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Audio crackling with new Haswell i7 build
Old 18th September 2013
  #1
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Audio crackling with new Haswell i7 build

Hi,

My issue is some audio crackling/distortion. DPC latency checker is all the way green, 40-90 when Live is running with 32-256 samples. When I use low latency like 32 samples I can play without crackling or spikes. When I open browser I got audio crackling when I scroll web pages. If I up the samples to 128 I still hear same thing. Even 256 might give distort too but not so obvious. Now when checked latency monitor it has spiked to 600-1000.

Some larger projects (even with LAN disabled) there is audio crackling, probably due the graphics when iZotope Ozone's EQ has the graphical animation movements.

I uninstalled Intel graphics drivers and tried same things as earlier with the default 640x400(?) resolution. Crackling is still there but not that over bearing.

Seems like the integrated HD 4600 is the culprit? I don't have any PCI/PCIe Graphics card to test alternatively. I have tried some Bios settings, like disabling EIST and some other CPU power settings but they did not have any impact. Any ideas, suggestions are welcomed.

Windows 7 pro. High performance settings/power enabled.
Reaper 4.5x & Live 9.06 Suite
Asus z87-k (does not have WLAN, only LAN)
Intel i7 4770 w/ integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics
8GB DDR3 1600/1866
Texas Instruments chip FW PCI card, probably Belkin.
Focusrite Saffire Pro 14
Old 18th September 2013
  #2
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Play's Avatar
 

You haven't gone from 32 to 64 bit OS? Have you tried to set priority to the DAW? Why is it you're running web pages at the same time?

Are you using the PCI for system sounds and the Focusrite USB/FW for recording?
Old 18th September 2013
  #3
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It was a fresh install. How do I set priority to the DAW? The graphics seems to give the errors, so via webpages it was easy to determine. Sound errors happened also with Izotope Ozone's graphical animation when Lan/internet was disabled. I have onboard Realtek sound disabled in the bios. Also windows sounds are disabled. If I play VLC or youtube for example, Focusrite FW will play thouse sounds. Only PCI card in the computer is the PCI Firewire card.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Play View Post
You haven't gone from 32 to 64 bit OS? Have you tried to set priority to the DAW? Why is it you're running web pages at the same time?

Are you using the PCI for system sounds and the Focusrite USB/FW for recording?
Old 18th September 2013
  #4
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fireberd's Avatar
When I built my new DAW system, last year, it was with an i7 3770 and I used the built in Intel Graphics. I didn't have any crackling issues in either the regular PC audio (RealTek) or with Sonar X2 64 bit version. I'm using USB connected recording interface devices - Roland Octa-Capture (primary unit) and an MAudio Fastrack Ultra 8R (backup unit).

I have since added a video card (AMD Radeon HD7770) but that was because either the chip or the motherboard developed a problem and the DVI video output died (I still had VGA). I had planned on eventually going to a separate video card anyway, that just sped up the decision.

There is an issue with the PCI interface on most newer motherboards. The PCI slot is not a true PCI bus, it is just a "bridged" connection to the PCIe bus and some PCI cards do not work properly.
Old 18th September 2013
  #5
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My i7 on a z77 board had that when I used the pci FireWire card, had to buy the frontplate that connects to header on the onboard fw chipset.

Sent from my mobile device
Old 18th September 2013
  #6
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Play's Avatar
 

Same problem via USB? Have you put legacy PCI into this system?

I can't see why there'd be a problem with that graphics card. By switching priority, I just meant assigning the CPU to the DAW with Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del, go to process, set priority, low and high, respecrively) to leave the web browser firmly as a background process.
Old 18th September 2013
  #7
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I don't have USB interface to test. I haven't tried Legacy Firewire driver as Focusrite suggested not to use it for later Drivers of Saffire. By Legacy PCI if you mean the Firewire card, it is PCI not a PCIe.



Okay, integrated grapics drivers just came into my mind as a possible culprit becouse when scrolling or moving windows quickly, the distortion and crackling starts with a same note.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Play View Post
Same problem via USB? Have you put legacy PCI into this system?

