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I'm a member of a photography club and responsible for the computer and projection equipment. We have a PC running Windows XP SP3 that exhibits a strange audio problem that I've never seen or heard of before.

We often project audio-visual presentations (effectively slideshows set to music) produced with various software (Wings Platinum, PicturesToExe, ProShow Gold, etc.) and are experiencing a problem where the audio stops midway through an AV playback while the video continues playing. It is fairly erratic, affecting AVs produced with various applications (so that is probably not where to look) and even behaving differently with individual files. Sometimes a file might play correctly all the way through and at other times get the audio stopping during playback. Any AV played immediately after one where the audio stopped starts with normal audio and may or may not experience the problem itself. I haven't tried playing music (MP3s for instance) for a long period so don't know if that would also be affected. Movies in AVI format don't appear to be affected, only AV presentations packaged in EXE files.

Anyone seen something like this? Got any ideas on what I should look at for the cause? It is a fairly new computer and I think but am not sure that this started happening soon after we got it (there were no problems with our previous one). Could it be a hardware or firmware issue?

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Sounds (or fails to sound) at first glance as a sound driver problem which are astoundingly common for such seemingly low tech devices.

As driver debugging in XP is akin to cleaning the Augean Stables only less rewarding, I suggest:

  1. install any firmware or driver updates for your audio card, if it shipped with the box it is almost assuredly out of date
  2. downgrade your audio card to a US$15 commodity card that doesn't try to do THX-1138 Dubly 5.1 with Super-Overdrive Hypertechnology. There is a decided advantage to low-tech in some applications: it usually works; ask NASA.
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Thanks, I'll bring the box home after our next meeting so I can spend some time upgrading drivers. Hopefully that will resolve the issue. –  Steve Crane Jul 5 '10 at 7:16
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