USB external soundcard latency.

Testplatform HP Pavilion DV-5 Entertainment Notebook PC (4GB RAM, 2GHz dual-core) with Microsoft® Windows® 7 7048 x64 and Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1. Driver: USB_W7DRVBETA_US_1_01_0091.exe. Tested with clean installed OS and only this driver.

The Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 is connected with optical TOSlink to a 5.1 Pioneer reciever.

There occures great (and increasing) latency while playback of videofiles.
-Sound will very noticably loose sync from video within a minute (all filetypes, not a codec problem). The latency will not occure with the internal notebook speakers, nor on same system with Microsoft® Windows® Vista x86. The Notebook ships with HPs "AMD USB Filter Driver" that should improve the performance of USB accessories, such as USB speakers or a USB TV tuner. I have tried to install this also on the testplatform to resolve the problem, however even though it seems to install fine the latency/syncproblem still resists.

Any ideas?

I have been doing quite a few tests now. It is definatly a creative driver issue...

I tried to uninstall all Creative drivers, with console launcher and use only the native windows drivers for USB Audio Device. I also uninstalled the AMD USB Audio Driver Filter (seems to make no difference at all).

Windows now has two devices "Speakers - SB X-Fi Surround 5.1" and "Digital Audio Interface - SB X-Fi Surround 5.1". Both are working properly and the latency is gone, so this must be a creative driver issue... I am using the "Digital Audio Interface - SB X-Fi Surround 5.1" as default as I have the soundcard connected with TOSLink to a Pioneer multichannel reciever (VSX-D811). Audio is now crackle free and in sync.

However with the default windows USB Audio Device driver I am unable to passthrough SPDIF Dolby Digital/DTS signals and only get a stereo signal to my reciever, if I try enable SPDIF passthrough I get no sound. There is no option in the default windows driver to set the device to 5.1. SPDIF passthrough works with the beta driver.

I normally use ffdshow to enable DTS and AC3 passthrough, as the creative dolby digital live pack does not support the usb x-fi surround 5.1 (although i bought the pack). This normally works and does as well under Vista to enable DTS/DD passthrough for multichannel on movie files / DVD etc. With the beta driver installed this works as normal also on Windows 7, but i get the latency problem... With the default windows driver I have no way to set the card to 5.1 as in the beta driver, i suspect this is why ffdshow spdif passthrough of DTS/DD does not work.

With the creative drivers (beta or vista) the secound audio interface is listed as "SPDIF-Out - SB X-Fi Surround 5.1". Maybe the Microsoft USB Drivers does not recognize it as a SPDIF interface?

The native driver does not allow for any configuration of the soundcard, the creative driver allows one I suspect is key and it is the setup for 2/0 or 5/1 output mode. I would believe this is what makes the system identify the SPDIF as a multichannel supported port and makes passthrough in ffdshow for AC3/DTS possible. The latency seems to be definatly produced by the creative driver alone. System configuration has no impact.

The creative driver seems needed for AC3/DTS to be passed through the SPDIF port correctly, but it gets out of sync.

Im stuck with either no latency and stereo through the spdif with Microsoft native drivers
Latency (out of sync audio) and working DTS passthrough through the SPDIF with creative drivers.

If only there were an option to select 5.1 through the spdif in native ms drivers this would most likely work. Any ideas are appriciated!

I had the same problem as you and found a solution. You can either uninstall everything that was installed for the external sound card or if you check the properties of the sound device there is a soundblaster tab and you click on the disable enhancements box. I suggest the first solution, I think with the second one there was still some minor latency.

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