Skip

Laggy Volume Control
September 19, 2010 11:29 PM   Subscribe

Volume control on my computer is laggy and slow and crashy. To the point where it's unusable. This has happened on every Windows computer I have ever owned. Is my volume control program allergic to me or is this a common problem?

I've tried to find answers on Google, but nobody else seems to have this. I have to wait, sometimes minutes, for the volume control dial to become responsive so I can turn down whatever loud thing is interrupting the other members of the library.

Anyway, does anyone know of a way to fix it, or replace it with something less buggy?
posted by brenton to Computers & Internet (20 answers total)
 
If it's happened on multiple computers, one thing that springs to mind is whether you've put the same sound card into all the same computers? Or used the same driver set in each of them, or the same headphones with active usb connection?

Has every windows computer you've owned had anything in common between them all?
posted by Simon_ at 12:27 AM on September 20, 2010


What version of Windows are you currently using? Are you using a sound card, or the on-board audio on your motherboard?

I had a variety of sound issues when I used Windows XP several years ago; switching to a good-quality Creative sound card resolved them (I tried several cheap, off-brand sound cards first with no luck).
posted by neushoorn at 12:28 AM on September 20, 2010


You may be buying bargain basement laptops with terrible integrated sound cards and/or bad drivers. Have you updated the drivers for your integrated sound card?
posted by benzenedream at 1:13 AM on September 20, 2010


I haven't been using the same sound card. I've had a variety of computers, desktops laptops, XP and now Vista. I do have an Inspiron 1318, which is a fairly low end laptop from dell.

I'll look into updating drivers for the sound card, that might be helpful.
posted by brenton at 1:21 AM on September 20, 2010


How much time do you want to invest in tracking this down? Because the surefire way to do that is to do a bare-metal, plain vanilla Windows install, with only the drivers your mobo needs as extras, and verify that the volume control works properly; then install your usual suite of apps one by one until you find the one that kills it.
posted by flabdablet at 1:48 AM on September 20, 2010


The simplest fix I can think of is to invest in a pair of powered external speakers with a volume knob on them. Reach over and turn the knob when you want to change volume. Works as fast as you can twist the knob.
posted by DaveP at 2:05 AM on September 20, 2010


I have that same computer, and I don't have this problem. I have Windows 7, though. I do recall before I upgraded there was something weird with the volume control when I used certain media players (vlc, I think?), but I didn't have the lag that you are describing.
Everything is fine now. A lot of weird problems in Vista and XP got fixed in 7 (although I'm sure a whole host of new ones emerged -- I haven't run into too many).
posted by bluefly at 4:22 AM on September 20, 2010


Are you using the volume buttons on the keyboard, or the slider in the volume control on the screen?

The buttons can be laggy.
posted by gjc at 5:20 AM on September 20, 2010


Assuming that it really has happened with every computer that you've used, the source of the problem is in something that you've installed on all the computers. Some application, utility, media player, or hardware driver is at fault.

Because, although there are no shortage of flaws in Windows, it's not that bad; I've never had the problem you describe across a variety of Windows XP and 7 machines. I use the volume control buttons on my Dell laptop all the time without issue.

If there's some piece of hardware you've used on all the machines that required a driver to be installed, I'd look there first; then at media players, then at normal applications, etc.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:05 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's definitely not common -- I've never seen this on any Windows computer that I've ever owned or used. What exactly do you mean by 'my volume control program'? Are you using the built-in windows mixer, or something else? And if something else, then why?
posted by Rhomboid at 8:04 AM on September 20, 2010


Rhomboid: “It's definitely not common -- I've never seen this on any Windows computer that I've ever owned or used. What exactly do you mean by 'my volume control program'? Are you using the built-in windows mixer, or something else? And if something else, then why?”

Weird; I've experienced this on every Windows machine I've ever used. I'm experiencing it right now on XP.

If my problem is the same as the poster's issue, here's the behavior we're talking about:

In the system tray in the bottom right corner of the screen in Windows up through Vista (at least) there is a little silver speaker icon that generally looks pretty much like this. It does a couple of things, but the main thing most of us do with it is this: if you left-click it once, a single volume slider (not the full mixer, which you can get if you right-click) should appear so that you can adjust the volume.

The trouble is that that little slider widget is one of the buggiest things in Windows, as far as I can tell. On my XP machine here at work – which is snappy and quick and doesn't choke on three VMs (two windows, one linux) and a couple of Java interfaces being open at the same time – the time between my clicking and the appearance of the widget is about five seconds. That's actually pretty good, in my experience. And there are other weird things about it, too: it seems to be coded so that it appears exactly where your mouse is, so the funny thing is that often I'll click the icon, move my mouse, and have the volume slider appear in a random place somewhere else on the screen where my mouse was at some point. It's highly annoying, particularly since changing volume is a common task.

I might have a solution, though. I'll look into it on my lunch break. I'd like to fix this myself; I have a keystroke to mute volume globally set up, but I'd rather have something with slightly more control.
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 AM on September 20, 2010


Hmm. I use 4 Windows computers regularly (XP, Vista, and 7) and am involved in caring for 400 others (XP-only), and I've never seen this.

If you've seen it on multiple computers using different hardware configurations, it implies to me that some piece of software you're using -- and that you install on everything -- is conflicting with Windows volume control. Unfortunately, this could take a lot of trial and error to nail down.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2010


koeselitz: Exactly. Exactly exactly.

