Latency, Digital Noise + Driver Choice

            Latency, Digital Noise + Driver Choice

In a chat today with the friend who gave me the copy of FL Studio 4 Demo, who gave up at an early stage because of “crackles and pops” when playing loops, I thought I would look further into it.

On googling I found this:

 Help with crackling noise on Fruity Loops 8 (FL Studio)?

Hi, I have just started using Fruity Loops and when I use an effect like Reverb on the sample I am using the song starts to crackle it gets worse the more samples I use effects on…???????????????????

* 3 years ago

Increasing the buffer size (length) will prevents the underuns (pops and clicks) that occur in FL Studio, but if you are using the sound card that your computer came with, it may be time to upgrade to an interface that supports ASIO. When you are able to choose ASIO, the sound bypasses Window’s kernal mixer, which is a fancy way of saying that it doesn’t let windows slow it down.

Just so you know, ASIO4ALL is NOT ASIO, it just allows you to use ASIO settings and will not increase the performance of the software.

Your CPU is struggling to keep up with all the sound generation in
real time.

You need to increase the latency in Options/Audio-Setup

Increasing the number of “samples” in the latency will allow more
time (in milliseconds) for the CPU to do its job.

Play a tune and adjust while the tune is playing. Adjust till the
crackles diminish to 0.
o 3 years ago


OK, different clues, but nothing that helps define overall causes…hmmm. Time to put IT tech/common sense head on I guess…
Here is the M Audio definition of Latency:

As we know from my latency article with the Audiophile, and recent guitar recording comments, latency has not gone away just by buying an external Audio Interface, so it is critical that you use the best driver for your particular setup, whatever hardware and software you run.

There are many variables and technical reasons for noise and latency, as seen from the blog segment above – available RAM, buffer sizes, PC load etc. but the main thing to find out first is which available driver performs the best from scratch, before you go tweaking buffer sizes or adding memory or changing hardware. Common sense? I think so.

A simple test you can do with this is in FL Studio, as I also experienced my friend’s problem with the digital pops and noise on playing the demos and samples.

Go to the Options/Audio Settings menu and check your driver options.

The default driver set in my case was the Line1-2 Audiophile below, so just going through them in order got me the best option, by running a demo (Fuego-Skyhigh) song from the File menu, then doing something else on the PC like click the menus. On my default driver the noise was terrible when I clicked a menu (= PC overload), but on ASIO DirectX Full Duplex I could click all menus and write this without a glitch.

Now this isn’t a Cure All, this affects only Floops at present – this ASIO driver may not work or be available in Magix or other software as an output driver, but it is a start and an indicator if you need to still upgrade some hardware like RAM (always the immediate and best all round performance enhancement option on any PC first), or invest in an external Audio Interface like the ones reviewed by Kosmic Studio’s Leonard on my main page video link.

Your current soundcard may be good enough as is, for what you want to achieve, once you use the best possible driver.

Do the obvious at first, use as little resources as possible for the test i.e. close all other Apps except Floops to maximise available memory and not burden the CPU, then do the test. If you get no noise on only one driver then it is likely the best to try in other Apps such as Magix if you can use it. If not, move to 2nd best and so on, for the other Apps. If latency and/or digital noise is still a problem you can then look to the other suggested tweaks like increasing buffer sizes etc. for a particular App.

In the worst case, invest in an AI after doing your research on them, and look at upgrading RAM, CPU etc. or to a more powerful system completely.

For general guidance, my system specs are:

OS Name    Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Version 6.1.7601 Service Pack 1 Build 7601

System Type    x64-based PC

Processor    AMD Sempron(tm) Processor 3100+, 1800 Mhz, 1 Core(s), 1 Logical Processor(s)

BIOS Version/Date    American Megatrends Inc. 0209, 15/02/2006

SMBIOS Version    2.3

Windows Directory    C:\Windows

System Directory    C:\Windows\system32

Boot Device    \Device\HarddiskVolume1

Locale    United Kingdom

Hardware Abstraction Layer    Version = “6.1.7601.17514”

Time Zone    GMT Daylight Time

Installed Physical Memory (RAM)    2.00 GB (not enough! Win7 should have 2GB for itself)

Total Physical Memory    2.00 GB

Available Physical Memory    1.27 GB

Total Virtual Memory    4.00 GB

Available Virtual Memory    3.14 GB

Page File Space    2.00 GB

Page File    C:\pagefile.sys

Audiophile USB AI


Now I’m here I may as well upload those FL Demo’s I’ve been writing this to…
Fuego+Reegz-Aura.mp3 – Amazing resonant slides on this…

Just registered with image-line after getting FLS v10, which looks like this:

They have a section on the Knowledge Base page:

The sound is “choppy” and strange (crackles, pops or glitches)
2009/12/02, viewed 34331 times
These are usually caused by ‘buffer underruns’. That is, the audio stream to the soundcard is interrupted when a temporary memory-buffer holding the audio data runs dry. This is caused by CPU and or Hard Disk overloading. Crackles and pops can also be caused by plugins behaving badly due to incorrect settings or design flaws.

To learn more about resolving either or both these issues see the manual sections on…

1. Buffer underruns – In short, select an ASIO audio driver on the Audio Settings page (Options > Audio Settings) and or increase the Buffer length setting.

2. Plugins behaving badly – In short, open the plugin wrapper PROCESSING tab and deselect ‘Allow threaded processing’ and or select ‘Use fixed sized buffers’. There are more options to try but these are the most common issues.

The FL Studio Support Team.
There is an image-line YouTube video explaining underuns clearly here:

Here is the ASIO4ALL manual if you get the driver mentioned in the video:
ASIO4ALL v2 Instruction Manual.pdf