Creative X-Fi Static Problem [Latency Issues]
So I’ve got a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card because I need multi-track recording capabilities. A great sound card.
For some reason I’d been getting a lot of static and popping from the audio output – especially when using Cakewalk SONAR or Fruity Loops Studio. It sounded like one of the cables from the sound card to the speaker was damaged. It was pretty frustrating.
I’d checked all of the connections: microphone, line in, line out. Nothing. Just static.
(As a side note, your audio output must be set to “Creative ASIO” for whatever audio program you are using. Other options might include “Primary Sound Driver,” “SPDIF Output,” “Speakers,” etc.)
It turns out that the problem didn’t have anything to do with connections. It was a problem with the sound card configuration.
Creative uses the ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) standard developed by Steinburg. When recording audio digitally, there is inevitably a delay between when, say, you play an instrument and when you heard it from your speakers. The signal has to be converted from analog to digital. This is delay is called latency (full explanation in this link).
Basically, the ASIO standard allows the audio input and output to bypass the operating system altogether, going straight through the audio card – limiting the amount of latency in the entire process. This is similar to DMA (Direct Memory Access).
To make a long story short, after learning about latency, I went into the audio settings for Cakewalk and Fruity Loops and changed my ASIO latency settings to 40 ms (milliseconds) – the original setting was 1 ms. The latency will vary depending on the frequency you’re recording at.
There is even a tool you can download to determine what latency settings you should use.
Here’s what the CEntrance site says about it:
What it is
The CEntrance ASIO Latency Test Utility is a Precision Windows™ tool to measure audio delay in your computer setup. It measures the true round-trip latency of your computer audio setup, from input to output via an ASIO driver. You can use the LTU to test different hardware, drivers and applications.
How it Works
LTU works by sending a short pulse through your audio interface and measuring the time it takes for the pulse to return. It’s accurate within .5 ms. Actual latency will vary depending on hardware configuration.
No more static.
Read a book. It’s good for you.