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Pops and clicks on a Windows 7 64 bit system

Discussion in 'NI Audio Interfaces' started by Gary_W, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. tomni

    tomni NI Product Owner

    Hey all,
    My previous post didn't get past the moderator (?) so i'll keep this one brief.
    Latest driver is 3 April 2013 Komplete Audio 6 Driver 3.1.0.
    I have setup a separate clean boot hard disk with only Cubase6.5.4, Kontakt Ult, the VSTs, KA6 installed.
    Have followed all the NI guidelines for latency, using latest drivers and so on.
    Have disabled Windows services that are not essential - WLAN, WinUpdate, Offline files etc.
    Still getting occasional crackling, fixed temporarily by re-powering thru usb.
    So my observation is that clicks & pops are mostly avoidable if you don't use the internet or transfer files from hard disk, mem sticks.
  2. nyxl

    nyxl New Member

    As nothing has happened so far, I'm just going to add my experience with this.
    I'm having occasional pops and clicks or distortion no matter if I use Audio Kontrol 1, Komplete Audio 6 or Traktor S4. On Windows Vista, Windows 7 and also on another laptop with Windows 8 (all 64 bit in case that matters).
    On Vista with the AK1, it's not just occasional pops and clicks but severe distortion, but apart from that it seems to behave similar to the other interface/operating system combinations. On Win7, the AK1 behaves like the KA6 and the S4 (i.e. "occasional pops and clicks").
    The crackling appears randomly when I run multiple (non-ASIO) applications. It seems to me that the more applications I open, the more likely I get crackles. On Vista with the AK1 I can tell that most of the time they don't appear while audio is running but when a new audio playback starts (for example opening a file in a media player or starting a new track on SoundCloud).
    I've found two ways to temporarily get rid of the crackling:
    1. Close some applications (including the one that crackled) and check if the crackling is still there, if it is, close more. I never get crackles when just one application is running.
    2. Change the audio latency settings in the audio interface driver (the crackle is gone then, so I change back to the old setting afterwards)
    This issue is actually preventing me from switching to Windows 7 as my main operating system: As I wrote, with the AK1 and Vista there's either severe distortion or clean sound, so I can instantly tell if I have to do something against the crackling. With other setup combinations, it just freaks me out to have those random pops every now and then, wondering for some time if that was actually an audio distortion until it keeps reappearing.
    I tried various things proposed in this thread, but none of that helped.
  3. xismo

    xismo New Member

    What you're describing is exactly what happens with my Traktor Audio 6 (not KA6) or my S4. As soon as there is more intensive CPU load I start getting pops. Are you using USB 2.0 ports or 3.0?
  4. tomni

    tomni NI Product Owner

    Hey all,
    I've been thru the snap/crackle/pop thing. As a computer guy i've spent many, many hours going around in circles troubleshooting this.
    Even with only a Q9550 quad CPU/GA-G41M-Combo gigabyte mobo/8GB mem/USB2/Win7x64/Cubase 6.5.4, I have almost completely eliminated the KA6 crackling.

    Firstly - there are 2 settings to adjust in Win7

    1) This setting should be done IMMEDIATELY after Win7 is installed. It prevents the paging file on the hard disk from getting fragmented due to the size changing.
    Open Control Panel->System->Advanced system settings->Advanced tab->Settings...->Advanced tab->(Virtual memory)Change...->Custom size->Initial size(MB)
    Set this number to the same as MAximum size(MB)->Set->OK->OK->OK->Reboot
    On my PC with 8GB RAM this number is 6141

    2) This setting prioritises the PC background services and process - kernel, drivers etc, so that they don't stay in the queue as long.
    Open Control Panel->System->Advanced system settings->Advanced tab->(Performance)Settings...->Advanced tab->(Adjust for best performance of) Background services->OK->OK->Reboot

    Secondly - reboot the PC.
    Wait 5 minutes for it to settle down, then login.
    Only open Komplete Audio 6 - Control Panel -> Diagnostics -> Start.
    Watch the System Performance Test. Yellow/red bars may start to appear.
    This means your KA6 may crackle even with no app running. This needs to be fixed before anything else. It is very sensitive to internal bus contention.
    You need to remove/disable all unnecessary drivers, services, applications that are not neccessary for music production.
    It is a pain but that is the workaround that works for me.

    I have a separate hard disk for this reason, with a cut-down version of Win7SP1. Use the latest drivers, NI advisories etc.
    Don't run networking, internet, media player, Adobe, iTunes, printer, scanner, USB hard disks etc.
    Win7SP1 adds a lot of extra crap that you don't need. This excellent site lists what can be safely removed...

