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Creative Labs Troubleshooting
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Default Creative Labs Troubleshooting - 10-25-2004, 22:54 | posts: 16,236 | Location: Guru3D Audio Lab

Essential Creative Troubleshooting.

I have been in this forum for a while helping people when I can and I have noticed that for the most part it is usually the same issues, with creative cards anyway. What I would like to do is put all the eggs in one basket. Hopefully forum members can find a source instead of fishing/waiting and/or searching for the same answers. I will give the issue and the cause and hopefully the solution.

The Dreaded IRQ Conflict.
I would estimate that 90-95% of issues with creative Lab cards come from IRQ issues. If you are unsure what IRQs are I will elaborate. A Mainboard has a device on it called a IRQ contoller, These IRQ's are for getting the attention of the processor by triggering one of these lines it means this device needs to perform a task NOW. In the old days there wer 16 IRQs and no more..with the advent of new mainboard technology the number has increased to I think about 24. This is called IRQ Sharing.

It's a nice idea in theory and for the most part works. Creative cards DO NOT SHARE and they never did. If you can get a CL soundcard to share a IRQ then thats great, very unlikey though with high needs devices. The problem comes into play when two high needs devices attempt to share the same IRQ examples would be:

Soundcard and Hard disk controller - Random drop,pops and clicks when watching movies, playing games or any other task that requires Hard Disk access while having sound playback.

Soundcard and DMA controller - Random Drop pops,clicks when performing any task that requires Hard Disk access while having sound playback.

Soundcard and Modem/Lan - Random Drop,pops,clicks When accessing net either when first dialing out or when downloading while listening to playback.

Soundcard and Video Card - Random Drop,pops, Clicks during almost anytask that requires fast graphical changes such as gaming video playback etc.

The list goes on, Creative cards do not like to share. I always think of it as trying to listen to two people talking at the same time that MUST get their point across. The end result is you cannot listen and get all the info. Hence the random Drops, Pops and clicks. On some systems you can have a few high needs devices on one IRQ which causes all kinds of issues. If this is the case then I will give the steps to remedy the situation. First and formost, do not put the sound card in the PCI slot next to Your AGP as it's a 99% certainty it will conflict with your graphics card then you will have issues in your games which we all hate. Good rule of thumb is to put it as far away as you can.

How to check what IRQ your card is on.
Navigate to start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information. in the Left Pan there is a "+" next to hardware resources > Click, we are insterested in the IRQs and is conflict/sharing. Either one will give the info we need. Look through and see what is sharing the same IRQ as your Creative card. Example:

IRQ 7 Creative SB Live!
IRQ 7 Direct Memeory Access controller

Once you figure out where the conflict is you can take steps to resolve it. In some cases no matter what is done, You will still be required to have your soundcard sharing with some device. If this is your case then you need to pick the lesser of the evils. Some devices do not access the IRQ's constantly: such as floppy controller or the PCI to USB controller. The PS/2 keyboard IRQ, in terms of speeds of microprocessors it does not access the IRQ all the time even when you are typing. Mouse IRQ is a low needs device aswell. Either device is very slow to access the IRQ lines. A DMA controller or AGP controller on the other hand will constantly be "Yelling" for attention

General Tips for freeing IRQ's
Go into BIOS usually by hitting del during boot up. Check intergrated Peripherals - Disable anything you're not using: If your not using USB devices disable BOTH USB 1.0 and 2.0 Controllers. Serial ports, Paralel port If you don't use a device disable it especially ONBOARD SOUND -i t is possible to run both if bios allows and the have there own IRQ. save changes and Exit. What this will do is free a few IRQ's then during boot your sytem rescans the buses and remaps the IRQ's hopefully reassigning your soundcard to a free one. This is just a generl tip anyhow for freeing up resources. Then navigate back to system info and see if the card remaps itself if it does then test it for stability - play a game, a video, move some files when playing a mp3 etc..if this fixed it then it's all good. Sometimes by checking the RESET DMI DATA in the will rescan and remap the IRQ's.

