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Capped (clipped, whatever) sound with Audigy sound card

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#26
Phaenius

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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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#27
jaclaz

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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....udio_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....istian/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.ledametri...cope/index.html
http://www.sciencetr...dcard_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.sourc...e/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.n...audioprobe.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

#28
jumper

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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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#29
Phaenius

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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...aniel_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.

#30
jaclaz

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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:
  • try that same sound card on that same PC system with another OS (install or "LiveCD")
  • 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

#31
Phaenius

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


Maybe I wasn't made myself clear in my asking. I asked for an easy and convenient way to test a sound card. Some kind of program that will auto-put the sound card to the test, auto-run a set of tests and reports afterwards if it finds something wrong in the digital section, something that feedback wrong, you know, like in a HDD, it reports all sort of stuff about them, stuff you don't normally know. That's what I wanted to know. I am not an expert, don't know how to use electronic devices (although I am a college electronics engineer - I don't know the exact term in English), I have basic electronic knowledge, but I don't work in that area. So far I think I narrowed my problems to two aspects, the clipping and the THD, which, by my ears, is very bad, but don't know how to measure it, other than subjective impression, by actually listening.

I am not crazy, not a perfectionist and I don't want to waste anyone's time by inventing things, I just want to know what the heck is wrong, where is the problem. And, totally apart from the computer sound cards, why my Samsung phone also sounds bad, with harmonic distortions all of a sudden as well. I mean, common, two sound cards and a phone, 2 (at least) different equipment ? I know for a fact that human ears and brain can not induce harmonic distortions, I think I do have a good musical ear, I know distortions when I see (hear it) it.

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: )?


I would make Santa use it and report the results.

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


Sure. And I am doing it with my bare hands. Replacing the SMC and everything there is around it (i.e. the whole sound card). If I am sure that solves the problem and what's more important, if it doesn't repeat. I know I can buy a new sound card, but if it only works for a limited time, I can't replace it every month or so. That's why I am trying to isolate the problem. Why does this happens ?

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


I am not nervous like Robert De Niro in that movie. Just a sad bunny.

#32
jaclaz

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Hmmm, I think I will try again.

The "chain" is:
  • Audio Source ->
  • Hardware (PC) ->
  • Software (Os) ->
  • Software (player) ->
  • Software (driver) ->
  • hardware (Sound card) ->
  • hardware (loudspeakers/earphones/etc) ->
  • Perception (subjective, your ear)

The appropriate and suggested procedure is to try item #6 while keeping the same items #1, #2, #7 and #8 with different items #3, #4, #5.
Then trying another item #6 (and if needed an appropriate corresponding item #5) while keeping untouched items from #1 to #4 and from #6 to #8.

This is enough to understand if the sound card has an issue (hardware) or *something else* is the problem.
You either conduct these two tests or you will be - besides sad - a doubtful, insecure bunny for a long time :huh: .

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#33
Phaenius

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I don't think #3 matters. It's basically included in #5 so to speak. They act as one item. Same for #2 and #6. At #4 basically it's the codec that matters. Also, a few items missing from the chain. Depending on how I interconnect, DAC can be used internally or externally. But something must be wrong. Now I am having trouble outputting sound from Creative sound card. It doesn't return any error, but outputs are at 0 and inputs at max, no matter what the sliders say. I have to reboot several times to work. Meanwhile, internal on-board sound card works. Totally weird. I'm on a point of giving up.

Puzzled bunny.

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#34
jaclaz

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I don't think #3 matters. It's basically included in #5 so to speak. They act as one item. Same for #2 and #6. At #4 basically it's the codec that matters. Also, a few items missing from the chain.

Look, basically you were asking for suggestions, they were given to you, and they are (IMHO) good ones, you can choose to either follow them or to not follow them :), in the first case, just do what you were told, avoiding the unneeded nitpicking, if the second, you can as well avoid the nitpicking as it would be pointless.

