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Phaenius

Capped (clipped, whatever) sound with Audigy sound card

215 posts in this topic

Forget about the front panel until you confirm the card is working correctly at the back . You need to isolate the "capping" problem.

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Sorry for the late reply, I've been busy. I checked at the back. Same thing. Meanwhile, sound is getting distorted on certain passages, difficult to explain, it manifest itself at high frequencies, it's something similar to when you are trying to encode a wave, using a too low bit rate or sampling frequency. Bottom line is sound gets distorted. I wonder what really happened. It's annoying since I don't know if the sound card is damaged and if so, why this happened. If I buy a new sound card, it could happen again.

Another thing I noticed is that problems appear on "rich" passages of music, I mean with lots of instruments, voice, all sort of frequencies and harmonics. With simple sounds, on few channels, looks ok. Also, on movies and games, it seems ok. Another thing is the Windows 7 mixer (which I don't get it). I attached a picture. Please look at the annotations on the picture.

Edit: I downloaded a third party VU-meter and sound level is at -10 dB at max, I believe it's way too low, don't know if that's what is causing problems or not.

post-363572-0-87107400-1354119921_thumb.

Edited by Phaenius
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To the right of the top-left-most arrow is the WinAmp Mute button and then a Volume slider. You have the slider set very low. To get more volume, slide it all the way to the right and Pump Up the Volume! :yes: Then turn down the volume at the speakers until it doesn't distort. B)

In the picture, the VU meter pointed to by the arrow show no color and appears to also be indicating low playback volume being sent to the system mixer. Press Alt+G to check WinAmp's internal equalizer and preamp levels.

>Another thing is the Windows 7 mixer (which I don't get it). I attached a picture.

Are you saying that clicking on the Mixer button at the botton of the System Volume control does nothing? Try double-clicking on the Volume control in the systray to open the mixer.

Once you find the system mixer, report the levels found there. Make sure you select all volume controls in Options->Properties.

You should also explore the Audio tab of the Multimedia Control Panel, especially Playback: Advanced Settings->Performance.

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Not all MP3s are created equal. They can have different gain levels at the same sampling rate. Have you tried playing with the EQ built into Winamp?

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It looks like Phaenius is just playing a CD in this test. He should also try the same CD in Windows CD Player as an alternate audio source and compare results.

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Thanks all for replying. Unfortunately, problem's still there.

To the right of the top-left-most arrow is the WinAmp Mute button and then a Volume slider. You have the slider set very low. To get more volume, slide it all the way to the right and Pump Up the Volume! :yes: Then turn down the volume at the speakers until it doesn't distort. B)

Well, I tried that, trust me, I tried everything. This is the highest setting in Winamp volume that doesn't cap. If I move the slider to the right (higher volume), sounds doesn't get higher, low frequencies get cut altogether, only mediums and high pass by and, at rich sound (lots of instruments, voice, etc.), it gets heavily capped, I mean, if someone is progressively yelling let's say, volume stays the same, sound card is clipping the sound. If I move the Windows mixer up, sound get heavily distorted, especially at bass levels.

In the picture, the VU meter pointed to by the arrow show no color and appears to also be indicating low playback volume being sent to the system mixer. Press Alt+G to check WinAmp's internal equalizer and preamp levels.

I did checked. It's at default. If I raise the preamp, sound gets distorted. EQ is flat. Mostly because I set the EQ from the Windows mixer and/or external amplifier or active speakers.

Are you saying that clicking on the Mixer button at the botton of the System Volume control does nothing? Try double-clicking on the Volume control in the systray to open the mixer.

Once you find the system mixer, report the levels found there. Make sure you select all volume controls in Options->Properties.

You should also explore the Audio tab of the Multimedia Control Panel, especially Playback: Advanced Settings->Performance.

Sure it does. I attached a picture to this post with the levels, with annotations. Volume levels are low, if I raise them, sound gets either capped (clipped) or distorted.

Not all MP3s are created equal. They can have different gain levels at the same sampling rate. Have you tried playing with the EQ built into Winamp?

Sure. I replied above. Preamp distorts when raising, EQ is not used.

well its Audigy,

there was time when Creative deliberately crippled the drivers for NT6 (it was work flawlessly under NT5).

Probably done to 'encourages' the users to 'upgrade' (read: buy) the sound card for newer OS.

