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So I recently got an external sound card/audio interface to use with my laptop (Edirol UA25 if you'd like to know).

Now, after installing the drivers and setting it up, I've found that occasionally, when I'm listening to music from my laptop, and using it at the same time, the music silences for a second or two, then resumes. (Interestingly enough, I never got this problem using the latop's jack out.)

This happens when I spark the CPU activity (for example, loading a new tab in chrome or opening a new program), and I assume what's happening is that windows is moving some of the CPU that was allocated for sound to this new task.

I'm not that bothered about my new tab taking a second longer to load, so can I force the CPU to the sound, so I don't hear any gaps in the music?

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HDAudio is rather cpu intensive, and MS has taken some controversial steps to accommodate it over the years. Vista throttled down hardware like NICs to provide higher priority to Sound cards, but this isn't something configurable: blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2007/08/27/… –  Frank Thomas Jun 21 '13 at 18:11

2 Answers 2

It does not quite work that way.

A sound card has its own controller (CPU), so you can not add power or adjust affinity to that controller from your CPU. You can increase priority for the application that is sending the music to the device, or adjust affinity, but that's really it.

A faster CPU, more RAM, or a faster hard drive might help.

For that card, I believe it is pretty easy to see why you are having trouble though.

The built in sound card is going to have its own controller and a bus designed not to rely on the CPU. With USB this is not the case, the USB bus relies heavily on the CPUs interrupts, so if the CPU is full and does not grant an immediate interrupt you will hear the temporary pausing.

The way USB uses the CPU is the reason I used PS/2 mouses for many years after USB mouses were the standard, it gave better performance and did not rob the more important applications of precious CPU interrupts.

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so there is nothing I can do? My RAM seems to be never full when the pausing happens. –  ACarter Jun 21 '13 at 18:21
    
The best thing you could do, IMO is trade that external sound card for a either a discrete sound card, or run from your integrated sound card to an amp / DAC style device for better fidelity without going through the USB. Really though, for 99% of users, integrated is good enough by all measurements. –  AthomSfere Jun 21 '13 at 18:26
    
hmm, yes, I might use my integrated card for output, but still use the external for input... (it has mic preamps and other features I need) –  ACarter Jun 21 '13 at 18:38
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Stupid me, somehow didn't find the device's specific control panel.

Increasing the buffer size fixed it easily.

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