[linux-audio-user] snd-hdsp+cardbus=distortion -- the saga continues (cardbus driver=culprit?)

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From: <ico@...>
To: <linux-kernel@...>, <alsa-devel@...>, <linux-audio-user@...>
Cc: <ico@...>
Date: Friday, March 26, 2004 - 6:21 pm

Hi all,

NOTE: I am cc-ing this to the kernel list in hope someone there might have a better insight in this. For the kernel people who intend to respond to this, I would greatly appreciate it if you could CC me, as I am not subscribed to the kernel list.

snd-hdsp (RME Multiface cardbus pro-audio soundcard) works in Linux but the sound is trashed (distorted). In Windows on the same notebook, everything works fine. The problem has been now reported on 2 completely different notebooks (Acer 1400 with 02 cardbus and my eMachines m6805 with ENE CB1410 cardbus controller). I suspect at this point that the culprit is most likely the cardbus driver (yenta_socket in my case).

After digging some more I am absolutely confident that my problem with the hdsp_multiface+laptop(cardbus) is definitely not only similar but identical to the problem Tim Blechmann reported in January. The scary part is that my laptop is completely different brandname than his and uses entirely different cardbus (IIRC he has Acer 1400 with the O2 cardbus; I have eMachines m6807 with ENE CB1410 cardbus).

I think that this now has to have something to do with the current state of the kernel cardbus drivers (pcmcia-cs has not been updated since December so I would assume that they are no better than the ones that are found in the kernel) and possibly the updated hdsp driver (although not entirely sure on this last one).

Here's the current scoop on the problem:

Windows XP -- stuff works great, everything as expected. The only thing is that when the computer goes to standby/hibernate, upon resuming the sound is all distorted (just like Tim reported it -- slower, full of artifacts, but you can still discern the original sound's content); this most likely has to do with the crappy BIOS my notebook has (esp. in respect to the ACPI and APIC -- DSDT table is trashed etc.). After distortion occurs, overclocking the computer seems to speed the sound up bringing it closer to the desired playback speed but the artifacts remain. Miller Puckette suggested that perhaps the hdsp is not getting proper clock info from the CPU, something that I have not investigated as of yet as I do not currently have access to an external equipment that would provide Word Clock functionality. Although this also sounds a bit weird as the soundcard works just fine upon first boot (prior to suspending the computer). No matter how many times I reconnect the card and/or mess with it before suspending the computer, everything continues to work as expected.

Mandrake Community 10.0
Kernel 2.6.3
Plenty of RAM and other junk
IRQ for cardbus and hdsp is shared on 11 (them sharing the same irq IIRC should be normal behavior)
Alsa 1.0.2 and 1.0.3 tested (1.0.2 came with the system, 1.0.3 compiled from source)
Latest Jack and alsaplayer packages compiled from source

Hw:0 onboard via82xx
Hw:1 snd-hdsp

ACPI and APIC are disabled due to BIOS issues with the laptop and because even with the pci=noacpi flag in lilo the system still freezes when inserting cardbus. I saw somewhere a kernel patch that would enable use of cardbus with a limited acpi presence (pci=noacpi) but have not tried using it just yet mainly since presence of acpi should not have any positive bearing on resolving this issue (if anything, it would make it even worse due to IRQ shuffling).

Modprobing goes without a hitch, pcmcia service automatically starts, the cardbus interface using yenta_socket driver. Snd-hdsp also works without a hitch and configuring the soundcard is all ok (hdsploader, hdspconf, hdspmixer all check-out fine).

aplay –D plughw:1 (or plughw:hw:1 forget the exact syntax – currently booted into Windoze) plays the sound distorted similarly like in Windows after resume.

Jackd –d alsa –d hw:1 with various flags and sampling rates of either 44100 or 48000 works without any dropouts. Just like with Tim, no distortion is coming through until the sound is played. During the sound playback, the distortion is identical to the one during the playback without jackd.

Connecting simple clients like jack_metro plays stuff, but distorted.

Alsaplayer when connected via jackd also works but again distorted. I have to put the playback at 200% speed to get the right “tempo” of the song but the sound of the song’s singer is now very high-pitched (chipmunk?). Distortion persists no matter what.

Reconnecting cardbus and all that works but the distorted sound persists.

Hdspmixer shows the sound levels as expected and they reflect the fact that the sound is being played slower than it should be and that it is distorted.

Messing with hdspconf during playback makes no difference. Adjusting the sampling rate though does alter the sound of distortion when playing (just like in Tim’s case), but does not alleviate it.

/var/log/syslog lists no complaints and/or problems. (I will check more thoroughly for the boot-time stuff).

I am aware of the fact that the BIOS is somewhat trashed (manufacturer’s fault) but not to the point where machine does not behave normally, esp. in Windows.

Some have suggested switching distros, but my understanding is that Tim was running gentoo and I am running Mandrake and we’re both having the same problem…

Tim, I believe also used 2.4 kernel without success, as well as pre-1.0 Alsa drivers.


1) provide detailed lspci
2) thoroughly check /var/log/syslog for anything suspicious
3) try pcmcia-cs (most likely won’t work as Tim already tried that and it made no difference on his laptop, also the package wasn’t updated since Dec.)
4) try playback with an external Word Clock source
5) provide downloadable examples of the distorted sounds
6) Pester alsa-dev, lau, and kernel/pcmcia people to death begging for help :-)
7) Pester eMachines to update BIOS (I may retire before this one happens, though)
8) Something else?

I would appreciate any help with this one especially now that we know that the problem is not related to one particular notebook/cardbus controller…

I will provide additional info as soon as I get home (sometime early next week).

Many thanks!

Best wishes,

Ivica Ico Bukvic, composer & multimedia sculptor

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