Don't know what exactly is NT6 or NT5 (XP and Vista ?), but when I bought this card, it was the latest model and now I am using latest drivers.

It looks like Phaenius is just playing a CD in this test. He should also try the same CD in Windows CD Player as an alternate audio source and compare results.

No, I am playing FLAC files. I do own the discs, but I am finding annoying to switch discs, so I am using FLAC copies. When I play the CDs, true (don't know why), sound is more rich and powerful, but not as it should be, but clearly better than the FLACs. Isn't FLAC suppose to be lossless ? Anyway, I found out that playing CDs in Windows Media Player, sounds better than Winamp. Isn't Winamp faulty ? I am using directsound as output in Winamp (v5.6.23)

Thank-you all for trying to help. I know it's time consuming for you and I appreciate this. I just want to find out what's wrong. I have other sound related problems and I want to find out where exactly is the problem, to isolate it, to not inflict more damage to my other equipment and to solve it.

post-363572-0-03106700-1354170092_thumb.

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This is very annoying. Sound is clipped, now the high frequencies are heavily distorted, sounds lacks any clarity. I could have accepted this, but I activated the on-board sound card and result is the same. Even on my phone sound is distorted and is sounding horrible. I don't know where did all come from. I didn't listen to high volumes, I didn't set the EQ aggressively, I know for a fact that my ears and/or passive equipment (speakers, headphones) can't generate such distortions, it's like voodoo. Now I can't listen anything. I know this is subjective, some people might not even notice, some won't make such a deal, but all I can hear now is a distorted sound. I wish there was a cheap way of measuring all sorts of signals to find out what's wrong. I don't have testing equipment and after all, one's ears are the ultimate test. Either it sounds clear and tasteful, a rich and natural sound, or a distorted and horrible one. Before I should buy another card, I must know what caused all this. My computer monitor has audio capabilities. A few months after purchasing it, one speaker is completely dead, the other sounds like it has membrane broken. Amplifier seems ok, tested with headphones. It seems someone put an audio curse on me.

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I wish there was a cheap way of measuring all sorts of signals to find out what's wrong.

Strangely enough :unsure: , a few cheap ways exist, and even more strangely, they make use of (another) sound card :w00t: .

Check ;):

http://bedroomproducersblog.com/2011/06/24/bpb-freeware-studio-best-free-spectrum-analyzer-vst-plugins/

http://bedroomproducersblog.com/2011/07/05/bpb-freeware-studio-best-free-oscilloscope-vstau-plugins/

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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You can also try testing with a different OS. Assuming you don't dual-boot, a Linux live-CD should do....

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Jaclaz, I followed the links but I understood nothing. I don't know what VST are and what to do with them. A bit more help ?

jumper, I tried KNOPIXX, sound card isn't recognized.

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Jaclaz, I followed the links but I understood nothing. I don't know what VST are and what to do with them. A bit more help ?

I thought you were a "computer audiophile" :unsure: , and assumed :blushing: you knew VST, however:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Studio_Technology

The two pages are a list of VST based Oscilloscopes and FrequenceAnalyzers, but there are also more non-VST ones, examples:

http://www.zeitnitz.de/Christian/scope_en

http://zelscope.com/

http://www.virtins.com/page2.html

(there are tens of these)

Some "generic" intro can be found here:

http://www.ledametrix.com/oscope/index.html

http://www.sciencetronics.com/geocities/electronics/projects/soundcard_osci.html

You asked for a cheap way to measure signals, while some of these are completely Free, a few - more "robust" or "featured" ones can be bought for some ten bucks, and an optional buffered probe for - say - another ten bucks at the most:

http://xoscope.sourceforge.net/hardware/hardware.html

or a "direct" one with a few components you can get from *any* electronic device you were going to throw away or that you can recover from the waste bin:

http://www.ladyada.net/library/equipt/diyaudioprobe.html

which I consider "cheap" :yes: .

FAQ #1 here is possibly the plainer explanation:

http://www.zelscope.com/faq.html

Q: What can I use Zelscope for?

A: Zelscope is a low-frequency oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer software. We believe it can be useful in tuning music instruments, adjusting audio circuits, or doing physics experiments. Acoustics is the most evident area; Zelscope also allows for an easy measurement of short time intervals in mechanics experiments. Zelscope has proven useful in debugging music and sound processing software.

jaclaz

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jumper, I tried KNOPIXX, sound card isn't recognized.