    When the PC starts up don't try to open your DAW immediately (while the PC hard disk light is still blinking). Since the PC is loading several things simultaneously, memory fragmentation will occur. This just adds slightly more work for the PC.

    I do this sequence
    Power up PC... wait 5 minutes
    Login... wait 2 minutes
    Start Cubase... wait 2 minutes

    There may be occassional residual crackling that appears after using the DAW for a while. Remove/wait 5 seconds/insert the KA6 USB cable, as mentioned by others.
  5. nyxl

    nyxl New Member

    @tomni and xismo Thanks for your comments! However, I'm not sure if we are talking about the same issue here.
    The problem that I have (and a lot of other people on this thread as I understand from what Ojustaboo posted) is not related to audio within the DAW or within Traktor.
    With applications that use ASIO, everything is fine (well, as long as the CPU load doesn't get too heavy, which will naturally make it crackle when set to low latencies. Does your crackling get better when you increase the buffer sizes?).
    The problem I wrote about seems independent from buffer sizes and is solely related to "plain Windows applications": pops and clicks in the browser, media player, etc. The driver doesn't show any usb errors or buffer underruns when that happens.
    To me, it doesn't even seem directly related to the CPU load but rather to the number of applications that can / want to access the windows sound output.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  6. Nyal

    Nyal New Member

    @tomni and some others: I am sorry, but you are completely missing the point here, as nyxl stated. Your problem is the normal unoptimized windows/not enough cpu performance problem and has nothing to do with the one described in this thread.

    you should consider deleting your post as it's misleads people and directs this thread onto the wrong path.
  7. states

    states NI Product Owner


    e x a c t l y !
  8. Ojustaboo

    Ojustaboo NI Product Owner



    And apart from that, I don't agree with tomni's advice at all. Having a fixed page file of that size with 8GB is simply pointless, chances are it will never be touched, sure you do need to have a small page file but a 6GB page file with 8GB RAM, totally silly suggestion.

    I have 32GB RAM and I have a fixed page file of just 2GB and I had the same size when I had much less RAM too. And even 2GB is probably a waste.

    Setting Processor scheduling to Background Processes can sometimes make a difference if you have a problem with latency on ASIO drivers, but often it makes zero difference and some people find that audio performance degrades by having it set to background. One of the writers at Sound on Sound that has tested this over the years now recommends setting it to background but if you get occasional dropouts with ASIO, set it back again and seeing if they go away, and if so, leaving it set on programs. I've tried both when I initially got the pops and clicks and notice no difference so now leave it on programs.

    My point being that while I know Tomnis advice is well meant, blanket advice designed for older struggling PC's does not necessarily work for newer PC's and can sometimes have the opposite effect. And in most people in this threads case, we are having zero problems with ASIO anyway.

    I get zero latency as confirmed by NI running their tests with no services played about with (stopped/disabled) from my win8 build and I didn't disable anything with win7 on my previous PC either. Sure if you have a low spec laptop or old desk top you might need to play around with such things, but that is not the problem we are having and it will not help the people in this thread solve our problems.

    The only tweaks I always do to a new system is turn off the power saving features, set a small fixed page file and turn off remote access (which obviously has nothing to do with performance). I can leave everything else at windows 8 (and 7) default settings and cubase 7, NI Ultimate etc all work 100% fine with zero problems, I can also play all games I choose to at the highest setting with zero lag. I do play around with other stuff to, but not due to performance issues, more because I like playing.

    In fact on my new PC I initially left the power saving settings on and it still works fine, zero stutters/latency using ASIO etc, gaming 100% fine, I only set them as I previously did out of habit and to prevent it going to sleep when I was downloading a load of stuff.

    Some people have problems with core parking enabled, others have problems with it disabled, personally so far I haven't touched it as all works well.

    I appreciate the helpful intent, but I do believe many people are playing around with services etc when they have no clue as to what they are really doing and in the vast majority of cases (not all) the tweaks simply aren't needed.

    Sure I could spend ages going thorough stopping/disabling various services I don't really need, but if I did, I will not see any difference in performance as I have no problems at all with performance and most people will be the same.

    I can power up my PC and start Cubase the second the desktop appears and it works 100% fine, sure usually I give it 10 seconds or so but power up, wait 5 mins ? login wait 2 mins?, my new PC once it gets past BIOS takes under 20 seconds to be at the desktop, I could wait 5 mins but it would be 5 mins wasted. It sounds like you (tomni) need a new PC if your having to wait that long. The PC I just upgraded from took under 30 secs to get to desktop once past BIOS on win 7 and I could start cubase immediately with zero problems.