I can't see why there'd be a problem with that graphics card. By switching priority, I just meant assigning the CPU to the DAW with Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del, go to process, set priority, low and high, respecrively) to leave the web browser firmly as a background process.
Old 18th September 2013
  #8
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So when scrolling and moving windows the crackling appeared with your PCI FireWire Card?


Quote:
Originally Posted by saciestudio View Post
My i7 on a z77 board had that when I used the pci FireWire card, had to buy the frontplate that connects to header on the onboard fw chipset.

Sent from my mobile device
Old 18th September 2013
  #9
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MasonPage's Avatar
 

I had a crackling issue and it was due to the FireWire chip on the internal FireWire bus I was using. Had to install another (recommended) firewire card. Problem solved
Old 18th September 2013
  #10
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Play's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasonPage View Post
I had a crackling issue and it was due to the FireWire chip on the internal FireWire bus I was using. Had to install another (recommended) firewire card. Problem solved
I would give this a go.

I think legacy PCI operates at 5.5V. Having said this, I'm not sure it would be working at all if the card was underpowered. I'm no expert, just troubleshooting with ya.

You don't have any USB ports at all?
Old 18th September 2013
  #11
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Big question...

Does it only happen when you have your DAW open? Or does it happen all the time?


I'm wondering if this is a bug with the Focusrite drivers. People say they are hit or miss.
Old 19th September 2013
  #12
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When DAW is closed and I am browsing while playing 1080p Youtube music video or VLC player with MP3 I am yet not able to reproduce any serious crackling. Probably a small pop or two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix View Post
Big question...

Does it only happen when you have your DAW open? Or does it happen all the time?


I'm wondering if this is a bug with the Focusrite drivers. People say they are hit or miss.
Old 19th September 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
I think it may be the audio drivers. But... obviously the only way to really know is by having another interface to test. Any chance you can borrow a different brand from a friend?

Also... try downloading ASIO4ALL and using that, to see if it helps at all.
Lastly... make a problematic project, unplug your interface all together, and run just Windows Audio to see if that helps.
Old 20th September 2013
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Don't really recall that, I had heard that pci isn't good for audio with most new cpus, mobos... then when mine crackled I didn't try to track the problem, just went and changed to the onboard fw, all great since. It was day one with this rig.

Sent from my mobile device
Old 20th September 2013
  #15
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xcskier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anra View Post
...
Asus z87-k (does not have WLAN, only LAN)
Intel i7 4770 w/ integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics
Texas Instruments chip FW PCI card
Merging Technologies has certified Haswell (Intel) Integrated Graphics works well with their software. ( Pmx is picky.)

A few possible issues i see here:
1) disabling 'Windows Settings' access to your sound card. (Windows sounds Off) Some Drivers are Single Client - can only be used by one application at a time.
2) Try Windows Classic view - Aero Off
3) experiment with audio driver buffer at 128, 256, 512, 1024 (the higher may work)
4) Z series perform poorly with legacy PCI. However if you don't have a high-channel count, or high sample rate, it might be alright. Z87 chipset - the PCI shares a bridge with the on-board Firewire.

I posted block diagrams of some new Intel chipsets on this GS thread:
New motherboard recommendation?
Old 20th September 2013
  #16
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Upping the Latency to 512 or any other workarounds are not wanted for a new system that should perform well. So, ditching this TI chip PCI FW card and gettings TI chip PCIe instead would be the solution?



Quote:
Originally Posted by xcskier View Post
Merging Technologies has certified Haswell (Intel) Integrated Graphics works well with their software. ( Pmx is picky.)

A few possible issues i see here:
1) disabling 'Windows Settings' access to your sound card. (Windows sounds Off) Some Drivers are Single Client - can only be used by one application at a time.
2) Try Windows Classic view - Aero Off
3) experiment with audio driver buffer at 128, 256, 512, 1024 (the higher may work)
4) Z series perform poorly with legacy PCI. However if you don't have a high-channel count, or high sample rate, it might be alright. Z87 chipset - the PCI shares a bridge with the on-board Firewire.

