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WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

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WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Doomofman » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:40 am

Hoping someone may be able to point me in the right direction on this. I'm assuming it's likely to be a Windows 10 issue, maybe caused by a recent update due to what I've seemingly ruled out already.

Firstly, the issue. As of maybe a week/two weeks ago my audio input signal is distorted, it doesn't clip at any point I can see in the chain but the dry signal is still a bit distorted, once this is run through say an amp sim software, the problem gets magnified. Before this, I used to be able to just set the gain a bit below clipping and be able to record nice clean guitars etc but now, those clean guitars sound muddy/distorted especially on the low end.

I'll list what I've tried already and hopefully someone can point out something I've missed so far.

I've tried:

  • Multiple guitars (Passive and Active inputs)
  • Two audio interfaces (Scarlett 6i6 and POD HD 500X via usb)
  • Different USB 2.0 Ports
  • Different USB Cables
  • Different software (TH-U and EzMix, both inside Cubase and standalone and Audacity)
  • Checked signal direct on my POD HD 500X and it sounds fine, once you use the USB signal it's distorted
  • Two different computers, both with Windows 10 with the latest updates
  • Made sure the Sample Rate is the same through the signal chain
  • Used LatencyMon to make sure there was no issues there
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:25 pm

Worth checking that the W10 update hasn't switched any manufacturer software back on. My work Dell, for example, has a bit of Dell software that 'optimises' the sound for playback on the laptop speakers - needless to say it sounds horrible through a set of headphones...
So have a look at hidden items in the task bar or any processes running in the task manager that look audio-related and not something you've deliberately activated.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby hobbyist » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:50 pm

Doomofman wrote:Hoping someone may be able to point me in the right direction on this. I'm assuming it's likely to be a Windows 10 issue, maybe caused by a recent update due to what I've seemingly ruled out already.

Firstly, the issue. As of maybe a week/two weeks ago my audio input signal is distorted, it doesn't clip at any point I can see in the chain but the dry signal is still a bit distorted, once this is run through say an amp sim software, the problem gets magnified. Before this, I used to be able to just set the gain a bit below clipping and be able to record nice clean guitars etc but now, those clean guitars sound muddy/distorted especially on the low end.

I'll list what I've tried already and hopefully someone can point out something I've missed so far.

I've tried:

  • Multiple guitars (Passive and Active inputs)
  • Two audio interfaces (Scarlett 6i6 and POD HD 500X via usb)
  • Different USB 2.0 Ports
  • Different USB Cables
  • Different software (TH-U and EzMix, both inside Cubase and standalone and Audacity)
  • Checked signal direct on my POD HD 500X and it sounds fine, once you use the USB signal it's distorted
  • Two different computers, both with Windows 10 with the latest updates
  • Made sure the Sample Rate is the same through the signal chain
  • Used LatencyMon to make sure there was no issues there


Win10 is a problem. Worse than win8. Far worse than XP.
For audio.

You must clean out all the crapware and tweak the box to run audio. Delete all the social media programs and anything else that could decide to run, and try to phone home, if it is not needed for the audio.

Then get off the internet and turn off the antivirus program.

I would suggest you consider ubuntu instead of windoze.
But at least make sure win 10 is fixed and then turn off updates!
Leave them off. Forever.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Agharta » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:23 pm

hobbyist wrote: Then get off the internet and turn off the antivirus program.
I would suggest you consider ubuntu instead of windoze.
But at least make sure win 10 is fixed and then turn off updates!
Leave them off. Forever.
Don't forget to wear a cape made of aluminium foil and to use a spell from a Harry Potter book to keep the demons at bay.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:35 pm

Doomofman wrote:Hoping someone may be able to point me in the right direction

If the audio appears distorted with two completely different machines, it's likely it's nothing to do with the computer or the software it's running.

Have u checked the guitar cable? A bad cable can often introduce noise and distortion.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:20 pm

CS70 wrote:If the audio appears distorted with two completely different machines, it's likely it's nothing to do with the computer or the software it's running.
Doh! Sorry, missed that bit. Ignore my comment above (if you haven't already). ;)
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:50 am

hobbyist wrote:Win10 is a problem. Worse than win8. Far worse than XP.
For audio.

That's a bold statement and one I strongly believe to be incorrect. Windows 10 has improvements on everything from memory management to device prioritisation and in many ways is a much superior operating system under the hood when compared with earlier versions (with the single exception of privacy issues, which is another conversation entirely).

Two questions:

  • Why do you think Windows 10 audio is a problem specifically?
  • Why do you think it's worse than Win8 or XP?

But at least make sure win 10 is fixed and then turn off updates!
Leave them off. Forever.

