Case of the Windows 8.1 Audio Glitches

In this scenario a Windows 8.1 device, despite well spec’d hardware wise, would get buzzing/clicking audio glitches during audio playback, typically when playing web content. In addition DRM’d web content like Amazon Prime stuttered completely, however it ran fine in HD on the same hardware in a Windows 7 virtual machine. The issue occurred within IE11, Chrome and Firefox on the Windows 8.1 device.

A quick workaround was to restart the Windows Audio Service which immediately stopped the audio glitches. But they kept coming back.

Using Windows Performance Recorder ( https://chentiangemalc.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/case-of-the-8-minute-windows-8-1-first-logon/ ) we recorded a 30 second trace while issue was occurring with the following options

  • First Level Triage
  • CPU Usage
  • Disk I/O Activity
  • File I/O Activity
  • GPU Activity
  • Scenario Analysis – Audio Glitches
  • Scenario Analysis – Internet Explorer
  • Scenario Analysis – Minifilter I/O Activity

 

From the first review, we can see the system is not really very heavily utilized:

image

In the trace I first checked Mini Filter Delays, Timeline by Driver, Process, Thread. By default it showed Process ID, but I changed it to Process Name, and added Stack. I dragged Process Name, and Stack into the “Group By Column”

In this case we were reproducing issue in Chrome.exe – chrome.exe had the most events (after wprui.exe)

image

 

The most busy Mini-Filter driver was WdFilter.sys – the Microsoft antimalware file system filter driver.

image

 

Expanding the stack we end up with SiWinAcc.sys – which is a Silicon Image SATALink Windows Accelerator Driver

image

 

In Device I/O we also see this as the most popular driver. (after fltrmgr.sys) We also see

  • FltrMgr.sys has count of 94,929 events with duration of 13.55 seconds
  • SiWinAcc.sys has a count of 15,232 events with duration of 12.97 seconds
  •  

    image

    image

     

    Disabling this driver with http://live.sysinternals.com/autoruns.exe and restarting the system, could no longer reproduce the audio glitch.

    image

     

    In Windows Device Manager we can see we have Silicon Image SiI 3132 SATALink Controller – where we can look for updates/vendor to contact etc. In this case Silicon Image drive will be updated by the OEM manufacturer, so you need to contact who built your PC vendor/motherboard manufacturer/controller.

    image

     

    Afterwards we can see a change, when recording for about the same time period playing similar content:

    image

    To compare traces you can:

    1) Open good trace “baseline” first

    2) Open bad trace second

    Clicking Window – New Comparative Analysis View

     

    image

    Then we select our traces:

    image

    We then added our Device I/O again, POSITIVE numbers here indicate the item occurred more frequently in the 2nd trace then in the baseline (good trace) Negative numbers indicate activity occurred less.

    Recommend reading http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/dn282270.aspx for more info on Comparative Analysis if you are not familiar with it.

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    If we want, we can then do deeper investigation to see why this driver is a problem, do we need it/etc.

    About chentiangemalc

    specializes in end-user computing technologies. disclaimer 1) use at your own risk. test any solution in your environment. if you do not understand the impact/consequences of what you're doing please stop, and ask advice from somebody who does. 2) views are my own at the time of posting and do not necessarily represent my current view or the view of my employer and family members/relatives. 3) over the years Microsoft/Citrix/VMWare have given me a few free shirts, pens, paper notebooks/etc. despite these gifts i will try to remain unbiased.
    This entry was posted in Windows 8.1, Windows Performance Recorder and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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