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Troubleshooting USB Audio Problems on Windows

If you are running into issues with USB audio playback on your PC, it’s possible that you will see improved performance by taking the following steps to optimize your system:

  • Increase the number of samples per buffer (Buffer Size). Using too small of a Buffer Size can introduce clicks, dropouts and glitches during playback. Lower Buffer Sizes can reduce latency, however, too low of a Buffer Size can introduce performance issues. Depending on which product you’re using, you can raise or lower the number of samples per buffer in the M Series Control Panel app, MOTU Pro Audio Control’s Device Page or the MOTU Audio Console. Setting the Buffer Size to 256 or 512 is a good place to start with most systems.
  • If you are using a USB hub, please make sure it is externally powered. If you are using a powered hub and you’re still seeing issues, try disconnecting other USB devices or connect the M Series interface directly to a USB port on the computer. Be sure to try all USB ports on the computer.
  • Use the included USB cable or a high quality third-party cable. It’s possible that inexpensive alternatives and cables that are too long can introduce problems. We recommend a USB cable no more than six feet in length.

There are a number of settings in Windows that can have an impact on USB audio performance. Try making the following changes:

Change USB Root Hub Power Management settings:

  • Open the Start menu and type in “Device Manager”.
  • In the Device Manager, go to “Universal Serial Bus Controllers”.
  • Find “USB Root Hub” and right-click on it.
  • Go to Properties > Power Management/
  • Uncheck the option for "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power".
  • Press OK.
  • Make sure to repeat this process for each USB Root hub in the Device Manager.

Disable USB Selective Suspend:

  • Right-click the Start button.
  • Click Search and type "edit power plan" in the Windows Search box.
  • Click "Change Advanced Power Settings" then scroll down to "USB Settings"
  • Click the plus (+) sign next to"USB Selective Suspend" to expand the options.
  • Click Disable.

Disable Exclusive Mode:

  • Right-click the Start button.
  • Click Search
  • Type Control Panel and hit Enter on your keyboard
  • Select Hardware and Sound > Sound and click on the Playback tab
  • Select the MOTU Audio Device from the list of audio devices.
  • Click Properties.
  • In the Properties window, go to the “Advanced” tab and uncheck the option to "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device”.
  • Click OK to Apply the setting.
  • Back in the Sound window, click on the Recording tab and repeat steps 2-4.
  • Once complete, restart your computer for the changes to take effect

Disable Fast Startup:

  • Right-click the Start button.
  • Click Search.
  • Type “Control Panel” and hit Enter on your keyboard.
  • Click “Power Options”.
  • Click “Choose what the power buttons do”.
  • Click "Change settings that are currently unavailable".
  • Deselect "Turn on fast startup (recommended)" - make sure that the check mark disappears.
  • Click “Save Changes”.

Disable Cortana:

  • Right-click the Start button.
  • Click Search.
  • Type “Edit Group Policy” and hit Enter on your keyboard.
  • Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
  • Find “Allow Cortana” and double-click to open.
  • Click “Disabled” and then hit OK.

Users with NVIDIA Graphics Cards:

  • Open the NVIDIA Control Panel.
  • Click “3D Settings”.
  • Click “Manage 3D settings”.
  • Under the “Global Settings” tab, scroll down to “Power management mode”.
  • Choose “Prefer maximum performance”.

If you have carefully followed the above suggestions and are still experiencing USB audio playback issues, please consider these additional suggestions:

  • Check with your motherboard and USB chipset manufacturer to see if there are any BIOS or driver updates available.
  • Check Windows Update for any USB related updates for your computer.
  • Consider purchasing and installing an aftermarket PCI USB Card, and connect your MOTU interface to a USB port on the PCI card. We recommend purchasing a card from a manufacturer such as Inateck for best results.