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I've been having a problem with the audio on my Windows 10 PC.

When I play music, and don't interact with the computer, there are occasional lags and stutters, but that's the operating system performing background tasks that cause spikes in CPU usage.

Basically, the audio stutters and lags when a processor intensive task runs.

For instance, every time I hit save in my editor, my webpack toolchain compiles and the music stutters for a second. Whenever I reload a heavy webpage, it stutters.

Very frustrating trying to work and listen to music.

I have installed the most recent drivers from the motherboard manufacturers website. I have the most recent updates to Windows 10 installed.

I have tried all sane quality settings in the Realtek Audio Control Panel.

The popping noises and clicking sounds are pretty self-explanatory.

To describe the lagging/stuttering better, it sounds a little like the slicer effect in music production, or in other words, taking the last section of the waveform that's just been played, and repeating it rapidly.

As if the buffer from which the audio is being sourced in memory isn't being updated, and the sound card is just outputting the same signal until it's updated.

I installed an app called LatencyMon, which determines a computer's ability to playback audio in real time.

It reports that no issues were detected, even though the audio clearly stuttered at least five times during the test.

Another weird point to make is that, most of the time, if I restart the computer, the lagging and stuttering stops and doesn't happen until I next wake the computer from sleep mode. Although, there have been times I've restarted and it's not fixed it, or it's starting happening again very shortly after. Although most of the time I can enjoy several hours of non-stuttering music after a restart.

My system specs:

  • CPU: i7 7700k 4.2GHz
  • RAM: 16GB (I think DDR4, but Speccy says 'unknown' and Task Manager doesn't say).
  • Mobo: Asus PRIME B250-PLUS
  • SSD: 250GB Samsung M.2 PCE-E

Here is the output from LatencyMon anyway:

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CONCLUSION
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Your system appears to be suitable for handling real-time audio and other tasks without dropouts. 
LatencyMon has been analyzing your system for  0:01:10  (h:mm:ss) on all processors.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
SYSTEM INFORMATION
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Computer name:                                        DESKTOP-9SVHE5R
OS version:                                           Windows 10 , 10.0, build: 16299 (x64)
Hardware:                                             Intel Z270, PC Specialist LTD, ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC., PRIME B250-PLUS
CPU:                                                  GenuineIntel Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7700K CPU @ 4.20GHz
Logical processors:                                   8
Processor groups:                                     1
RAM:                                                  16332 MB total


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU SPEED
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Reported CPU speed:                                   420 MHz
Measured CPU speed:                                   1 MHz (approx.)

Note: reported execution times may be calculated based on a fixed reported CPU speed. Disable variable speed settings like Intel Speed Step and AMD Cool N Quiet in the BIOS setup for more accurate results.

WARNING: the CPU speed that was measured is only a fraction of the CPU speed reported. Your CPUs may be throttled back due to variable speed settings and thermal issues. It is suggested that you run a utility which reports your actual CPU frequency and temperature. 



_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
MEASURED INTERRUPT TO USER PROCESS LATENCIES
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The interrupt to process latency reflects the measured interval that a usermode process needed to respond to a hardware request from the moment the interrupt service routine started execution. This includes the scheduling and execution of a DPC routine, the signaling of an event and the waking up of a usermode thread from an idle wait state in response to that event.

Highest measured interrupt to process latency (µs):   991.574421
Average measured interrupt to process latency (µs):   3.522034

Highest measured interrupt to DPC latency (µs):       977.189644
Average measured interrupt to DPC latency (µs):       1.431417


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 REPORTED ISRs
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Interrupt service routines are routines installed by the OS and device drivers that execute in response to a hardware interrupt signal.

Highest ISR routine execution time (µs):              518.350238
Driver with highest ISR routine execution time:       dxgkrnl.sys - DirectX Graphics Kernel, Microsoft Corporation

Highest reported total ISR routine time (%):          0.217639
Driver with highest ISR total time:                   dxgkrnl.sys - DirectX Graphics Kernel, Microsoft Corporation

Total time spent in ISRs (%)                          0.227469

ISR count (execution time <250 µs):                   58872
ISR count (execution time 250-500 µs):                0
ISR count (execution time 500-999 µs):                6
ISR count (execution time 1000-1999 µs):              0
ISR count (execution time 2000-3999 µs):              0
ISR count (execution time >=4000 µs):                 0


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
REPORTED DPCs
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
DPC routines are part of the interrupt servicing dispatch mechanism and disable the possibility for a process to utilize the CPU while it is interrupted until the DPC has finished execution.

Highest DPC routine execution time (µs):              813.066905
Driver with highest DPC routine execution time:       ndis.sys - Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS), Microsoft Corporation

Highest reported total DPC routine time (%):          0.030476
Driver with highest DPC total execution time:         storport.sys - Microsoft Storage Port Driver, Microsoft Corporation

Total time spent in DPCs (%)                          0.152312

DPC count (execution time <250 µs):                   385339
DPC count (execution time 250-500 µs):                0
DPC count (execution time 500-999 µs):                12
DPC count (execution time 1000-1999 µs):              0
DPC count (execution time 2000-3999 µs):              0
DPC count (execution time >=4000 µs):                 0


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 REPORTED HARD PAGEFAULTS
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Hard pagefaults are events that get triggered by making use of virtual memory that is not resident in RAM but backed by a memory mapped file on disk. The process of resolving the hard pagefault requires reading in the memory from disk while the process is interrupted and blocked from execution.


