The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these....

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2011/02/14 09:50:32
I've done some research on this here but I'm hoping to get a little more insight into my specific situation if possible.

I'm starting to have the dreaded "crackle and pop" issue. First the the info:


Windows XP SP3
Sonar 8.3.1 (but 8.5 and X1 are also installed)
Quad-core Q6600
4GB memory (3.25 available 32-bit)
Delta 66 (one of the later Xp drivers - haven't changed this recently)
3 SATA HD's with a separate drive for audio
DFI BloodIron MB

The project is about as simple as it gets - I'm simply recording bass tracks playing a long with an MP3 I imported. So I'm running two tracks total. No effects, no input monitoring. I haven't had the audio engine dropout at all and I haven't seen any spikes in CPU.

I did this same kind of work a few years ago on my older DAW which was just a P4 3.0 and the same setup and never had these problems so I have to imagine it's not a resource problem.

As I mentioned above, I've installed both Sonar 8.5 and X1 on this system recently, but I didn't want to use them for this "simple" project for fear of introducing variables not needed at this time. So much for that! I know during installation of the later versions it asks about importing audio settings from a previous version, but I didn't think that could affect an older version the other way. I know there are probably shared files between all versions, but from what I can tell my settings are all what they used to be.

I'm not in front of it right now but I know I've been running fairly low latency, like 5.8ms. Projects are 24-bit, 44.1. I thought I already bumped my buffer up to 512 but I'll ave to make sure it's still that way.

I've seen a lot of talk about M-Audio not being great with Windows 7 but since I'm on XP SP3 and haven't changed drivers in a while I didn't want to start by throwing a different audio card at the problem. I don't have any desire to go to Windows 7 any time soon, but I am willing to go to a new interface if necessary.

Thanks in advance for any help.
post edited by bunkaroo - 2011/02/14 09:58:27
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Re:The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these.... 2011/02/14 13:18:12
If it was working good before and it just started happening, I doudt it could be an IRQ conflict, but it always good to check for that anyways..

Another thing I would do, if you didnt already is to adjust your driver settings (ASIO or WDM) and make sure your using the correct driver mode (the one that works the best for your DAW)
Another thing I would do is to uninstall and re-install the sound card drivers and then re-profile it in sonar. Sometimes that does a DAW some good..
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Re:The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these.... 2011/02/14 13:46:10
Is the sound problem ONLY with DAW usage?  If you use a media player such as Windows Media Player and play a commercial audio CD or an MP3 or wav file with your regular PC audio "card" do you get the noise problems? (what are a fairly common complaint). 

There are many potential things that can cause pops and crackling on regular PC audio - no one fix for all.  Some issues are having a wireless connection or just an active wireless card, audio drivers, video drivers, cell phones and or cordless phones near the PC, etc.
post edited by fireberd - 2011/02/14 13:47:20
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Re:The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these.... 2011/02/14 16:33:01
Does it crakle and pop only when using Somar? Or is there system noise all the time? I had a terrible time with hissing, crackling, popping all the time but noticed it had something to do with my mouse. I have a Logitech wireless mouse. I got a usb extender that reached to within a foot of my mouse and the noise stopped completely. Still don't know why.

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Re:The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these.... 2011/02/14 19:40:52
Thanks for the info guys.

I'm not using the sound card for anything else like Windows sounds and I don't have another host installed so I don't knwo if other programs would do it too.

I was just playing back something with one track and it was freaking out even then. Is it possible the Delta 66 is just shot? It is 8 years old after all but hasn't seen a crazy amount of use.

So here's a summary of what I've done:

Uninstalled Delta 66 driver. Rebooted. Installed latest driver from M-Audio (from 2009), then rebooted again.

Ran Sonar 8 and re-profiled. Things were still wigging out at that point so I went into the sound card settings. Now here's the part I'm always confused on. Should the WDM buffer size in the M-Audio panel match the Playback IO and Record IO Buffer Sizes in the Sonar Audio Advanced tab? Originally I had all of these set to 256 and was able to keep things at 5.8ms. I bumped everything to 512 and things seemed stable but I could only go down to 11.6 which I've never had to do before. I put everything back to 256 and re-profiled the card and things seem OK - for now. I did get some glitch playback when I clicked elsewhere in the track while the song was playing but maybe it just can't handle that in general.

Couple other questions on the audio panel:

For Playback Timing Master and Record Timing Master, what should these be set to? The playback one originally said Dela SPDIF which seems wrong since I don't use SPDIF. Record master has Delta 66 monitor which I've left that way. I set the playback to Delta 3/4 but I don't think that makes sense since I record through those so I put it back to SPDIF.

Also, at the bottom of the Advanced tab, there is a Record Latency Adjustment (samples) setting. It's currently set to 0 but is showing my onboard MOBO audio card even though it's unchecked in drivers. I change to the Delta 66 but it keeps going back. Not sure if this matters or not. My driver mode is always set to WDM/KS - I should have made that clear earlier.

The only other drivers currently active are for a Line6 Toneport-DI - any chance that would be a problem? I've had that for a while though.

Also I'll add I have no wireless card, and there isn't even any antivirus running as this system is almost always isolated from my network.
post edited by bunkaroo - 2011/02/14 19:41:59
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Re:The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these.... 2011/02/14 19:58:14
Try disabling your Mobo sound card in device manager. That's what I had to do. Some people have no problem with on board co existing but some do.
Also , I would change all those timing masters to 1/2
Usually Sonar automatically sets all that stuff correctly and you shouldn't have to change it.
Also I've heard of crackles coming from PCI cards that get dirt in the connections. Try pulling it out and blowing dust out. Long shot but crackling can come from bad connections too, not just bad drivers.
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Re:The dreaded "crackle and pop" on a beefy system - yes another one of these.... 2011/02/14 20:07:08
I'll do that Johnny. I also disabled the Toneport and so far so good. Of course that could be a coincidence.