Windows System Optimizations (for Real-Time Audio)

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radio42
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Windows System Optimizations (for Real-Time Audio)

Post by radio42 » 17 Jan 2014 12:03

Some users still report or discover audio drop-outs or other audio issues.
The main reason is, that Windows (XP, Win7/8 etc.) in its default settings is NOT optimized for real-time audio processing!
So here is a guide to optimize your PC/configuration...

There is a great video from Ableton covering most aspects (watch it):
Part1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... 7awctTsK34
Part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... Bla5vvQBG8

Latency spikes caused by a system component is the main reason for audio drop-outs.
You can monitor your system latency with these 2 tools:

- DCP Latency Checker: http://www.thesycon.de/eng/latency_check.shtml
- Latency Monitor: http://www.resplendence.com/latencymon

Use the 2 above tool to monitor your system for any latency spikes!
If running these tools for a couple of minutes reveal any issues, follow the instructions given on their web site.

Most of the time it is an enabled WiFi and/or Bloothoth device causing latency spikes.
So try to disable any existing WiFi and/or Bloothoth device in your device manager!
Also try to disable any other device and service which is not essential to your system resp. the audio processing.

Here are some more general tips to optimize your Windows system:

0) In general make your system as slim as possible - meaning install and run only those applications which are really needed.
Installing many unused applications might lead to interference and might just uses your system resources!
Again: check your system with the above 2 tools for any issues!

1) Disable all Network Cards and Audio Devices which are not used:
Disabling network cards and onboard audio devices which are not used prevent any interference and helps freeing up system resources.
In the Device Manager window, double-click Network adapters or Sounds, then double-click the Network Adapter or Sound Device card you want to disable.

2) Disable USB Power Management:
This optimization frees up bandwidth in the USB bus and can help resolve problems with device recognition and driver installation (especially if you are using an USB soundcard).
In the Device Manager window, double-click on Universal Serial Bus Controllers.
Double-click on the first USB Root Hub item
Click on the Power Management tab
Uncheck the box that says 'Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.' and click OK
Repeat this process for all other USB Root Hub items

3) Disable System Startup Items:
Freeing up system resources, this can resolve conflicts with other applications that automatically start up with your computer.
Hold down the Windows key on your keyboard (or Start menu button) and press the letter "R" to open up the Run dialog.
Type "msconfig" and click OK
Remove all startup items which are not needed.

4) Hard Disk Optimizations:
Make sure to use a fast I/O sub-system. Playing tracks from slow devices like slow network-drives or slow USB-drives might lead to playback dropouts.
In addition you might:
a) Uncheck the drive option: 'Compress this drive to save disk space'
b) Uncheck the drive option: 'Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed...'
c) use SSD drives if possible

5) Turn off User Account Control (UAC):
Do this only, if you really experience any problems!
Open the Start menu and then click on 'Control Panel'.
In Large icon View, click User Accounts.
Click on 'Change User Account Control Settings'.
Set it to 'Never notify'.

6) Adjust Power Options:
Prevent the computer from going into Sleep Mode, which can cause playback issues with the audio interface and its driver.
Open the Start menu and then click on 'Control Panel'.
In Large icon View, click on Power Options.
Select the 'High Performance' power plan. Click on the 'Change plan settings' link.
Set the display's sleep time to Never.
Set the computer's sleep time to Never.
Click on the 'Change advanced power settings' link.
Click on the '+' sign next to Hard Disk.
Click on the '+' sign next to Turn Off Hard Disk After.
Select the default; the text entry field will now be accessible.
In the text entry field, type Never.
Click Apply then OK.
Click Save Changes.
Close the Power Options window.

Also make sure your graphics card always runs in best performance mode. If the graphics card comes with additional energy saving options, disable these as well!

7) Disabling Screen Saver:
Prevent your screen saver from being enabled.
Right-click on the Desktop and select Personalize.
Click on Screen Saver.
In the Screen Saver menu, select None and click OK.

8) Display Performance:
On slower computers this frees up system resources.
Click on the Start Menu, right-click on Computer.
Choose Properties.
On the left side of the screen, click on Advanced System Settings.
Under Performance, click on Settings.
Choose the option to 'Adjust For Best Performance'.
Hit Apply and then OK

9) Disable DEP:
This might resolves blue screen errors with USB devices and is only needed if you really experience any issues!
Open the Start menu and type "cmd" (without the quotations). The Result you get should be "cmd.exe".
Right-click on "cmd.exe" and choose "Run as administrator".
Click the Allow button if it asks you for permission.
Type or copy & paste this into the command prompt window: bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOff
Hit enter and you should see the confirmation: Operation Completed Successfully.
Restart the computer and DEP should be off.
If you would like to re-enable DEP enter the following into the command prompt window:
bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx OptIn
Hit enter and you should see the confirmation: Operation Completed Successfully.
After restarting the computer, DEP will be re-enabled.

Disable DEP just for ProppFrexx ONAIR:
Open the Start menu and right-click on Computer.
Choose Properties.
On the left side of the screen, click on Advanced System Settings.
Under Performance, click on Settings.
Click on the tab for 'Data Execution Prevention'.
Choose the option 'Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select:'.
Click on the Add button and navigate to the following location: C:\Program Files\radio42\ProppFrexx ONAIR.
Choose the executable file for ProppFrexx ONAIR (ProppFrexx ONAIR.exe). Hit Apply and then OK.
Restart your computer.

10) Disable any Windows System Sound:
To prevent any automatic windows notification sound to be played, disable any windows sound.
Open the Start menu and then click on 'Control Panel'.
In Large icon View, click on Sound Options.
And select the Systemsound settings.
Select 'No Sounds' as the profile/schema and click OK.

11) Others:
Avoid connecting soundcard devices to USB/FireWire hubs.
Avoid running any unneeded programs at the same time as ProppFrexx.
Turn off any software utilities that run in the background, such as Windows Messenger, calendars, and disk maintenance programs.
Turn off any non-essential USB devices while running ProppFrexx.
If your video display card supports it, enable Bus Mastering in the manufacturer’s Control Panel.
Do not use the Aero Visual effects on Vista/Win7/8.

Finally) Make sure to use a sufficient Playback-Buffer
If you experience dropouts during playback this might be an indication, that your output buffer size is too small.
In such case try to increase the output/playback buffer of your soundcard.
This can either be done directly within ProppFrexx (using the mixer channel device configuration dialog) or sometime within the soundcards driver panel.
When using ASIO a buffer of 256 or 1024 samples (depending on your overall system load) might be sufficient.

Another useful option might be to increase the time interval at which the windows operating system tries to synchronize its system clock with a precise internet time (atomic time).
By default windows synchronizes its system time every 7 days.
To change this you can edit the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\TimeProviders\NtpCl​ient
Change the "SpecialPollInterval" key accordingly (which gives the intervall in seconds).
E.g. change it from '604800' to '86400' to synchronize the time once a day.

Soundcards) use ASIO whenever possible.
If your soundcard doesn't come with a native ASIO driver, try using http://www.asio4all.com/
If you are using 2 or more soundcards in parallel make sure that their internal clocks are synchronized (e.g. by using a worldclock) otherwise you might experience an increased latency in-between 2 devices or even drop-out due to the fact, that unsyncronized clocks lead to sample rates drifting apart.

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