Just for the record however, you are fundamentally wrong:
  • different drivers #5 on same OS #3 may well give different resuts, as well different (compatible between them) OS's #3 with same drivers #5 may give different results.
  • as well the motherboard #2 may - for *any* reason - provoke a malfunctioning of the sound card #6 (as an example by providing low voltage or current or "dirty" power, among other things)

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#35
Phaenius

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There is no dirty power, or at least not just for sound card. Every other component uses the same power. It's a Corsair power supply, I read the review, it produces low ripple and noise.

#36
jaclaz

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I was passing by and a few random links fell off my bag-o-links :w00t:
http://www.hardwares...com/article/410
http://docs.oracle.c...ppt_degrade.htm
http://uk.answers.ya...28035026AAabNLU

jaclaz

#37
Tripredacus

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Ok I'll also try again. Since we are now clear about your expertise level concerning audio signals, the warnings in this link are VERY important. In my former career as a sound engineer, we would test the full range of the equipment using various sounds. MAKE NOTE of the VOLUME WARNINGS... you don't want to blow up your speakers. If you don't feel comfortable enough in doing full range audio tests, feel free to not attempt it.

Also, from experience, you may encounter some discomfort at the higher frequencies... also it may be possible that dogs in your area may not appreciate when the high frequency range ceases to be heard by you. :whistle:

http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch1.htm
http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch2.htm
http://www.cambridge-mt.com/ms-ch3.htm

Now, these aren't going to be miracle files, but are intended to assist you in properly tuning your system. I do not use these types of sounds anymore because I have found actual songs to use for testing purposes. If a correction cannot be made via your controls then you will need to explore the other options. I disagree with your assertion that #3 is not the issue, since it is known that Windows 7 handles audio differently than Windows XP.
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#38
jaclaz

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... also it may be possible that dogs in your area may not appreciate when the high frequency range ceases to be heard by you. :whistle:


And be aware of the risk of unclogging cables sending asterisks through them! :whistle:
http://www.msfn.org/...f-usb-transfer/


jaclaz

#39
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... also it may be possible that dogs in your area may not appreciate when the high frequency range ceases to be heard by you. :whistle:


And be aware of the risk of unclogging cables sending asterisks through them! :whistle:
http://www.msfn.org/...f-usb-transfer/


jaclaz


So from what I understand, once the sound issue is solved, beware that all those previously missing sounds will suddenly come free and be heard all in one cacaphony? :w00t:
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#40
jaclaz

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So from what I understand, once the sound issue is solved, beware that all those previously missing sounds will suddenly come free and be heard all in one cacaphony? :w00t:

No more simply "check if there is no full moon when sending spinning asterisks" or "only do that during daytime":
http://www.msfn.org/...post__p__985939

jaclaz

#41
Phaenius

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And you didn't appreciate my bunnies... :( And they are such nice (and sad) bunnies...

This is just a quick response. I will test the files and post the impressions afterwards. Thanks a lot, Tripredacus !

I was passing by and a few random links fell off my bag-o-links :w00t:
http://www.hardwares...com/article/410
http://docs.oracle.c...ppt_degrade.htm
http://uk.answers.ya...28035026AAabNLU


1st link: I read the article. Well written. Does not apply to my power supply. It's 3 months old, it's a good power supply, I read trusted reviews about it (with oscilloscope diagrams of ripple and noise, all sort of measuring depending of load, temperature and so on), it produces good voltages and (well inside limits) clean direct current. If you are talking about the sound card, yes, I am aware everything has it's lifespan.

2nd link: [yawn]

3rd link: Correct. Basically, same as 2nd link. You could have also posted a link with human capabilities over time. Same thing. Times forgives no one.

Since we are now clear about your expertise level concerning audio signals


By "we" do you mean you and jaclaz ? Because I'm not clear. Where do I stand, between a totally def and audio moron and an audio god ? I think I have a pretty good idea of how sound should be, relatively to my equipment. I am aware this is not thousand of dollars equipment, but taken into consideration this, I'll say something is definitely wrong, but don't know where.

the warnings in this link are VERY important. In my former career as a sound engineer, we would test the full range of the equipment using various sounds. MAKE NOTE of the VOLUME WARNINGS... you don't want to blow up your speakers. If you don't feel comfortable enough in doing full range audio tests, feel free to not attempt it.

