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Sporadic Audio Stuttering/Buzzing; Source is Elusive


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5 replies to this topic

#1 LastBaron

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 03:45 PM

Hi all,

I'm posting in the internal hardware forum because the exact source of the issue is unknown. If we come up with a different or more precise cause I would be happy to move the discussion to the appropriate forum.

The problem is a brief (but loud) sporadic stuttering or digitization noise (very similar to some elements of dubstep music actually). It sounds like a quarter-second of audio is paused and repeated at high speed and then it goes back to normal less than a second later. This happens with variable frequency; sometimes once every 30 seconds, sometimes as long as 45 minutes between occurences. The frequency seems at least partially dependent on the graphical output being used, but it's hard to tell for sure. The problem is quite immersion-breaking, and it extends to all programs and all uses of audio (local music via iTunes, streaming via any website, movies via optical drive, gaming with titles including Hearthstone, Witcher 3, Starcraft 2, and others). I suspect that the entire computer (not just the audio) may be pausing/stuttering along with it, because sound effects never get desynced with video; for example when people are talking in movies their lips never get out of sync with their voices, despite the audio pausing while it stutters. 

This problem started about 3 weeks ago, and I had not made any hardware or software changes that I am aware of.

Possible solutions I have already tried, without effect:

  • New GPU (same model as old one)
  • New PSU (same model as old one)
  • Disconnecting HDMI
  • Running only 2 monitors
  • Adjust NVIDIA settings for performance not quality
  • Rolling back GPU drivers twice to different versions, then updating
  • Moving TV antenna away from power cords
  • Plugging into different section of power strip
  • Use alternate audio jack 
  • Use alternate audio equipment (Stereo, wireless headphones, 2 brands of wired headphones)
  • Turn microphone off and disconnect it to ensure no interference/feedback
  • Disable unused audio driver for an old program (Screaming Bee)
  • Attempt to update primary audio driver (it was up to date already, most recent version was 2012 RealTek)
  • Software based RAM test (no errors)
  • Software based burn-in test for CPU, GPU, SSD, HDD etc (no errors)
  • New Power Strip
  • Different Outlet

My machine is a Windows 7 HP Pavilion Elite HPE 480t with some hardware modifications:

Windows 7 64 bit
Samsung Evo 840 SSD (OS and some programs)
Seagate ST3000 (Storage)
9 GB RAM
Intel i7 930 CPU
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 TI, 3 monitors
LAN internet connection
Stock Pegatron Motherboard, exact model unknown
Corsair CX500 PSU

 

At this point the only things I can think of are some other driver causing a great deal of latency, or perhaps a motherboard hardware issue.  I've been trying to solve this on my own for weeks, and am at my wit's end.

I would love to find a solution to this problem, any help is very much appreciated.  Please let me know if I can provide any further details.



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#2 Captain_Chicken

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 04:30 PM

Are you using sound off the motherboard, off the gpu or the case's audio? This noise could be electrical interference. If so I would recommend purchasing an external DAC for about $10. That would also improve your sound quality.

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#3 LastBaron

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 04:42 PM

Very interesting.  I've tried my front-facing and rear-facing audio output jacks, and both produce this problem.  I am guessing that the rear-facing is motherboard and front-facing is the case audio (it is just the stock HP Pavilion case, and this panel seems to be a part of it).  Do you think that guess is reasonable?

 

As near as I can tell, my GPU (GTX 750ti) does not have any jacks for audio output, or else I would try that as well.

 

I'm definitely willing to shell out $10 to try and fix it.  I haven't used a DAC before, but a quick Google search reveals that this is a small device to plug into USB which will sit outside the PC (to reduce EMI) and can then interface with all standard audio outputs.  Is that about right?  Will this come with driver software so my PC knows where to send the audio?

 

Thanks so much for your quick response, I look forward to trying your solution!



#4 Captain_Chicken

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 06:48 PM

That sounds correct, lastbaron, and windows should handle the drivers.

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#5 LastBaron

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 06:36 AM

Hi Captain_Chicken,

 

At your advice, I switched my audio card out for an external DAC (FiiO EK10 Olympus 2).  This has absolutely eliminated the buzzing/stuttering.  However instead, at similar intervals, I will simply get a blank pause where the audio cuts out for that same 1/4 of a second.  If anything it seems to be happening more often as well, although I acknowledge it's possible that previously I was missing these "pauses" since the buzzes/stutters were so distracting by comparison.  

 

It's certainly an improvement, but still very distracting, especially when it's happening a few times a minute.  It seems very likely to me that the two issues (stuttering vs cutting out altogether) are related and I got some marginal improvement by switching to an external audio card solution.  Does this help diagnose the problem at all?  Do you think there's anything further I can do?



#6 Captain_Chicken

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 06:48 AM

I'm not exactly sure why this is happening. Hopefully another member might have some advice.

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