Need Opinions on Distorted Audio


  #1  
Old 01-04-04, 05:26 PM
BobCrane
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Need Opinions on Distorted Audio

Here's the Setup

P-III/500 192mb of RAM.
2 video cards (1 w/s-video card)
Sb-16 compatible ISA card
XP pro with unnecessary services shutoff.


I'm currently using this to project words onto a screen from ppoint while simultaneously playing 128k mp3's.

While mp3's are playing if I do anything on the PC (open a window, close a window, move a window, click a menu, etc) the sound 'warbles.' Yet it can run a graphic intensive ppt presentation without so much as a hiccup.

Question: I seriously doubt resources are a problem. I'm thinking possibly purchasing a better PCI card would do the trick (put more workload on the card). My hesitation is it could be something else making noise.
 
  #2  
Old 01-04-04, 05:57 PM
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powerpoint and mp3's are totally different. You didn't mention which program you are using for playing them, but some are easier on the CPU than others. you might try experimenting with some. I don't know the size of the hard drive, or how full it is, or the speed, but my guess it that with that CPU and that OS, you are tending to be running on the edge. A better sound card could help, but i wouldn't guarantee it.
 
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Old 01-04-04, 06:35 PM
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You might get a more current sound card. ISA is really old and the bus is not so wide as PCI. This could be part of the problem.

Next, I would put more RAM in there. 512 might improve things.
 
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Old 01-05-04, 08:37 AM
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I agree with both of you guys - I think the CPU/OS combination is a killer, but I also think the ISA and low RAM could be causing problems.

Basically, if you want to run XP and PP and MP3's, you need more computer. I don't think any one thing will help - you need a faster CPU, more RAM, and faster bus speeds (which you won't get with ISA.)

Good luck!
 
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Old 01-05-04, 08:38 AM
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I recommend trying "WinAmp classic" (search for it in Google) first. It uses very little processing power to play MP3s.
I also recommend updating the drivers (download them from the manufacturers website) for your video and sound cards.
Make sure all unnecessary programs are not running. Do not run a memory manager program, antivirus, email, or IM programs.
If that doesn't work, I would recommend a sound card like a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz. I recently got one for around $45, and am amazed with it.


I think a P3-500 with that much RAM should be more than adequate to do what you are wanting it to.

I just thought of this. If you have two video cards, most likely one of them is running without hardware acceleration. Any time you try to move a window or do anything graphically on the secondary monitor it will hog the CPU. That could be causing the hiccups. You could figure out which card is the primary and work mostly on that (or change the primary to the other one). I turned off some visual effects on my computer, and it helped reduce the CPU hogging from using the secondary monitor. Right click on "My computer" and select properties. The select the "advanced" tab and click on the "settings" button under "performance". Under visual settings, deselect a few things like the animating and fading and sliding of windows. Just something you might try.
 
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Old 01-05-04, 08:48 AM
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I think a P3-500 with that much RAM should be more than adequate to do what you are wanting it to.
How do you figure that? Microsoft Windows XP Professional system requirements:
PC with 300 megahertz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system);* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space*
Super VGA (800 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor
CD-ROM or DVD drive
Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
That system barely support the recommended specs - add PP and MP3 processing to the formula and that computer is sure to have audio problems.

But, just for arguments sake, try setting your Virtual Memory to a fixed amount (don't let Windows manage your VM.) When Win manages VM, it changes the size of the file constantly in the background - of course, this uses more processing time and HD swaps. If you set to a fixed size, you won't have to worry about Win changing the file around all the time. I would set it to at least double your RAM.

Good luck!
 
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Old 01-05-04, 12:02 PM
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Originally posted by SafeWatch

How do you figure that? Microsoft Windows XP Professional system requirements:

That system barely support the recommended specs - add PP and MP3 processing to the formula and that computer is sure to have audio problems.
Safewatch, I realize you know ALOT about computers. But I just get sick of people always thinking they have to upgrade to the latest and greatest, when most people don't really need it.

"Barely" is a stretch. He surpasses all those XP requirements by about 50%.