And yeah, it's literally on every computer I've owned. When I first got this laptop it didn't do it, and I was surprised, so I called someone over and said "watch this, watch how fast it is!" and I proudly changed the volume. But they didn't get it. Which is when I first started suspecting this was a problem somehow unique to me, but that I'd lucked out with my new computer.

However, it's been about a year now and the volume control slider is it's usual buggy self again. >:(

My laptop has touch-buttons to change volume, but the drivers for them are REALLY buggy, and usually crash on their own after a few hours of use. When they do work, they slide the volume up/down way too slowly.

Hardware volume control (i.e. on external speakers, as suggested [unfortunately not very portable]) would be ideal. I don't know why no computer has this! So I'm stuck looking for some software solution.

koeselitz, you said you might have a solution.... did you figure it out? If not, I'm going to see about installing Windows 7, and hope the problem doesn't follow me (again).
posted by brenton at 11:26 AM on September 20, 2010


You could try using an app like Volt or Volumouse to adjust the volume. If it's purely a problem with the slider appearing, then switching to hotkeys might be the way to go.
posted by seikleja at 11:40 AM on September 20, 2010


So, in that case run some sysinternals tools like Process Monitor and set it to trace all the file/registry/memory/etc API calls that the widget makes. If it's really taking that long it should be plainly obvious what's going on, e.g. it's scanning a zillion registry keys or something. Also, does launching the mixer directly (e.g. run -> sndvol32) take as long or it something about the tray invocation?
posted by Rhomboid at 11:47 AM on September 20, 2010


coolguymichael: “If you've seen it on multiple computers using different hardware configurations, it implies to me that some piece of software you're using -- and that you install on everything -- is conflicting with Windows volume control. Unfortunately, this could take a lot of trial and error to nail down.”

Exactly, right? And yet I've seen this on brand-new installs before I've added any software; and I've tried many, many different configurations, from stripped-down to fully-loaded. I've wondered often if this is just me. Turning around and trying it on a colleague's computer, he seems to have the same problem. I know this might still be a local software problem, but personally I'm having trouble believing that it's just me.

Do you guys really get this to pop up snappily in that situation? That is: when you go to the volume control in the system tray, and you click it once with the left mouse button – does the volume slider come up immediately, or is there a lag?

I ask because I almost wonder if this has to do with something set in the Control Panel or something about when that slider will pop up. It seems like an option is wrong somewhere for us. (And I also ask because, well, I have never seen that volume thing pop up in a timely way, and that makes me think maybe it's not even supposed to be there in the first place and we're doing it wrong.)

Rhomboid: “So, in that case run some sysinternals tools like Process Monitor and set it to trace all the file/registry/memory/etc API calls that the widget makes. If it's really taking that long it should be plainly obvious what's going on, e.g. it's scanning a zillion registry keys or something. Also, does launching the mixer directly (e.g. run -> sndvol32) take as long or it something about the tray invocation?”

No, the mixer itself has never been laggy for me – which is part of why this is so odd. And – that would be the thing to do, yeah. Maybe I'll do that later here.

brenton: “Hardware volume control (i.e. on external speakers, as suggested [unfortunately not very portable]) would be ideal. I don't know why no computer has this! So I'm stuck looking for some software solution. ”

My experience indicates that this is a problem with this particular slider bar; I may be mistaken, of course, but I think you'll be fine if you avoid it.

That is: instead of left-clicking the volume icon, right-click it, and then select "Open Volume Control." You'll get the mixer; it has more options than you might want to see when you're just changing the volume, but it's a lot quicker than opening that volume slider. That's a stopgap, anyway. (And I'd rather do that than have to go to the trouble of buying and installing a whole new operating system... heh.)
posted by koeselitz at 12:16 PM on September 20, 2010


Funny, I've never left clicked on that speaker systray icon.

I always, ALWAYS, right click on it and select "open volume control" and then work from there with snappy response.

I don't do it consciously to avoid a known buggy/laggy control, that's just the way I've always done it.
posted by de void at 12:49 PM on September 20, 2010


Here's my hack for the library. I always always have ear buds plugged in to the earphone slot. That way, sudden noise is at least quiet. I rarely have them in my ears, so I just have a cheap pair of buds that I use solely for this purpose.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:40 PM on September 20, 2010


My laptop has touch-buttons to change volume, but the drivers for them are REALLY buggy, and usually crash on their own after a few hours of use. When they do work, they slide the volume up/down way too slowly.

Like I said above, I have this same laptop. While, I never had the lag problem, when I used Vista with this computer, I did notice problems with the volume buttons. I also had trouble with the internal speakers and Skype which were some how incompatible. However, in Windows 7 (and updating the drivers, presumably), I haven't noticed this at all. Maybe that will work for you?
posted by bluefly at 6:11 AM on September 21, 2010


So I've been using sndvol instead of clicking on the volume tray icon, and it's still slow for me. It seems about equally crashy. Gah. I'll install Windows 7 eventually, but that means a lot of painful backing-up because I tend to save files all over the place and not just where I ought to.
posted by brenton at 12:29 PM on September 24, 2010


« Older what sort of device can I buy ...   |  Helping a friend out by drivin... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post