A bit of research indicates SUSE has the best change of including X-Fi drivers on the LiveCD. Otherwise, you need to get them from a linux repository and install to a flashdrive (or something.... :unsure: )

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Again sorry for the delay in responding. I am like Robert de Niro in Awakenings, I need a little push to resume, otherwise I am in a pause state. :)

As for my problem. Jaclaz, don't know exactly what an audiophile is. I mean, I have an idea, but I am not a perfectionist, I just want things (all things, not just computer components) to work correctly. In this case, as it was a good Creative Labs product at the time, I expect it to deliver far more than it's capable now. I don't have much money (probably required by a "proper" audiophile, who in turn probably it's around 50, has big beard, big belly and a low voice, plus he seems to know everything about audio, the one who uses cables of thousand bucks and stays inside with 5 dollars trousers - I've seen plenty of those), otherwise I would have bought a new card (an expensive one and/or with a good and trusted review) and voila! problem solved. But I'm not and, if not able to solve the problem, at least I would die for to know what is wrong with it, or where the problem reside. Because, as of now, I didn't isolate the problem yet.

I followed your links, Jaclaz, thanks. I downloaded some programs, but I have no idea how to use it. I read manuals, but still I'm in the unclear. I know that computer sound cards aren't exactly the best audio or electronic equipment so, I don't know how they can be used as precise measuring devices. Furthermore, I don't know how to use the two cards to verify each other. I saw some oscilloscopes, spectroscopes, tone generators and so on, but no idea how to use it. It looks that programs are for experts. I wondered if there was a program of some sort to test thoroughly the sound card and report possible problems. I am fully aware that those programs can't communicate digitally with my brain and ultimately each sound card or terminal equipment must have a DAC and the analogue part cannot be seen (or can, but by insanely expensive equipment) by software and/or hardware devices. I mean, a program can't detect a swollen capacitor that can distort sound and a partially destroyed transistor. But it can detect if the problem resides inside the digital area. There can be also a driver issue that most likely can be resolved. I downloaded and installed Daniel K's modified drivers to no avail. For those who don't know, here is Daniel's story http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/04/daniel_k-who-fi/

Sound is getting capped, clipped and it's distorting to the point I can't listen anymore. I don't know what on earth can be wrong, since, at digital level, the DAC isn't used at all and I use DAC from the active loudspeakers or receiver (I am using optical or coaxial output). In this case, shouldn't the sound be pure from the sound card ? I mean, I can't mess with levels and voltages too high that can normally destroy the equipment. Digital is digital, it operates with bits, not voltages, current and so on. All the damage is done inside the analogue part. So, where on earth distortions and clipping come from ? Can it be the player ? Can it be the sound files (FLAC and properly made MP3s, as I mentioned, CDs sound considerably better, but still not as it should) ? Can it be the sound card ? Again, is there a "to go" an all-in-all at a glance tester that puts the card on the test ?

I am aware I am using your time and wouldn't want to abuse, but this problem is of importance to me. Again, thanks.

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Well, with all due respect :) you asked about cheap ways to measure every kind of signals.

I had the impression that you knew what to do with these measurements, otherwise it would be pointless.

I mean, let's say hypothetically that Santa Claus makes you find a brand new spectro-foto-turbo-cyber-oscillo-mega-scope, a (fictional) instrument very suited to measure accurately any kind of signals and worth a few thousands bucks, what you would do with it (exception made for using it as a very expensive door holder :w00t: )?

You expressed the wish to have cheap measurement devices for signals, not for learning overnight (and by sheer magic) a few month's worth of electronic design, troubleshooting and engineering (and some more months of practice besides the theory).

Short of using (appropriately) a signal measurement device you have only two options, that should however be BOTH tried:

  1. try that same sound card on that same PC system with another OS (install or "LiveCD")
  2. try that same sound card on another PC system (and with another OS install and/or "LiveCD")

if it still malfunctions, then there is definitely a hardware issue of some kind.

But let's say (still hypothetically) that there is an actual issue on that sound card hardware and that by pure chance my crystal ball is tuned and I could tell you that you have to replace the chip marked as IC18 on the board, what would you do?

Have you the experience/capability/tools to desolder a SMC, find a replacement and re-solder it properly?

Again with all due respect, you seem to me more like Robert De NIro in Analyze This ;), I guess your next move will to shoot a pillow.... :ph34r:

:lol:

jaclaz

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