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Audio Problems including momentary dropouts.

I am not an expert when it comes to PCs, however my experiences might help others solve similar problems.  My OS is  Win 8.1 on a consumer PC made by HP.  2 years old with an Athelon 1.6, 6 gig of RAM, integrated Real Tech sound and video.

I am running ASIO USB drivers for Playit Live In the Live assist mode for each Cart Player on the screen.   Play It Live PFL is set to PC speakers. 

PlayIt Live plays without error continuously, however occasionally we hear a audio dropout of half a second.  Initially we saw this happen when the Hard Drive was at 100% for too long. Seemed like all the time.  

All unnecessary programs were uninstalled.  We looked for Malware, Ran Virus Scans and sought out anything that did not belong.  Nothing was found. All the PC drivers were checked and rechecked.   Uninstalled and re-installed.  But the dropouts continued. 

Running the windows System File Checker did find and fix corrupt files.  (run CMD as an Adminstrator then SFC /scannow)  Look this up on Microsoft's website before trying this.

After some satisfaction that something was solved (Disk at 100% was solved), we continued to hear audio dropouts.  Watching the Task Manager Performance: 100% CPU Spikes corresponded to opening Software like IE and processes caused by McAfee.

There are some very good articles regarding PC configurations and Sound Issues such as Dropouts.   A you-tube video    "Tweaking Windows 8.1 For Audio and Music Production"  was very good.  Take notes.  I did everything mentioned there and definitely saw performance improvements.  

My dropouts finally stopped when I used the Mcafee Firewall to lockdown incoming and outgoing internet activity  followed by turning off Real Time Virus Scanning. I also avoided opening up any programs while PlayIt Live is working. 

However, I was still curious.   I read about solving DPC Latency issues that do cause Audio droputs, distortion, clicks, pops ect.  I downloaded LatencyMon from the Resplendence Website.  (heed caution on other sites)

Read the articles regarding this software and interpreting the results.

In my case, it found my system suitable to handle real time audio, all latencies were very low BUT Hard Page Faults were seen especially when I opened IE, Firefox and Mcafee activated it's modules.

We've concluded that this PC is just not capable of handling all the processes required of Win 8.1, and other necessary software, unless we lockdown the PC from the internet, disable Virus Scan and dedicate the PC to Play It Live.

As for upgrading to Win 10,  It's not likely.  ALthough Win 10 requires 2 Gig RAM,

I understand it's more happy with 10 Gig.  my limit here is 6 gig. 

So my solution here is to make this a dedicated Playout PC.  Or purchase  a PC that can handle the resources required by Win 10 and processor hungry Virus scan software.

I have used Playit Live on 3 PCs.  Win 7 worked best without error on this PC and a Laptop.  Comparing Hardware, I have  another  PC  with  separate Audio and Video Cards and over 10 Gig of memory that Play It Live works perfectly on win 7 and 8.1. 

My conclusion is that Microsoft is quickly rolling out 10 to resolve the performance issues of 8 and 8.1.   However, 10 will require beefier resources like RAM.

I suggest if you have limited internet bandwidth,  turn off anything you do not need that accesses the internet.  I do not have a MS account (opted out) and I do not use their cloud.  I suggest turning off things that are unnecessary such as Stocks, News, Weather, and use a product that informs you of anything accessing the internet. 

Some good advice and tips there, thanks.

I would also suggest increasing latency on ASIO drivers. For real time activities low latency is needed but for playout (even "live") a latency of 100ms or more won't really notice and will help if PC system processes hog the CPU briefly.

I would also support the suggestion of running PlayIt Live on a PC with nothing else running (no e-mail, web browser etc,) If you need other stuff on a screen, spend a few pounds on a 2 port KVM. 

PlayIt Live will work well on a relatively low spec PC IF it isn't doing anything else.

Thanks for the compliments.   I did fail to mention changing ASIO Latency.   Good Point and a common fix before diving in deep.   I use Yamaha Drivers that a have settings in the PC Control Panel.
I agree about investing a bit more for a great Playout PC that can handle the Internet & Mail without causing audio problems, if you can afford it.   However,  I like a puzzle, if I can solve it.   Many users are limited to what they have at hand, so I put myself in their shoes in trying to solve an annoying problem that is very common.  
It's good to read your comments.  


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