Sputtering/cutting out when recording microphone

Hi guys,

I wanted to share with you a fix for microphone sputtering using the generic low latency driver that I didn’t find on the internet and, after a quick bit of googling, couldn’t find anything on it other than someone having trouble with Skype or something.

I was setting up a PC for my dad to use Cubase Artist 6 to, amongst other things, record using the microphone on audio tracks. I realised the need to use the low latency driver so that listening to the monitor through headphones while playing along with the other audio tracks sounded right. A 20ms delay is much better than the ~300ms delay from the “DirectX Full Duplex” driver, of course.

Well anyway, this computer is not exactly hugely fast. It has a dual-core AMD Athlon 64 6000+ and 4GB of DDR2 RAM, and I thought that this would be sufficient, and indeed I ultimately found out that it was, but when recording using the generic low latency driver, the sound had a regular series of clicks, like a stuttering effect. There were certainly no effects being applied to the track, and I tested it with the “DirectX Full Duplex” driver and there was no stuttering; it was crystal clear.

I found the Steinberg knowledge base article on optimising Windows for DAWs and tried a number of things, like turning off all power saving mechanisms in the BIOS and in Windows, telling Cubase to use the “Steinberg Audio Power” plan, changing visual effects for best performance, etc. and nothing changed. I tried downloading ASIO4ALL and I couldn’t even get it working. I did a LatencyMon test and it said that the computer was more than fast enough for real-time audio applications. Yet, the low latency driver was still sputtering.

After a lot of thinking, I recalled something I changed on my own PC some time ago because it looked like it would be good: I changed the default format of the microphone to the maximum quality. On Windows 7, if you go to Control Panel then ‘Sound’, then click on the ‘Recording’ tab, find the recording device that Cubase is using to record, and click ‘Properties’. Click the ‘Advanced’ tab, and set the ‘Default Format’ drop-down box to the maximum combination of bits and sample rate.

After doing this and only this on my dads PC, it suddenly worked. Don’t ask me why or how, it just worked. I set it back to what it was, to make sure it was this that fixed it, and it was sputtering again. I set it back to the highest quality again, and it worked again.

So I guess that’s it. Since I couldn’t really find any documentation of this fix, I doubt it affects many people, or maybe they resort to spending money on a better sound card, which I was thinking of doing until I tried this, and its only an onboard sound card.

I hope this helps!