tasbaz
1 Copper

cd read buffering

Hi, I have recently bought a 2nd hand XPS M1210 running Windows 7 Ultimate. I can play music files without problem, but when playing a music cd I get sound dropouts. I have been told that this could be the read buffering. Can anyone tell me how I reset this?

Please keep in mind that I am an old non-tech person, belatedly joining the 21st Century, so I will need very simple instructions.

Thanks

Tags (1)
0 Kudos
6 Replies
Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: cd read buffering

Hello. I am sorry that you have not received a timely answer.

See section 3 of the Choppy/Skipping Audio FAQ about a common problem that used to affect ATA/IDE drives. I  don't know if your optical drive is ATA/IDE or SATA. SATA drives do not seem to have the problem described. Newer laptops all have SATA drives but maybe the M1210 had ATA/IDE.

Other than that, try posting on our Disk Drives board.

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

0 Kudos
Highlighted
tasbaz
1 Copper

RE: cd read buffering

Thanks for your reply. Laptop does have an ATA drive but Device manager shows Ultra DMA so I guess not the problem.

0 Kudos
Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: cd read buffering

I am not aware of the buffering issue. I can't think of why a file on the optical drive would require different buffering from a file on the hard drive. If your laptop has the original optical drive it could just need replacing by now, which is very easy to do. However if there is such an issue it might be controlled by the firmware. If you want to update the firmware you can get it by going to XPS M1210 support page, select your operating system in the drop down box (actually 7 is not supported on your model so select Vista), expand the Removable Storage category and find the firmware for your model of optical drive. You can get the model name from Device Manager.

When you find your firmware, click on "details" and you will go to a page that shows you which models and operating systems the firmware supports. Windows 7 is supported by the firmware of several of the optical drives that Dell might have put in your laptop.

N.B. I see that one of the possible drives that Dell could have put in is the TS-L462C. If you have that model go back to the FAQ I linked to yesterday, scroll down a couple of paragraphs and read the section about that model. Avoid firmware DE07 if you have a TS-L462C.

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

0 Kudos
tasbaz
1 Copper

RE: cd read buffering

Thank you again for your continuing help. I looked up the original config. via system detect which listed part # MG 945 [8xdvd+/- RW with software. It gave no other details.

The current drive is Sony dvd+/- RW  [ DW - Q58A ATA ]device.

I am unable to tell if this is the original optical drive, but it is NOT listed in the firmware upgrades on the support page.

If I replaced the optical drive, could I upgrade to a SATA device which you said should not have the same problems? If so, how do I find out what drive will fit?

Does  "easy to do"  still apply to a technological idiot?

I have had a reply after posting as you suggested on the disk drives board, which suggests problem is most likely a driver needing updating. I will look up any other available updates.

Thanks again 

0 Kudos
Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: cd read buffering

Does  "easy to do"  still apply to a technological idiot?

As long as you can turn a screw driver and remove one screw you're okay. Download the M1210 Service Manual and look at the Optical Drive section to see what I mean.

ftp://ftp.dell.com/Manuals/all-products/esuprt_laptop/esuprt_xps_laptop/xps-m1210_Service%20Manual_e...

If I replaced the optical drive, could I upgrade to a SATA device which you said should not have the same problems?

Um, I don't know what the problem is yet. I mean I understand the symptom but without knowing the cause of it, can't say for sure that any replacement optical drive you get will be a fix. It might be something else. I was hoping you would get a more illuminating response from the disk drive board.

I'll post again in the morning about updating drivers and some other things.

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

0 Kudos
Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: cd read buffering

The current drive is Sony dvd+/- RW  [ DW - Q58A ATA ]device.

I am unable to tell if this is the original optical drive, but it is NOT listed in the firmware upgrades on the support page.

It is probably a replacement. I wonder if the original drive was replaced because someone else was having the same symptoms that you are having now.

If I replaced the optical drive, could I upgrade to a SATA device which you said should not have the same problems?

No. The type of optical or hard drive is determined by the model of the motherboard and not interchangeable.