This is very bad advice unless there is a specific need to preserve a snapshot of a system intact forever. This may be necessary in some professional environments to support clients with legacy needs but even that can cause problems with some licensing as there is a need to periodically contact servers to ensure that licenses are still valid.

Disabling updates on any system (Windows or otherwise) that has to periodically connect to the Internet is irresponsible and dangerous for security reasons. 15 years ago tests were done that found unpatched PCs could be compromised within 20 minutes when connected to the Internet, a time which wasn't even long enough to patch them with the latest updates in some cases.

Furthermore, most software these days is updated frequently. Not only with bugfixes but also for feature and stability improvements. Projects and other saved data created by earlier versions of an application are only going to be supported for so long. This means that work done on a system that has not been updated for an extended period of time is increasingly unlikely to be readable by whatever the latest version of the software is.

Anybody disabling updates on a system without fully understanding the implications of that is asking for trouble at best, and being downright irresponsible at worst.

Some bloatware is a concern, but certainly not all of it. Most of it is simply a waste of storage and harmless in any other sense. Disabling start-up agents is a good idea in many cases and usually quite sufficient.

I regard antivirus software as largely unnecessary these days if one is careful about the sites one visits or email attachments one opens and takes sensible precautions such as ad-blockers in browsers and keeps the built in Windows protection up to date. Backups are essential, however.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:42 am

Agharta wrote:
hobbyist wrote: Then get off the internet and turn off the antivirus program.
I would suggest you consider ubuntu instead of windoze.
But at least make sure win 10 is fixed and then turn off updates!
Leave them off. Forever.
Don't forget to wear a cape made of aluminium foil and to use a spell from a Harry Potter book to keep the demons at bay.

gratuitous insult noted
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby hobbyist » Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:53 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:
hobbyist wrote:Win10 is a problem. Worse than win8. Far worse than XP.
For audio.

That's a bold statement and one I strongly believe to be incorrect. Windows 10 has improvements on everything from memory management to device prioritisation and in many ways is a much superior operating system under the hood when compared with earlier versions (with the single exception of privacy issues, which is another conversation entirely).

I had them both. win 10 may be better now but early on it was a disaster. it is still a social media box that needs fixing for solid audio use.


Two questions:

  • Why do you think Windows 10 audio is a problem specifically?
  • Why do you think it's worse than Win8 or XP?

I had them both. The results speak for themselves. They are both bad. Win 10 was worse. Cant say if they improved win10 or not as I dont use that box. It now being reserved to install a linux version.

But at least make sure win 10 is fixed and then turn off updates!
Leave them off. Forever.

This is very bad advice unless there is a specific need to preserve a snapshot of a system intact forever. This may be necessary in some professional environments to support clients with legacy needs but even that can cause problems with some licensing as there is a need to periodically contact servers to ensure that licenses are still valid.

That is very good advice unless you want problems. If you get it working then leave it alone. If it aint broke dont fix it. For audio you do not need all the crappy updates microslop will force into the box.


Disabling updates on any system (Windows or otherwise) that has to periodically connect to the Internet is irresponsible and dangerous for security reasons. 15 years ago tests were done that found unpatched PCs could be compromised within 20 minutes when connected to the Internet, a time which wasn't even long enough to patch them with the latest updates in some cases.

do'H! What part about not attaching to the internet dont you get.
AIR GAP! problem solved for audio use.


Furthermore, most software these days is updated frequently. Not only with bugfixes but also for feature and stability improvements. Projects and other saved data created by earlier versions of an application are only going to be supported for so long. This means that work done on a system that has not been updated for an extended period of time is increasingly unlikely to be readable by whatever the latest version of the software is.

Boy, microcrap has really brainwashed you. You have no need for frequent updates. If your box is running right you have no need for updates. period.


Anybody disabling updates on a system without fully understanding the implications of that is asking for trouble at best, and being downright irresponsible at worst.

I know the implications. That is why I disable all updates. Been screwed too many times with updates that were fixing a non problem and made things worse.

Some bloatware is a concern, but certainly not all of it. Most of it is simply a waste of storage and harmless in any other sense. Disabling start-up agents is a good idea in many cases and usually quite sufficient.

I regard antivirus software as largely unnecessary these days if one is careful about the sites one visits or email attachments one opens and takes sensible precautions such as ad-blockers in browsers and keeps the built in Windows protection up to date. Backups are essential, however.

You are a sucker if you believe that about virus protection. If you are on the internet then do not use that pc for audio. And install MBAM which is far better for protection.

Never click on an attachment as that is more dangerous than visiting bad web sites.

You did get it right about backups.

