Just did another search on Creative's forum site and find this reply from
Catherine of Creative Labs:
In our continuing efforts to resolve the reported issues of crackling and
popping in conjunction with Sound Blaster X-Fi audio cards, we would like to
issue a further update:
We have conducted a full review of our shipments vs. the number of customers
reporting this issue to our technical support advisors and subsequently
returning the product. Based on this we have confirmed that a very small
number of our Sound Blaster X-Fi customers are affected (approximately
0.01%). We are of course aware of a further number of customers who are
experiencing these same issues but have either not contacted our support
agents or have not returned their product for whatever reason. However even
if we double or triple our confirmed number to take this into account it
would still only represent 0.03% of all shipments. Though only a few people
have experienced this in real-terms, Creative is still thoroughly committed
to working together with nVIDIA and other motherboard manufacturers to
determine its root cause. Other than an overall fix that we believe will
require a MB BIOS update, our Engineers have so far identified five other
potential root causes of these symptoms. In the interest of being thorough
we have covered all the issues and possible solutions already covered in
previous updates as well as new findings. For the most recent updates on
this audio crackling issue from the motherboard perspective, please contact
nVIDIA or your motherboard manufacturer.
Scenario 1: A game's audio samples have levels or DC biases that are
unusually high. These samples have been found to overload the X-Fi audio
enhancement algorithms which result in output streams that clip, or exceed
the allowable output signal swing.
Solution: Reduce the game's audio level. Where this is not possible, reduce
the master volume level in Windows.
Scenario 2: Very lengthy handling of Interrupt Service Routines (ISR) and
Deferred Procedure Calls (DPC) by the graphics driver on nForce motherboards
(Asus, MSI, Gigabyte are some motherboard vendors that use this chipset)
particularly when nVIDIA SLI graphics are used. One game where this
problem has been observed is the game Farcry, but other games may be
affected as well. These times have been observed to be as long as 100
milliseconds and causes the audio data buffers handed to the sound card
driver by the application to become stale.
Possible Solution: A third party tool called "nHancer" (www.nhancer.com
has been found to make it possible to mitigate this problem by retuning the
graphics driver. We recommend setting the AFR (Alternate Frame Rendering)
mode in nHancer to reduce the maximum interrupt deferral times (called DPC)
to the 10-25 millisecond range. This problem is not unique to X-Fi, it
causes crackling/distortion with a number of other audio products we have
Scenario 3: In a small number of cases the game crackling issues were found
to be caused by the X-Fi driver related implementation.
Possible Solution: Download and install the latest driver from the Creative
website here. As of this date it is a beta version (2.09.0001). This has
been shown to resolve the crackling issues in this small number of user's
Scenario 4: X-Fi's requests for PCI bus service are being "retried," or
deferred, an extraordinary number of times, presumably while the graphics
system is using system memory when playing Battlefield 2 during complex
graphics scenes. It may also occur in other games and is associated most
often with nVIDIA nForce chipsets with SLI graphics. The SoundBlaster X-Fi
sound card can withstand up to about 450 bus retries on occasion, but in
these cases we are sometimes seeing over 8000 bus retries for a single
request, for a total deferral time of up to 2 milliseconds (240 nanoseconds
per retry). We have seen these deferrals cause audio defects in
non-Creative PCI sound cards as well.
§ Use 2G of dual-channel memory
§ Flash the BIOS or change CMOS can cause the memory and PCI
performance to improve. Unfortunately in some of our tests this caused the
performance to sometimes degrade. We cannot advise which particular BIOS
versions improve performance and which reduce performance, but flashing the
BIOS can cause the system memory resource allocation to change and updates
are almost always reversible.
§ Ensure that the SATA hard drive is not conflicting with PCI
memory resources. Changing to a different controller may help.
§ Sometimes removing one SLI graphics card, rebooting with X-Fi,
then shutting down and reinstalling the second graphics card fixes the
Scenario 5: Overclocking of nVidia based graphics cards has been found to
cause crackling issues in Battlefield 2 and other gaming titles. Our
internal testing has found that it is the card's Memory Clock Speed that
most directly affects the intensity and frequency of the crackling in
Possible Solution: Installing the nTune application from nVidia's website
will give you individual controls for memory clock speed and GPU clock
speed. The slower the Memory Clock Speed, the fewer and more subtle the
crackles. When turning the Memory Clock Speed down as far as the application
would let us, the crackling disappeared entirely. We recommend that you
reduce any overclocking and if necessary underclock your graphics card no
more than necessary to resolve any audio crackling issue.
Follow these steps to modify the clock settings on your nVidia Geforce SLI
graphics card/s (For other brands of graphics cards please consult the
documentation for that card or contact the manufacturer):
1. Right click the Desktop.
2. From the context menu, choose Properties. The Display Properties
3. Click the Settings tab.
4. Click the Advanced button.
5. In the new window, click the nVidia tab (the one with the nVidia
6. In the list that appears, click Clock Frequency Settings.
7. Select the Manual radio button.
8. In the Settings drop-down menu, choose "Performance (3D)."
9. Adjust the Memory Clock Speed to your specifications.
10. Click Test Changes.
11. Click Apply.
IMPORTANT : Changing the default clock speed on a graphics card can have
unexpected results. Please consult your graphics card documentation for
Conclusion: In summary we would like to highlight that based on our
extensive tests our findings have shown that this issue is not limited to
Sound Blaster X-Fi, in fact virtually any add-in audio card (and some MB
audio based solutions) can exhibit these issues to varying degrees. Based
on this and discussions with Nvidia, we therefore believe that this issue
can only be completely resolved with a BIOS update from nVidia or the MB
provider and our efforts to resolve this with them continue. In the
meantime our efforts to alleviate the issues and find other workarounds also
continue. We are additionally working on collating the full list of systems
tested, which numbers over 50 different systems, and hope to publish this
On a final note, thanks to the feedback we have received through our forums,
we have become aware of our users' willingness to use beta release drivers.
This is a very useful way for Creative to release updates and fixes earlier
than we would otherwise be able to. Based on this we have initiated a full
beta release program and will be issuing updates on a more regular basis
than previously possible. To view a list of our latest releases, please
For more information on this issue and any of the possible resolutions,
please approach our Customer Support team.
Message Edited by Catherina-CL on 06-16-2006 11:58 AM
Quoted from: http://forums.creative.com/creativel...ending&page=57
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