Process with highest pagefault count:                 none

Total number of hard pagefaults                       0
Hard pagefault count of hardest hit process:          0
Highest hard pagefault resolution time (µs):          0.0
Total time spent in hard pagefaults (%):              0.0
Number of processes hit:                              0


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 PER CPU DATA
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 0 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       3.092902
CPU 0 ISR highest execution time (µs):                518.350238
CPU 0 ISR total execution time (s):                   1.273544
CPU 0 ISR count:                                      58738
CPU 0 DPC highest execution time (µs):                813.066905
CPU 0 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.553437
CPU 0 DPC count:                                      301848
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 1 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1.574618
CPU 1 ISR highest execution time (µs):                5.753810
CPU 1 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.000260
CPU 1 ISR count:                                      130
CPU 1 DPC highest execution time (µs):                238.436190
CPU 1 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.026614
CPU 1 DPC count:                                      7555
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 2 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1.605544
CPU 2 ISR highest execution time (µs):                3.112619
CPU 2 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.000022
CPU 2 ISR count:                                      10
CPU 2 DPC highest execution time (µs):                188.414762
CPU 2 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.049893
CPU 2 DPC count:                                      13242
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 3 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       2.108311
CPU 3 ISR highest execution time (µs):                0.0
CPU 3 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 3 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 3 DPC highest execution time (µs):                241.970714
CPU 3 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.017977
CPU 3 DPC count:                                      4763
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 4 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1.143713
CPU 4 ISR highest execution time (µs):                0.0
CPU 4 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 4 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 4 DPC highest execution time (µs):                143.087143
CPU 4 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.032806
CPU 4 DPC count:                                      7561
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 5 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1.519044
CPU 5 ISR highest execution time (µs):                0.0
CPU 5 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 5 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 5 DPC highest execution time (µs):                234.783333
CPU 5 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.094236
CPU 5 DPC count:                                      32118
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 6 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1.457598
CPU 6 ISR highest execution time (µs):                0.0
CPU 6 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 6 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 6 DPC highest execution time (µs):                163.390238
CPU 6 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.067835
CPU 6 DPC count:                                      16139
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CPU 7 Interrupt cycle time (s):                       1.821813
CPU 7 ISR highest execution time (µs):                0.0
CPU 7 ISR total execution time (s):                   0.0
CPU 7 ISR count:                                      0
CPU 7 DPC highest execution time (µs):                125.029762
CPU 7 DPC total execution time (s):                   0.010152
CPU 7 DPC count:                                      2125
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I've read through a large number of threads describing similar problems, and the solution's don't work for me. It was another superuser post that I saw LatencyMon being used on, except for them it reported that there was a problem.

Edit:

I've tried installed the latest audio and network drivers from the manufacturers website, as per suggestions in comments, to no avail.

It has also been suggested that I buy a sound card, though, before committing to that, I'd first like to determine if there is an alternative course of action I can take to fix this.

  • Hmm, Sounds like a possible IRQ/DMA conflict to me. Not sure what to do about that but thought I should mention this. – Digital Lightcraft Mar 5 '18 at 12:07
  • Can you also try the most recent drivers from Realtek rather than from the motherboard's manufacturer? They often have outdated or customized versions. – AdmiralFreebee Mar 5 '18 at 12:18
  • @DigitalLightcraft, thank you for putting it out there. This PC was bough from a supposedly professional PC building service, so I should hope it's not a hardware confict. – thephpdev Mar 5 '18 at 12:21
  • Peanut Gallery, but as a suggestion, if this is on-board audio, I would seriously consider investing in a regular sound card. Even a $50-$100 investment is likely to yield better results than what you're experiencing now. – Anaksunaman Mar 5 '18 at 13:02
  • 1
    in that case, for a few quid, a cheapy soundcard will be my suggestion. – Dave Mar 8 '18 at 16:32
3

The problem you have is the amount of potential things that it could be.

The second problem is you've tried a lot of things.

Assuming you've updated the drivers, including the chipset drivers and the audio and graphic drivers then it could be due to software

Attempt with headphones incase it's a fault with the jack or the cable/speakers (although very unlikely in this case)

However, you've attempted many media players! And you've tried different songs.

An option would be to boot the machine into safe mode to see if the issue persists. If it does then you know it's software/driver related

Removing unwanted drivers/peripherals etc (such as 2nd hard drives/usb devices etc) may help but I'm not convinved.

The solution is very hard to know so power of elimination is the best bet I think... Because sound cards are cheap, I feel the best thing to do is buy one and try it out. I suspect it is cheaper than taking it to a computer repair shop

However, likewise, see if you can borrow some USB headphones or similar to see if the same issue perists on that.

  • Hi, I have indeed updated all drivers, including chipset drivers. I am using headphones, I'm in an office. It's not a problem with the jack, there's a direct correlation with increases in CPU usage, and audio glitches. I am planning on purchasing a reasonably cheap, but not too cheap sound card, as I've run out of patience for alternative solutions now. – thephpdev Mar 12 '18 at 9:12
  • Upvoted, when I've got the new sound card I'll accept answer. – thephpdev Mar 12 '18 at 12:14
  • If this works then it may be a good idea to greatly update your question to make it more generic so not can be a "go to" question for audio glitches... – Dave Mar 12 '18 at 20:00
  • That's a fair idea. However, I'm not sure that this is really a generic issue. It seems to be quite specific to this system configuration. Another commenter posed the possibility of it being some low-level hardware conflict. And plus, I wouldn't call buying a sound card a "solution", but rather a workaround. A solution would fix the problem without resorting to a new sound card. – thephpdev Mar 13 '18 at 13:27

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