Optimising your PC for Audio on Windows XP

All of the tuning tips below should be implemented if you want to achieve high speed, low latency audio recording and playback without glitches with your Firewire audio interface.

• Windows XP Firewire hotfix.

You will need to install one of the following updates (dependant on what XP service pack you have installed).
Follow the respective link relevant to your system which will take you to the Microsoft support site, and all instructions are explained there.
WinXP SP2: KB885222 VIDEO
WinXP SP3: KB955408 Please note: If you haven't previously manually installed the hotfix for SP2 before upgrading to SP3, then there is no need to install this hotfix.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Service Pack 2 users:
Make sure you edit the registry after installing the hotfix.

Instructions on what to edit can be found below the hotfix download link on the Microsoft page.
The hotfix alone will not correct your FireWire bus speed.

• Tuning Tips for Windows XP.

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(Steps 1 to 6 can all be done from the Control panel menu page.)

1/. The first thing to do is to change the Processor Scheduling to 'Background Services'. This will improve the performance of ASIO drivers on the PC.

Go to System > Advanced > Performance settings > Advanced > Processor Scheduling to Background Services

2/. Next thing is to switch off Power Schemes. If these are on then your CPU may not be running at full speed all of the time, which may be the cause of problems with audio performance.

Go to Power Options > change the scheme to 'always on'. You should see all settings change to 'never'.

3/. Then you should disable all system sounds. The windows alert sounds popping up during a recording session may interrupt the audio stream.

Go to Sounds and Audio devices > Sounds > Sound scheme to 'No Sounds'

4/. Next disable the firewire port under the Network adapters section of the device manager

Open device manager (System > Hardware > Device manager), locate the ‘Network Adapters’ and disable firewire networking (1394).

5/. Set the transfer mode for all devices to “DMA if Available”

Open device manager, expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers category then double click on each one of the IDE channels, under the 'Advanced settings' tab make sure that transfer mode is set to 'DMA if Available' and not 'PIO only'.

6/. Disable Windows Firewall.

This should be set to ‘off’ and all network/internet connections, anti-virus and spyware detection software should be disabled during recording to avoid any interference.

If you are still having issues, disable all networking. (As described in step 4)

• Windows Scheduled tasks.

Some utilities that have been installed on your computer will may have added tasks to the windows Scheduled Task list, not all installers will tell you before adding tasks to this list and if any of these cut in while you are making music/recording they can interrupt the audio stream.

Open the Scheduled Tasks window (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/) double click on any tasks in the list and make sure they are not scheduled to cut in when you are using your computer for audio.

• Windows Task List.

Once you have been through all of the above stages in the Windows control panel, you should then take a look at all the Processes running on your computer in the windows Task manager.

Open task manager by holding down CTL + ALT + DEL Then select the Processes Tab (It's recommended to do this after booting up, and before you've opened any programs manually.)

Sort the processes by User name (Click on the heading for this column) and check through the processes labeled with your user name. If you then go to www.answersthatwork.com and go to the task list page, you can then check the processes running on your computer against their task list info to see what they actually are and disable any tasks that you feel are unnecessary.

• PCI Latency.

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If you have been through all of the above and you are still having trouble with clicks and pops in your audio stream, something in your system may be hogging the PCI bus and you should check the PCI latency timer values of the devices on your computers PCI bus.

Click here for more information about PCI latency timer values and how to change them.