    There are many things someone could do, such as removing most of the stuff Nvidia now installs with the driver and I do do that, but it's more as I like to keep my computer clean and free from stuff I don't use, not because it will improve my performance.

    Again I appreciate Tomnis intentions and it could help someone with a slow PC fix other problems, but I personally would not recommend playing if you don't know what you are doing.

    As I said in a previous post, I now use the internal MB sound for my windows programs and the KA6 for my ASIO NI, Cubase etc. Again I get next to zero latency with the onboard sound enabled, and NI even agreed its the best way for me to go until they have fixed the problem.

    It's just when KA6 uses windows sound the problem occurs and it does look like a driver problem.
  9. xismo

    xismo New Member

    Ok so just to set the record straight I was not talking about using Traktor or any DAW at all, I was talking about listening to music through Winamp in Windows. I am simply using the audio interface (TA6 / S4) as my main sound card in Windows as I stated several times in this thread.

    Nyal perhaps you should consider deleting your post, as I'm not sure where you're getting your information about anyone missing their point. other than simply assuming it. I don't see how I don't have enough CPU when I have a standard voltage i7 quad core CPU, I'd think that should be enough to play music through a media player without getting pops and clicks wouldn't you agree?

    In any case no one so far answered my question about what USB ports they are using. As I said before I have no way of testing USB 2.0 ports as my laptop only has USB 3.0 ports. USB 3.0 support is a known issue as even NI acknowledged it in their latest driver update for S4, see here http://co.native-instruments.com/?id=updates_readmetxt&update_id=2561

    Unfortunately I've had this driver since it was released and it makes no difference.
  10. Ojustaboo

    Ojustaboo NI Product Owner

    I have tried various USB 2 and USB 3 ports on my Asus P9X79 motherboard. It makes zero difference, I get pops and clicks on both.
  11. xismo

    xismo New Member

    K thanks for confirming.
  12. tomni

    tomni NI Product Owner

    OK, point taken Ojustaboo and Nyal. But this problem has been dragging on for well over a year and 100+ posts with various theories, opinions and workarounds. It is odd that some people do not have this problem at all which suggests that the NI s/w driver is OK. So, I did that post in the spirit of helping others with a methodology rather than playing around with random tweaks - it applies for both plain Win7 audio and DAW audio. Sorry if that is misleading people.

    Often a difficult computer problem is a combination of several other problems in disguise and troubleshooting it is a long drawn out process of elimination. btw my expertise is in systems architecture, circuit design and programming (C++, java, php, machine language).

    Just addressing some of your technical points Ojustaboo...

    Windows page file is always touched – check the Date Modified.
    A large page file is required as virtual memory for running hungry apps like Photoshop, Chrome, Autocad, VMs simultaneously. Win7 becomes erratic if it runs out of memory. Not everyone can afford a 32GB system so 6GB page file is more inexpensive. It certainly is not a waste unless your hard disk is too small. Not pointless or totally silly thank you.

    Best performance for Background Processes and deactivating devices is recommended by NI here

    My PC is older but certainly not struggling. Others here have i7 PCs with the crackling problem so I’m not about to buy a new PC and still have the same problem.

    I have never seen or heard of remediation for older PCs sometimes having the opposite effect on newer PCs. Any examples would be greatly appreciated.

    The thing about choosing to wait 5 minutes after booting/login etc has to do with Win7 still loading stuff after the splash screen. The indexer, MSS, event logs, netsvcs, win update etc are all banging away in the background for quite a while (watch the disk light flickering). Disk activity can result in resource contention and occasionally causes crackling.

    Totally agree that if people are clueless then they shouldn’t play around with the OS. This Disclaimer does not override any other disclaimers contained elsewhere.:)
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  13. Nyal

    Nyal New Member

    Had some new occurrences lately and I like to share them.

    First of all, I think it's safe to say that if your LOAD bad doesn't hit the red, you probably won't experiences any sort of crackles/dropouts/pops/glitch or what ever your mind can come up with.
    LOAD doesn't hit red = PC sort of properly optimized etc.

    If there weren't this autonomous click/tick/pop problem, which happens only on WDM audio for most people (including myself).
    Wether it is random or triggered by something (like high frequencies as I thought for some time) is unknown and most likely just of hunch of mine.