I was a security consultant in a previous job. I stand by what I said.
YMMV so do whatever you want on your PC but I will protect mine the way I recommended.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:17 am

hobbyist wrote:
Agharta wrote:
hobbyist wrote: Then get off the internet and turn off the antivirus program.
I would suggest you consider ubuntu instead of windoze.
But at least make sure win 10 is fixed and then turn off updates!
Leave them off. Forever.
Don't forget to wear a cape made of aluminium foil and to use a spell from a Harry Potter book to keep the demons at bay.

gratuitous insult noted

It was just a gentle leg-pull, for heaven's sake. :roll:
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:54 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:Two questions:

  • Why do you think Windows 10 audio is a problem specifically?
  • Why do you think it's worse than Win8 or XP?

hobbyist wrote:I had them both. The results speak for themselves. They are both bad. Win 10 was worse. Cant say if they improved win10 or not as I dont use that box.

Your blanket assertion that Windows XP was bad and Windows 10 is worse is based on the fact that your PC didn't work with them well, and thus your recommended solution to any audio based problem is 'stop using Windows because its audio is bad'?

Really? :roll:
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Doomofman » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:58 am

Wow! this thread took a turn haha

Ok, so yes I've tried different guitar cables..

It's only the input signal that's distorted, audio output is just fine (so for instance if I listen to Spotify through the audio interfaces, it sounds fine).

Again, just to emphasis, everything was just fine up until maybe two weeks ago. I didn't make any hardware changes in that time. That's why I'm leaning towards a software problem.

I've removed and reinstalled the specific drivers for the interfaces and the USB controllers and the chipset.

I've tried both the motherboard's USB ports and a PCI-E USB card I have as well. (though again I've also tried this on a Desktop and Laptop with the same results)

I've tried both USB 2.0 and 3 ports (though the interface is USB 2.0 so that's what should work).

I've no plans to change OS or anything like that, it worked fine before so should work fine again if I can identify the source of the problem.

I've disabled every other Playback and Recording device that Windows show as well.

I feel like I'm running out of things to try at this stage, last resort would be fresh install of Windows but if it's happening on two machines I'm not confident that will help
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:12 pm

Doomofman wrote:Hoping someone may be able to point me in the right direction on this. I'm assuming it's likely to be a Windows 10 issue, maybe caused by a recent update due to what I've seemingly ruled out already.

Firstly, the issue. As of maybe a week/two weeks ago my audio input signal is distorted, it doesn't clip at any point I can see in the chain but the dry signal is still a bit distorted, once this is run through say an amp sim software, the problem gets magnified. Before this, I used to be able to just set the gain a bit below clipping and be able to record nice clean guitars etc but now, those clean guitars sound muddy/distorted especially on the low end.

I'll list what I've tried already and hopefully someone can point out something I've missed so far.

I've tried:

  • Multiple guitars (Passive and Active inputs)
  • Two audio interfaces (Scarlett 6i6 and POD HD 500X via usb)
  • Different USB 2.0 Ports
  • Different USB Cables
  • Different software (TH-U and EzMix, both inside Cubase and standalone and Audacity)
  • Checked signal direct on my POD HD 500X and it sounds fine, once you use the USB signal it's distorted
  • Two different computers, both with Windows 10 with the latest updates
  • Made sure the Sample Rate is the same through the signal chain
  • Used LatencyMon to make sure there was no issues there

You've been pretty thorough there. I would not rule out a hardware problem, though it's more likely to be something in software.

Looking at the Focusrite website, I see that the 6i6 software download includes a USB driver for it (version 4.63.23).

On the line6 website there is a driver for the Pod as well. As both of these devices have manufacturer-supplied drivers I would consider this an area to double check. Have you re-installed the USB drivers for both? It is possible that a Windows update could have done something to upset the proprietary ones.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:16 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:On the line6 website there is a driver for the Pod as well. As both of these devices have manufacturer-supplied drivers I would consider this an area to double check. Have you re-installed the USB drivers for both? It is possible that a Windows update could have done something to upset the proprietary ones.

Sorry, I just realised you posted while I was writing this earlier, and said you'd done that. Have you reached out to Focusrite or Line6 for support? I would imagine that if it's a wider problem they would have seen this before.

I've had no issues with any USB audio inputs from various USB devices on Windows 10 here, though I don't have any of the same hardware you do. Although it could be a Windows issue I'm more inclined to think it's an environmental problem somewhere.
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Re: WIN10 - Audio Input Suddenly Distorted

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:18 pm

I think a step-by-step process of elimination may be worth a try here.

You have 2 PCs, 2 USB devices and 2 guitars.

If you use the Focusrite on one of the PCs fed by one of the guitars, and on the other PC you use the Line6 Pod with a different guitar, do they both exhibit the same problem with the distorted input?
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