NF325-A7 Sound problem: sounds like an echo ,,echo...echo makes me crazy...crazy...crazy...help...h

Discussion in 'PC Hardware' started by David Sontag, Nov 23, 2007.

  1. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    Just put this system together ... so here are the details:

    not overclocked
    motherboard: NF325-A7
    processor: Athlon 64 3400+ Venice 2.4GHz 512KB L2 Cache
    Socket 754 Processor
    CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER CK8-8JD2B-0L-GP 80mm CPU Cooler
    Memory: two (2) 512Mb PC 3200 ... major brand ...
    Power Supply: Ultra 450w
    Onboard sound: Audio Chipset Realtek ALC655

    Also tried CMI8738 / C3DX PCI Audio Device

    Ok the problem is no matter wich sound device I use it sounds like an
    echo ,,echo...echo

    So far I have not I have no idea how to fix this... and help will be
    appreciated.


    Thanks

    David Sontag
     
    David Sontag, Nov 23, 2007
    #1
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  2. David Sontag

    Paul Guest

    Any special sound software installed ? Applications for talking while
    playing games ? VOIP phones involved ?

    It isn't likely that an AC'97 sound solution and a PCI sound chip
    would have the same hardware failure. So something that sits above
    the hardware level, must be responsible.

    I'd have recommended booting another OS, like a Linux LiveCD
    (Knoppix or Ubuntu), and try the sound subsystem there. But since
    both your AC'97 and PCI sound chip both have the same problem, I
    don't see how an alternate OS will shine any light on the issue.

    In terms of your Windows install, did you do a Repair Install with
    the new motherboard, a fresh install, or something else ? Maybe the
    problem is related to some sound driver and its Mixer panel, from the
    previous system. Take a look around in Task Manager, and see if you can
    account for everything there.

    For additional fun, go Start:Run and type in "dxdiag" and run that.
    That is from your current version of DirectX. There are some sound
    tests in there. Give them a try, and see if there are any complaints
    from Dxdiag. The sound chip will be run at various sample rates and
    sample sizes, and perhaps some pattern will emerge there, that is
    different from what you've seen so far.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Nov 24, 2007
    #2
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  3. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    No special sound software installed ? No Applications for talking
    while playing games No VOIP phones involved .

    I wll run the test tommorw or Sunday.

    Maybe another hint ... the onboard clock is losing time.

    Thanks
    David
     
    David Sontag, Nov 24, 2007
    #3
  4. David Sontag

    Paul Guest

    That is a useful observation.

    When the operating system is not running, there is a clock in the Southbridge
    that keeps time. There is a 32768 hertz crystal next to the Southbridge, and
    the circuit in the Southbridge is very similar to that of a digital watch.

    When the OS is running, the value stored in the RTC in the Southbridge, is
    transferred to system memory. From that point onwards, clock tick interrupts
    signal to the processor, when to increment the location in memory that
    represents the clock. So the time keeping is based on clock tick interrupts,
    rather than the RTC, for as long as the OS is running.

    If the time is drifting in that case, one reason can be that the clock tick
    interrupt is not getting serviced in time, so opportunities to increment
    the clock are being lost. The clock tick interrupt has a high priority, so
    it should be difficult to lose them. (That is precisely why it has a
    high priority in the first place, to reduce the chance of losing them.)

    Now, consider if you have some kind of interrupt problem. The sound system
    also relies on interrupts for service. The sound chip requires rather prompt
    service, and if service is not received, funny things happen.

    To give an example of what the sound does, when starved, consider when a
    game crashes the OS. I used to have a problem with a system while playing
    Quake, and the sound would play in a loop, using the same fraction of a
    second worth of sound samples. That wasn't an "echo" as such, because the
    amplitude of the sound didn't decrease with time. It was more of a "looping"
    of the sound. If the software could somehow recover, and feed fresh buffers
    of data to the sound chip, then new sounds would come from the chip.

