Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dell Latitude E6400 sound problem fixed - and dvd burning one as well.

*Updated - 4/17/09* New drivers from Intel as provided by Anonymous
http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Product_Filter.aspx?ProductID=2101

*Update* I tried out the DPC latency tool recommended by Martin. Here's a screen cap of how much the latency drops if you just physically remove the CD/DVD drive.
(the additional spike afterward was just me opening SnagIt). It's obscene.



Update 2: Please see Martin's post in the comments section below for additional remediation steps.

Update 3: The Dell tech recommended switching the SATA mode in BIOS from IRRT to AHCI. Of course, if you do that you've got to completely reload your Operating system. I tried it on a spare drive with a fresh install of Vista 32 bit and I haven't had the audio skip yet though I'm still loading more apps on it to test with. The latency was still high but didn't appear to affect audio playback which seemed odd.

Update 4: I Disabled the eSATA port under BIOS and the latency issue with the DVD drive plugged in went away. (For a whole reboot) This just keeps getting better.


Original post:
So I noticed that the E6400 was having weird audio glitches with Vista while under light loads. It was behaving like the hard drive was under heavy load and interrupting the data transfer. But all the resource monitors only showed minimal load. I ran into this problem with all mp3 files and I tried just about everything on the help forums including a fresh load of XP and Vista respectively on a different hard drive. I tried turning off sound effects, changing power saving, turning off wireless, etc.

The solution: The latest Intel Matrix Storage Manager driver! While trying to fix a problem with DVD burning, I ran into a suggestion on the forums related to the SATA controller. After installing the latest driver I went ahead and tested the audio again and the darn thing works perfectly now. My guess is that the previous sata driver wasn't stable enough and was causing the audio problem as a side effect.

http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R207267&SystemID=LAT_E6400&servicetag=&os=WLH&osl=en&deviceid=11530&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=2&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=41&fileid=290228

Release Date: 1/8/2009
Version: 8.7.0.1007 Other Versions

Download Type: Application
File Format: Hard-Drive
File Size: 21 MB

Granted, if I push it hard enough I can still make it skip once in a while but it takes a lot of effort. Whereas previously I could do it with freecell.

34 comments:

Martin said...

You are a godsend for providing this news. Thankyou!

Martin said...

I'm sorry to inform that after performing the update, I still have the hicks and distortions on my E6400.

I have earlier uninstalled the dell sound driver and am currently using the Vista x64 standard HD driver. I will now try to re-install the dell driver and hopefully create a match.

But even then... this fix should work as the problem seemingly has nothing to do with the sound part?!?

Any experiences guys? Anyone success stories besides the blog-author?

Ranjha said...

Damn.....This might actually solve our DVDRW/CDRW problems we been having with all our red/blue E6400 laptops....I guess i will find out tomorrow.

bat21 said...

Same results as Martin has! I installed the newest Intel Matrix Storage driver, BIOS and soundcard drivers. No results. The sound's glitching and is cutted whenever the notebook is loaded with some bigger work to do.
On the Dell website there's a bunch of drivers exclusively for Seagate SATA disk controllers (but not mine - running on 160GB 7.200rpm ST9160823ASG i guess).
Some other forum says "switch off nVidia PowerMizer". I did - no visible, pardon audiable effects, Any other ideas? Thx

Gnawgnu said...

Hmm, interesting. I've also got all sound enhancements set to disabled and I'm on vista x86.

For humor, I found that Windows 7 Beta worked out of the box for audio on the E6400 but ya'll probably won't want to have to wait for the end of the year for that one. :)

Martin said...

UPDATE: I've pinpointed the problem, and can solve it (in a crappy way)

I downloaded a DPC checker (http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml) that enabled me to follow the sources of the drop outs in form of latency spikes. I found, that the modular bay creates extremely high constant system latencies, that were completely remedied by removing the DVD-RW drive! This was however not the direct source of the spikes (just a general bad apple in the system) ... the real bad boy seems to be the WIFI card!!!!

When disabling the wifi-card, the spikes disappear, leaving behind crisp clear sound! Success! ..now all the times I want to hear clear internet radio, I Just have to switch off the wifi. No wait. Crap!

Either way, I'm calling Dell first thing Monday morning with this updated info.