And, I figure because I have a Pentium II 450 with 256 MB of RAM running Windows XP Pro. (although I only have 1 video card, onboard) and it plays MP3s in the background while I do other things. Never hiccups. I use the onboard sound card. I use winamp classic. But there are some other free mp3 players that use even less system resources.
So, while I can't say for sure that his computer WONT have any problems. Mine doesn't, and its not even struggling. And I'd imagine a p3-500 would be better than my p2-450 even with 64MB less RAM. Programs take a while to load compared to my newer, sportier machines... but it works just fine.
If this were my system, I would buy a cheap PCI sound card from somewhere that would let me return it (no hassels) and get my money back if it did not fix it.
 
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Old 01-05-04, 12:43 PM
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Safewatch, I realize you know ALOT about computers. But I just get sick of people always thinking they have to upgrade to the latest and greatest, when most people don't really need it.
I completely agree. I don't think anyone needs the latest and greatest either - it's all this commercialization that gives people that impression. However, in the world of near 3Ghz standards - there's a big gap between 500Mhz and 3000Mhz. There are plenty of cheap Mobo/CPU combos out there for way less than $100.

In a Ghz world 200Mhz is barely.

I know Windows, I know XP - a 500Mhz with 192Mb of RAM running XP Pro, PowerPoint, and Winamp (or whatever MP3 player) is sucking up a ton of processes - add to that the fact that all of those programs are memory hogs, and you have a formula for errant skips in the MP3's. Even just a simple memory upgrade may be enough to help. But, I think it's more CPU usage - MP3's require a ton of usage, as does PP - XP not so much if you shut down pretty much everything (turn off services, turn off indexing, fix the VM, etc.)

I do like your idea about the Vid Card, that's definitely something to look in to. But, as you know, that goes back to CPU processes - if the VidCard were doing it's own processing, then the CPU wouldn't be overloaded in the first place. Same idea, just a different means of doing it.
 
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Old 01-06-04, 04:27 AM
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key is "opening or closing a window"

That requires some heavy duty graphics processing and does involve the RAM (and VM as Safewatch indicated). Its worse if you are driving TWO video cards.

Adding 256mb RAM would only cost around $50 or less. Well worth it. Thought the total increase may be less because the mobo may only support 2 memory sticks and one may have to be swapped out. KU - you are running 256mb vs Bob's 192. That extra 64 mb makes a big difference. Taking the RAM to 256 or higher is hardly an upgrade to the latest and greatest.

And if this computer is on a network/cable/DSL then running a firewall AND AV is an absolute must.
 
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Old 01-06-04, 10:16 AM
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Don't waste your money on the RAM until you've tried a new sound card. Your sound is "skipping" when your CPU tags out at 100%. The new sound card will use hardware accleration instead of relying on the CPU, and it shouldn't skip.
I STILL don't think you have to upgrade everything like crazy just to make this situation work... even though I'm outnumbered. Hopefully you'll give it a shot before you spend alot of money on upgrading unnecessarily. I don't care if they are making 10 GHz machines today, or have computers with a terabyte of RAM. You don't need it for this.

By the way, I'm using Winamp 2.8 on my computer right now... its using 8.5 MB of my RAM. Just opened Powerpoint... its using 7.5MB of RAM. All my services running on WinXP pro together, including this web browser and Outlook is 133MB. I think if you just install more RAM you will be disappointed.
 
  #11  
Old 01-15-04, 04:19 PM
BobCrane
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This is the first chance I've had to look at the thread since I started it. Looks like you all have had an interesting discussion.

Let me give a bit more detail:

1. I've killed all unncessary services on this PC. It is standalone.
2. MP3's warble whether a ppoint presentation is running or not, you just have to perform some other action while an mp3 is playing.
3. The mp3 player is Tplayer.
4. When I am running a ppoint presentation and have multiple presentations opened for editing and open whatever else is possible to max out CPU/Memory I receive no distortion in sound as long as I personally do not do anything (though ppoint is running a presentation).

I've never really considered 500 MHZ to be a problem. I'm certain I am in no way taxing the CPu with this setup. I had not considered one of the vid cards not being hardware accelerated.

My initial thought was to get a newer PCI card that could take some of the load off the PC in addition to being PCI. My hesitancy was if this was more of a shielding/noise problem than resource.
 
 

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