I posted block diagrams of some new Intel chipsets on this GS thread:
New motherboard recommendation?
Old 21st September 2013
  #17
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xcskier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anra View Post
Upping the Latency to 512 or any other workarounds are not wanted for a new system that should perform well. So, ditching this TI chip PCI FW card and gettings TI chip PCIe instead would be the solution?
I would suggest seeing if you can solve the problem first before you purchase a new card to make sure it is indeed the source of the problems. That said, with your Mobo, PCIe might be a good way to go. (Unless you want to change Mobo which will be the more $ )

As for Latency, 512 samples (12ms at 1 fs) is totally acceptable. People go on and on about low latency, and perhaps they can let us know the reason for the obsession, but if a higher latency gives you a more stable and reliable system, then that should be your default. In the past I have used even higher buffers on RME ASIO with less problems for the particular Mobo at the time (up to 1024 and perhaps even double that). The newer Ravenna/Horus includes 512 smpl within it’s recommended range for ASIO Ravenna driver latencies at 1fs sample rates. (It even has the option of 1024, and this is the cutting edge of audio.)

Don’t know if this helps, but I do suggest experimenting a bit. I'm also curious if any of our posted suggestions have improved the issue at hand.
Old 25th September 2013
  #18
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Thanks for valuable information. Troubleshooting has been done with the instructions provided already. Disabling Aero did not help nor any ofther suggestions. I'm going to order a PCIe FW card with TI chipset and try with it. Hopefully it will resolve the issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xcskier View Post
I would suggest seeing if you can solve the problem first before you purchase a new card to make sure it is indeed the source of the problems. That said, with your Mobo, PCIe might be a good way to go. (Unless you want to change Mobo which will be the more $ )
Old 25th September 2013
  #19
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choond's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anra View Post
Thanks for valuable information. Troubleshooting has been done with the instructions provided already. Disabling Aero did not help nor any ofther suggestions. I'm going to order a PCIe FW card with TI chipset and try with it. Hopefully it will resolve the issue.
That will probably fix it...the PCI bridge thing caused me a lot of headaches earlier in the year too, and all the Haswell MB's have this issue. Whats happening there is a bunch of devices are sharing the same IRQ's with your PCI slot, and it can mess up drivers. The results can be quite random...your graphics card might play up, or the PCI device, or even USB. in my case, the USB stopped working, and my PC wouldn't recognize my keyboard or mouse, lol.

I was able to fix my problem on my PCI bridged motherboard by moving the graphics card to a new PCIe slot (the slot used a different IRQ to USB and PCI) and a fresh windows 7 install. If you have another PCI slot, you could try moving your firewire card there.
Old 26th September 2013
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choond View Post
...the PCI bridge thing caused me a lot of headaches earlier in the year too, and all the Haswell MB's have this issue. .....
I was able to fix my problem on my PCI bridged motherboard by moving the graphics card to a new PCIe slot ....
Not completely true. I agree the Z series boards have issues but not the Q series. The Z series seem to be marketed to gamers and have many additional features that can get in the way. Q geared more to professional users.

Haswell Q series are very simple elegant design without much extras. I initially ruled it out because of this, but now it would be the only consumer Mobo I am considering (i need a new PC - also considering LGA2011 c602 workstation...)

Q series (eg intel DQ87PG) does supports PCI native/legacy and has been certified but Merging Technologies for Mykerinos and Ravenna/MassCore. (MassCore RTX OS is very picky.)

Also check out my link above - the Gigabyte build of the Q series used a bridged PCIe to PCI when the Intel Platform Controller Hub natively supports Legacy PCI. Really strange...

Back to topic -
Other suggestions (similar to choond - after you try his idea - IRQs did give me issues with on-board firewire in the past):

If you have a graphics card, take it out and remove the drivers. Use the Integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics. (I assume you already are.) Many graphicscards, especial high end gamer Nvidia, have caused issues with Audio DAWs.

Also, if the higher buffer (for audio driver) hasn't helped, there might be BIOS changes to be made.

