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Why you need this article
You may be experiencing a number of audio issues such as distortion, popping, complete dropouts, and/or crackling. Troubleshooting these can be very challenging, but this article will help guide you through the most effective troubleshooting methods. First, we will cover using Clean Boot to shut down unnecessary background processes, and then enable them one at a time to determine which is causing the problem. If that does not solve the issue, we will utilize LatencyMon, a tool designed for Windows which monitors "DPC Latency" and produces a report that may highlight some of the processes and drivers still potentially causing audio issues.
DPC (Deferred Procedure Call) is the operation that Windows uses to assign a priority to processes/drivers that run simultaneously in the same system. If processes that are involved in streaming audio aren't assigned high enough priority then various issues can occur since the audio will not be streamed correctly in 'real-time'. These can include pops/clicks, 'glitchy' audio and device disconnections.
Utilizing our Windows 10 Clean Boot article, you can go through and disable all background services and startup items to see if the problem goes away. We recommend you leave your system in Clean Boot for a few days to make sure the issue doesn't come back over time.
If the issue stays away, you will follow the Windows 10 Clean Boot article in reverse, this time only enabling one service OR startup item at a time, rebooting the machine then watching the system for a day to see if issue crops up again.
LatencyMon is an application designed for Windows that can be a powerful tool when trying to identify the cause of audio issues. LatencyMon will use Microsoft's Event Tracing built into Windows to monitor where the issue is originating then attempt to generate a report identifying the issues.
2. Run the downloaded software to install in whichever directory you choose
3. Launch LatencyMon
4. Click Start Monitor
The application monitors the system as you work, and records hard pagefaults, interrupted service routines (ISR), Deferred Procedure Calls (DPC) for drivers, processes, and the CPU.
While that is somewhat technical, LatencyMon displays an assessment of the system's capabilities right on the main page after it has run for a few minutes. The information on these tabs can be very useful for your Puget Support Technician so in some cases we may directly request. It's good idea to review it on your own.
You may want to check out the information listed in the other tabs of LatencyMon if the program suggests that the PC has latency issues or if you experience them even though LatencyMon does not suggest there are any.
The processes, drivers, and CPUs tabs may help you figure out why you are experiencing latency issues on the PC.
The tabs highlight the processes with the most hard pagefaults, drivers with the highest ISR and DPC counts, and the performance of each CPU core in regards to ISR and DPC.
Processes may need to be sorted by hard pagefaults; you can do so with a click on the column header. LatencyMon displays processes and the number of hard pagefaults then. It is a good idea to start with the highest offenders and go from there.
A hard pagefault is recorded whenever Windows reads data from the Page File. The developer of LatencyMon notes that hard pagefaults of audio software run on the system often results in audio dropouts, clicks, and pops.
Windows 10 Clean Boot is a powerful tool in your arsenal and LatencyMon provides an additional layer of troubleshooting when used in conjunction with a Clean Boot. Following through these simple steps will help to identify whatever may be causing your audio cuts or dropouts. The free version of LatencyMon can be run in non-commercial environments, but if you are in a commercial environment you will need to utilize the paid (professional) version.
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