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Fixing Choppy Audio/Video Playback

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My girlfriend's PC is an amalgamation of old and new parts. The ten-year-old motherboard went south and needed replaced, but the IDE hard drives were still in good shape. Seeking to merge the old with the new, it was upgraded from a 750MHz AMD Duron processor on a decade-old Gigabyte motherboard (hot when AGP first debuted) to one of the newer Intel Core 2 Duos with a Gigabyte S-Series motherboard. IDE is on the way out, replaced by Serial ATA, so I had to look specifically for that in whatever motherboard I was going to buy.

We put the thing together, fired it up, installed Windows XP Pro, got everything else on there, and she started happily plugging away on the upgraded monster (slipped a Geforce 7950GT in there to replace the 3dfx Voodoo3 too, to feed her growing gaming habit). Everything seemed ready to cook.

As an avid online-TV watcher, it wasn't long before she discovered the sound and video in the stuff she was watching would stutter often, though it seemed to smooth out as things played on. I initially chocked it up to buffering issues, but when it started happening in offline videos and music in Windows Media Player and iTunes, I knew something was amiss.

We tried updating sound hardware drivers, but that didn't help. Then we defragmented the hard drive, but to no avail. I even replaced the IDE cable, but nothing changed. I had narrowed it down to only happening when the C drive was being accessed, though. She tested it by playing a video file, then in the middle of it, she initiated a file copy from her laptop through the LAN to the afflicted machine's C drive and sure enough, as soon as the HDD activity LED lit up, the sound started getting choppy. Even Windows start up and shut down sound events were affected.

After a few minutes of tireless searching (hey, I'm good), we stumbled onto a couple very specific fixes other users fighting this problem had reported.

The first was to see if Windows had reverted the Transfer Mode between the hard drive and motherboard from the more common and faster DMA back to the slower but more reliable PIO. Windows switches automatically to PIO after a number of disk errors are reported, as it's apparently a more stable reading method. Problem is, since it is slower, it can cause glitches like what we were experiencing, and it's particular to IDE drives, so I wouldn't have seen this before on our other machines, which use SATA exclusively.

To check for this, go to Settings-> Control Panel-> System-> Device Manager-> IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers-> Primary IDE Channel-> Advanced Settings. Look under Device 0 and it should be set to "DMA if available." If it says "PIO only" instead, change it, click OK, save settings, and reboot. This may resolve your issue, though if the disk is really going bad, Windows is likely to change it back to PIO after some time, and you may want to look into getting a new hard drive.

However, in our case, both HDDs were already set to DMA, so that was a dead end. Then the other solution arose, which is a little more involved. It involves editing the registry, and if you're not completely sure what you're doing here, you may want to ask someone more knowledgeable to help you.

Click Start, go to Run, type in REGEDIT, click OK. Navigate to the following key:
{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318} (make sure you match the key exactly, as there may be many similar surrounding it).

Expand this key/folder and you'll notice a number of subkeys, numbered 0000, 0001, 0002, and so on. There may only be a couple, though there could be several. Click on each one and look for the item "DriverDesc" in the right pane, and to the right of that, find the ones that say "Primary IDE Channel" and "Secondary IDE Channel." If it says anything other than that, you are in the wrong subkey.

Once you identify the Primary IDE Channel key, scroll down in the right pane till you find MasterIdDataCheckSum and/or SlaveIdDataCheckSum. If you know for sure whether the drive you need to fix is set to Master or Slave, delete the appropriate key (MasterIdDataCheckSum for Master, SlaveIdDataCheckSum for Slave). If you don't have any idea, it can't really hurt to delete both. Windows will simply re-identify this information on the next reboot.

About Mark Buckingham

  • Tim

    March 7 2013- newest version of itunes installed, using a Dell cpu about 6 or 7 years old have a Samsung HD103SI ext HDD with almost 1 TB of music. Problem was choppy music at 13 sec and then 25 sec on every song. went thru Blog after Blog to try and correct. Quicktunes, apple, etc. nothing would correct. Went to Samsung site and found this
    Put in jumper on HDD as described and presto!! drive was to fast for motherboard. Hope this helps someone as its very frustrating..

