off, I want to tackle my headset issue. I got this nice headset with comfortable earpads, 5.1 surround and a flexible mic.
There are two issues:

The first is that there's crackling in the sound sometimes. Sometimes restarting this will fix it, but usually only for awhile, as it'll randomly pop back up again. This makes listening to music via Winamp or other music software less than efficient. And yet, here's the strange part: when there is enough moving video (Usually has to be full-screen.), and it's not too crackly, there won't be any sound crack at all. I'm not sure why this is, but it means that when the video card is working, there's no crackle. This allows me to continue watching videos and playing games with sound, thankfully (Though there's a new render problem, but that's a different issue.).

The second is that while the microphone works, I come off as a robot voice to other people. I'm pretty sure it's not the program, as it's the same issue for MSN, Skype, Google Talk, XFire or any other we tried. I'm not sure if it's because it's USB (Other USB headsets have had issues, as well, but I'm not sure if they're broken as they don't work on my mother's computer, either.), or something else. Another Logitech headset I have that plugs into the audio in/out jacks works fine for both sound and microphone. It, however, has another issue, and isn't as good a quality. I want to work on fixing this one, the expensive one that belongs to me, not my mom. The point is, the audio jacks work fine for some reason, but this also restricts audio splitting (Game music to speakers, microphone and voice output to headset.).

If anyone can help me or offer any thoughts or advice, it would be appreciated.

More info:
Headset: Arctic P531 "USB Gaming Headset"
Computer: Compaq CQ50-210 Notebook PC
with: 2GB RAM (Pretty sure it's DDR2.) (Computer has lately been registering this as 1.75GB erroneously.)
Nvidia GeForce 8200M G
Conexant High-Definition SmartAudio
2 GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-62 Dual-Core Processor (2 cores, 2 logical processors.)

I'm not sure if you need any more information. Anything else can be found by just googling the computer name, and the top result (Past advertisement, that is.) is usually what you're looking for.
Edit: I forgot to mention, I am running Windows XP 32-bit, even though this computer was originally made for Windows Vista 32-bit. However, it ran so abysmally slow and I had 10 times as many problems, so the switch was a good choice, and I haven't had any major errors with drivers and the like, unless something happened without me knowing (Which is possibly part of the problem, but we'll see.).

Edited by SirMaximusOwnage, 17 November 2012 - 07:28 AM.


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#2 Nanobyte

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 05:25 PM

Trying to fix single items on a PC that's messed up could be a waste of time.

The obvious item is the mis-reporting of memory. The possible connection between the video and audio could be that the video and audio uses that same RAM (shared memory). You should do some tests on the RAM. Plenty of tests around. That does not explain why other USB devices work OK.

BTW I usually find the Newegg pages better for quick reference of PC data. Consistent layout across all equipment, single web page, one tab to Details plus Feedback! Manufacturer sites are awful with endless selection screens.

Edit: It could be that the displayed RAM excludes allocation for the video and audio. I checked on a PC that has both onboard. Interestingly, the discrepancy seemed to be due to the video allocation alone; no apparent allocation for audio. Yours may be different.

Edited by Nanobyte, 18 November 2012 - 06:41 PM.


#3 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 06:49 AM

Trying to fix single items on a PC that's messed up could be a waste of time.

The obvious item is the mis-reporting of memory. The possible connection between the video and audio could be that the video and audio uses that same RAM (shared memory). You should do some tests on the RAM. Plenty of tests around. That does not explain why other USB devices work OK.

BTW I usually find the Newegg pages better for quick reference of PC data. Consistent layout across all equipment, single web page, one tab to Details plus Feedback! Manufacturer sites are awful with endless selection screens.

Edit: It could be that the displayed RAM excludes allocation for the video and audio. I checked on a PC that has both onboard. Interestingly, the discrepancy seemed to be due to the video allocation alone; no apparent allocation for audio. Yours may be different.


I really cannot be sure about the RAM being displayed incorrectly. I know it didn't do that back when it was only a year or so old. I'm afraid of what might have happened to it. However, 1.75GB of RAM is enough for the games I want to play, honestly, so I'm just more worried about video problems and audio problems.
I actually did a test. the crackling sound only goes away for video files, it seems. Full-screen flash videos and games don't always work, depending on the sound.

I finally decided to uninstall and reinstall the entire driver with it's specialized program. It actually fixed all the crackles on my end... BUT the microphone got worse. Now people say it's even worse. Holding it up to their speaker, I could hear my voice sounded like it was stretched. I'm not sure how to explain it. It was basically when sound is taken, chopped up and then played really fast, so you hear some syllables over and over, and sometimes sound gets skipped.

I'm hoping the problem is in the computer, and thus fixable, and not the headset.

#4 Nanobyte

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:07 AM

This is the only USB headset you have, correct? Have you tried it in other USB ports, front and back if applicable?

The only silly question I can ask is whether you checked the recording audio setting in Control Panel/Sounds... , Audio tab (or similar).
Any issues shown in Device Manager?

#5 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:48 AM

This is the only USB headset you have, correct? Have you tried it in other USB ports, front and back if applicable?

The only silly question I can ask is whether you checked the recording audio setting in Control Panel/Sounds... , Audio tab (or similar).
Any issues shown in Device Manager?


I checked to make sure things were working, and it claims things are working, but even I can hear myself sounding crackling/robotic when I use a tester that plays back my voice. Device manager shows no problems.

