I love the sound bugs make when you squish them under a solution.

AlexP, whose blog is also a great source for multitouch and the Sony PS3 Eye Camera and Windows drivers we used in the recent hackday, has been diagnosing his MacBook under Windows Vista. Hardware problems are often the source of sound blips on computers. I’ve talked previously about using the DPC Latency Checker to find this issue.

The good news: Alexander has found the problem (the Broadcom Wireless Adapter in some Apple MacBooks) and a solution (switching off Windows’ automatic wireless network search when you don’t need it). I actually wonder if a similar problem was culpable in early problems with network WiFi on Mac OS X Leopard. Whatever is going on, check out the fix here if you’re encountering this problem. And let us know if you’re seeing this on machines other than just the MacBook revision F; I’d imagine any PC with a similar wireless adapter might have the issue:

MacBook Rev. F Audio Skipping in Vista Analysis and Solution – Part 2

And yes, hardware/driver problems may frequently manifest as what Windows terms DPCs – basically, a symptom of hardware usage that can interfere with reliable audio performance. I’m curious whether WiFi connections specifically may be a cause in other cases. The problem is almost certainly not limited to computers from Apple – especially since, in this case, the MacBook is just behaving like any PC laptop with similar specs.

  • K

    Same thing was happening to me on my macbook running xp- annoying sound blips whenever running audio out through my firewire 410- turning off the wireless adapter was the solution. However, I didn't have any problems with OS X

  • Caspian

    You know, this type of issue also seems to occur on systems running realtek audio and an Nforce4 or 5 series chip. It's got something to do with the IDE channels being used in my case, but others have seen issues with Wifi, Firewire, USB and even Ethernet. Much of this seems to be related to driver coding for the system, but it's unclear if Nvdia's chip architecture is also part of the problem.

  • Caspian

    The above (btw) relates to PCs using Windows, rather than Macs running them through bootcamp, since I think the Nforce4-5 chips were never used on that platform.

  • e-f

    well i've never had a problem with realtek/broadcom/wireless on my xp laptop or home machine. i have, however, had this problem on my macbook pro; solved it at that time by turning off the wireless – no biggie there.

    where i've had so many problems that i gave up counting was with vista. imo the worst audio os i've ever encountered. i have not yet tested it with bootcamp. don't see the need as it does not even work well on a native pc system :-/

  • derHa

    i have the same issue with my few-years-old macbook pro running xp and a firewire soundcard. a friend of mine has this issue too, but with a dell laptop, running xp and firewire sound too. he gave me the hint to disable the wlan while using the firewire sound. worked out for me… and isn't it a good thing to have no internet at all while composing? ๐Ÿ˜‰ (turning it on for updating the cubase from time to time though…)

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  • Holotropik

    my god! why would you run windoze on a mac? i don't get it…??

  • So this is a OS / Vista / Macbook issue only I take it?
    Has anyone had problems under X?

  • James

    I thought this was a standard thing for XP (and so Vista)?

    XP causes audio glitches when searching for wireless networks.

    Turn your wireless card of when doing audio stuff.

  • e-f


    yeah i guess you're right, everything i want to do or work with is available for mac; no reason for windows even to exist <-extreme sarcasm.

  • zenzen

    I've come across these wifi-related problems over the past five years on a Thinkpad T41, Dell Inspiron (model # lost to the mists of time, sorry), and MacBook (OS X only). As a matter of course, I now disable wifi when using laptops to make music. It helps.

  • Deaq

    I have some major DPC latency problem on my laptop that I used for producing music and other multimedia stuff. I cant isolate the problem. I thought it was my Nvidia card first but it wasnt either, my dpc peaks at 1000+ and sometimes spikes at 2k ms.

    Do anyone have a solution or can help me with this?

  • @Deaq: Well, unfortunately, your only shot at this is to go through devices one at a time and disable them. Total pain.

    @everyone: Yeah, we are seeing glitches with wifi cards on Mac OS, too, under certain circumstances. It's definitely worth trying disabling wifi for audio as a matter of course. Of course, it *should* be able to work and often does (Windows and Mac alike) … it just sometimes doesn't. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • apalomba

    I am running Vista on a Dell XPS m1530 and I
    encounter this problem with my Firewire410.
    Having to disable my wireless connection
    is a pain in the ass. What is even more annoying
    is dells reticence in dealing with the problem.
    If you mention anything about 3rd party audio
    they wash their hands of you or tell you to reinstall the OS.

  • e-f

    i have a dell vostro 1500 laptop in addition to my macbook pro. well i have to say, contradictory to what many have said about that company – both my motu and edirol firewire interfaces function fine (2-6ms latency) with my dell laptop. i've read in MANY audio forums, that you can forget it, and they even sell audio laptops to disgruntled dell users *cough*.

    more on topic, i DO have to turn off wireless (it's just a slider switch) on both machines otherwise i get glitches and latency of 10-15.

    IMHO it's the drivers.
    i have already installed xp without wireless drivers, turned on the switch, windows says new device found etc etc but my latency (ableton and reason running) does not get worse.

    we need third party drivers maybe?

  • Holotropik

    Well these days there is no reason for windoze to exist…

  • e-f

    well thanks for deciding that for everyone holotropik.

    you're the greatest.

  • Holotropik's over-the-top response aside, it IS a really good argument for open source drivers – and, in fact, why not open source drivers *on Windows* and not just Linux? The whole point of the chip vendor is supposedly that they deliver something you couldn't in the driver. But then these things happen, and while I sure don't fit into that category, I know there are people out there who do know how to resolve some of these things. Ironically, Microsoft suffers sometimes because their third-party partners screw stuff up.

    Anyway, even on Linux some of this stuff sits in proprietary drivers (depending on chipset). So it's a quandary.

    But yeah, it's a driver. It's worth checking with your vendor. Sometimes you get fixes in the mainboard / chipset / BIOS drivers, even.

  • e-f

    right as usual peter!

    however, there are many open source drivers for the microsoft platforms. asio4all (hmm not really sure if that's open source) comes to mind. and there are various projects for the audigy sound cards (creative) that enable tolerable latency on those cards (8-10 ms). there are many others for graphic cards, modems etc… i just have not really had the need for them up till now since moving on to "pro" audio.

    still, these things (drivers) are an option for people wishing to breath new life into an old notebook, and record a few tracks.

    @peter: domain suggestion->


  • Well, there's no question Windows can benefit from OSS, generally. Let's see, on my machine, Pd, JACK, SuperCollider, PUTTY, WinSCP, Notepad++, cygwin and all the GNU stuff, Subversion, Python, Java, JavaFX, Eclipse, NetBeans, Processing, XChat, Pidgin, OpenOffice… I could go on.

    Part of the problem with drivers is that very often companies save time by licensing code, so they can't always open that up.

  • dodo

    Using Vista on a PC for audio endeavors is the 2nd dumbest thing I've ever heard of.. Using Vista on a Mac is the 1st.