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Streaming audio keeps cutting out


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#1
doveman

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My Dad's having a rather annoying problem with his PC, where Internet radio streams keep dropping out on him.

 

He says he's tested with audio files on the PC and hasn't noticed the problem with those, so it seems to be limited to Internet/streaming. He's checked there isn't a latency problem with DPC Latency and I've been running the streaming in Iron Portable this afternoon to eliminate it being a IE10 problem. He says it happens with various Internet stations (LBC, UCBMedia) which seems to rule out a particular source being the problem. 

 

I tried shutting down a load of programs and services and it seemed to stop when I killed hdparm (which I was using to disable APM at boot to prevent the annoying chirping sound from the secondary Seagate HDD http://forums.seagat...p/185414#M30716 ) but after logging out and back in again, it's been happening again so maybe it was a culmination of things I killed that helped or maybe it was just a coincidence. Wierdly, it was running fine for a while until my Dad walked into the room but the PC is wired, not wireless and the wireless is only used to link with a router downstairs connected to his Smart TV (and occasionally for my Android phone when I'm over).

 

I'm out of my depth here really as I've no idea how to troubleshoot this and find out where the interruption is happening, so if anyone could help that would be great.

 

 

 

 




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#2
CharlotteTheHarlot

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Troubleshooting must be done logically.

First, rule out the network and its hardware ( broadband service, router, cables, etc ). You can just drop another PC in place of his using the exact same ethernet wire as is. Change nothing else. If the problem is still there and identical then it is a network issue and then I would try a bunch of things like removing everything from the router but his wire, a different jack on the router, reset the router and ISP modem, a new ethernet cable to the router, etc.

If the problem is NOT seen on a different PC then you know it is either a hardware issue on his computer or a local software problem. Lots of possibilities here ( Hardware: overheating, flaky power supply, noisy or defective fans, BIOS messed up, etc; Software: a million possible Windows issues ).

They key here is to not even start messing with those "local" things until you rule out the first item - networking. Only if you definitely see another PC work perfectly should you begin changing things wholesale on that computer.

... Let him who hath understanding reckon the Number Of The Beast ...


#3
doveman

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Thanks, that's a good idea. I'll get him to plug a laptop into the same port on the router to determine whether it's the PC or something else that's the problem.



#4
doveman

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OK, he's done that now with a laptop running alongside his PC and there were only dropouts on the PC.

 

So any ideas what he can try next?



#5
CharlotteTheHarlot

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Whatever he does should be done one at a time, that means avoid changing a dozen settings and then it gets fixed but without a clear way to identify the culprit. Be systematic.

First thing is to identify the exact software he used to listen to Internet radio on both the good laptop and the bad PC. The difference will be the key. What browsers and version ( assuming a browser, maybe some radio client? ). In other words, compare apples to apples here. If he is using a browser to stream, make sure the PC browser settings match the laptop ( make sure there isn't an obvious setting that is different on either device ). It would help to have the laptop and PC running side by side and then page through all the settings and compare.

Definitely try a different browser too. It is quick an painless to install Opera, also Firefox. It might be that simple to fix.

Obviously the audio hardware will be different between the laptop and PC which complicates things a bit since there will be different audio drivers loaded. I would check the audio driver settings on both side by side as best as possible, through both the driver GUI interface ( usually a systray icon ) and also in device manager. Maybe it would be a good idea to just update or reinstall the PC audio drivers from scratch.

It might very well be time for a thorough cleaning of the PC. Check every fan including the power supply for dust. After that blow off all the components. Use canned air or a compressor and get every piece of dust out. If there was an audio card, at this step I would pull it out and put it back in.

Obviously all the connected wiring should be checked also, particularly those crappy little 1/8th audio jacks. Take them out and put them back in. Look for any data signal wires being ran across any power wires. Make sure no wires are leaning against any fans because the vibration could create a problem. Make sure no fans are too noisy which could just be dust in the bearings or worse, electronic failure adding noise to the system. Oh, if possible drop in another power supply to rule that out as a culprit.

As you run out of hardware demons then we get to other things like BIOS. CMOS can be dumped by pulling the battery for a while or shorting the appropriate jumper. This will cause a re-jiggering of resources when you next boot which might solve it right there. A full BIOS treatment would include resetting to defaults ( IMPORTANT: take photos or write down the settings on all the BIOS pages and take note of SATA settings ) or even reflashing the BIOS and pulling the battery.

This is kind of a hodgepodge way to go about it not knowing his debugging skill level. I can tell you how I would do it if it were mine. I would get a second HDD and replace the system drive on the PC with it and fresh install Windows. Then get radio streaming to work, and then stop and export the registry, then replace the HDD back to the original and do some comparisons of certain parts of the registry that are related to audio and the browser to locate the likely errors and import them to the current PC. NOTE: There are a myriad of Windows settings involving networking and Internet communication. ( Only sections of the registry can be compared because there are so many differences between a fresh install and an aged one that it is impossible to diff the entire export at once unless you have access to a supercomputer. Even if you did, the relocation of blocks and the zebra stripes in Windiff would be impossible to decipher. )

But even more importantly, if on that fresh Windows on a different HDD I could *NOT* get radio streaming to work then I would know that there is a hardware issue to be resolved. You didn't mention if it is onboard audio or a card. You can try disabling the onboard audio in the BIOS and then reboot without sound and then re-enable in BIOS and reboot again. Reinstalling the audio driver is another idea.

The main thing is to be systematic so you know what the problem was.

... Let him who hath understanding reckon the Number Of The Beast ...





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