And no, I've got 2 other USB headsets, maybe one other I've misplaced. They all have the same problem, but last I checked (Or remember testing, but maybe I did something wrong.) on another computer, they still sounded that way. So I'm hoping my computer isn't actually breaking my USB headsets. This does not explain why audio jacks worth, however, while USB does not. Every piece of "hardware" on this computer is integrated as it's a laptop, so I'm confused why audio jacks work fine while USB does not.
And yes, I have tried using other USB slots before. I haven't tried for this headset, though. I don't quite remember where reading it, but as this headset is powerful, I don't think plugging it into my USB splitter will provide it enough power. And I'm not sure if the program that comes with it needs the headset to be in the same USB slot, specially since uninstalling the software uninstalls the driver and the headset would no longer work properly (In other words, it might mean it can only work for the USB slot I installed it into, as how can I install the same program twice?).

Edit: I was browsing the forum some and got thinkinh... this thread should be under "External Hardware," shouldn't it? If so, my apologies.

Edited by SirMaximusOwnage, 20 November 2012 - 06:03 AM.


#6 Nanobyte

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:58 AM

The audio jacks are analog inputs/outputs (varying voltage), USB is digital and is used for many types of communication (video, printer, scanner, joystick, HDD). You cannot compare the two, they are entirely different systems.

I checked out the spec for the headphones. All it says is USB. One assumes it is referring to USB 2 which can provide a couple of watts per hub. That should be enough for the headphones. Now that USB 3 is available, you have to be more careful. USB 3 can provide much more power. You have to make sure any new device you buy is backward-compatible with USB 2 (if that is what your PC has). USB 3 will not solve your problem. You mention a splitter. Have you tried plugging the headphones directly into the laptop? Do you have any other USB devices connected, either to that splitter or to the laptop? If the headphones are the only USB device, the splitter should not make any difference. However, I have found my scanner will not run through my splitter, only if plugged into the back of the PC. First step for you is to plug the phones directly into the laptop and see if it works.

I downloaded the pdf manual (annoyingly in 10 languages) but I cannot read the instructions. When you try to zoom in to make it legible, the first page disappears. Even if you scroll down, the first page disappears. I can only assume you went through the install per instructions. If the phones are anything like the pdf, good luck!

The program and the USB slot are not connected in any way. If you have selected the headphones in the audio settings of your PC and in the application you are using, it knows where to send the audio (and receive from the microphone). It does not care which slot is being used. On a laptop, all USB ports are equal.

#7 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:40 AM

The audio jacks are analog inputs/outputs (varying voltage), USB is digital and is used for many types of communication (video, printer, scanner, joystick, HDD). You cannot compare the two, they are entirely different systems.

I checked out the spec for the headphones. All it says is USB. One assumes it is referring to USB 2 which can provide a couple of watts per hub. That should be enough for the headphones. Now that USB 3 is available, you have to be more careful. USB 3 can provide much more power. You have to make sure any new device you buy is backward-compatible with USB 2 (if that is what your PC has). USB 3 will not solve your problem. You mention a splitter. Have you tried plugging the headphones directly into the laptop? Do you have any other USB devices connected, either to that splitter or to the laptop? If the headphones are the only USB device, the splitter should not make any difference. However, I have found my scanner will not run through my splitter, only if plugged into the back of the PC. First step for you is to plug the phones directly into the laptop and see if it works.

I downloaded the pdf manual (annoyingly in 10 languages) but I cannot read the instructions. When you try to zoom in to make it legible, the first page disappears. Even if you scroll down, the first page disappears. I can only assume you went through the install per instructions. If the phones are anything like the pdf, good luck!

The program and the USB slot are not connected in any way. If you have selected the headphones in the audio settings of your PC and in the application you are using, it knows where to send the audio (and receive from the microphone). It does not care which slot is being used. On a laptop, all USB ports are equal.


I knew about power issues with USB splitters, so I have had the headset plugged directly in since the start. The splitter has generally been for my external HDD's and my game controllers.
And yes, I know that the audio settings control what's used and all that, but it seems strange to me that the computer won't let me uninstall the program/equalizer that came with the headset, without uninstalling the driver at the same time.

I don't think my computer has USB3, as I remember reading that somewhere in the specifications. I would think that if the package says USB, it means it's compatible with all USB, otherwise it would be in the specifications and warning/compatibility list somewhere, yes?

Is there some test out there somewhere to check if it's USB3 or using more power than my computer can provide? Though it's most likely not the case as the other headsets were barely 2.0 and older than my mom's computer (At least 6 years old now.), and they were working for awhile, and now have troubles themselves. Maybe I should check them out again sometime soon, but every time I did, nothing had changed.

#8 Nanobyte

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 08:39 AM

It could be that you cannot uninstall the program on its own because if you do, the driver still in place prevents the audio returning to the previously used setup. You end up with no sound at all.

That's about all I can do. As I said at the start, if you have strange things going on, trying to fix single issues may be a waste of time. You would be better off looking at causes of the slow PC.

#9 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:16 AM

It could be that you cannot uninstall the program on its own because if you do, the driver still in place prevents the audio returning to the previously used setup. You end up with no sound at all.

That's about all I can do. As I said at the start, if you have strange things going on, trying to fix single issues may be a waste of time. You would be better off looking at causes of the slow PC.


Well, I can switch freely between the USB audio and my audio jacks whenever I want, so I'm not sure about that.

Thanks for the try anyways. I'll probably just reformat this computer soon, anyways. If I get a new computer, I can maybe put 95/98 or other Windows on this one and play older games on it, provided the parts work with that system. Or I can just use XP and strip it of everything but what's needed for gaming.

Still open to any advice or alternative solutions, though.

#10 Nanobyte

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

Before reformatting you could try less drastic options like repairing Windows. I would not go back further than XP. There could be hardware issues unrelated to the OS.

#11 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 11:42 AM

Before reformatting you could try less drastic options like repairing Windows. I would not go back further than XP. There could be hardware issues unrelated to the OS.


To me, repairing windows is almost the same as re-installing Windows, as it requires re-installing all the drivers and stuff, too. Not sure, we'll see.




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