It's Ke-Ke-Ken coming to ki-ki-ki-kill me!

I'm writing this in the hopes that some other poor soul like me will find it and not suffer nearly as long as I did. That sound you hear? That would be my new speakers CRANKING OUT MUSIC AT VOLUME 11 now that I've finally fixed the slight "issue" with my sound. Recently, I upgraded to a new Mac Pro at the house. Since I was rearranging the office (that Rich and I share) to accomodate this monolith of a computer, I decided to streamline and switch to Bose Companion 5 speakers which are two reasonably small speakers that simulate (via elvin magic, I assume) 5.1 surround. The speakers also have a USB interface which keep me from having to worry about what kind of sound card I have installed (and free up my options in the future in case I want to use two computers with one set of speakers via a hub).

This all came about because playing WoW on the old computer was *really* frustrating with my sub-standard video card and while we had very nice video cards lying around the office, none of them would a) fit in my SONY computer or b) run with my less than ideal power supply. Switching out the video card and/or power supply was going to be like trying to cram a HEMI into a Miata, so we went with the new computer plan.

The new computer came one day before the speakers, so I was able to start fresh with all new stuff in the new setup. Make a note of this, because it will become important later.

I hooked up all the parts and was *very* pleased with the way WoW performed with the bad ass video card. Also note that while I bought a Mac, I added a second hard drive installed with Vista and boot to that 90% of the time. I can boot to Mac if I want/need but most of my time is spent on Vista. It's a pretty cool setup, all told.

Except for one thing. My new speakers stuttered.

I didn't notice it as much in the game, since with two of us playing in the same room, we're not necessarily cranking the sound. Our bad guy noises would overlap and make things weird. But since the Bose speakers are high quality (and high dollar to go with it), I wanted to really blast my music.

On day two of owning the new setup, I was doing some tedious work stuff and listening to folk music to distract myself. Except that every few minutes the song would crackle/stutter like my reception had cut out. The rest of the time it sounded fine, but the stutter was getting to be like some perverse torture. I would get lulled into the pretty sound and then all of a sudden it would hiccup and I would be instantly furious again.

So the Genie Troubleshooting Task Force went into action. I hooked the speakers up to Rich's computer (running XP) and played a song on the local hard drive and it sounded great. I played the same song on my machine while booted to Mac OS X and it played fine. I rebooted to Vista and played the same song (on the same physical hard drive) and it stuttered. GAH!

So you would blame Vista right? Particularly since I'm using fairly new speakers that use this wacky USB interface. But Bossman has these same speakers at work and home with both machines running Vista and nary a stutter can be heard on his systems. I even had him play music in the office at volume 11 and it all sounded great. And my speakers hooked up to my work computer (running Vista) sound great too. So it doesn't seem to be the physical speakers themselves. And Bossman's computer at home is identical to mine. So if he has the same operating system, same speakers and same machine, what the hell is making my music stutter?!

I'm not sure what the rest of the world does if they don't have four sets of speakers and six machines to compare setups.

On Saturday I made it my mission to defeat the stuttering sound on my computer. I turned off every gadget, widget, service, alert and program I could find on the machine. And I started playing a song ... waiting for the crackle or stutter to happen. It stuttered at 1:06 of my song. Then again at 2:06. Hmm, that's odd. Then again at 3:06. Wait a (literal) minute here ...

So I switched to a longer song - Lyin' Eyes by the Eagles (a healthy 6:23 long). It stuttered at 34 seconds. Then again at 1:34 and 2:34 and 3:34. You get the idea. This isn't a wiring thing. This has a pattern. Someone or something was messing up my song at 60 second intervals. I tried Windows Media Player and iTunes to compare. I tried unplugging everything from the computer except keyboard, mouse, speakers and monitor. I ran an extension cord from the kitchen to plug up the speakers so they would be on another circuit. I moved the atomic clock to another room. I tested every pair of headphones I had in comparison to the speakers. And this is when I finally started to figure something out.

The headphones stuttered just like the speakers. I could finally absolve the speakers of any blame and set them aside. Now I just had to figure out what my machine was doing every minute while in Vista but wasn't doing in Mac OS X and wasn't doing on any other machine I could find using Vista.

I unplugged the network cable and finally a lightbulb went off. My machine detected our wireless network. That's right! I got built-in Bluetooth and wireless in this Mac Pro! I connected to the wireless network and I noticed that it was still stuttering every minute (can I tell you how sick I am of Lyin' Eyes right now?). But I also noticed a few times that when it would stutter would also be when my wireless would change from Good to Very Good or Excellent or Pretty Good or whatever else they denote wireless quality with. I was onto something!

I disabled the wireless adapter in the Device Manager and tentatively played American Pie (all eight minutes of it - I was really sick of hearing about that tramp in Lyin' Eyes). At 1:30 I was hopeful. After three minutes I was encouraged. After five minutes I was joyful. And by the seventh minute I was dancing around the room! No more stuttering! Just pure beautiful music!

So if you install Vista (64-bit in my case) on a Mac Pro and it makes your music stutter every minute like clockwork, try disabling the built-in wireless. It might save you days of frustration and heartache.

Oh and as an ironic twist, has nothing to do with my computer, but is a web site for all the new makeup I recently bought. Small world ...