Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

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Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by somelurker » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:24 am

I have a sound stuttering problem in Mint that I've been trying to solve for some time. Many people have suggested everything from BIOS updates to upgrading the kernel. I've tried everything possible, and nothing has worked. Here's the original thread in case anyone's interested: viewtopic.php?f=48&t=259469

This got me thinking: What if I buy a separate sound card? It seems Linux won't play nice with my motherboard in terms of sound, but if it's due to a hardware incompatibility, could I fix the problem by buying a sound card known to be compatible with Linux and attaching it? If so, I'm looking for suggestions on such a card. I'm not looking for anything fancy. I just need something to plug my speakers into and that will work without stuttering.

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Re: Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by catweazel » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:34 am

somelurker wrote:I've tried everything possible
Maybe not. Have you tried changing the audio card's timer scheduling?

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sudo nano /etc/pulse/default.pa
Locate the line that reads load-module module-udev-detect

Change it to read load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0

ctrl-o & <enter> to save, ctrl-x to exit. Reboot.
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Re: Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by somelurker » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:30 am

Ok thanks for the tip! I made the change. I need some more time to test whether it worked. Sometimes it takes hours to see the stuttering happen again (it's a bit random).

Just in case though, if the problem is not fixed, would a new sound card separate from the motherboard fix the problem?

Edit: The stuttering just happened. This is the second time in an 8 minute test.

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Re: Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by Flemur » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:22 am

somelurker wrote:Ok thanks for the tip! I made the change. I need some more time to test whether it worked. Sometimes it takes hours to see the stuttering happen again (it's a bit random).
Are you sure you have enough ram (for your desktop and applications) that you're not using swap? That can cause intermittent stuttering.

You could run this in a terminal

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watch free -m
to see if swap is getting used. ('watch' will run 'free -m' every two seconds...)
Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] if/when it is solved!
Your data and OS are backed up....right?
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Re: Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by phd21 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:50 am

Hi "somelurker",

I just read your posts and the good replies to it. Here are my thoughts on this as well.

Can you please be more specific as to what and when the sound stutters? Playing music through music X application(s), watching a video in browser X, have you added any sound altering packages: ie: pulse audio equalizer, effects, etc... What are you running at the same time, do you have HDMI connected at the same time as another audio connection, etc... ???

Can you please provide the full results for "inxi -Fxzd"?

Adding "tsched=0" was an excellent suggestion by "catweasel". Upgrading the Kernel as well.

Maybe putting adding a pulse audio "PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30" might help too...
50510 – Without tsched=0 for module-udev-detect, sound is distorted

Have you installed the correct Nvidia video driver yet? If not do that too and reboot afterwards.
NVIDIA: how to install the latest video card drivers - Easy Linux tips project

You might want to take a look at this link:
Speed up your Mint! - Easy Linux tips project (great Linux website)

There are a lot of excellent reasonably priced USB sound cards and DAC sound cards you could use that are known to work with Linux. It certainly could not hurt to try one, check Amazon.com or Ebay and make sure it works with Linux in the descriptions and user comments.

Have you double checked your audio connections? You might have a bad speaker cable. I had an audio cable that somehow got loose and caused intermittent sound issues (stuttering). I just made sure the connections were tight and it worked again... Sometimes people have speaker cables and or mic cables in the wrong jack too.

Hope this helps ...
Phd21: Mint KDE 17.3 & 18.2, 64-bit Awesome OS, Ancient Dell OptiPlex 780 Core2Duo E8400 3GHz,3gb Ram,160gb hdd, Video: Intel 4 Graphics, DVD Lightscribe. Why I use KDE?:https://opensource.com/life/15/4/9-reasons-to-use-kde

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Re: Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by pdc_2 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:15 pm

If you don't need to buy more RAM; ...... if I could just comment on sound cards; my impression; was that many needed drivers;

as an alternative, we bought a DAC from JD Labs; usb in and two RCA outs to the stereo; it just works and we get great sound out of the stereo; one of our best buys; really pleased with it

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Re: Would a new sound card solve my sound problems?

Post by somelurker » Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:18 am

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I guess I was wrong that I tried everything possible. What I meant was that I tried everything I knew to try that was within my ability. I'm working on some of your suggestions now. Here's what I can report so far.

I ran free -m as suggested. My swap is at over 30k, and my "used" section of Swap is consistently 0, while the "free" column is equal to all of the total amount. I think it makes sense that I'm not using any swap, because I have 16 GB of ram (indicated in free -m as 15.9k) and only 1.3 GB of that is in use. I have a gigantic swap, but that is only a just-in-case type of scenario. I probably will never go into swap for the foreseeable future because I don't do anything that takes up anywhere near 16 GB of RAM.

The sound stutters whenever any sound is being played from any source. I tried Firefox browser, and then a media player playing a file stored locally, and the stuttering was present in both cases, which rules out a browser-specific problem and network issues. The stuttering seems to happen randomly, rather than at specific intervals, but it's almost guaranteed to happen at least once or twice every 10 minutes.

The quality of the stuttering seems to have changed a bit after I changed load-module module-udev-detect to load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0. It now seems to sound more like a gun firing rapidly during the half-second of stuttering. Before the stuttering was slower; it sounded more like a part of the sound was just skipped over and the immediately preceding sound before was briefly repeated. The change is actually a good thing. Sometimes the stuttering was so subtle that during testing, I couldn't tell if it was just a change in the music or if it was actual stuttering. Now, whenever I hear the stuttering, there is zero doubt about it.