    Part of the fun with sound problems, is terminology. Finding descriptive
    terms that mean the same thing to everyone reading the posts. To me,
    echo implies reverberation, like sound in a cave or yelling in a
    mountain range. In that case, there is an echo, and with each return
    trip, the amplitude of the echo is reduced until it dies out. "Looping"
    is where the same buffer of sound data, is played over and over again,
    because the sound chip has no fresh content in the queue - in that case,
    the amplitude remains the same for each replay of the data in the buffer.

    This probably isn't going to be enough to figure out the problem, but
    anyway -

    Control Panels:Administrative Tools:performance has the capability to
    display a limited set of metrics. If you right click in the display pane,
    and select "Add Counters", then in the Add Counters dialog, you select
    a Performance Object of "Processor", then select "Interrupts/sec", that
    will give you a trace on the screen. If I do that on my Win2K system,
    I see a more or less flat line (as long as the mouse doesn't move), and
    the level of interrupts seen is:

    2090 interrupts/sec (alt-tabbed out of a 3D game, so it is in the background)
    (The video card is still "running", even when the game is not
    (Extra interrupts are from the video card))
    130 interrupts/sec (no game in background, mouse not moving)

    Check your system, to see what kind of level it is running. If there
    are thousands of interrupts per second, when no programs are
    running, and the mouse if not moving, it could be you have a
    spurious interrupt problem. The problem there, is I don't see
    a chip on the NF325, I recognize as a trouble-maker. It could
    simply be a defect of that particular board, I suppose (a good
    chip gone bad).

    If I wanted to further illuminate the issue, at this point I
    might switch to a Linux LiveCD, and see if I could get a
    record of interrupts versus IRQ number. I don't see the ability
    to do that, in Windows. But perhaps Linux has a means to do that.

    Also, take a look in the Event Viewer in Windows, and see if there
    are any strange error messages in there. Maybe if there is an
    interrupt problem, some side effects would be present in
    Event Viewer.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Nov 24, 2007
    #4
  5. David Sontag

    Frank McCoy Guest

    Just about exactly the same, except it isn't adjusted for accuracy like
    a watch is, nor thermally controlled. Nobody seems to think it worth
    the bother; as the main timing is derived from 60hz when the system is
    plugged in. So, the accuracy can be either damned good, or truly
    piss-poor indeed. They don't even give you a trimmer you can *manually*
    adjust for accuracy like many of the older watches do/did. Nor are they
    automatically laser-trimmed like watches are these days at the factory.

    They *should* be. ;-{

    I'm not sure about laptops; which don't *have* the 60-cycle reference;
    only a DC supply.
     
    Frank McCoy, Nov 24, 2007
    #5
  6. David Sontag

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    How do you laser-trim a watch? I can understand trimming a watch
    *crystal*, but that would be done by the crystal manufacturer.
    Where exactly is this 60Hz reference (or 50Hz in my case)?

    - Franc Zabkar
     
    Franc Zabkar, Nov 25, 2007
    #6
  7. David Sontag

    Frank McCoy Guest

    In alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt Franc Zabkar
    Easier than trimming the crystal by far ... and FAR more accurate.
    Most crystals are *deliberately* tuned a little high; so a tiny amount
    of capacitance in shunt will tune them slightly lower in frequency.

    In early crystal-controlled watches this was done by putting a tiny
    variable-capacitor in parallel with the crystal.

    To laser-trim a watch instead, you cut tiny links that would add tiny
    bits of capacitance (usually in binary amounts of .01pf, .02pf, .04pf,
    etc., or something similar) to the crystal while holding the temperature
    steady; approximating the "normal" temperature it would have while on
    somebody's arm. Resistors added in series might have a similar effect.
    Passed through from the power supply.
    .... Checking .... Well ... OK, I *thought* it was.
    http://www.greyware.com/software/domaintime/technical/accuracy/pcclocks.asp

    I guess not. ;-{
    PC clocks it seems, are far worse than I thought.
    There *are* circuits out there to do what I thought for PCs; but not
    built in as standard like I thought.
     