Give these a try - BIOS Settings.
Disable:
-Intel Speedstep,
-Dynamic Power Technology,
-Hyperthreading (in my case)
-no overclocking
Separately try:
- enable/(disable): pcie native support (might be only on workstation/server)
Old 26th September 2013
  #21
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choond's Avatar
Very Interesting, and good news too. Everything I read about Haswell motherboards recently said native PCI has been totally dropped now on Haswell boards You're the first person to say otherwise...but if true, then its excellent news for PCI audio interface users like myself.

Thanks for the info, I will enjoy reading the link you posted. Cheers!
Old 27th September 2013
  #22
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xcskier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by choond View Post
Very Interesting, and good news too. Everything I read about Haswell motherboards recently said native PCI has been totally dropped now on Haswell boards You're the first person to say otherwise...but if true, then its excellent news for PCI audio interface users like myself.

Thanks for the info, I will enjoy reading the link you posted. Cheers!
No problem. In fact I just realized you chimed in on that very thread and opened me up to the idea of LGA 2011 !

I probably won't go with x79 but rather the workstation version suggested - 602 PCH chipset.
That or the Intel DQ87PG or the Asus Q87M-E (LGA 1150).
The issue with Asus so far is: I can't find any block diagrams. They don't seem to make them available, even in the manuals online.

The Intel Q series I'm sure supports PCI - I posted a block diagram in the thread mentioned to confirm.
New motherboard recommendation?

Also here is another link that confirms PCI based Mykerinos audio cards are certified in the Q series but problematic in the Z series Sandy/Ivy/Haswell
Merging Technologies | Support - Recommended/Required PC configuration
Old 27th September 2013
  #23
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Right, forgot the main topic.

Here is a link to someone who lists Win7 optimization hints. I'm not a Focusrite user myself, but there is a link that covers tweaks for their products (below).

I assumed you wouldn't have virus checker software on your audio PC - if you do, get rid of that!

Windows 7 audio Tweak Guides
Old 27th September 2013
  #24
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choond's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xcskier View Post

The Intel Q series I'm sure supports PCI - I posted a block diagram in the thread mentioned to confirm.
New motherboard recommendation?

Also here is another link that confirms PCI based Mykerinos audio cards are certified in the Q series but problematic in the Z series Sandy/Ivy/Haswell
Merging Technologies | Support - Recommended/Required PC configuration
That's some good research you did there with the block diagrams, well done!

I'm not 100% sure if `legacy' PCI support on LGA 1150 boards is exactly the same thing as `native' PCI support - what do you think based on your research so far? From my experiences this year with my old build (bridged PCI) and new Z77 build, the practical difference is in the IRQ assigments. But you can still get around problems with shared IRQ's in bridged PCI systems if you have additional PCI-e slots and PCI slots to move around your cards.
Old 27th September 2013
  #25
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FireWire PCI card was moved to different slot and I've tried all the tweaks probably now. Different bios settings and combinations. From Windows, HPET settings from command prompt (ASUS bios does not have HPET enable/disable), Core Parking disabling etc. Nothing seems to give it better performance. Always when moving graphics are involved things are crackling (disbling aero and using basic settings did not help) (Integrated Intel HD 4600 with latest drivers). I can play guitar with VST effects on low latency without crackling only if I am seeing only desktop (no moving graphics on sight). When V/U meters are moving or mouse is moving or scrolling different mixer channels things get crackly. Alt+tab changing to different windows provides a crackle. Resizing Reaper window gives crackles etc.

I haven't yet found locally a proper PCIe FW card to try.


Quote:
Originally Posted by xcskier View Post
Right, forgot the main topic.

Here is a link to someone who lists Win7 optimization hints. I'm not a Focusrite user myself, but there is a link that covers tweaks for their products (below).

I assumed you wouldn't have virus checker software on your audio PC - if you do, get rid of that!

Windows 7 audio Tweak Guides
Old 27th September 2013
  #26
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Can you afford to get a dedicated Graphics card, something like a cheap NVidia Gt 610
(1GB or 2GB) ? The GT 610 is a good choice for audio as it has no fan (passively cooled via a heatsink) , but still possesses all the CUDA/mercury acceleration properties of the GTX series. Plus they are very cheap.

