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Video Randomly Skips Ahead a Second or So

Discussion in 'Video playback problems' started by sireebob, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. sireebob

    sireebob Member

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    Summary:
    [See posts further down for more info]
    When playing videos, they randomly skip forward, usually from 500ms to 1000ms in time. It's not exactly stuttering but more that the video either seems to skip to a point forward in playback position or the video appears to speed up for a split second and is missing some audio. I created a very basic program designed to log such incidents and have so far determined that it happens when using a "virtual sound card" and my Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS but NOT my Realtek HD Audio onboard device. Weird. It seems to me like it's some sort of audio buffer running-out kind of thing, but I don't really know, which is why I'm asking here. :)
    [edit] At first I thought the problem was related to page faults or some other measurable piece of information, but it seems that these were caused by the tester application itself when it wrote its information to the log file. So I guess I'm clueless again.
    The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS just sounds so much better - I can definitely hear the difference, so I'd like to get it working normally. I'll report on how the older driver works.

    [Long post]
    Hey there. I've been having a problem playing videos on my system.

    What happens is that randomly when playing a video (any video with DirectShow, regardless of codecs (that's right, it happens whether I'm using ffdshow or DivX or XviD or H.264 or AC3Filter or.. whatever)) the video (and audio) will skip ahead, in (roughly) multiples of half a second, usually 0.5 or 1 seconds. This isn't isolated to the video or the audio; they both skip ahead and remain synchronized. In fact, it's usually subtle without producing any kind of noise or video distortion. The most that happens is that a person will be talking and suddenly half of their sentence will go missing. After "rewinding", this will not happen again, nor does it ever happen in the same place each time for a movie, indicating it's unrelated to problems with the videos themselves.

    This occurs rarely but often enough for me to notice it, probably happening once for every two hours of video watched on average but it does vary significantly. I've tried to isolate the problem and determine the cause but I've been unable to do so. I've used Windows XP's Performance Monitor to graph disk usage and process CPU usage but there are no abnormal fluctuations that I've seen when the video skips forward.

    To try to track down the problem and determine if I'd solved it without actually having to watch hours and hours of video, I created a simple application which uses a Windows Media Player object to play a video repeatedly. It uses a timer to check the video's position every tenth of a second or so. If the value differs from where it should be at that point in time (differences 300ms or under are ignored due to frequently being "false alarms"), this is logged along with the time difference. It's clear that the problem is occurring, and to verify this I record the system's sound output, which I can check to make sure that a skip actually did occur, which was almost always the case with values 450ms and above.

    .. But that actually doesn't help me solve anything; it only helps me to see if the problem has been solved.

    Anyway, I'm probably missing something obvious. I was hoping somebody here might have an idea on why this would happen. As my monitoring has shown, the skipping doesn't appear to be related to a performance struggle that can be measured in disk or CPU usage. That also seems to rule out the possibility of spyware or other malware causing it.

    Does this skipping-ahead problem sound familiar to anyone? I'd be very interested in hearing suggestions or possible problem sources. I've reformatted C: and reinstalled Windows (several times, actually) and even wiped the main system drive entirely. After a clean installation, I ran the playback tester, but I didn't give it a huge amount of time.. It didn't come up with anything, and when I watched a few videos the problem didn't appear, but I'm starting to doubt that the problem was actually solved at that time and think it may have been a coincidence...

    Either way, I'm in no mood to reinstall Windows again or uninstall every piece of software I have one by one and wait hours each time to see if the problem is solved (even then it's unreliable since the problem seems to be very random). There must be a better way to diagnose this... Any ideas?

    By the way, I'm about to try a filter known as ReClock. It doesn't seem to be geared toward solving my particular problem, but I figured it's worth a try. I'll post here if that solves it, but in the meantime I'm open to input.

    --

    [UPDATES]
    UPDATE 1: I tried ReClock and left my tester running overnight (for 8 hours) and there wasn't a single skip-forward logged (unlike the usual 2-3 when the problem exists), but I'll keep my eye out for skipping during actual use. Also, ReClock seems to cause Media Player Classic to freeze if I jump forward or backward in playback position too much..