    Frank McCoy, Nov 25, 2007
    #7
  8. David Sontag

    JAD Guest

    reinstall the sound card drivers
     
    JAD, Nov 25, 2007
    #8
  9. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    Hi Paul

    Useful ... but I took a look at the areas you mentioned below and
    there does not seem to be anything wrong as far as I can tell...I am
    very impressed with the depth of what you know..

    My system is keeping perfect time as of the last 24 hours.

    So here is one more tidbit...

    the sound from the line out is fine ... it feeds my AIW 8600DV... but
    the speakers still have what is more correctly called looping.

    So, there are two possible answers as far as I can tell.

    1. Could it be that my speakers have gone bad ...Evo Sonic XS 2.1's
    .... I doubt it... but I will test some new ones in the morning.

    or

    2. It is the motherboard...

    Since the line out is fine ... it could very well be the speaker. They
    have not bin abused but I will test this before I order an new
    motherboard

    Thanks Again

    David

    That is a useful observation.

    When the operating system is not running, there is a clock in the Southbridge
    that keeps time. There is a 32768 hertz crystal next to the Southbridge, and
    the circuit in the Southbridge is very similar to that of a digital watch.

    When the OS is running, the value stored in the RTC in the Southbridge, is
    transferred to system memory. From that point onwards, clock tick interrupts
    signal to the processor, when to increment the location in memory that
    represents the clock. So the time keeping is based on clock tick interrupts,
    rather than the RTC, for as long as the OS is running.

    If the time is drifting in that case, one reason can be that the clock tick
    interrupt is not getting serviced in time, so opportunities to increment
    the clock are being lost. The clock tick interrupt has a high priority, so
    it should be difficult to lose them. (That is precisely why it has a
    high priority in the first place, to reduce the chance of losing them.)

    Now, consider if you have some kind of interrupt problem. The sound system
    also relies on interrupts for service. The sound chip requires rather prompt
    service, and if service is not received, funny things happen.

    To give an example of what the sound does, when starved, consider when a
    game crashes the OS. I used to have a problem with a system while playing
    Quake, and the sound would play in a loop, using the same fraction of a
    second worth of sound samples. That wasn't an "echo" as such, because the
    amplitude of the sound didn't decrease with time. It was more of a "looping"
    of the sound. If the software could somehow recover, and feed fresh buffers
    of data to the sound chip, then new sounds would come from the chip.

    Part of the fun with sound problems, is terminology. Finding descriptive
    terms that mean the same thing to everyone reading the posts. To me,
    echo implies reverberation, like sound in a cave or yelling in a
    mountain range. In that case, there is an echo, and with each return
    trip, the amplitude of the echo is reduced until it dies out. "Looping"
    is where the same buffer of sound data, is played over and over again,
    because the sound chip has no fresh content in the queue - in that case,
    the amplitude remains the same for each replay of the data in the buffer.

    This probably isn't going to be enough to figure out the problem, but
    anyway -

    Control Panels:Administrative Tools:performance has the capability to
    display a limited set of metrics. If you right click in the display pane,
    and select "Add Counters", then in the Add Counters dialog, you select
    a Performance Object of "Processor", then select "Interrupts/sec", that
    will give you a trace on the screen. If I do that on my Win2K system,
    I see a more or less flat line (as long as the mouse doesn't move), and
    the level of interrupts seen is:

    2090 interrupts/sec (alt-tabbed out of a 3D game, so it is in the background)
    (The video card is still "running", even when the game is not
    (Extra interrupts are from the video card))
    130 interrupts/sec (no game in background, mouse not moving)

    Check your system, to see what kind of level it is running. If there
    are thousands of interrupts per second, when no programs are
    running, and the mouse if not moving, it could be you have a
    spurious interrupt problem. The problem there, is I don't see
    a chip on the NF325, I recognize as a trouble-maker. It could
    simply be a defect of that particular board, I suppose (a good
    chip gone bad).

    If I wanted to further illuminate the issue, at this point I
    might switch to a Linux LiveCD, and see if I could get a
    record of interrupts versus IRQ number. I don't see the ability
    to do that, in Windows. But perhaps Linux has a means to do that.