I never use onboard graphics personally; old habit because they use your system RAM and generally perform poorly against dedicated GPU's.

And I agree with you, the intel graphics chipset could be causing the issues. When you get a dedicated video card, you can disable the onboard Intel graphics completely via your bios (good idea to disable Azalia onboard audio as well). Anyway that's what I'd do next, now that you've tried swapping the card into a different PCI slot.

If you can afford to try this option (ie get a NVIDIA GT610 for around $40), don't forget to reinstall Windows.
Old 28th September 2013
  #27
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I know Merging used a ATI FirePro V3700 when it tested the Intel DX79 board. It should also be pretty inexpensive. I do know that with my system, Nvidia cards are very much discouraged. They did in fact recommend the Intel HD Graphics4600, but I also don't know anything about Reaper. Are there any dedicated Reaper forums ?

My friend (Masters in computer science and focus on graphics coding ..) said the only on-board graphics that are worth using came about with the Sandy, Ivy, and Haswell CPUs. That said I don't think he has been doing any audio recently.

Also I wonder if it might be the drivers you are using. When I changed ASIO drivers I heard a strange little crackle while moving the master fader on my board. It hasn't been an issue, but what you mentioned got me thinking: Have you updated you drivers for your audio Hardware ?
Old 28th September 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choond View Post
I'm not 100% sure if `legacy' PCI support on LGA 1150 boards is exactly the same thing as `native' PCI support .... From my experiences this year with my old build (bridged PCI) and new Z77 build, the practical difference is in the IRQ assigments. But you can still get around problems with shared IRQ's in bridged PCI systems if you have additional PCI-e slots and PCI slots to move around your cards.
Ya, I'm still not totally clear on the definitions. In many forums they seem to use these two terms interchangeably.

I'm using the word legacy to emphasize that PCI is not PCIe (just to be more clear).
I'm using the word native to emphasize that there is no PCIe-to-PCI bridge.

For example the Z series (and perhaps even P and H series) use a PCIe bridge to get the PCI to route to the PCIe controller hub. From there it routes to the Platform Controller Hub. (Not native)

In the Intel Q series Haswell (not the Gigabyte board however - as you see from the diagram I posted) the PCI is routed directly to the Platform Controller Hub. No intermediate step. And no fighting over bandwidth in the PCIe controller.

All the examples I have looked at so far in the X79 and 602 chipsets, the PCI is routed direct to the PCH. So for all of these including the Q Haswell, I would term that as Native - no PCIe bridge. I hope I'm using these terms correctly. Either way, that's why people use diagrams and schematics - no language confusion.

As for performance, you can see that the throughput issues were so great with PCIe-to-PCI bridges that the PCI Mykerinos cards by Merging could not operate anywhere close to the specification to which they were designed. These cards were designed to handle both plugin and audio Processing etc. as well as I/Os.

One further note: if you wanted to use PCIe, PCI, and on-board firewire all at the same time, all these would be sharing the PCIe controller in the "PCIe to PCI bridge" scenario. That could end up being a total mess.

P.S.
If you want to post the same question in the other thread, I would post this answer there as well. I had to do quite a bit of reading to wade through all the confusion on this issue.
Old 28th September 2013
  #29
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Thanks so much, thats really excellent, detailed research you did there...possibly the best on the net so far regarding Haswell and PCI. It will help loads of people who are struggling with upgrading to Haswells who want to keep their expensive PCI audio Interfaces.

Its encourgaing that the Q series boards do native PCI, they have the best specs in other ways as well.

Anyway, well done and thanks for all the time you took looking into this.
Old 9th October 2013
  #30
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I uninstalled HD4600 Drivers, plugged in GT610 PCIe. Installed it's latest drivers, booted. Crackles seems to be gone. I can run Live and Reaper with 32 samples without crackles, with the same projects that earlier crackled with 256 samples. I did not re-install windows. Still using the legacy PCI FW card and same audio interface.


Quote:
Originally Posted by choond View Post

If you can afford to try this option (ie get a NVIDIA GT610 for around $40), don't forget to reinstall Windows.
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