87. How can I improve audio performance on my computer?

Here are some suggestions to help you improve overall audio recording/playback performance on your computer. This will also help troubleshoot problem such as jerky playback and stuttering, clicks/pops/audio glitches, and out of sync tracks:

  • Some initial troubleshooting steps.

    If you are having sync problems, you should look at this FAQ topic first.

    If you are using ASIO drivers (Version 10 or higher), look at this FAQ topic first.

    Otherwise, you should start by installing the latest update for your version of PowerTracks Pro Audio. Find out what your exact version is by looking under Help | About PowerTracks Pro Audio. You can download the latest update patch from our Software Updates page.

    If you are having a serious problem, you may also want to return PowerTracks to the factory default settings to eliminate the possibility that one of the configuration files is corrupt, and to correct inadvertant changes to settings in the program. You can return the program to the factory settings by following the instructions in this FAQ topic. Even better, create a fresh installation of the program by renaming your current PowerTracks folder (ex. rename C:\pt to C:\ptOLD) and reinstalling the program to the pt folder. Note that after reinstalling from your original CD you may need to reinstall the latest available update patch.

  • Close background programs. This is probably the most common cause of audio recording and playback problems that we encounter. Close as many background programs as possible before working with any recording software. Disconnect from the internet and disable your firewall and anti-virus software. On Windows 2000/XP, look for icons in your system tray (at the bottom of your screen next to the computer clock) and close/exit/disable as many of these as possible. On Windows 98/ME:

    1. Hold down Ctrl and ALT on your keyboard, and press DEL once. This will bring up the Close Program window.

    2. Click on any item listed in this window except for "Explorer" or "Systray" and press [End Task]. If another window pops up saying that the program is not responding, press [End Task] again.

    3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each item listed in the Close Program window, EXCEPT for "Explorer" and "Systray". Note: Pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del twice in a row will restart your computer. If you restart your computer accidentally during this process, most of the background programs will likely be loaded again so you will need to start over.

    Your computer probably loads a variety of different programs when it boots up. You can use the System Configuration Utility to prevent your computer from loading many unwanted programs at startup. To open the System Configuration Utility, go to Start | Run, type "msconfig", and press OK. For troubleshooting purposes, you could perform a 'selective startup', and uncheck 'load startup items'. You will need to reboot your computer. If this resolves the problem, then it's just a matter of isolating which of the programs is causing the problem. Note: The System Configuration utility was not included in Windows 2000.

  • Update the drivers for your sound card. You should reinstall your sound card (and MIDI/audio interface if you are using one) using the latest drivers for your operating system available from the manufacturer. The most recent drivers can normally be downloaded from the sound card manufacturer's website. If your sound device is integrated with the motherboard, you may need to search on the computer or motherboard manufacturer's website for appropriate drivers.

  • Clean up and defragment your hard drive. Check your hard disk space by going to My Computer, right-clicking on your hard disk, and selecting Properties. If you are getting low on space, this can slow down your computer quite a bit. Delete files that you don't need, and temporary files. You can use the Disk Cleanup utility (Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup) to delete temporary files.

    You should defragment regularly if you are working with audio. If you use more than one hard drive, be sure to defragment both. To defragment your drive:

    1. Close all programs on your computer.

    2. Get windows to check for errors on your hard disk. On Windows XP, right-click on your hard drive, select Properties, click on the Tools tab, and press the [Check now...] button. On earlier versions of Windows, run Microsoft ScanDisk by going to Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | ScanDisk. This may take a while.

    3. Start the defragmenter by going to Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter (or by clicking on the Defragment button on Windows XP). This may take a long time if it hasn't been done recently, and you can't do anything else on your computer while the defragemter is running.

  • Visual effects and animtions, and other performance settings. On Windows 2000/XP, these settings are found in Start | Control Panel | (Performance and Maintenance) | System | Advanced.

    • Click on the Settings button in the Performance section, and select 'Adjust for best performance'. Your operating system will not look as pretty, but will be faster.

    • You might get better sequencing and audio driver behavior if you set Processor Scheduling to 'Background services' rather than 'Programs'.

    • You might get better sequencing if you set Memory Usage to 'System cache'.

    The previous two items might be most noticeable if you have a specific problem you are trying to fix. If toggling those settings doesn't help anything, or makes matters worse, toggle them back. However, most people should get at least as good or better performance with 'Background services'.

    • Another thing that some people find helps is to click the [Change] button in the Virtual Memory section, and select 'Custom size' rather than 'System Managed Size'. System managed is the safest setting, so most people will probably want to leave it there. However if you do set it to Custom, try setting the Initial Size to the size of your RAM (for example 512 MB) and the Maximum size to twice the size of your RAM.

  • Verify that DMA is enabled for all hard drives. On Windows 2000/XP, right-click on My Computer and select Properties. Click on Hardware | Device Manager, and expand the IDE Controllers section. Click on each of the Primary and Secondary Channels and make sure that the Transfer Mode is set to DMA in the Advanced Settings tab.

  • Disable accelerated graphics. Try reducing graphics hardware acceleration: Start | Control Panel | Display | Settings | Advanced | Troubleshoot. Move the hardware acceleration slider to the left one notch and click OK. You may be prompted to restart Windows. If the problem remains, repeat the above process until the problem is solved or the slider is all the way to the left. If you experience any problems with your display, especially if you are using graphic intensive games, you may need to move it back to the right.

  • Adjust the Input and Output Buffer settings in PowerTracks. The default settings in the Options | Preferences | Audio dialog are usually ok, but you can try adjusting the Input and Output Buffer and Audio I/O Thread if you are experiencing audio glitches. Click on the [Help] button in the Audio Preferences dialog for more information about these settings.

  • Use the Aux busses for DirectX audio effects. (Not applicable to PowerTracks 7 and earlier). When applying a DirectX audio effect to multiple tracks, use the Aux 1 and 2 busses if possible, rather than applying the effect to each track individually. This will allow PowerTracks to use a single instance of the effect, rather than an instance for each track.

  • Perform system scans for Viruses, Trojans, and Spyware. Download the latest virus definitions for your Anti-virus software and perform a full system scan. You should also consider using a program that will scan for spyware and remove it from your computer. Spyware can have a significant impact on your computer's performance.

  • Check for IRQ problems. Your sound card should not share an IRQ with any other device. You can check IRQ assignments by going to Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Information, and clicking on 'Hardware Resources'. Note that items listed as "Steering" and "Holder" can share the same IRQ as another device. There is more information about IRQs here. You can use the Device Manager window to quickly check for conflicts - Start | Control Panel | System | Hardware | Device Manager. If there are any yellow exclamation marks in the device manager it indicates that there is a problem (However, if you don't see any exclamation marks, it doesn't necessarily mean that there *isn't* a problem). If your sound card shares an IRQ with another device, you may need to move it to a different PCI slot.

  • Other suggestions for improving performance. There are a variety of things you can tweak on your computer that may improve performance. Below are some other miscellaneous suggestions. You can find more information by searching on the internet.

    • Disable automatic updates (Windows XP). This can be done in Start | Control Panel | System | Automatic Updates.

    • Disable your screen saver (Start | Control Panel | Display).

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Alyssa - PG Music