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Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback

Windows Vista Ultimate






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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 08-21-2008
 

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Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback
I have a Bose Companion 5 USB Sound System. Very often there is a barely noticable stutter. Almost like the sound is timestretched. I can not reproduce it by either intense disk or CPU usage it just happens intermittently.

Sometimes the stutter becomes very intense for a few seconds and then all computer sound shuts of entirely without any message from my system. Applications continue playback like normal.

Doesn't seem to be a problem with the Bose hardware since it works fine on other computers (iMac/Dell XP Laptop).

I'm running Vista x64 and have all the latest updates.

Any ideas what could cause this annoyance?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 10-06-2008
 

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Re: Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback
I can confirm the same or similar problem happens using Bose Companion 5 USB speakers on Vista-SP1 32bit edition.

The problem is best described as intermittent stuttering, from mostly minor but always present, to sometimes strong 'dropouts', a few times loosing the USB connection alltogether. Sounds a bit like my tapedeck sounded many years ago with a dirty tape.

I tried to find any offending driver or anything that could interfere with the audio driver to no avail. The Vista installation is clean and up-to-date w. regard Microsoft updates. Disabled the built-in AC97 soundchip in the Bios, removed all sound related drivers. Removed all special codecs. The speakers are connected directly to a USB 2.0 port without a hub.

I then tried the Companion 5 speakers under Windows-XP SP2 and Ubuntu Linux on the same PC hardware (multiboot). Under both these Operating Systems the Companion 5 speakers perform flawless USB audio, no installation problems of any kind, no stuttering of any kind, just very perfect sound.

Next I tried an external Soundblaster Audigy 2 NX USB card on Vista, connecting it with stereo cable to the line input on the Bose speakers. No stuttering whatsoever occured. Only this way you loose the 5.1 audio, and it is not so nice looking, since the line input is on the desktop volume control hockey puck. So the Audigy USB card was able to do good non stuttering USB audio on Vista!

As far as I can tell the stuttering really is a Vista / Bose specific USB Audio driver problem.

It seems that the API for the USB audio driver has changed slightly under Vista as compared to XP, and the driver must actively request / configure realtime performance from the MSWMM subsystem.

Hoping Bose or Microsoft will release a USB audio driver fix very soon now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pomle View Post
I have a Bose Companion 5 USB Sound System. Very often there is a barely noticable stutter. Almost like the sound is timestretched. I can not reproduce it by either intense disk or CPU usage it just happens intermittently.

Sometimes the stutter becomes very intense for a few seconds and then all computer sound shuts of entirely without any message from my system. Applications continue playback like normal.

Doesn't seem to be a problem with the Bose hardware since it works fine on other computers (iMac/Dell XP Laptop).

I'm running Vista x64 and have all the latest updates.

Any ideas what could cause this annoyance?

Last edited by tido1322 : 10-06-2008 at 22:32.
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Old 10-18-2008
 

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Re: Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback
Thanks for responding!

I have confirmed this as a bug in Vista. The Bose system is not to blame at all.

I have my Bose System connected analog via an Audigy card at the moment and will keep it that way until I can drop Windows as primary OS completely. I have just had it with Microsoft products.
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Old 10-19-2008
 

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Re: Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback
Thanks for confirming this issue.

Maybe I've found a root cause AND a workaround for the issue of stuttering audio using the Bose USB audio driver.

It seems that the stuttering is related to AMD's Cool 'n Quiet feature, in which the CPU clock frequency and voltage is dynamically changed depending on the CPU load.

Download and install AMD's Power monitor tool v1.2.3 to view the actual clock frequency, but also to select a power scheme. The availaible schemes are 1: High performance, 2: Power save and 3:Balanced. Link: http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/cont...onitor_123.zip

Actually 1: means full clock 2200MHz @ 1.35V, 2: means clock of 1000MHz @ 1.1V while 3: means dynamically variable clock in between these values.

Selecting either the High performance OR the Power save scheme the audio is perfect, and not stuttering at all, even at 100% CPU load! Only in dynamic clock mode scheme "Balanced" the audio is stuttering. The USB audio driver apparently gets confused by the quickly changing clock...

So it seems the combination of Windows Vista AND an AMD CPU with Cool 'n Quiet enabled for dynamically adjusting the CPU clock AND a Bose USB audio driver for the Companion 5 speakers is exhibiting the stuttering audio problem.

Note the problem does not occur on WinXP or Linux on the same hardware.

Switching the clock to a stable situation completely resolves the issue for me.

Would really appreciate some independent confirmation, to get a stronger case to ask Bose to improve their USB audio driver.

Last edited by tido1322 : 10-19-2008 at 20:17.
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Old 10-27-2008
 

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Re: Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback
This sounds like great news. I am on an Intel-based system though but found a similar option in the BIOS-options. I turned it of and now I seem to be having a clean signal thru USB even during system load.

I do not yet consider this a confirmed solution since I only have had the chance to try it for about half an hour, but it looks very promising.

I will post again in a day or two!

Thanks for the info and help!

Best regards,
Pontus
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Old 10-29-2008
 

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Re: Intermittent Stutter and Shut-Off on USB Audio Playback
I am today happy to report that I have confirmed the resolving of this issue by following your tips. On my Pentium Core 2 Quad-motherboard the solution was found by disabling "C1E Enhanced Halt State" in the BIOS.

Any error previously experienced is now gone!

Best regards,
Pontus
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