I've taken a screenshot of the DPC with the modular drive removed that clearly shows the spikes when drop outs occur. see the picture here

Also took a snapshot that shows the effect the insertion of the modular drive (dvd-rw) has on the dpc reading. See it here

Hope this helps others out there.

Best
Martin

Gnawgnu said...

LOL! What a cluster. Thanks for the update!

Gnawgnu said...

Actually, now that I think about it I don't use wireless at home so my card's always turned off in hardware and software. :)

Gnawgnu said...

Okay, I turned off the eSATA port in BIOS and that fixed the latency issue from the CD/DVD drive. Dell is going to send me another DVD drive to see if it helps.

bat21 said...

Martin is right!
This is due to WiFi management issues under Vista of any kind. I got recommended this Vista Anti-Lag software (http://www.codecase.de/de/downloads/file/18-val-v1-1-1-setup). Applied and the effect is really good - no more "scratching". My ears are happy and clap each other ;)
If that's not working I was also advised to minimize WiFi card options for strong signal (have no idea though how to do it).
Rgds.

Tom said...

Nothing helped... so, any new advice?

We all should sue Dell for selling non-funcioning crap for lots of money and a "SERVICE" that doesn't help (To me they said, "Install the newest sound driver")

Hurray for Dell
I'm so pissed off!

Martin said...

Hi guys!

sorry for being silent for so long, but I have (sort of) good news.

#Tom: I agree. I am probably one of the strongest Dell word-of-mouth'er out there, but each time my system crashes or gives me headache problems for no reason, I lose a bit of my loyalty to the else greatest IT supplier (IMO) out there - all parts considered.

But where was I....

I don't think Dell Denmark likes me anymore, but my efforts to escalate my supportcase to higher levels paid off!

The problem as I found some time ago lies with the WIFI - and as I found with Dell - in the card's usage (or wrong usage) of the a-band. 'a' is the weakest wifi signal, but for some reason (this is what I mean about being annoyed) it's our cards favorite thing in the WORLD WIDE WORLD.

OK... so now what?! Well, a crappy solution yet again!

1. Go to properties on your wifi card.
2. "Disable 802.11a" -> see screenshot of menu HERE

I have had no skips at all since I applied this solution :)

Hope this update helps you guys still struggling with this out there.

Best
Martin

PS. Now only my DVDRW pisses me off... oh, and recently how it for some reason wants to resume from sleep while in my bag all the time... thereby eating battery and trapping itself in a devils heat box! Oh well... maybe I should just realize that my Dell will never be as great as I had hoped...

Digital (d-)evolution?

g'nite from dk....

Martin said...

Hi guys!

sorry for being silent for so long, but I have (sort of) good news.

#Tom: I agree. I am probably one of the strongest Dell word-of-mouth'er out there, but each time my system crashes or gives me headache problems for no reason, I lose a bit of my loyalty to the else greatest IT supplier (IMO) out there - all parts considered.

But where was I....

I don't think Dell Denmark likes me anymore, but my efforts to escalate my supportcase to higher levels paid off!

The problem as I found some time ago lies with the WIFI - and as I found with Dell - in the card's usage (or wrong usage) of the a-band. 'a' is the weakest wifi signal, but for some reason (this is what I mean about being annoyed) it's our cards favorite thing in the WORLD WIDE WORLD.

OK... so now what?! Well, a crappy solution yet again!

1. Go to properties on your wifi card.
2. "Disable 802.11a" -> see screenshot of menu HERE (NB: Danish regional settings)

I have had no skips at all since I applied this solution :)

Hope this update helps you guys still struggling with this out there.

Best
Martin

PS. Now only my DVDRW pisses me off... oh, and recently how it for some reason wants to resume from sleep while in my bag all the time... thereby eating battery and trapping itself in a devils heat box! Oh well... maybe I should just realize that my Dell will never be as great as I had hoped...

Digital (d-)evolution?

g'nite from dk....

Tom said...

Thanks Martin.

But unfortunately it didn't change nothing.

I'm fighting with my notebook, searching all forums and everyone has PROBLEMS with that notebook. Really... Nothing works. :(

Any other idea?

Nice greetings as well.

elltry said...