Also, from experience, you may encounter some discomfort at the higher frequencies... also it may be possible that dogs in your area may not appreciate when the high frequency range ceases to be heard by you. :whistle:


Of course (and to partially answer my own question above), I'm not a totally id***. I have ears and can detect the raise of volume and/or potential dangerous levels. For this, my finger is always on the stop button. I already played with some of tone generators from links given by jaclaz and have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing.

Never mind the dogs, they must be def, they are barking all night under my window and not letting me sleep. If I'd be certain my speakers could do it, I would actually pay them back.

Now, these aren't going to be miracle files, but are intended to assist you in properly tuning your system. I do not use these types of sounds anymore because I have found actual songs to use for testing purposes. If a correction cannot be made via your controls then you will need to explore the other options. I disagree with your assertion that #3 is not the issue, since it is known that Windows 7 handles audio differently than Windows XP.


I thought audio part is not OS dependent. What (and please try to think if you can find an answer) I don't get it is why games and movies sound ok, crisp and loud and only music sounds crappy. My only assumption is that music is more rich in harmonics and this puts a lot on the capabilities of the sound card. I mean, on simple music, it sounds ok, but as soon as heavy and complex instruments kick in, sound gets distorted. "s"-es don't sound clear, it sounds like 'sh"-es (hope you understand), I hear harmonic distortions and clipping occur.

And be aware of the risk of unclogging cables sending asterisks through them! :whistle:
http://www.msfn.org/...f-usb-transfer/
jaclaz


OK, wire management is crap inside my computer, heck, I always get horrible distortions in sound when one of my four HDDs is working at high transfer speeds. You might be on to something here. I'll try to shield somehow the cable from sound card to front panel. Thanks Creative for not thinking of that.

#42
Phaenius

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OK, I listened the waves, Tripredacus. What exactly should I have heard or noticed ? It sounds ok, I mean nothing to report.

#43
submix8c

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OK, I listened the waves, Tripredacus. What exactly should I have heard or noticed ? It sounds ok, I mean nothing to report.

Then it's your files (or whatever?) The "tests" were to "check" with "basic ranges" (I assume, since I didn't use said "tests"). You SHOULD have heard the same "artifacts" that you have been experiencing.

(note- I'm a Sound Engineer as well AND am a Certified Electronics Technician.)

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#44
Phaenius

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But FLAC should be very close to original. The "L" is the magic word.

And it's hard to hear artifacts in pink and white noise. As for the low frequency test, it went very good. But those were simple samples, one tone. Problems arise at complex sounds, with a lot of instruments, in a wide range of frequency.

Edited by Phaenius, 14 December 2012 - 01:00 PM.


#45
jaclaz

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Just for the record, I am not a sound engineer nor a certified electronics technician.
(but I did stay at a Holiday Inn ;) )

jaclaz

#46
Phaenius

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Just for the record, I am not a sound engineer nor a certified electronics technician.
(but I did stay at a Holiday Inn ;) )

jaclaz


Like Jake Sully said "I'm not scientist, ask dr. Augustine" :)

#47
Phaenius

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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: )


1. Followed the link.
2. Downloaded SUSE
3. Burned disc
4. Boot from DVD
5. Bubu ! Disc is trying to install Linux operating system from what I saw on screen
6. Stopped installer.

So, can you please link me to a disc like KNOPPIX, something that will run from it ?

#48
jaclaz

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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: )



Choose here:
http://software.opensuse.org/122/en
between LIVE KDE or LIVE GNOME

Or use a USB stick:
http://en.opensuse.o...:Live_USB_stick

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 17 December 2012 - 06:16 AM.


#49
Phaenius

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Both are SUSE ? (I always feel the urge to say Suzy) Not that matters to me, but I understood from jumper, is a good program, OS or whatever. I know so little about Linux, I don't know what SUSE is

Thanks for the links.

Edited by Phaenius, 17 December 2012 - 07:23 AM.


#50
submix8c

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AFAICR, those are the Desktops - pick one of (many) variations.... Linux is flexible compared to Windows (which Browser do you want, etc) depending on the "flavor" (e.g. SUSE) of Linux. ;)

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