    UPDATE 2: I've been testing this with my Video Playback Tester and it shows strong signs of being limited to my Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS. With the onboard Realtek HD Audio, the problem has yet to happen in the tester (or in my presence) even when run overnight. I'm now using it as my primary sound device until the problem happens again (if it even does). I'm also running a test with a virtual sound device - sounds weird, I know - where I output the sound from the tester to a file and there have yet to be any errors with that method either.

    According to the performance logs, there is usually minor activity around the time of this glitch but not enough to cause it, and there are larger timers of minor activity without the problem being caused before and after it. :-|

    *Sob* What's wrong with my Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS? :( I'm beginning to think that it COULD be related to the upmixing of the sound to 5.1-channel and then downmixing by the card to stereo, but it seems to sound better that way, and on top of that this problem never happened with the (same) Audigy 2 ZS card in my previous PC (moved to new PC). Could it be overheating, or.. any ideas?

    UPDATE 3: Another day.. Anyway, the results of the tests running overnight are as follows:
    Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS: Skips forward randomly
    Virtual Audio Device: Skips forward randomly
    Realtek HD Audio: Doesn't (no skips logged)

    Hmm. Things are looking good for the onboard audio. I want to use my Audigy but it seems it's no better than an emulated software sound device in this case. However, I'm going to downgrade my sound driver for that card and see how things go in the tester (current driver: 5.12.4.1196, updated 8/11/2006 according to device manager but the latest on the Creative site). Lol, this post is getting long without anybody replying.. it's basically a self-reference, then.

    In the most recent performance logs, the only thing unusual I could find for the time of one particular skip-forward was explorer's activity.
    [​IMG]
    The time the skip-forward occurred is at the center of the graph where the Page Faults/sec for explorer is at its peak. My observations find the same to have happened at least twice when the skip-forward has occurred. Hmmm. I wonder what explorer is doing at that time.
    [edit] This is inconsistent and inaccurate; the page faults are caused by the tester application writing its data to a log file.

    --

    Much appreciated,
    Siree Bob

    System Information
    Motherboard: ASUS P5N-E SLI
    Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
    Video Card: ATI RADEON X800 XT
    Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
    Hard Disk 1: Western Digital WD1600AAJS (160GB, 7200RPM)
    Hard Disk 2: Seagate ST3320620AS (320GB, 7200RPM)
    Hard Disk 3: Samsung HD501LJ (500GB, 7200RPM)
    Memory: 2 x [1 GB DDR2 667MHz]
    Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
    (Let me know if there's any other information you want/need.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
  2. sireebob

    sireebob Member

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    Well, my sound card IS dying. The "glitch with iTunes 7.1" which caused my system to BSOD with a MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION spread to other applications over a few days. So if the sound card isn't dying I don't know what is.

    From my experience in the past few days, it seems that if your sound card starts to screech and beep on some audio streams followed shortly after by a MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION or a freeze, then it's the hardware that's at fault. Of course I won't know that for sure until I try another card.

    As said before, everything works peachily with the onboard audio. That should have been a dead giveaway from the start.

    I've ordered a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer. I'll see how it works when it arrives.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2007
  3. sireebob

    sireebob Member

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    Well, my sound card's NOT dying :p. I tried it again in my old desktop with absolutely no problems whatsoever. After that, I put it back in my new one and spent hours experimenting with BIOS settings related to the RAM and then came upon the LDT Frequency. I'd tried almost everything else so I figured I'd try adjusting this.

    It was set at the default of 5x. And when set to 1x, not only does the card work perfectly, but it appears there's no performance impact from this setting!

    Now, I haven't given it much time to run the playback tests. However, the BSOD's are solved so I figure the playback is solved with them.

    ...

