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Optimising Windows Computers For Audio

Here are some things that you can do to tailor the settings on your PC to optimise it for audio. These should be attempted if you are having issues with your hardware or software relating to audio, or if you would just like to squeeze a bit more processing power out of your machine. 

 

Driver

First, you should download and install the latest driver for your Audient iD interface. These drivers can be found under downloads on the relevant product page. We highly recommend that you always use the ASIO driver for our products and not other windows audio drivers such as WASAPI or DirectSound. 

What is my computer capable of?

The next step in optimising your system will be finding out what your computer is already capable of doing. This is a very simple process. First set your latency settings to Extra safe and your buffer size to 8192 samples. Now drop reduce the latency setting (keeping your buffer setting the same) whilst playing audio until you start to hear audio glitches. Then increase the latency setting by one. For example if you hear audio glitches on minimum, you should set your latency as Low. Next reduce the buffer settings (whilst keeping the latency setting the same) until you hear glitches. Then increase this setting to the next larger setting. This is lowest settings that your computer can operate on.  

How do I find what is causing the issue?

Diagnosing what could be causing issues with audio glitches on your PC can be a difficult process. However, a third party application called LatencyMon by Resplendence makes this process so much easier. LatencyMon can be downloaded from this link LatencyMon 6.51.

After installing LatencyMon, open the application and also the piece of software that you experience the audio glitches on. Set the software to playback audio and press the green start button within LatencyMon. Allow the audio playback and LatencyMon test to run for about 10 minutes. This will allow plenty of time for the Audio glitch to happen and therefore be captured by LatencyMon.

After you have stopped the test by pressing the red STOP button, You will be presented with tabs full of information. To identify which processes are causing the audio glitches, navigate to the drivers tab. Here you will find a column that says Highest Execution (mS). Within this column, you will be able to see how long all of your drivers are taking to execute. A healthy system with no audio glitches will have all drivers executing significantly under 1mS, ideally under 0.1mS However, systems that are exhibiting audio glitches will have drivers that are executing well over 1mS. These are the drivers that are causing your audio glitches. These drivers should be either deactivated, updated or reconfigured in order to reduce their latency value. Please note that multiple drivers may be contributing to the problem. For example, a system with a driver executing at 0.6mS and another driver executing at 0.5mS can be added together to a total of 1.1mS. This would cause audio glitches. Here is an example of a system that would be very likely to cause issues:

This user would most certainly experience audio glitches such as clicks and pops and audio dropouts. The user would have to deactivate, update or reconfigure all the drivers circled in red as their Highest Execution is well over 0.1mS.

Here is a list of common drivers that cause issues and how to solve the problem:

NDIS.sys / TCIP.sys

These are your network and wifi adapters. You should disable them in device manager whilst working on audio projects. You can re-enable them after you have stopped working on your project.

atapi.sys / storport.sys

Update the drivers for your SATA, ATAPI and IDE controllers on your computer

usbport.sys

This is the driver for your USB ports. You can remove USB devices one by one running a test in between until you find which one causes this driver to have latency. You should then not use that device whilst working on a project. You can also update your USB drivers.

Stop the computer from turning off USB devices

This stops the computer from turning off bus powered devices plugged into USB ports to save power which could cause connectivity issues with your audio hardware.  

  • Open Control Panel and click on Device Manager
  • Open the Universal Serial Bus Controllers menu
  • Right click on USB Root Hub and click properties
  • Navigate to the Power Management Tab and uncheck "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power"

 

Set Power for High Performance

A windows PC has two power modes: balanced and high performance. Windows recommends that Balanced mode is selected which balances performance with energy consumption however this can mean that CPU may not be running up to its full potential all the time.

  • Go to Control Panel and click on Power Options
  • Make sure that High Performance is elected instead of Balanced
  • Click on Change plan settings for High Performance
  • Click on Change advanced power settings
  • Change to High Performance in the Advanced settings window
  • Open USB settings and disable USB Selective Suspend, then open Processor Power Management and set Minimum Processor State to 100%

 

Enable Write Cache and Advanced Performance for Hard Drives

This helps reduce the impact of poor hard drive performance.

  • Open Control Panel and click on Device Manager
  • Open the Disk Drives menu
  • For all your hard drives right click on them and select properties
  • Navigate to the policies tab and check the boxes "Enable write caching" and "Turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing" (For external Hard Drives change the option from Quick Removal to Better Performance)

Change Processor Scheduling

This helps to improve the way that your PC handles audio related tasks (as well as improvements in other non-audio related programs as well)

  • Open the start menu and right click on Computer and choose properties
  • Click on Advanced System Settings
  • Click Settings in the performance section
  • Set Processor Scheduling to Background Services
  • Click ok and then reboot your computer

Disable Computer Sound

This can be distracting when working so probably best to disable them.

  • Go to Control Panel and select Sound
  • Navigate to the Sounds tab
  • Under the Sound Scheme menu select No Sounds 
  • Click Apply then Ok

BIOS Update

BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System. This is vital when using audio interfaces as you are both inputting and outputting audio. Your BIOS is a fundamental part of your PC. However it does not regularly get updated. It is always worth checking to see if your BIOS needs an update. 

If you have an off the self PC you can simply go on your manufacturers website and download BIOS updates for your exact model of computer. 

Graphics Cards

Some brands of graphics cards prioritise graphic performance at the expense of other system processes such as audio processes. If your LatencyMon results show that your graphics card is causing significant latency, you should disable it within device manager. This will not affect the quality of your computers general display.

 

 

If you have worked through everything in this article and are still experiencing issues with your Audient iD interface. Please get in contact by emailing support@audient.com

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