Monday, November 12, 2007

Optimising PC Source

Today, I came across a post about using PC as a source which gives nice and clean sound which may be useful for me in the future.

Hi PC Streamers,
We have a practical solution to optimize PC streaming with Vista. I think XP will work as well. Many thanks to those who provided the references to the many useful tools to make this possible.
Encouraged by Hiroyuki, I got to lower the priorities of the often active processes listed by Process Explorer. This was in addition to raising the Foobar priority to Real Time. With this as last step I was able to observe with the help of the CPU usage history graph from Process Explorer that the second CPU did not have any activities, even when the hard disk drive was chattering and going through disk defragmentation. The sound during defrag was as good as when the computer was using Foobar only.
Now you have it. When you see the activity in the second core (CPU 1)is zero, you can be assured of good sound.
In summary these are the things we need to do to optimize the PC for audio streaming.
1. I did not have to uninstall for disable any applications or processes that came with the computer, which had more than a clean install.
2. Use ASIO to bypass the kernel.
3. Use an external audio device if possible to avoid the electrically noisy environment of the computer.
4. Using Process Explorer set the affinity of Foobar to CPU 1 and its priority to Real Time. If you use WMP, do the same settings for it.
5. Using Process Explorer, list the PC processes in decreasing order of activity. Go through manually and change the affinity of the first 20 or so processes to CPU 0 and their priorities to as low as you want to. My computer did not crash :-)
6. Using the CPU usage history graphs (you will see two or four processors) observe that the usage of CPU 1 is almost always at zero. My machine can go for ten minutes and I still see zero usage, with or without Foobar playing. If you see blips, you need to find the offender and assign it CPU 0 and low priority.
Hiroyuki, did I leave out anything?
The resulting sound is so clean that many will not believe that they are listening to the Red Book CD. Many will probably have withdraw feeling when the clean and clear treble is heard, minus all that bright and unnatural intermodulation products.