    And this is where I'm wrong. The main problem of this thread, the skipping forward of video (or audio if the buffer is small enough; e.g. Matroska audio) still exists. I'd still like to find some way to fix that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2007
  4. Sonic999

    Sonic999 Member

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    Hey! How's it going? I was experiencing the same issue with an older Soundblaster Audigy 5.1, which came with a Compaq Desktop. I recently had to update my motherboard cause it burnt down on me, so I'd been using the onboard sound system... which was notoriously worse than my old Soundblaster. So one day I found the drivers for it and luckily it started working again... but with the same problem you are posting here. Sudden skip aheads, about 4 or 5 times during 40 minutes (I was watching a TV series). So I started looking for solutions through google, and found your post and some others, and what worked for me was lowering the hardware acceleration, under advanced properties. I set it to the first notch, as someone suggested here:
    http://www.videohelp.com/forum/archive/t285093.html

    I tried the other episodes of the TV series today, and everything was just fine... so I guess that was it.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2007
  5. sireebob

    sireebob Member

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    Thanks, Sonic999!

    Your suggestion does solve the problem, and I've tried it, but it's also undesirable because you lose some of the advanced capabilities of your sound card when you do this - most operations are done in software instead of hardware. I recently had to RMA my motherboard and I switched to an Intel P965 chipset because I thought it may be more stable. It is more stable, but to my surprise the skipping problem isn't resolved with this board (Gigabyte 965P-DS3). It even happens with a cheap PCI video card I tried. I don't know what to blame the problem on! But as usual it doesn't happen with onboard audio :-/ nor does it happen with my older computer.

    I'm still looking for a real solution to this issue. Hope I find one, and I'll let you know if I do. And, of course, let me know if anyone finds a real one!
     
  6. sireebob

    sireebob Member

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    I didn't find a good solution yet - another workaround at most - but I did seem to find out the cause, or at least some interesting information...

    I'm using a dual-core processor. If I set the Processor Affinity in Task Manager for my video player (before playing a video in it) to "CPU 0", the skipping doesn't happen. In order to prevent skipping, it seems that the player or some component of it must be running on the same core that the Creative drivers usually receive interrupt requests on (which is usually 0). If I use a tool like the Interrupt-Affinity Tool from Microsoft, I can set the sound card's affinity to CPU 1. Doing this makes skips happen when videos are playing on CPU 0 instead, but it works fine on CPU 1.

    So for me it appears to be related to my processor or the dual-core aspect of my system itself. One might also blame Creative's drivers, as this problem doesn't happen using the kX Project drivers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2007
  7. macblob

    macblob Member

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    Thank god I am not the only one having this problem. I tried the upgrade to a new sound blaster card
    Soundblaster X-fi 64 -the $149 dollar one
    5.1 suround sound speakers
    ATI Radeon 9250
    WinTV PVR 150 (just because it is hardwared)
    HP 940d dvd burner
    Envision LCD monitor
    1.3 Mz board
    512 Mb ram
    Windows Xp home

    Even though this is not anywere near as fast as your computers it is having the same damn problem of skipping.
    I can hear it at boot up too.
    Drivers?
    Maybe to many of them..
    After reading your blog here i am glad I did not wipe my hard drive and start from scratch...It would not solve the problem.
    I almost have an inkling of an idea though.

    System restore and some other bootup crapola doing the damage.
    Just an idea...
    Maybe a normal boot up instead of selecting some programs to be skipped and possibly wiping out some of the programs that do load at boot up.
    A win.ini clean up.
    Cant hurt. I will try this tonight and see what happens.
     
  8. JJRip

    JJRip Member

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  9. JJRip

    JJRip Member

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  10. Sonic999

    Sonic999 Member

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    I tried your drivers, and apparently they work just fine! Excellent! Thanks a lot! :D
     
  11. macblob

    macblob Member

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    Also found out that having the default power supply of 300 watts was the wrong thing to have. Upgraded to 440 watts and I have not been having any problems. No more crashes....
     
  12. xhaste

    xhaste Member

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    Hi,

    I have exactly the same problem as you described. I've found out that it is caused by the Audigy/X-Fi. The reason why it works fine on your integrated sound card is that it doesn't use hardware DirectSound support as Audigy/X-Fi.