Thnaks Gnawgnu. Your advice was helpfull.
I'm was beated a few days for a many way but my sound dissapointed me all the time. In my example problem was in old drvier of SCSI/RAID Controler. But after the turn...

My Dell E6400 was with Vista Ultimate. I don't like them, taht I want to install XP. I had orginal CD with XP Professional SP2 from Dell. I installed this XP SP2 in all the time and installed the latest drivers from dell.com and in all the time I have the same problem with soud. I called 3 time to Dell support, but nothing new they saids me. Next DELL service changeed on the warranty the HDD (Hitachi to Segate). But nothing changed with sound. I switched in BIOS SATA mode from IRRT to ATA (Dell tech recommended that after anather call) and next reinstal Windows (because XP do not support switching SATA mode when XP is installed). And... sound was OK :) but... this HDD was working very loud and had huge vibratnions. I looked at the forums and knew this model had that vibrations. Dell give me a shit...I was so pissed off...
Next step I changed my E6400 to another one (my notebook was company computer and I work in IT that I have that posibility:) In the new one I instaled the same DELL XP SP2 in IRRT mode and... sound was poor. The same latency and scratching.. But my suspiclion was on the Matrix Storage Manager because after installed that sound was poored. I repead install Windows XP SP2. But SP2 is a little old so then I instaled SP3. Next I looked in control panel on device manager on SCSI/RAID Controler. Version of driver installed with Windows was 7.6. In dell.com there is a driver 8.7.0.1007, I'm dowload them and update. In my system driver called Intel(R) ICH8M-E/ICH9M-E SATA RAID Controller (C:\Windows\system32\drivers\iaStor.sys). Version 8.7 of this driver I downloaded from:
http://support.euro.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/downloads/en/downloads_splash?c=uk&l=en&s=gen&~mode=popup&file=290229


Next I installed the same Intel Matrix Storage Manager 8.7.0.1007 (installed also in previous cases) from:
http://support.euro.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/downloads/en/downloads_splash?c=uk&l=en&s=gen&~mode=popup&file=290228

and my sound is finally OK! :)

Conclusion - the reason of the problem was old driver of SATA RAID Controller, which can not cooperate with latest Intel Matrix Storage Manager 8.7.0.1007 which manifested these latences, scratching and echos.

Greetings from Poland :)

Tom said...

Didn't work on Vista 64 bit. And yes, I know that I had to download different drivers. Still doesn't work. I'm so annoyed.

Clemens said...

Downgrading the Intel Matrix Storage Manager from 8.6 to 8.2 solved the issue for me.
See: http://www.digitale-probleme.de/windows-vista/vista-spracherkennung-fugt-unsinnige-zeichen-in-den-text-ein/ (it's in German... but with 2 illustrating graphics)

Anonymous said...

Theese steps worked on my Dell E6400 Vista 64-bit Business with a 7200 rpm hard drive.

Not sure if step 1-8 was necessary:

1) IE: http://support.dell.com/

2) Drivers and downloads

3) Select difference product

4) Laptop > Latitude > E6400

5) Vista 64-bit

6) Importance > Urgent

7) Downloaded and installed both pathes(?) under "Sata drives"

8) Reboot as told

9) Noise maybe less now, but not much

10) Music playback in VLC: Tools > Options > Sound > Output type > Win
waveOut extention output > Save-button > restart VLC

11) Playback with MediaMonkey: Tools > Options > Output plugins >
switch from MediaMonkey DirectSound output to waveOut output
v2.0.2a. And maybe also in the same place > Configure-button > Switch
from microsoft sound mapper to Speakers/Headphones (IDT High. Maybe
need to restart MediaMonkey.

12) Microsoft Media Player 11: Didn't have to do anything after 8). Is
this whole soung glitch thing a sleasy microsoft media player
subversion scheme going awry?


Before doing this I had glitches in the music about every 5-10
seconds, now I can listen to entire tracks, even under heavy disk
usage. Wireless switch next to cd/dvd-bay is on and working too.

I'm not sure if this is a real solution or just turning off stuff
resulting in sub-optimal sound quality for my hardware, but seems to
work ok on my crappy old headphones.

Theese sound glitches are a real disappointment from Dell. Don't they
know people listen to music? Didn't they test!?

dell - not-a-fan said...