    Fact is, it gets worse over time. (Only known temporarily WORKING fix is: "disabling and re-enabling the device in Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Sound -> Playback (rider) -> Komplete Audio 6 Main Output.
    As it get worse, the new problem, mentioned above, occurs.

    I get something like an LFO like pulsating distortion (imagine Massive's Sample and Hold + Bitcrusher mixed together) wich rests for 2-3 minutes, then takes half an oscillation and returns back to normal.
    In between clicking/ticking/popping in a rythmic fashion for short periods of time.
    All this mostly for Flash-powered players like Youtube, Vimeo and even Soundcloud.

    So, sorry for this messy comment. (written in a very tired state)

    All the best, Nyal
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  14. XaserIII

    XaserIII New Member

    Hi there,

    I have exactly the same symptons as mentioned by Nyal.
    I have been in contact with the NI customers support earlier, unfortunately they were unable to fix the problem, altough they gave me a good starting point for own research.

    I'm currently analyzing every bit of my system using various tools like xperf etc.
    My current theory is that a slightly corrupt hard drive causes pagefaults which result in the corrupted audio stream. However I haven't been able to get rid of the problem yet.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, those crackling noise really freak me out.

  15. tomni

    tomni NI Product Owner

    Solved my KA6 crackling problem!!

    Finally, finally, finally appear to have solved my drawn-out crackling saga (previous posts) by installing a cheap USB expansion card.

    Connected the KA6 to the cards Enhanced Host Controller port. The card only cost $A15 from the local!! It performs better than the onboard Intel N10/ICH7 Enhanced Host Controller – huge improvement. It is a VIA 4port USB2 PCI card (VT6212L chip)...

    Tested it for days now on Win7 audio by running up to 10 separate audio feeds simultaneously to KA6 as a the default playback device – (wmp, itunes, vimeo flash, vlc, resonic, 2 youtubes (Chrome), 1 youtube (IE10), winamp, goldwave, Winfast TV – all these have been playing simultaneously for hours without any crackling, even though the PC is being thrashed.
    Additionally I can now connect the KA6 output to the audio line in of the motherboard for clear recording.

    Attached are some pix of the USB card and testing.

    For laptop owners this is probably not going to help. However you may be able to get a cheap ExpressCard to USB2 laptop expansion card, but i have not delved into that.

    Attached Files:

  16. Wicked Orange

    Wicked Orange New Member

    Looks like amazing news man!
    I will contact a friend and will soon try your fix!
    Confirmation will hopefully come in one to two weeks from me.
    I want to get away from these cracks so bad... man that just sux so much!

    Anyway... as we all see; hope dies last :)
    Thanks buddy for making new hope to all of us.

  17. Sechgulo

    Sechgulo New Member

    Nice, just ordered a similar card. Will be able to test it in 7-10 days! Will report back.

    (I've tried numerous times to post in this thread but never got past mod for som reason. I'm in the same boat as most of the ppl here.
    Have a high-end machine, hexa core cpu etc. Got no noticeable latency problems, some reports of USB stuff happening in latency mon. Cracking starts after a while and the only way to get rid of it is by restarting it, sometimes even get the slowmo bug..)

    Keeping my fingers crossed!
  18. tdisen

    tdisen New Member

    Thought I'd do my civic duty and report in on this thread...

    I bought a USB expansion card (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815256004) and it has vastly improved the clicking issues described by the OP. It's only about 90% fixed -- I was still able to get the clicking to happen by messing around with the drivers while I had audio playing, but under normal use, I don't get any pops. I'm also going to go back and work with some of the NI recommended tweaks, now that I'm confident that my USB solution agrees with the KA6. I also JUST installed the manufacturer-provided drivers for this USB card (rather than the stock Win8 drivers), so I'll see if that helps as well.

    It kind of sucks, but folks, if you're having this issue, consider buying yourself a PCI to USB card.
  19. Sechgulo

    Sechgulo New Member

    Nice, wasn't sure if a 3.0 card would work aswell, was kinda hard to get a hold of a 2.0 card but either way it's now on it's way.
  20. subway909

    subway909 New Member

    No old PCI slot on my new PC's motherboard, it's all PCI-E (PCI Express x1)

    Had a quick look around, seems it's difficult to find a USB 2.0 PCI-E (PCI Express x1) card, with that VIA chipset, and will it have drivers for Win7 64. Lots of USB 3.0 cards around, but also lots of people reporting problems with USB 3.0 and external USB audio interfaces around too.