    Also, take a look in the Event Viewer in Windows, and see if there
    are any strange error messages in there. Maybe if there is an
    interrupt problem, some side effects would be present in
    Event Viewer.

    Paul
    [/QUOTE]
     
    David Sontag, Nov 25, 2007
    #9
  10. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    Ok I was not thinking clearly ... line out is the speakers ..

    Line in is where the AIW sends it sound ... so it cannot be the
    speakers,

    At this point I feel like a kid in a barn full of horse shit ... I am
    digging around cause ther must be a pony in here somewhere.

    So for now I am back to the motherboard.

    David

    [/QUOTE]
     
    David Sontag, Nov 25, 2007
    #10
  11. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    I have ...twice

     
    David Sontag, Nov 25, 2007
    #11
  12. David Sontag

    Paul Guest

    I'm having one of those days too :)

    Looping is caused by a sound chip / data delivery problem from the
    system. The problem is local to the motherboard. If the problem
    was related to how the computer bus was set up or tuned, you'd get
    a crackling noise (but not looping), so that isn't it.
    It could be an interrupt problem (interrupt sharing, with
    another device, or an interrupt problem where another, spurious
    source of interrupts is hammering the system). It could be
    a driver problem I suppose, but then you'd see other people
    complain of the same symptoms. A driver that simply didn't deliver
    data, leaving the sound chip spinning on the last buffer, would
    give a looping sound.

    It is not a speaker problem, so you don't have to worry
    about the speakers being the source of looping.

    There are other strange pieces of software out there,
    like echo cancelling software for use with VOIP or the
    like. Sometimes that doesn't get along with system sound.

    On the interrupt front, I checked Device Manager, and
    if you go to the View menu, you can change to review
    resources. In there, you can see the IRQ list. This is mine.

    IRQ Usage Summary:

    (ISA) 0 System timer
    (ISA) 1 Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard)S
    (ISA) 3 Communications Port (COM2)
    (ISA) 4 Communications Port (COM1)
    (ISA) 6 Standard floppy disk controller
    (ISA) 8 System CMOS/real time clock
    (ISA) 9 Microsoft ACPI-Compliant System
    (PCI) 10 Hauppauge WinTV 878/9 WDM Aux Driver
    (PCI) 10 Intel 82801EB SMBus Controller - 24D3
    (ISA) 12 Microsoft PS/2 Mouse
    (ISA) 13 Numeric data processor
    (ISA) 14 Primary IDE Channel
    (ISA) 15 Secondary IDE Channel
    (PCI) 16 RADEON 9800 PRO
    (PCI) 16 Intel 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D2
    (PCI) 16 Intel 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24DE
    (PCI) 18 Intel PRO/1000 CT Network Connection
    (PCI) 18 Intel 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D7
    (PCI) 19 Intel 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D4
    (PCI) 20 CMI8738/C3DX PCI Audio Device
    (PCI) 21 Hauppauge WinTV 878/9 WDM Video Driver
    (PCI) 23 Intel 82801EB USB2 Enhanced Host Controller - 24DD

    Sharing is OK, and you can see my Radeon video card shares with
    my USB ports. My network card also shares with USB. What you'd be
    looking for, is something sharing with your sound. My motherboard
    sound is disabled (I'm using a PCI sound card), so I don't know
    right off hand, what things would look like if I was using
    the motherboard AC'97.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Nov 25, 2007
    #12
  13. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    Ok I was not thinking clearly ... line out is the speakers ..

    Line in is where the AIW sends it sound ... so it cannot be the
    speakers,

    At this point I feel like a kid in a barn full of horse shit ... I am
    digging around cause ther must be a pony in here somewhere.

    So for now I am back to the motherboard.

    David
     
    David Sontag, Nov 25, 2007
    #13
  14. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Yes at this point it may be a motherboard problem ....or a driver
    problem. I am going to go into safe mod and see what is really in the
    device manager.
     
    David Sontag, Nov 25, 2007
    #14
  15. David Sontag

    JAD Guest


    do you have a tv card? try disabling WAV or LINE in from the mixer...
     
    JAD, Nov 25, 2007
    #15
  16. David Sontag

    David Sontag Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for sticking with me on this.

