Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

Sound latency in live monitoring (with video)

  1. #1

    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1

    Sound latency in live monitoring (with video)

    When plugging a microphone or instrument into the mic/line input of my new Windows 8.1 computer, there is a 1/8 or 1/16 note lag in the sound coming through my desktop speakers/headphones. Recording is fine, I'm talking about live monitoring.

    I've used an XP computer for several years to record multi-track music, and also to record Skype conversations for a podcast. My mixer has always been plugged into the line in of the factory sound card, and monitored either with my desktop speakers or by plugging headphones into the desktop speakers, no problem.

    Now I've been forced to upgrade to Windows 8.1, and the basic function of plugging a mic into an input jack and hearing myself doesn't work. This goes for analog and USB gear. There are HUNDREDS of pages on the Internet about this, since Windows 7, with no solutions.

    Here is a video I made detailing the problem, and demonstrating how any proposed fix (update drivers, use the sound card software, try USB, use high performance power settings) hasn't worked.

    If this can't be fixed in the next couple of days, this thing is going back to Best Buy!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2

    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1

    My sound drivers by default say "IDT High Definition Audio Codec." I also tried the Audigy Sound Blaster FX card, but it made no difference. The posts I read always refer to Realtek. The old XP computer has Realtek. Can I install Realtek on my 8.1 machine? Or if I remove the Sound Blaster card and uninstall the IDT codec, will that make some hidden Realtek driver take over?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3

    RealTek is one audio chip manufacturer (and probably the most used). If yours has IDT (formerly called SigmaTel in older PC's) then it has an IDT audio chip on the motherboard. You are stuck with whatever the vendor has on the motherboard - for internal audio. You have to use the driver for whatever hardware you have. You can use a USB connected sound audio unit instead of the IDT. There is everything from what I mentioned on your Win 7 forum post to SoundBlaster USB devices and several other vendor PC types.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4

    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1

    I got the Focusrite. Now for $153 in addition to what I already spent on the PC, I've got a pale imitation of what XP could do right out of the box.

    I'm really not satisfied with the Focusrite's performance next to what I got by default with XP, either. I've got a good mind to take this hunk of excrement PC back to Best Buy.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5

    To each his own. My Win 7/Win 8.1 systems work better than Win XP did for my recording studio. For my PC audio, my RealTek integrated audio works as good (and in some cases better) than a SoundBlaster sound card did in XP.

    Looks like you are stuck with XP or possibly a MAC, since Win7/Win8 do not work as you want.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6

    Posts : 10
    W7 Ultimate SP1 x64 + W8.1 Enterprise x64

    I had the very same annoying echo / delay, however on completely different hardware.

    But I think the problem is not the hardware, but the Windows Audio Mixer in Windows Vista, 7, 8.

    The standard mixer in Windows XP was easy to use, because it showed all the hardware. If something didn't work, you simply fiddled with the various sliders until it worked.

    With the new mixer in Vista/7/8, MS tries to be smart and shows only what they think you might need ..
    As usually, when they try to be smarter than the user, they fail miserably ..

    PowerMixer from ActualSolutions is a mixer program in the spirit of the good old XP mixer, plus some nice bells and whistles. You can get a trial version here: Windows volume control replacement - Power Mixer .

    1) Where does the delay / echo come from:

    If you activate the "Listen to this device" on the properties page of an audio input, the analog audio input will be digitized. That digitized signal is then routed to the output device(s), where is converted back to an analog signal.

    This happens by software in the Windows Audio software, not in hardware !

    Because converting from analog to digital and then back to analog takes time, the original signal is delayed.

    Turn off the "Listen to this device" option to get rid of the delayed signal.

    2) But then I can't hear the original signal anymore ?!?

    Yes, but you still see the LEDs flicker in the "Recording devices" list. So its still coming in, just not getting out ..

    Start the PowerMixer (link above) and check out the Tree Control that list all your audio devices with all their inputs and outputs.
    There should be a node representing your Audio Card (or the audio chip on your mainboard). Below that, you should see two nodes, one for all output devices/connections, and another one for all input devices/connections.

    Depending on your sound card/chip, the input devices will be listed under both the output node and the input node. Select the input device (where your external mixer and microphone are connected) that is listed under the output node and pull up its slider. Now you should hear your original signal without delay.

    What you hear now is the direct analog signal routed directly from analog input to analog output - an therefore without delay.

    This corresponds to the "Direct Monitoring" option of external audio interfaces.

    3) Can I do this without PowerMixer ?

    Depends on the driver of your sound card/chip. In my Realtek driver all inputs have a "Recording Volume" slider and a second "Playback Volume" slider as well. That second playback slider is the one you need. Maybe it has a different name in your driver or its missing.

    4) Can I do this with the standard Vista/7/8 mixer ?

    I have searched up and down all property pages and stuff in the standard Windows Audio software, but haven't found a way.

