Is it Windows or the sound card?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi all, the usual problem, the PC is cutting out during recording (or playback, or both). Here's the setup: Windows ME (thought I'd mention the most likely culprit first:)), M-Audio Delta 1010, and Sonar. Picking up glitches and clicks that sound like instantaneous digital distortion (but aren't, it's definitely cutout). Will Windows 2000 help, or is ProTools on the horizon?
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It's the PC being unable to keep up the demands of streaming the audio. Windows and Mac OS are NOT real time operating systems, so they don't deal gracefully with audio recording under too heavy a load.

    The answer to avoiding computer recording glitches is usually:

    1. Buy the fastest machine you can; system bus and disk access is just as important as CPU speed.

    2. Buy as much RAM as you can afford (my advice is just max it out)

    3. Shut off EVERYTHING you don't need. This means if you use it as a general purpose computer in addition to recording, shut off all the network, email, virus checkers and any other crap which Windoze will try to run in the background for you. Shut down any displays in the program that are not critical to the task at hand.

    4. The less tracks you try to record at once, the better. Simple's easier to keep up with one track than sixteen because there's only 1/16 as much data to move.

    5. The lower the sample rate and bit resolution, the better. CD quality is 44.1 KHz/16 bit. 96 KHz/24 bits sounds better to be sure but triples the amount of data.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    What mode are you running Sonar in?
    WDM or ASIO? Try switching to ASIO.

    My Audiophile (same drivers) is running fine on a PIII/800 system. Get the latest driver. (international version)

    What CPU and mainboard chipset are you using?
    If you're on an Athlon with VIA chipset ALWAYS get the latest 4in1 driver.
    Make sure busmastering is enabled for all HDs.

    Replace Me with XP (Pro) if you can, not 2000. In any case, get rid of Me if you want to work with your computer.
  4. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Ditto what the two gentlemen before me said.
  5. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    It seems the WDM drivers are currently installed. What's an ASIO driver? Can someone please explain what the difference is between this and WDM (in as much technical detail as possible)? I thought WDM was the preferred driver format for Windows? Is there anything I should know before attempting an upgrade to ASIO? Thanks!
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    WDM (Windows Driver Model) is the new Windows driver architecture for Windows 2k and XP (and only to some degree implemented in 98SE and Me, maybe one reason for your problems), it allows low latency audio functionality with soundcards that allow low latency.

    ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) is a driver interface that was developed by Steinberg back when neither Windows nor MacOS had a low latency driver interface. It allows more professional low latency functionality with soundcards that have ASIO functionality and drivers.

    Todays WDM audio drivers attempt to match the functionality of ASIO drivers, but in most cases ASIO is still to be preferred.

    A program needs to have ASIO-capabilities in order to be able to access the ASIO driver, usually this is the case with (semi-)professional audio software like Cubase, Logic, Sonar, Reason, Fruityloops, etc.

    Your Delta 1010 already has ASIO drivers installed, you just need to select it from within Sonar:

    Options -> Audio -> Advanced

    Addendum: ASIO is simply a funcionality feature of an audio driver, WDM is how it is programmed and interfacing with Windows. The ASIO driver is (part of) a WDM driver too. So you don't really change drivers, which would require a reboot, but the interface with which the program communicates with the soundcard.

    [EDIT] All this came out quite confusing as I look at it right now, so please ask if something is unclear.
  7. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Thanks JMX! I have Sonar 2.0. In the Options->Audio dialog box in the Drivers tab, I see the Delta 1010 drivers there, and they're selected, but there's no choice between ASIO or WDM. There is something I hadn't noticed before in the Advanced tab, there's "Enable File System Caching" for read and write, with buffer size currently set to 64k. Neither one is currently enabled though. Would this help? I just downloaded the latest Delta 1010 drivers from, don't know if these are currently installed or not, but I'll check the version numbers. How many Sonar buffers should I be using?