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koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

1 recommendation

reply to trparky

Re: Is on-board RealTek audio really that bad?

To readers: disabling SpeedStep rectified the OP's issue.

The problem in question has to do with how PC hardware actually works at a very low level, and it's virtually impossible for any end-user to diagnose this reliably (in turn they choose to start spouting off nonsense on forums, saying things like "I removed my Big Dog Snake USB/CF card and now everything is great!" -- lies).

Event timers are driven by a series of dedicated chips which have different degrees of accuracy and latency (ex. HPET vs. ACPI timers vs. i8254). All of these are affected in some way or another by certain universal clock rates.

SpeedStep adjusts the CPU clock rate, which has a direct effect on event timers as well as a multitude of other things -- many things that require/rely on a stable/set/constant rate of occurrence (sound/audio is the biggest one) get affected by this. Some drivers handle this better than others, and some hardware handles this better than others.

Likewise, other CPU features like C3/C6 P-states can cause fluctuations in these rates, resulting in the above.

The more "power-saving" features get added to hardware (regardless of where -- at the CPU level, at the bus/protocol level, or anywhere else), the more fluctuation there tends to be when it comes to event timers as well as interrupt rates. The applications (that also means drivers) have to be written to handle these situations cleanly/correctly -- many don't.

For example, here's a thread where I got into a lengthy discussion with a NES emulator author about his choices to force-disable some of these power-saving features citing "audio latency issues". He provided responsiveness graphs which I also questioned. After pushing him for a while, he dug through his code and found that the root cause was actually a design flaw and upon fixing it there was no need to force-disable the power-saving features. I rest my case.

Realtek in general has a very well and long-established history of making (generally speaking) crap. Their audio ICs and NICs tend to be sub-par, ditto with their drivers. I've ranted about Realtek NICs on my blog in the past (use Google to find it). The reason Realtek is everywhere is because their ICs are cheap, thus allowing the board manufacturers to make a larger profit.

For example on all Realtek audio drivers that I've used (ALC887 and ALC889), there is a downright 100% repeatable bug pertaining to frequency playback rates when using non-DirectX for audio that is 22kHz or lower -- the playback frequency table is wrong (audio plays back at a slightly lower frequency than it should).

I also tend to avoid VIA anything (CPUs, ICs, whatever -- doesn't matter what) given their years and years of horrible, horrible chip bugs and driver bugs. Anyone who remembers the VIA 4-in-1 drivers and the 686B will know what I'm talking about.

Sadly I've tried add-on audio cards that have their own series of horrible bugs too -- I've found just as awful bugs in Asus' Xonar DG drivers, Creative Labs X-Fi drivers, and in M-Audio's Revolution drivers. I also tried some other brand (I forget the company name, I still have the card in some box) and found even different bugs.

That's really all I have to say on the matter.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.



Boricua
Premium
join:2002-01-26
Sacramuerto

koitsu See Profile, could this also have to do when my roommate turns off the bathroom fan, it comes out of the speakers?

BTW, I too had a fluctuation of sound and it is Realtek. When I get home, I'll turn off the speedstep in the BIOS. Thanks.
--
Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian. Robert Orben



dolphins
Clean Up Our Oceans
Premium
join:2001-08-22
Westville, NJ
kudos:7
Reviews:
·Comcast

said by Boricua:

koitsu See Profile, could this also have to do when my roommate turns off the bathroom fan, it comes out of the speakers?

Could be bad ground somewhere, improper speaker wire shielding, heavy load on circuit causing power drops and surges? Try using a surge protector, you may also require a UPS? It would help if you knew where a dedicated circuit was to test further.
--
Stop The Mindless Killings Stop Over Fishing


Ctrl Alt Del
Premium
join:2002-02-18
kudos:1
reply to koitsu

So, what would you recommend?

In terms of audio quality, the Asus sound cards beat the onboard Realtek in this article: »techreport.com/review/23358/asus···reviewed One Asus card uses Cirrus Logic chips while the other uses Wolfson.

I have had good luck with Cirrus Logic, which Apple tends to use them in their Mac lineup (like my MacBook Pro: »www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook+···n/9515/2)
--
less talk, more music



trparky
Apple... YUM
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:2

At least according to that review you posted, the Xonar DGX and the Xonar DSX are two very different cards.

The Xonar DSX has no on-board preamp for the use of headphones whereas the Xonar DGX does. The DSX assumes that you're going to use an external amp for headphones and speakers. DGX has all of what you need work right out of the box, preamp and all.
--
Tom
Boycott AT&T uVerse! | Tom's Android Blog



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23
reply to Ctrl Alt Del

said by Ctrl Alt Del:

So, what would you recommend?

I recommend people go with whatever works for them. Your needs are probably different from my needs.

I'm not doing anything wild/crazy with these cards, I simply use them normally, just that I rely on some features that many implement in broken/wonky ways, or play certain games or run certain applications that do a great job of finding driver-level bugs/design issues. So it's impossible for me to give recommendations to people.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.


koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

2 recommendations

reply to Boricua

said by Boricua:

koitsu See Profile, could this also have to do when my roommate turns off the bathroom fan, it comes out of the speakers?

What do you mean "when my roommate turns off the fan, it comes out the speakers"? What comes out your speakers? His urine? His anal fumes? Consider me confused.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.