Moving the sound card
If you still have an IRQ issue then your going to have to move your card. Grab yourself Driver cleaner. Remove all drivers using unistall, Then use driver cleaner to remove what was left!. Shutdown computer. Open the access panel. Word of caution if you are not comfortable sticking your hands in the system then get somebody who is. General safety tips are UNPLUG POWER!!! touch the chassis of the computer (The bottom of the case..the back where the fan is on the outside to discharge any static you may have accumulated. then proceed to move your card. DO NOT start running accross your carpet to get a screw driver after you have discharged yourself. Stay still. You'll need a small star screwdriver for those unfamiliar with installing/removing PCI/AGP devices. If your really nervous you can get a strap that grounds you to the case. I would try and locate your card on the farthest slot away from AGP. If you have another card there, Move it to another slot. Put the panel back on (do not fasten screws) Plug system back in. Boot up!

Don't panic right away if the system takes longer than usual, It's normal as the IRQ's are remapping themselves - That's good. Reinstall drivers, Test system by playing If this seems stable shut down refasten screws and your done. If not then proceed to remove drivers again and go up another PCI slot. Making sure to follow all the safety steps. If after going up all the PCI slots you still have weird things happening then put it back in the bottom and continue to other issues. There is a possiblity this is not the problem very slim I would say.

The ACPI(Advaced configuration and Power Interface Issue)
There seems to be a issues with creative cards and the ACPI driver of peoples systems. I'll explain, for the people that are unsure what this device is. This is part of you HAL(Hardware Application Layer)..what ACPI does is assist in system mappings and power control e.g. Low power mode..power off. Most individual computers are set to Standard PC..meaing 1 processor etc..if you have duals I don't think this is for you. I had this issue myself when attempting to use creative drivers to play a game with EAX. The issue would make a weird "ZZZZZZZZTT" sound when playing mp3's etc..very annoying..anyway, If you think you may have this issue you can change the ACPI HAL of your system...Don't worry it does not change any type of function for
your power or anything else I can detect. What it does do is set your system to 16 IRQ's which do not share. Also just to note this tip for changing the HAL is well known and used generally when optimizing a system for audio's not just a patch for SB issues. For this issue though it just resolves it.

Navigate to control panel > System > Hardware Tab > Device Manager.. Right at the top is computer expand that menu by hiting the "+" should say stadard PC..or standard
Uniprocessor PC > Right click on the standard PC label > Click Update driver > Click install from a specific location >Click Next > At the bottom click DO not search I will Choose the driver to install > hit next. This should show two drivers one for
Standard PC and one for Advanced Configuration and power interface (ACPI) PC - Select this one and continue through and reboot. Test System for stability. Hopefully this resolves thi issue. Side note when you are in your device manager take note of any devices with either a "!" or a "?" beside them...try and get those resovled. I would say this article will be added to as time goes on new issues with new cards etc. but I would say this is a good starting point. There are also other issues with overclocking and PCI latency. as well as Hardware acceleration (I don't condone that one) Dma disable which is also related to IRQ and they will be added when required.

Also I have to note that some people have tried the ACPI Fix and either didn't perform it properly or didn't understand the information correctly. I Don't think it's as easy to change it back..So be sure. These are just suggestions. There are other places to search to double check information I have provided. I try and be as clear as possible but accidents happen. If you have a issue with this fix, there might be a bit of work to get it back. Be sure.

A final Note: People have asked me if there system has a problem if they have a soundcard sharing or other devices sharing. Short answer is NO, unless you detect a problem the system is sharing IRQ's and working the way it should so it's all good.

If you have any questions about this info feel free to ask..

Now the new X-fi line has hit the Market, if Anybody has fixes specific to the X-fi line Send them PM or post them in the thread...

New additions to the thread.
A user brought it to my attention in which he had channel mix ups..e.g Front channel sound on the rear outputs etc. The user disabled his unused USB ports which freed up some IRQ and this fixed his channels for him. IRQ issues can manifest many different types of trouble with soundcards.
Good luck.

Link to all Creative ISO's
Alternative Location
Youp Pax Modded Drivers
KX Project Drivers for Live!, Audigy 1, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4
DPC Latency Tool

Last edited by ROBSCIX; 03-29-2010 at 18:29.
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