    How did you copy your IRQ table??

    It turns out that the Realtek Ac'97 Audio and the "Standard Open HDC
    USB Host Controller". share PCI 21.

    I do not know if that is important.


    Yes .. I have removed the c media card as it was not better the than
    the onboard sound.


    Let me bring you up to date.

    I went into safe mode and deleted all the sound stuff ... it was all
    in order with no multiple items and rebooted... no joy..

    Then I did a clean boot and low and behold the sound was normal.

    I also took the point to reinstall the latest ATi and Realtek drivers.

    After lots of testing and reboot disabling start-up item without a
    clean boot ... no joy. So it seems the problem is in the service
    section ... driver no??

    Play around in there presents a problem as I do not know what I am
    doing and I do not wants yet another problem.

    So now what ,,, I do not think I can rule out the hardware, but I
    cannot rule it in either. I am considering buying a new board from
    newegg as this one is out of warrantee.

    So I am once again stuck.. and thinking what I want to do next...

    Thanks

    David
     
    David Sontag, Nov 26, 2007
    #16
  17. David Sontag

    Paul Guest

    In Device Manager, I used the print function, did a "print to file" in
    PostScript format, then extracted the text from the PostScript file.
    That is how I got my IRQ list, without typing it in.

    As for the sharing, I don't think it is the issue. If you had some
    kind of strange PCI card plugged into the machine, and that was on
    the same IRQ, I might suggest removing the card or disabling it, as
    a test. Every NF325-A7 would have AC'97 and USB on the same IRQ,
    and they aren't having sound problems.

    As for the rest of your description, it sounds like you managed to
    fix it at least once.

    Is it the fact that the sound drivers reinstalled themselves, that
    seemed to fix it ? Did it stop working after the next reboot ?
    Does removing them again in safe mode, fix it again ?

    Other things that come to mind, is that Nforce3 had a stuttering
    problem with 6800 series video cards. Nvidia never seemed to fix
    that, as at least some people still seemed to have symptoms.

    I've tried searching on "looping", but unfortunately "looping" is
    also used by audio people for another purpose, so it is not
    a precise enough search term for me to find other examples.

    One thing I'm keeping in mind here, is you said you got the same
    symptoms when using a PCI sound card with CMI8738. (That is the
    same kind of sound card I use, and I've never had any trouble
    with mine.) From a bus or interrupt point of view, it is hard to
    believe they would be affected exactly the same way. Chances
    are, the PCI sound card would be sharing with different things
    etc.

    It may be one of those things, where you're going to have to
    keep careful records of what you've changed, to track it down.
    Don't try to do too many random things in one go, because then
    you'll lose track of what is making it better or worse.

    This is one time, when you need someone looking over your shoulder,
    like an extra set of eyes. There's got to be a clue in there
    somewhere.

    When you use the Task Manager, and look at the CPU charts, do
    you see anything strange when the sound does that looping thing ?
    Like a spike in CPU usage, or even, the CPU chart stops advancing
    for a second. In other words, does the whole system freeze for
    a second, rather than just the sound loop ? Maybe the sound loops,
    because the whole system has stopped for a small period of time.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Nov 26, 2007
    #17
  18. David Sontag

    Franc Zabkar Guest

    FWIW, I'm using Windows 98SE on a 450MHz socket 7 machine. My audio
    subsystem does not share any IRQs. However, if I'm playing streaming
    audio using Winamp, and I open a DOS box, then the current 2sec - 3sec
    audio sample is repeated about three times before the audio settles
    down. During this time the CPU usage approaches 100%, otherwise it is
    50%.

    Occasionally my system boots up with shared IRQs for my audio
    hardware. When this happens I get a repetitive "bong bong bong" sound
    until I go into Control Panel and select a different audio
    playback/record device.

    So from my perspective the OP's problem does not appear to be an IRQ
    issue. Instead I suggest that monitoring CPU usage may help him to get
    a handle on the problem.

    - Franc Zabkar
     
    Franc Zabkar, Nov 30, 2007
    #18
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