If so, how do I find out what drive will fit?

All of the drives that are listed in the Removable Storage category on the M1210 support page are compatible with your laptop. However you would need to do more research to determine if they are compatible with Windows 7 which came out later than either your laptop or those drives. I "think" your current Sony drive is compatible just due to the fact that Windows 7 recognizes it at all.

I have had a reply after posting as you suggested on the disk drives board, which suggests problem is most likely a driver needing updating. I will look up any other available updates.

I looked at that and saw Osprey4's reply. I was hoping for something a bit more specific than the generic device to update drivers. He might not be aware that Dell does not support Windows 7 on the M1210 and so there are precious few updates to be had. You are probably mostly using the native drivers that come included in Windows 7 which should suffice for most purposes.

A driver is some software code that lets a "device" interface with Windows. It usually is written by the "vendor" -- the device's manufacturer -- and a new version comes out either to correct bugs in the earlier version or when there are new features. There have not been new driver versions for the M1210 for 5-8 years and none of them are for Windows 7. Dell usually stops actively supporting a laptop model a year or two after it comes out.

I was struck by Osprey4's suggestion to update the network adapter driver. With that suggestion I think he has in mind a problem called "excessive DPC latency" which causes dropouts or glitches in music and video. If you read though the Choppy/Skipping Audio FAQ you see many solutions. What I did not say in the FAQ is that excessive DPC latency is the underlying cause of many of the problems that the solutions are for. However I have never heard that excessive DPC latency can affect only cd playback and not affect playback of files on the hard drive too.

[Your computer's cpu performs one task at a time. Drivers have to get into a queue and wait their turn for their task to be executed. That waiting time is normal under Windows and is called DPC latency (delayed procedural call). Audio needs to give the illusion that it is coming out in a continuous uninterrupted stream, so the driver has to get get in line over and over again to get its buffers filled. If a driver ahead in line takes too long (excessive DPC latency) then there is a dropout in the audio"stream". Drivers are supposed to be written so that they do not cause excessive DPC latency, but nobody enforces that rule. Sometimes - not often - a new version of a driver will correct the problem, hence the advice to update drivers. On the other hand, sometimes a driver is behaving correctly and it is a newer version that causes the problem, hence the rule of thumb among audio folks to not update a driver unless you need to fix a specific problem that the new driver addresses.]

The wireless or WLAN driver is often the worst offender, so that might be why Osprey4 mentioned "network adapter". However if you disable your wireless and the symptoms do not improve then the wireless driver is not the cause of the symptoms.    

Now, about your audio driver. The vendor for the audio hardware on your motherboard was a company called Sigmatel. It went out of business before there ever was a Windows 7, so there never was a Sigmatel Windows 7 driver version. However Windows 7 contains a generic "native" audio driver that it installs automatically when it cannot detect a vendor's driver. That is the reason you can get audio at all. I doubt that that driver needs updating.

If you want to, you can install the Vista version of the Sigmatel driver into Windows by using "compatibility mode". If you ever need to use the external mic jack on your laptop you will need to do this because the Windows 7 native driver does not support the jack.

Download the Sigmatel driver version 6.10.0.5614 (R171788). You can download it to any location on the computer, the desktop for example, but the default location might be your downloads folder. Wherever it goes, find it and double click on it. It should automatically unzip (if it doesn't let me know).

It will want to unzip the files to a specific location, c:\dell\drivers\xxxxx. Let it do that and make a note of the location which most likely is c:\dell\drivers\R171788.

The files will automatically start to install. Cancel the installation.

Using Windows Explorer (right click the Start button and click Open Windows Explorer) go to the folder on the hard drive to which you unpacked the driver files
c:\Dell\Drivers\xxxxxx
Find the setup.exe file and right click on it. Select the Properties. Find the compatibility tab and select Vista, then click Apply & OK and let it install.

Here is a screen shot of the path you take in Windows Explorer. The driver in the picture is a different one that you will have -- it's just an example.

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

0 Kudos