    Update: See mancman's post with screenshots on page two. He found a way.

    Maybe it depends on the audio card/chip specific driver. If the hardware doesn't support the direct routing path in hardware, the software can't do very much about it ..

    As far as I know, all Realtek chips do support direct monitoring on the hardware level.

    5) Another tip

    On the "Recording devices" page of the Windows Sound Control Panel, right click the list. Activate the options "Show disabled devices" and "Show disconnected devices". Maybe a new input device will appear, on my PC it is called "Stereo Mix". This corresponds to the "What you hear" virtual input device on Creative Soundblaster audio cards. Maybe that "device" helps somehow ..

    Do you still have the original computer where you had this problem ? Or have you already bought another one ?

    Many PCs and laptops use the Realtek audio chips as on-board sound card. All these chips allow "jack retasking", which means you can redefine the function of all input and output connections. On my previous PC, I could redefine all six output connectors on the rear panel as Line-In connectors and use the chip as a 12 channel mono or 6 channel stereo mixer. On my new PC, only some connectors allow redefinition. The chip itself would still allow it for all, but the mainboard electronics between chip and connectors do not !!

    Realtek has several reference designs for the computer manufacturers. They can save a few cent, if they stick to a simpler design that only allows 7.1 output for DVD playback. Cutting the nice jack retasking feature also makes the computer more idiot proof - but also less flexible.

    However, some computer manufacturers still use the more complex reference design, which allows full retasking. Check out the documentation of your new computer. The usual default is retaskable front panel connectors and non-retaskable rear panel connectors, but some allow retasking of more or even all connectors.

    Of course, an external Audio Interface is the best option - I am still not decided between MOTU AudioExpress, FocusRite Scarlett 18i8, FocusRite Saffire 24 Pro DSP, or the upcoming Focusrite Saffire 26 (which is still top secret, except for dealers) ..
    Last edited by MillKa; 30 Apr 2014 at 11:20.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7

    Posts : 18
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64

    @ Millka

    The consensus is that only a mobo with a Realtek audio chip gives input monitoring. Can you provide proof (screenshots, YouTube video etc) showing input monitoring on a non Realtek board using the software you mentioned.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8

    Posts : 10
    W7 Ultimate SP1 x64 + W8.1 Enterprise x64

    Quote Originally Posted by mancman View Post
    @ Millka

    The consensus is that only a mobo with a Realtek audio chip gives input monitoring. Can you provide proof (screenshots, YouTube video etc) showing input monitoring on a non Realtek board using the software you mentioned.
    No. The consensus is that Realtek supports direct monitoring.

    I don't know which other sound cards/chips support direct monitoring and which do not.

    The important information in my post is
    - even if the hardware supports direct monitoring, it might be hard to find it,
    - give some hints where to find it,
    - explain where the second delayed audio stream comes from and why, and how to get rid of it.

    However, since Art experienced an echo effect and demonstrates it in his video, he is hearing two streams.
    One is delayed. Its the stream routed through software.
    The other one is not delayed (or at least less delayed). That is most likely the direct monitoring stream, routed through hardware.

    So Art's video is the proof youre asking for.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9

    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1

    Thanks, MillKa. You clearly truly "get" the problem. Yes, I still have the PC. I tried the Power Mixer software, and unfortunately it just rearranged the same thing I see in Windows into a different format with the same result. All of the available sliders are at 100%, but I still hear nothing.

    Previously I also tried a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX card, as well as a the SRS audio interface built into the computer, and same result: their interfaces don't allow monitoring of input audio without clicking a "listen to this device" box that works just like the Windows one -- echo.

    So I spent another $153 and bought a Focusrite 2i2 USB interface, which "solved" the problem. Now I can at least hear my input, but I have to go through switching audio devices in Windows when I want to go from monitoring from the Focusrite to using my PC speakers, or mixing in ASIO to WDM, etc. With the old XP, all of this was a breeze!

    Even with stereos we had back in 1980, and past computers with 95, 98, ME and XP, you could plug in a mic and hear yourself. I never saw this coming, and can't believe Hewlett-Packard is putting out computers with mic and line in jacks that are useless! What if you're a grandma or soldier who just wants to plug in a mic to talk to family but isn't up for figuring out digital audio and buying a $150 device?

    Until the manufacturers get their act back together on this, this one will never be marked "solved," but thanks for the input, everyone.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10

    Posts : 10
    W7 Ultimate SP1 x64 + W8.1 Enterprise x64

    Hi Art,

    can you post a screenshot of the Tree Control in PowerMixer ?
    Make sure that all audio devices are listed: In PowerMixer, open Options, click the Control tab and set the checkmark on all nodes.

    I am 99 percent sure, that your problem is just a software problem, because in your video I can hear both streams.

    And some screenshot of the hardware specific audio driver might be helpful also ..
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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