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Poor Audio Playback Quality Under Windows Only

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Hey guys,

So I'm usually the one giving people advise, but this one has me kinda baffled so I'm hoping to get some input here.

I'm not quite sure how long this has been the case since I don't use my computer for multimedia that often, but I noticed today that the audio playback quality under Windows is very poor on my machine. Specifically, it sounds muddled, sort of like the signal was over-amplified, then clipped, and finally muted. Even at maximum volume, the sound level is only moderate, but even then, the signal sounds as if it's already being over driven, as if there was a preamp somewhere that was dialed all the way up. Ever plug an AUX source into a stereo with the AUX source's volume turned all the way up and the stereo's only halfway up? That's what it sounds like. Further, there's a destinct (and very annoying) high frequency resonance for almost any amplitude above say quiet vocals. Say for a piano key sound, there's a second, high-pitched and tinny sound just after it. It's really hard to describe obviously, but I did my best, sufficive to say, it's enough to give you a headache in short order.

What's most interesting, and mostly why I'm confused is that this is only a problem under Windows (XP SP3, to be exact). I have an Ubuntu 9.10 install running also and sound quality and playback is to be expected on that OS.

Additional information of interest: this concern applies to ALL audio output, from any program, of any format, and from any hardware (Firefox: flash, wmplayer MP3, WAV, etc). The drivers that I were using initially were generic Windows drivers for the sound card. After noticing this issue I went to my HP Drivers disk and installed the HP drivers that came with the computer, the result is the same, however.

I appreciate anyone who has already taken the time to read this far. Like I said, I'm kinda stumped on this one, mostly because it simply makes no sense to me. I was assuming it was a hardware failure of some sort until I booted Ubuntu. If anyone has any input, I'm all ears. Additionally, I ran a few queries on the sound card while I was on Ubuntu and posted the results below. Hope that helps at all. Thanks again.

The machine is an old HP Pavilion ze5170 (laptop), OS is XP SP3,

Sound card:

Multimedia audio controller: ALi Corporation M5451 PCI AC-Link Controller Audio Device (rev 02)

description: Multimedia audio controller
product: M5451 PCI AC-Link Controller Audio Device
vendor: ALi Corporation
physical id: 6
bus info: pci@0000:00:06.0
version: 02
width: 32 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: bus_master cap_list
configuration: driver=ALI 5451 latency=64 maxlatency=24 mingnt=2
resources: irq:5 ioport:1000(size=256) memory:e0001000-e0001fff

Edited by DOh23a1C, 14 February 2010 - 03:03 AM.

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