For sound, I have a cable connected from my speakers to the stereo jack on the back of my computer. I'm using an HDMI to DVI cable with the HDMI end connected to my NVIDIA video card. My monitor is an older one that doesn't support HDMI, so using a cable with different ends was the only way. My monitor is not capable of playing sound though. The stereo cable from my speakers is definitely in the right jack. I tried the other 2 just to be safe, and got absolutely no sound (not just stuttering sound) from them.

I have not added any kind of sound altering package. I just installed Mint and sound was partially working from the beginning. It has basically always stuttered since I installed Mint on it. I just ignored it at the time because it seemed like a minor issue when I was still trying to fix much bigger problems. I believe the first version of Mint I installed was when Mint 18 was first released, and I've just been keeping up with updates via Update Manager ever since.

I also have installed the Nvidia video driver because the last time I did it, I made some kind of change to the system; maybe a grub edit or a kernel or update, or something major like that, and I could not get back into the system. I had to wipe the hard drive and reinstall because I didn't know how to fix it. Since then, I've stuck with whatever default video driver Mint has provided. I figured it was ok because I don't play games or use any demanding video applications on Linux anyways. I don't know if this has anything to do with my stuttering or whether using the default video driver affects sound in any way though.

As requested, here are my full results for inxi -Fxzd:

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System:    Host: 123PC Kernel: 4.13.0-26-generic x86_64 (64 bit gcc: 5.4.0)
           Desktop: MATE 1.14.1 (Gtk 3.18.9-1ubuntu3.3)
           Distro: Linux Mint 18 Sarah
Machine:   Mobo: HP model: 2B4B v: 1.04 Bios: AMI v: A0.57 date: 08/09/2017
CPU:       Quad core Intel Core i7-6700 (-HT-MCP-) cache: 8192 KB
           flags: (lm nx sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx) bmips: 27264
           clock speeds: max: 4000 MHz 1: 3400 MHz 2: 3400 MHz 3: 3400 MHz
           4: 3400 MHz 5: 3400 MHz 6: 3400 MHz 7: 3400 MHz 8: 3400 MHz
Graphics:  Card: NVIDIA GM204 [GeForce GTX 970] bus-ID: 01:00.0
           Display Server: X.Org 1.18.4 drivers: (unloaded: fbdev,vesa) FAILED: nouveau
           Resolution: 1920x1080@60.00hz
           GLX Renderer: NV124
           GLX Version: 3.0 Mesa 17.2.4 Direct Rendering: Yes
Audio:     Card-1 NVIDIA GM204 High Definition Audio Controller
           driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 01:00.1
           Card-2 Intel Sunrise Point-H HD Audio
           driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:1f.3
           Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v: k4.13.0-26-generic
Network:   Card-1: Realtek RTL8723BE PCIe Wireless Network Adapter
           driver: rtl8723be port: d000 bus-ID: 03:00.0
           IF: wlp3s0 state: down mac: <filter>
           Card-2: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller
           driver: r8169 v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: c000 bus-ID: 04:00.0
           IF: enp4s0 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter>
Drives:    HDD Total Size: 2000.4GB (26.4% used)
           ID-1: /dev/sda model: ST2000DM001 size: 2000.4GB
           Optical: /dev/sr0 model: hp HLDS DVDRW  GUD0N
           rev: SD02 dev-links: cdrom,cdrw,dvd,dvdrw
           Features: speed: 24x multisession: yes
           audio: yes dvd: yes rw: cd-r,cd-rw,dvd-r,dvd-ram state: running
Partition: ID-1: / size: 974G used: 460G (50%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/dm-2
           ID-2: /boot size: 976M used: 136M (15%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda2
           ID-3: swap-1 size: 36.94GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/dm-1
RAID:      No RAID devices: /proc/mdstat, md_mod kernel module present
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 27.0C mobo: N/A gpu: N/A
           Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A
Info:      Processes: 237 Uptime: 8:20 Memory: 1242.1/15976.7MB
           Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 5.4.0
           Client: Shell (bash 4.3.481) inxi: 2.2.35
Things I cannot yet rule out or not tested. Also points I need further clarification on:
1. A bad cable. I'm trying to see if I can find another cable to test with. I did double check to make sure the cable was plugged in tightly though, and even after I did this, the stuttering is there. It might be a bad cable, but it shouldn't be a loose one.

2. phd21 asked what else I was running at the same time. Did you mean types of programs, system load, or something else?

3. Adding a pulse audio "PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30": I will test this very shortly and report back!
Update: Having both the lines load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0 and PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30 killed my sound completely. Firefox warns "To play audio, you may need to install the required PulseAudio software." As reported previously, having only load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0 results in a change in the quality of the stuttering. After removing both lines, saving the file, and running pulseaudio -D, sound worked again. I have not yet tested having only the line PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=30 though.

4. Installing the latest Nvidia driver: I haven't done this because I didn't think it would be relevant to sound (based on the cable connections I listed above, is it?) and because of my previous experience that forced me to reinstall everything on my hard drive. This took days, and I can't afford to do it right now.
Update: I did install the Nvidia driver. Despite the appearance of many error messages on startup, I managed to get back into my system and test sound. The stuttering was still there, so I removed the driver to end the errors.

5. https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/3: I went to this link, but there is a ton of stuff on the page. Can you please be more specific as to which part I need to focus on?
Update: Never mind. It seems you only included this link to show how to install the Nvidia driver. Sorry for the confusion.

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