Windows is designed to suit many different users and has features that are best applied to some situations but not to others. There is always give and take when tuning any system to your needs. For example, settings to improve battery life, increase graphics rendering, etc, can decrease overall CPU power you need for recording, and lead to audio issues.
If you are experiencing pops/clicks/glitches/distortion when recording or playing back audio, frequent device disconnects, or other signs of performance issues, please start with these steps. If more help is needed please Contact Support after trying these steps.
All Windows systems:
1. Disable Sleep Mode
- Right Click Start Menu > Power Options > Set Sleep to Never.
This is one of the most important steps to prevent problem behavior with an audio device because Sleep Mode works by suspending drivers in a hibernate state, rather than unloading them fully. When waking up the computer does not “enumerate” the drivers fresh as with a newly connected device, but just attempts to proceed as if nothing changed.
However your Audio Device will think it has been disconnected during Sleep, as the driver was no longer available. During Sleep the unit may shut off or go into a standalone mode depending on it’s model/design/features. When the computer wakes from Sleep the Audio Device doesn’t receive a good connection because the driver is not reloaded fresh as with a true unplug/replug, called “driver enumeration.”
Automatic Sleep can lead to situations where you get up for a quick break during your session and come back to glitchy audio, artifacts, no audio, a full disconnect, and other performance issues. Very short Sleep Mode settings, such as every 1 minute, can even create situations where you turn to do something in the studio like adjust your outboard mixer and before you are done the whole unit has been disconnected, or an erroneous firmware message has popped up.
If you must use Sleep Mode, then for best performance first turn off/unplug your interface and then choose Sleep from the Start menu. When you come back to work you can Wake the computer and then plug in/power the interface and get a freshly loaded driver.
2. Set Power Options to High Performance
- From Right Click Start > Power Options (as in previous step)
- On the Right choose "Additional Power Settings"
- Set your Preferred Plan to "High performance"
- For "High performance" click "Change plan settings"
- Click "Change advanced power settings" > a new Power Options window will open where you apply the following changes.
Hard disc > Turn off hard disk after > Setting (Minutes) = Never
Sleep > Sleep after > Setting (Minutes) = Never
USB settings > USB selective suspend setting > Setting = Disabled
Processor power management > Minimum processor state > Setting = 100%
Processor power management > Maximum processor state > Setting = 100%
- Please note, not all options are available on all machines, so if you can't find something from the above list just skip forward.
3. USB Port Power Management
- Right Click Start > Choose Device Manager
- Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers triangle
- Right click each USB Root Hub, choose Properties
- In Properties Windows, Choose Power Management Tab
- uncheck "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power"
3. Disable system sounds
- In Windows search bar find and choose "Control Panel"
- Select "Hardware and Sound"
- Click "Sound" in Green next to Speaker icon, a Sound menu will open
- Click "Sounds" tab in this menu
- Under sounds scheme, select "No Sounds"
- Click "Apply" then, "OK"
4. Advanced System settings > Visual Effects and Processor Scheduling
- Right Click "Start" menu and choose "System"
- On the Right panel choose "Advanced system settings", a new menu will open
- In this menu choose "Advanced" tab
- Under Performance section click "Settings..." to bring up the "Performance Options" window.
- On the Visual Effects page you can either choose "Adjust for best performance" or create Custom settings. For example, You may want to disable everything except "Smooth edges of on-screen fonts" as that is very distracting and not a huge draw on resources. But starting with best performance is a good option if you are troubleshooting severe issues, or a very old computer.
- Go to the "Advanced" tab and set processor scheduling as "Background Services" - MOST IMPORTANT, as this prioritizes background services like Audio Drivers.
- Click "Apply" then "OK"
5. Disable 'Windows Background Apps'
- Click Windows Start > Gear Wheel for Settings
- Click Privacy
- On left panel, scroll down to Background Apps
- Turn off any Apps that you do not believe you are using, or do not want to run in the background when not using them.
6. Disable 'Windows updates from more than one place'
- This is a more controversial setting you may or may not want to change, but we encourage you to read about it and make your own decision here.
7. Disable Fast Boot
Fast Boot is an option that causes the "Shutdown" state to act much like a "Sleep" state. Thus many of the problems common to Sleep mode can happen after a full shut down if this is enabled, like no connection, glitchy audio or no audio specifically after reboot.
- Right click Start > Power Options > Additional Power settings
- on left panel click "Choose what the power buttons do"
- UNCHECK "Turn on fast start up". (yes it says recommended, by Microsoft, but not by recording engineers!)
8. Turn on s4/s5 on your motherboard
Similar to Fast Boot is a BIOS level feature related to Hibernate states for the entire board. Many newer motherboards are shipping with a setting for the deepest Shut down states, s4 and s5, disabled. Check your motherboard manual and look for a BIOS setting to "enable s4/s5".
More reading about Sleep States:
System Sleeping States S1-S4: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/kernel/system-sleeping-states
System Shutdown State S5: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/kernel/system-shutdown-state-s5
Example of a BIOS menu showing "Deep S4/S5" is Disabled.
As every motherboard BIOS varies, so will the options available to you with regard to these power states. You will want to read your motherboard manual and try different options to see what works best for you.
9. Disable Windows Firewall, anti-virus and spyware software
If you are able to keep your studio computer "sandboxed" - not connected to internet, which is best and common in pro studios - great! Then it will be very easy to remove all Firewalls, Anti-Virus, Spyware scanners, etc, as there is no security concern. This is very common in pro studios as Networking is one of the most common sources of glitchy audio. However this becomes more complicated if you do have to use Internet on the same computer. Some general tips.
- Do not use Windows Firewall! If you need a Firewall please enable that on your Router, which is better equipped for that task anyway. Here is a guide
- Uninstall Anti-Virus and Malware scanners, which tend to run in the background and take up a lot of processing power, such as Norton, Malwarebytes, Kapersky, McAfee, AVG, etc. Many of these programs are considered PuPs, or Potentially unwanted Programs, that themselves take up CPU power, run in the background, and even create security risks. More about this in these links.
- Instead, best to just run smarter, not with more software. Before you download something be sure you are using a valid link on a reputable manufacturer's website. Do not install things you don't recognize.
- If this is a pro studio and you are concerned about other users of the studio installing software it may be best to sandbox them, and completely disconnect the studio recording machine from the internet, forcing them to bring their laptop for personal use. This is the BEST measure to secure your studio, both from hackers and glitchy audio.
10. Disable Unused Network Cards
Extending from the above, you can use Device Manager to entirely disable Network Cards/Adapters. This can be useful not just to sandbox a machine, but to reduce activity of cards that are not in use. Most computers nowadays come with multiple Network cards, like Wired Ethernet and WiFi, but most people only use one of those. This leaves the unused cards sitting there pinging all the time, looking for a new connection to appear anytime, creating a lot of background traffic.
- Right Click Start > Device Manager
- Expand Network Adapters
- Right click and Disable any you do not use, or all if you wish to sandbox completely
AFTER ALL THIS MAKE SURE YOU RESTART THE COMPUTER!
If you did all this and still have an Audio Issue please Contact our Support Team directly. We have additional help that can be specific to individual computers.