  • Ryan

    I usually never comment on random articles.. but just want to take the time to say deleting the registry keys worked. Anyone having choppy sound READ THIS ARTICLE

  • Mark

    Hi I have two Primary and secondary IDE.. i recently formatted my boot drive and re installed Windows XP..

  • Elena

    This is amazing! I was so ready to give up after trying hundreds of other methods to fix this….
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Fredrick Lamar Mayes

    Thank you for sharing this Blog about the sound issue. I been having a sound issue the past several days and have been having Game withdrawals. Wasn’t able to play any of them because my Computer sounded like it was stuttering, but followed your post to the T and I believe it fixed it for me. I played a few songs and it plays real smooth. Even Microsofts Fix it tool wasn’t able to find this problem and fix it. Anyway, Thank you for sharing this, Even tho it is several years old.

  • happygirl

    After MONTHS of anti spyware, deleting programs, driver updates…etc etc ETC!!!!, your directions for deleting the masterid crap fixed my system!!!! You ROCK!!!

    • El_Tabadour

      I am considering deleting the items mentioned. But not sure if it will fix my issues. May I ask what kinds of problems you were having with your computer before fixing them with this procedure? Thanks!

  • Vaibhav londhe

    This Really Worked Man thanks Thanks ThankS i tried many of softwares but all were shit You Really rock!

  • Mel

    Hi Mark, great info and I hope this resolves the issue for me…but I am finding two Primary and two Secondary channel keys in different folders (all have the MasterId but not the SlaveId) – do I delete all four of the MasterId’s? If not, how do I know which folder to delete the MasterId from for each Primary and Secondary channel keys? Thanks!

  • Kweshon

    Im in 4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318 and I know Im in the correct folder. I looked over it many times to make sure it was correct. I even used Ctrl-F. But, when i looked into the subkeys (0001, 0002 Ect) None of the DriverDesc’s have any primary, secondary indication. and none of the Subkeys show MasterIdDataCheckSum and SlaveIdDataCheckSum in it. If anyone could help could you email me? Thanks!

  • RAW_Noizz

    Wow. I have no idea how people learn the regisry editor so well but, this fix made my system run so much better that I had to post a thank you. The directions are very clear and the fix is Priceless.
    Thank you ! ! !

  • fiery skipper

    I have the same issue as Kweshon from 2 months ago. Is there a solution?

  • Tom Beiter

    You, sir, are a FREAKIN’ genius! I have searched high and low for a fix for my choppy, jerky sound on my XP pc. I’ve installed, reinstalled and re-reinstalled drivers, downloaded codecs, etc with no change. This fixed it. Thank you very much.

    • El_Tabadour

      I am considering deleting the items mentioned. But not sure if it will
      fix my issues. May I ask what kinds of problems you were having with
      your computer before fixing them with this procedure? Thanks!

    • Ronson570

      Tom I could not have said it better myself, I also want to thank want to thank Mark for this fix. Ronson570

  • El_Tabadour

    I cannot seem to delete those files. I delete them, and they disappear. Then I restart my computer, and look in the folders and they are still there. And my streaming videos are still out of sync with audio/video, and choppy/slow-motion.

    Before deleting them, I exported the 001, 002 folders to my desktop in case I need to put them back. Any suggestions/help would be much appreciated.

    • El_Tabadour

      I deleted those items. But when I go back into the files, they re-appear. So I cannot actually delete them from my registry. I think my problem is that the new Adobe Flash is not compatible with my antique video card which has not new drivers. So the sound is out of sync with the video, and on some sites, both the video and audio are choppy.

  • Bob Griendling

    For the Primary IDE Channel & Secondary Channel I only have the MasterIdDataCheckSum. No SlaveIdDataCheckSum. SHould I jsut delete the MasterIdDataCheckSum?

    • StarDustx

      I had that problem too. I just deleted of the MasterId’s in Primary and Secondary Channel then rebooted. It fixed it for me.

  • Bob Griendling

    BTW, I do not have a 0000 or 00001 or 0002 folder. Mine start at 0003

  • dart

    Did not work for me.
    Even the lowest qualty videos are choppy, slow-mo, out of sync .
    I think there is no solution. Best to burn this computer.

  • Mahnoor Fatima

    AWESOME O_______O (y)

  • Chris Birkbeck

    Didn’t work for me either. Would buying a newer video card help? This one is 13 years old and has been obsolete for about 11 years.