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Sound problems


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#1
rosie_d

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My daughter bought a new laptop and gave me her old (purchased in 2002) Dell Inspiron 2600 with Windows XP. The audio on Windows Media player was working fine, sound was great. But, the other day I turned the computer on and the sound was awful - distorted and sounding kind of like slow motion, if that makes any sense. I tried re-installing WMP10, but that didn't help. I also went to the Dell website and downloaded the only audio driver they show for that computer, but that didn't help either. Is there some other driver I need? I'm pretty clueless about these techie type things, so if anyone has any advice, I'm anxious to listen. One of the reasons I wanted her laptop was so I could watch DVDs and convert my record collection to CD - both of which need better sound quality. Please help.
Thank you
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#2
Ztruker

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Hi Rosie, welcome to G2G.

Is all sound distorted or just when you play a CD or DVD? What about the system sounds when starting or shutting down?
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#3
rosie_d

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All sound. In fact the first we realized there was a problem was when Windows booted and the opening sound was distorted.
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#4
Ztruker

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Since you have already downloaded the latest driver from the Dell site, open Device Manager (Control Panel, System, Hardware Tab, Device Manager). Expand Sound, Video and Game Controllers and delete the sound card. Shutdown and reboot. XP may reload the driver but if not, you can install it from the downloaded copy.

See if that helps.

If not, need to find a way to test the sound hardware that does not involve XP, perhaps one of the Linux Live CDs, as it's possible the sound chip on the mother board is defective and eliminating XP will help to prove or disprove that.
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#5
rosie_d

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I didn't see a way to "delete" the sound card. I was able to disable it. Is that what you meant? I disabled it, shut down and rebooted. Then had to enable it, but it still sounded bad.
You mentioned testing the sound hardware using a Linux Live CD. Is that something I would buy? Or is it a download? How would I go about doing that?
Thanks
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#6
Ztruker

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Sorry Rosie, we have a terminology problem :)

When I said Delete, I should have said Uninstall. In Device Manager, if you right click on your sound card, you should see Uninstall as one of the choices. Then reboot and XP will discover it again and reload the device driver.

Extra credit: Who was it that said "What we have here is a failure to communicate".
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#7
rosie_d

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Thanks, Rich
I found the uninstall button and tried that. After shutdown and reboot, still no luck.
Next suggestion?
I'm hoping not to have to spend a lot of money fixing this computer. I already bought a battery and power supply thinking that would be all I needed to have it up and running. Didn't plan on a sound problem.

Oh, btw, re: extra credit - Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. He was actually mocking the first guy who said it. :)
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#8
Ztruker

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Okay, let me check with some of the other techs here and see if we can come up with a way to test your computers sound outside of Windows XP. I'll post back as soon as I can.
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#9
Ztruker

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Got a good suggestion for you to try.

Check the Current Transfer Mode on the Primary and Secondary IDE channels. Running in PIO mode will cause this problem.

Open Device Manager by right clicking on My Computer and selecting Properties. Click on the Hardware tab then click on the Device Manager button.

In Device Manager, expand IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. Right click on the Primary IDE channel, click Properties, then the Advanced Settings tab.

Current Transfer Mode will be listed there for any device connected to the channel.

Repeat for Secondary IDE channel.

If any are running in PIO mode, select DMA if available from the Transfer Mode drop down selection box. Click OK then close out the remaining windows.

Reboot and see if that makes any difference.
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#10
rosie_d

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Okay - The Primary IDE Channel shows Device 0 current transfer mode is Ultra DMA Mode 5, Device 1 current transfer mode is not applicable.
The Secondary IDE Channel shows Device 0 current transfer mode is Multi-word DMA Mode 2, Device 1 current transfer mode is not applicable.

I guess that's not the problem.

Here's something that may be of interest..... I checked the Windows Task Manager and when I click on the Performance tab, it shows CPU usage is bouncing around between 52% and 59%. When I click on the Processes tab, under the CPU column there are mostly 00s, until the last two entries.
Image Name: System, User Name: SYSTEM, CPU: 50, Mem Usage: 212K
Image Name: System Idle Process, User Name: SYSTEM, CPU: 47, Mem Usage: 16K

Does the high CPU usage have anything to do with the sound being slow/distorted?

Did I tell you I really appreciate you helping me with this?
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#11
Ztruker

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High CPU usage could certainly cause stutters and gaps in sound but I would not think it could cause distortion. Of course I've been wrong before :)

You want System Idle to be as high as possible, 98% or 99% ideally. It is a measure of how much time the CPU is idle and available for use by programs that need to run.

System being high is not a good thing if it continues for a long time. If it peaks that's probably okay.

Try the following:

First, physically disconnect from the Internet to prevent a malware infection while your Anti-virus and/or Firewall are disabled in the following steps, then do a normal boot.

Click on Start then Run, type msconfig and press Enter.
Click on the Startup tab and click the Disable All button.

Reboot and see if sound is distorted or not.
If not then use msconfig to enable several items at a time till you find the culprit.

If yes, start msconfig again and click on the Services tab. Check the Hide All Microsoft Services box then click the Disable All button.

Reboot and see if sound is distorted or not.
If not then use msconfig to enable services till you find the culprit.

Once you've found the culprit, uninstall it or find out how to eliminate it from your system. Simply disabling it in msconfig is a temporary fix at best.

Reconnect to the Internet when your AV and firewall are active again.
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#12
rosie_d

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Nothing seems to help. I hate to admit defeat, but am wondering if I should just re-format the hard drive and start from scratch.
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