help with skipping audio using WMA lossless

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Rob Michaw, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. Rob Michaw

    Rob Michaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey there -

    I have currently formatted my father's machine and have done a "slight" upgrade for him. I have shown him Windows Media Player 9 and all its functions, and now he is in love. I just put in a 160 GB HD, and upgraded his Celeron 500 to 800+ MB of SDRAM. I have also formatted his machine and it is running as smoothly as I can expect it to.

    Here is the dilemma. I have been copying his albums to his 160 drive in WMA Lossless. They are being piped into his intergrated amp and he is listening to them through B&W S2s. Sounds great. However, occasionally, the audio skips. His sound is on board, as is his video. I thought bumping him up to 800+ MB of RAM would do the trick, but it still skips occasionally.

    Would a sound card upgrade/addition make a difference? I don't want him spending any money that he doesn't have to, and I'd like him to keep the rest of his upgrade costs to a minimum. However, if by adding a new sound card, his problems would be alleviated, I would recommend it for him. As for which sound card, I have read that the Audigy might be the one to get, but he is listening on an old 2-CH integrated amp. He doesn't plan to go digital in this rig any time soon, so if another card would be cheaper and suffice, please let me know.

    If the upgraded sound card does not fix the problem, could you give me suggestions as to what might? At this point, he is not willing to get a new motherboard, chip and RAM.

    Thanks very much.
     
  2. KylePete

    KylePete Stunt Coordinator

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    Rob, I don't know if I'll be able to help too much, but how EXACTLY do you have the B&W speakers hooked up to the system?
     
  3. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

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    I'm just guessing, but I'd think the processor might be causing some of the problems. I know you said he's not willing to to a new cpu, board & ram, but what about just the cpu? Is his current board maxed out or can he maybe go to a faster cpu on the one he has? Used cpu's for an older machine can be had really cheap. What board does he have? What OS?
     
  4. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    I agree that this is most likely a processor issue.
     
  5. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    did you do a clean install of windows? Also, what version of windows are you running?

    it might be some background application running occasional checks that consume enough of the cpu to cause problems.

    also take a look around for some guides on managing the virtual memory. windows 9x (which includes ME) has very poor memory management and will use virtual memory before real memory; NT (which includes 2000 and XP) is usually better with memory.
     
  6. MikeFR

    MikeFR Supporting Actor

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    Just to make sure here... are these audio skips random or do they reoccur in the same places? If they are reoccuring in the same places the problem is most likely due to errors caused by ripping from a cd with scratches etc.

    You are probably aware of this but I thought I would make sure before you start looking into hardware issues.
     
  7. Rob Michaw

    Rob Michaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes. They are random. I have read in a few sites on the web that it might just be a problem with Windows Media Player. I am going to try a few different versions of software before I try anything hardware related.

    I will keep you informed.
     
  8. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

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    Besides looking for background software, make sure you're not running visualizations or anything in WMP too.
     
  9. Rob Michaw

    Rob Michaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Software. I installed iTunes and am ripping WAV encoded files. No problems at all. Multitaksing is not a problem while running them. Only issue, is that he has lost some storage capacity as the WAV files take up more space, but that is something that he is willing to concede for the time being.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  10. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Does the skipping go away if you play music from a CD? What about when you play a .WAV file (44 Khz, 16 bit)? I just want to rule out basic hardware issues here...
     
  11. Rob Michaw

    Rob Michaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Skips with a CD...but not with a WAV file...as ripped with iTunes.
     
  12. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Dump the whole WMA idea.

    Admittedly, I avoid using any MS products in general, but if you need uncompressed sound, it makes sense to just use good old WAV files. Standard, portable, non-proprietary.

    A more sensible approach when it comes to keeping the storage needs down while maintaining full fidelity would be to go with something like Monkey's audio, at least that will get you something like 50% lossless compression (ie, the sound doesn't change, the original sound data is there, just compressed as if with zip etc to save storage space).

    Oh, and as for ripping - get a fully accurate ripper instead. Exact Audio Copy does error checking to make sure you get an error free rip.
     
  13. MikeFR

    MikeFR Supporting Actor

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    In a perfect world WAV's would be great but they are just way too big if you want to have a media collection of decent size. WMA lossless compression is a good comprimise, despite having "Microsoft" attached to it. Since he is also getting skips with a CD the problem is most likely hardware/software dealing with the cd-rom.
     
  14. TyC

    TyC Stunt Coordinator

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    FLAC has really good decoding speed for lossless compression.
     
  15. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Skipping with a CD? That's not good. I think you may have a hardware/driver problem. Perhaps UltraDMA is not enabled for your hard drive and cdrom. A google search should come up with instructions on how to check if they are enabled or not.

    Another possibility is poor onboard audio support on the motherboard. Many of the cheap implementations (NOT the nforce soundstorm solution) use the PCI bus for audio transfers, allowing for a lot of PCI bus contention that will result in skipping and pops. Sometimes AGP activity can starve the PCI bus as well, because of high AGP bus latency (AGP and PCI bus latencies can be adjusted with Powerstrip usually).

    If you can find out the brand and model of motherboard, you may be able to find updated device drivers that can alleviate the issues you are having. Provided that no spyware or virus checking programs are running in the background, of course.
     
  16. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Oh, I wasn't really suggesting that WAV files were the best way to store over time. Hard drives are cheap but not free, still. [​IMG]

    I'm just not very happy about any truly proprietary formats, whether or not it is audio, video or any other digital data, and it doesn't get much more proprietary than WMA.

    Personally, I still rip and encode to VBR MP3 and think that sounds superb. Keeps data amounts down with really great sound quality. I can't hear a difference between the wav and the mp3 even over good headphones and that's plenty good enough for me for the forseeable future...

    Still, I do realize the advantages of lossless. You even get future-proof-ness since you can decode the encoded files back to wav and reencode into whatever lossless format happens to be the latest and greatest.
     

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