I'm new here. As all of you, my E6400 sucks a bit. The first one had a problem with the CPU. Then I got an exchange.

Now I've found out that "HD sound" is a total crap (same problems with quality...)

As for the sulutions:
- it's definitely (at least party) the reason od WIFI: when turned off in DCP the problems disapear
- disabling 802.11a didn't work and killed both sound and WIFI

I have no idea what now - I'm so afraid of changing anything so that my Dell didn't die again...

For the lat 4 years I've had 2 HPs: no a single bluescreen, same OS. Till the second one died (shitty BGA chipset on the mainboard).

As for now I must say: DELL is the most expensive crap computer on the market... Especially is it's assembled in Poland :/

Anonymous said...

The following solved the issue for me: just get the latest Intel Matrix Storage Manager driver from Intel: http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Product_Filter.aspx?ProductID=2101

This is newer than the one on Dell's page, I installed version 8.8.0.1009 from Intel and the sound problems are gone.

Also, when I test, DCP is green now, while before I got high latency. Just for background, before getting the right solution, I also experienced that physically removing my DVD-RW drive solved the problem.

Gnawgnu said...

Interesting. It does seem better so far. I'll have to see how it holds up after a few sleep/hibernates.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Thanks for steering me in the right direction. I had researched this a few months ago with few results. However, it appears I've now fixed my CD burning and audio-skipping issues in just a few driver updates.

I used the latest drivers from Dell's website and the newest Storage Matrix driver from Intel.

Thanks, guys.

tuvspruhbs said...

I tried all solutions (except SATA mode in BIOS from IRRT to AHCI) and nothing works for me.
I saw on another forum suggestion to use microsoft generic driver, but still no luck.

tuvspruhbs said...

Nothing solved the problem, but then I used Microsoft Windows Performance Toolkit, which is the new RATTV3 for Vista, which is quite a cool tool.
I found out the problem was in ACPI.SYS, but this is under "computer" in the device manager and therefore cannot be disabled.
I was about to give up, but then I found a new BIOS version A14, and after I updated my BIOS all problems are gone!!!

Jason Pretorius said...

Solution for me!

I have a DEL Latitude D820 and I can’t believe this I’ve been going through the same frustrating issue for ages. Talking to Dell support, reinstalling OS to xp, vita, Win7 with the same scratchy issue.

Until I read in this post about running the DPC checker. Downloaded it from http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml ran the test and started disabling devices till I reached the CDROM! The spikes dropped and I was able to listen in peace to Coldplay. To late for warranty swop out so I’ll just enable when I need the CDROM to install anything again.......Thanks for the post.

ektorbarajas said...

Well. so far I´ve tried all the solutions found on the web, I even tried to reinstall Windows XP SP3, even tested another E6400 (in my company we have several of them) and the audio problem is still present.

I've already created a Dell report and so far there is no solution.

Perhaps all those E6400 are defective? or some controllers are defective?

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for figuring this out! I got a new laptop from work, and IT wasn't using updated drivers in their image. I'm just trying to listen to some music while working, and the constant stuttering was horrible.

Many thanks again for taking the time to post.

ektorbarajas said...

Hi. I switched the SATA mode to ATA, and the issue is almost gone, I say that because now I only hear audio crackling when using winamp + the Stereotool DSP plugin, If use other DSPs the issue is not present.

I contacted the author of stereotool and he also agrees that there is something with the hardware and or controllers of the E6400.

Is there anyone who still has such issues? regards

Anonymous said...

It was extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Ted Andy said...

hi, i also have same problem with my e6400. im wondering that how this bad thing could passed the quality control?
thanks anyway for the solutions, im going to try to installed intel matrix storage manager 8.8.0. else didnt work. peace!

John said...

This solution applies to the Dell Latitude D820 (though the problem only occurs at random intervals in my experience).

Thank you forever for solving this. It's happened on and off for four years to me, and support never did a damned thing to help (they even completely bricked my computer remotely trying to solve it).

Anonymous said...

Disabling eSATA worked to fix this problem for me.

Anonymous said...

E6400 here. Downloaded the latest Intel Rapid Storage drivers & disabled eSATA and Winamp works perfectly now!

Thank you much!

Cristi said...

E6500 ... that "latest Intel Rapid Storage drivers"-thing worked for me too. thanks!