Intermittent Media Player Internet Radio sound

Dennis Faas's picture

Today I received an interesting question from Thomas V. in New York. He writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I would appreciate your thoughts on a problem I am experiencing. Windows Media Player keeps skipping and cutting out intermittently whenever I play Internet Radio. The slider is moving, time is advancing, and the readout shows that something is playing ... but I don't hear any sound. I also noticed the same problem some times when I play CDs. Got any ideas? "

My response:

Off the top of my head, I have a few things that come to mind.

Internet Radio suffers from intermittent lulls because of the way that information travels across the Internet. Of course, I'm referring to TCP / IP -- the common "language" or "method" used to transfer information from one place to the next on the Internet.

In short, TCP / IP breaks up information into tiny packages and sends them across the Internet. Packets of information (infopackets!) bounce all across the Internet and are finally reassembled at the destination.

Sometimes, packets are lost along the way, or some packets arrive sooner than others (in the wrong order) and must be resent from the source. All of this can cause a lull, which is why there are "pauses" when listening to Internet Radio.

I've already written an article on TCP / IP and ping if you want more detail on the subject.

As for the problem with your CD ROM drive --

Considering that the Internet Radio problem I just discussed is a very common issue, I suspect that the trouble you're having with the CD ROM drive is most likely not related, and it could be coincidental -- perhaps a dirty CD or dirt on the lens of your CD ROM drive? -- but I might be wrong.

If the problems were related, I would try to solve the issue through process of elimination. Quite honestly, this can be a very technical matter and may involve more than what I'm about to suggest -- but let me try and point you in the right direction.

First of all, the Internet Radio and your CD ROM drive share two common things: sound. Sound is produced by your sound card and speakers, so that would be one good place to start looking.

I would start the process of elimination by focusing on the CD ROM drive since this is a hardware-related issue. If you solve the problem with your CD ROM drive and still experience loss of sound while listening to Internet Radio, then the answer lies with my original suggestion: these two issues are not related.

Idea #1: Is the problem with your speakers?

Ensure that your connection between the sound card and the speakers has not been compromised (loose, dirty?). If that checks out OK, then the next thing you might want to do is try another set of speakers and see if you can produce the same problem.

Idea #2: The problem is not your speakers?

It could be your sound card; in this case, try another sound card... then try another audio cable which connects the CD ROM to the sound card.

Idea #3: Sound card and speakers check OK?

My next suggestion would be to try another CD ROM drive... and so on.

As you see, the list of options gets smaller as we go. I follow a similar methodology when using process of elimination when trying to solve almost any problem that is computer related.

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