Computer Tech Dopers, help a Clog Boy out!

OK, I didn’t want to piss Manny off with another “dud3 wyh wont my mp3s play in winamp man?” thread. So I post it here.

The issue is as follows: the last two days, my computer speakers have been making cracky noises. They sounds like they are distorted, as if played at full volume and then some. But the speakers’ volume knob never exceeds 45% or so. The results:

WinAmp: little clicks and ticks here and there, generally annoying.
ICQ sounds: totally white noise with vague original sounds in the background. Like a bad receiving walkie-talkie.
Sounds in games: Tombraider IV loses its sound after the first sound change, e.g. a new item that makes a noise.

The only thing that works fine is the startup sound (South Park Theme, if you must know). Anything after that sounds “distorted”.

More info:
The sound card is a Yamaha DS-XG PCI Audio CODEC (type 720, I think). I deleted it fully and reinstalled the drivers, to no avail. All cables are connected properly and have not been bent or cut off by a table against a wall or something. The cables have not been eaten by mice, rats, lemmings or gerbils.

Lately, I have installed the following programs that might cause interference:

  • ICQ 2000b;
  • Geoff Crammonds Grand Prix III (please, for the love of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, don’t let it be GP3, it rocks SO hard)
  • I installed and de-installed Odigo or whatever that ICQ/AIM shell thingie is called. What a piece of crap.
  • Eudora Pro 5.0

Those are all the major things I can think of. Please help your pal Clog Boy. I’m sitting here, with no ability to fire up WinAmp, listening to my old tube radio (OK, that part is kinda cool), which plays a godawful cover of “I can’t help falling in love with you” by someone who sounds like George Harrison… THE HORROR!

Does anyone have a clue? I usually am able to WAG and BS my way out of most Windows problems, but this one has got me beat.

This is a dumb question, but have you replaced the speakers or tried earphones to test the sound? You may have blown something in the speakers. Otherwise, find a geek friend with an extra sound card you can swap and test out. Try the speakers first, though.


I’m not a specialist, but here are a few potential problems (You’ll probably need more than a 17-year-old to give you the exact problem).

  • The sound card itself may be messed up. If your computer has been bumped or jostled, it may have come slightly out of it’s slot. It may also have finally croaked (You would need a tech there to determine that though).

  • The speakers may be messed up, although that doesn’t explain why the startup sound is ok.

  • When an mp3 is playing, try jiggling the sound cable connecter to the sound card. Sometimes it seems fully connected in the sound card but really isn’t, and you can get scratchy/distorted sound from that.

Monster, it can’t be the speakers, as you said. They sometimes DO work. Even at full volume. The sound card, therefore, should be fixed tightly as well - the computer hasn’t been moved for months, other than me checking the cables just now.

Zette, headphones do the same, as I expected.

So, that might lead us to the conclusion the sound card if f*cked. Hmm… but why? It’s a year old, and has only been used in this computer, which has not been opened since purchase. Isn’t this highly irregular?

More explanations?

It’s not your sound card, it’s some dang conflict. With all the crap you have recently installed and uninstalled, I’m not really suprised, are you?

Take a look at your control panel, go to systems, go to ‘show all devices’, and tell us what that says.

Did that already, anea. No conflicts whatsoever, by scanning for exclamation marks. Or should I check each devices “attributes” separately to check for conflicts?

If you have realplayer, check your settings on it. Real Player if it is running (even if it is only their ‘startcenter’) will take over your sound output, and if it has the volume turned down, even the windows volume control can’t turn it back up. This at least is true for both my win based systems, with SB live cards.

That’s a good point. Plus, IHMO Real Player is propriatary and also a stinker of a program. Winamp always wants to run itself in the background too, regardless of your feelings on the matter.

Coldie, what does your taskmanager say you have running, just out of curiosity?


Wow, Narile! RealPlayer DOES influence the volume. But it doesn’t stop the problem though. Not yet maybe. Shall I try and de-install realplayer?

It’s the crappiest media device ever anyway.

OK, my task manager.

Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer (two windows)
Explorer (mail)
ZoneAlarm (firewall prog)
HotSync (for the Visor)
CreateCD (for the writer)
Osa (WTF?)
Rnaapp (huh?)

What’s up, doc?

Shut off all your sound programs and go from there. You have at least two programs open and wanting resources from the same piece of hardware.

Hey, if you are online, why don’tcha stop by #straightdope on MIRC?

I closed RealPlayer and CreateCD. Doesn’t work :frowning:

When you try the headphones, were they plugged into the speakers or into the sound card directly? If they were plugged into the jack on the speakers, it could still be the speakers. Do your speakers run on batteries? Have they been changed lately?

On your sound card, there is usually a “speaker out” and a “line out” jack. Do they both produce the same results? If so, then your sound card may be hosed. Also, how dusty is the inside of your computer? It may be shorting something out.

Is your modem hooked to your sound card? try disconnecting that little wire, see if it isn’t phone line noise interfering.

Unrelated note: Get rid of Findfast from your start menu. Unless you run MS Word 8 hours a day, all it does is slow your computer down.

Coldfire said:

Um Coldy, You should pop open that box at least every 6 months and blow it out with a can of air. Dust and dirt can accumulate big time. Too much of that crap in your system can cause your system to overheat.

Also, try uninstalling the recent programs you installed(except Eudora) and see if that helps. If you find that the game is the culprit you have just saved yourself from having to purchase a new sound card. Oh, and games seem to be good at fucking up nicely running computers.

If you do find that it’s the sound card, they do go bad. They shouldn’t after a year but these things happen. Also, your start up is probably in 16 bit sound which is possibly why it does not react on your speakers the same as your other sounds…just a thought.

Thanks guys, I’ll try all that tomorrow. It’s getting late here :wink:

But it’s cool to know that I can always rely on my fellow Dopers! You guys rule, even if y’all ARE computer geeks :smiley:

This ought to be printed on each game sold. It can’t be said often enough, really!

Coldie, close Winamp too, and all that other crap you have open while you are at it. How can you track down a problem with all that stuff open?

Do as Techie suggested too, uninstall the stuff you recently installed. Before you call that sound card hosed, try (with minimum programs open on your taskmanager) to reinstall the sound drivers too.

But I can’t install Grand Prix III!! Don’t make me do THAT!!! Waaaaahhh!! No fair!!!

OK, I’ll stop now - thanks Techie and Anea et al., your help is much appreciated. I’ll print this thread and run a full checkup tomorrow evening.

You might want to check your system tray in the bottom right hand corner, the apps that sit in there don’t always show up on the task manager. From what you say, the start-up sound/music plays normally and things only go bad at some point after that. To me it sounds as if something is loading in that is conflicting with either the drivers or the volume levels.

just a thought.


After determining if it is the game you may be able to check their website to see if they have any updated drivers to install (which you should do anyway). You may be able to find that an updated driver will solve the problem.

That came out wrong…

Check the game manufacturers site to see if others have this problem. Also check the sound card manufacturers site for updated drivers.

I think that’s better.