    If I disable/reduce hardware acceleration for my X-Fi (in my case reducing the 128 hardware buffers to 1 or 0) then i don't experience any skips. So I guess it's related to Creative drivers, Intel chipset, CPU or possibly soundcard itself.

    I've tried almost everything including changing PCI slots, PCI latency, disabling all unnecessary hardware, reinstalls and other things as you...

    The only thing that really solves it for the X-Fi card is disabling DirectSound in XP or installing Windows Vista, becouse Vista doesn't support DirectSound any more and all sound processing in Vista is done by software. The only way to enable EAX(hardware acceleration) in games under Vista is using the OpenAL tho.

    I really hope that someone solves this annoying issue in Windows XP becouse Service Pack 3 RC1 did not. My X-Fi was tested under AMD systems and on some nForce chipsets without a single problem. The problems have started by purchasing brand new Intel C2D E6600 and P965 chipset. My complete rig follows...

    Intel C2D E6600 <- the same as yours
    Gigabyte 965P-DQ6
    2GB DDR2 Kingston 800Mhz
    Creative X-Fi eXtreme music

    I hope it helps in isolating the problem. Good luck to us all ...

    btw. You can identify the skips by checking frame dev sync and offset in Media Player Classic's Video Renderer tab. Everything should be at zero.
     
  13. sireebob

    sireebob Member

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    Happy New Year! Almost..

    Anyway, haven't replied to this in a while, but you're right. The problem is either with Creative's sound cards or their drivers. I've been through 3 motherboards so far - different chipsets - two different models of Sound Blaster cards (X-Fi and Audigy 2), and two X-Fi XtremeGamer's. They all show this issue in Windows, but they do not have this issue in Ubuntu linux, or when using the kX Project drivers.

    From all I know about this, my best guess is that the problem lies with Sound Blaster card drivers and multi-core or -processor systems. The kX Project drivers take some tweaking.. and they don't work well with games at all, but they do get rid of the skipping for me, so I use them.

    I have nothing to suggest except either to hassle Creative about this, or use a different brand of sound card - or even just stick with integrated. I know, Creative has barely any competition, but more has been arriving lately.
     
  14. SubMatrix

    SubMatrix Member

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    Just thought I'd add that I have just come across this exact same problem just now, and upon searching around found this thread. I recently built a new rig, indeed consisting of a AMD duo core processor, and I am using a Creative sound card, though it is a Sound Blaster Extigy (quite ancient, but has served me well).

    I guess of some interest is that when I first built this computer, I did not reinstall windows and instead used my existing installation (which had been running on a single core proc), and everything was fine. I guess it wasn't really using the dual-core advantage yet. I would also like to add that yesterday, for one day, I installed and ran Windows XP64. I watched a full movie, again, with no problems. It wasn't until I reinstalled Windows XP (32-bit) that I noticed this problem for the first time ever.

    This leads me to believe and further confirm the suspicions that have already been brought up here: the problem is indeed something related to the multi-core architecture and more than likely how it works in tandem with the Creative drivers.

    Downgrading my hardware sound acceleration to "Basic" (the 2nd hash) also removes this problem, but if possible I would rather not have to change this.

    Sireebob, did you try the link posted by JJRip? I am going to take a look at it now, but I doubt it supports my Extigy.
     
  15. SubMatrix

    SubMatrix Member

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    OK, after a bit more searching, I seem to have found the solution to my problem. For people that have AMD duo-core processors, you need this little utility:

    http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/TechnicalResources/0,,30_182_871_13118,00.html

    Get the "AMD Dual-Core Optimizer", it corrects the timing issues that we've seemed to be having.

    As for Intel users, maybe they have a similar thing?

    Edit: after doing more tests, it seems I was wrong. Disregard this post.

    Edit 2: OK after rebooting, im just not sure anymore. The problem seems to be gone, or at least alleviated....anyways i suggest trying it out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2008

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