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 Optimising your PC for audio on Windows 7

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Jay Hatchell
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PostSubject: Optimising your PC for audio on Windows 7   Wed May 01, 2013 3:50 pm

Optimising your PC for audio on Windows 7
All of the tuning tips below should be implemented if you want to achieve high speed, low latency audio recording and playback without glitches with your audio interface.


The video here guides you through the following steps.

General optimisation:

1. Set your computer's power for high performance
If your computer is set to conserve energy, the CPU may not be running at full speed all of the time. This can have a detrimental effect on your computer's audio performance. To set your computer's power for high performance:
- Go to: Start>Control Panel>Power Options
- Choose "High Performance"
- Click the "Change plan settings" button.
- Make sure both power options are set to "Never"

2. Disable system sounds
System sounds can interrupt audio. Ensure that they are disabled by doing the following:
- Go to control panel and select "Sound"
- Go to the sounds tab
- Under sounds scheme, select "No sounds"
- Click "Apply" then, "OK"

3. Enable DMA (Direct memory access) on each IDE channel
This allows data to be transferred directly into the memory and can improve audio performance. To ensure that DMA is enabled:
- Open device manager
- Expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers category then double click on each one of the IDE channels
- Under the 'Advanced settings' tab, make sure the 'Enable DMA' box is ticked in device properties
Please note: this only applies to some hardware and if this option is not available, you should not worry about completing this step.

4. Set processor scheduling to "Background services"
This will improve the performance of your audio drivers on your computer. To do this:
- In control panel select "system"
- Go to "Advanced system settings" and then the "Performance" tab
- Set processor scheduling as "Background Services"
- Click "Apply" then "OK"

5. Disable Windows Firewall, anti-virus and spyware software
These should all be disabled to ensure that no interferences occur during audio recording or playback and to ensure that maximum resources are available. To remain secure while your firewall and antivirus disabled, it is advisable to temporarily disconnect from any internet connections when working with audio.


Advanced optimisation:

If you wish to optimise your system further, or you are using a system that is particularly lacking in resources you can follow the tips below for advanced optimisation.

Disable Visual effects
The visual features in Windows 7 can use resources that could otherwise help to improve audio performance. As a start, it is good idea to disable some of the visual features by doing the following:
- Press start and in the search box type: "SystemPropertiesPerformance" and press enter
- On the visual effects tab select "custom"
- Untick: "Animate windows when minimising and maximising" to help prevent glitches when minimising and maximising. You can also experiment with disabling other visual effects in the custom list to see how they improve audio performance.
- Once finished, press "OK"

If you wish to optimise your Windows 7 graphics for the best performance use the "Adjust for best performance". Although improving computer performance, this will make your Windows 7 appear a lot less aesthetically pleasing.

Disable Windows services
One way in which you can make more resources available to improve audio performance, is to disable unnecessary Windows 7 services as these use valuable resources. The following site has a comprehensive guide to the services running on Windows 7 and helps locate the services that are safe to disable:
Windows 7 Service Configurations by Black Viper

If you are still experiencing audio performance problems after optimising your computer for audio, please contact the support team by using the "contact us" link at the top right-hand corner of this page.

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