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Windows 7: "Failed to Play Test Tone" aka Poisoned USB Ports

24 Oct 2015   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
"Failed to Play Test Tone" aka Poisoned USB Ports

Here's one for you. Running Win7Pro x64. I have a cheap USB sound card (7.1 channel sound), which works fine using Windows sound drivers.

It works with any other computer too, and works with my laptop *UNLESS* it's plugged into particular USB ports on my hub. These two particular USB ports once upon a time fed a different audio device (a Numark C3USB mixer with two integrated sound playback devices). These integrated devices appeared as stereo only sound devices (and they were). They (the audio devices within the mixer) worked fine, and happily used Windows sound drivers.

Now, if you plug the cheap USB sound card into any other port, Windows can play its test tone in stereo fine, or in 7.1 fine.

If you plug the cheap USB sound card into one of these "poisoned" ports, Windows can STILL play its test tone in stereo fine, but trying to play the 7.1 test tone results in the Windows popup "Failed to Play Test Tone".

I've tried uninstalling the driver repeatedly, but somehow Windows just won't accept the 7.1 device on those two ports. It identifies the 7.1 device, it just fails when trying to use it as such (and only on those particular USB ports).


My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2015   #2

Windows 7 Professional x64

Solved this issue of failure to play test tone, on particular USB port(s), when in surround mode.

Solution was:
o Go into device manager.
o Under Universal Serial Bus Controllers (USB), uninstall whatever hub(s) are related to the problem port.
o Reboot (at least once).

And now the sound card works. Apparantly, Windows really did somehow associate those ports on that hub with 2 channel audio, and was dead set against changing its view. Uninstalling+reinstalling the USB hub apparantly caused window to forget its 2 channel limitation.

I may never understand Windows' thinking.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2015   #3
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Nothing unusual. When you removed the driver and rebooted. Windows 7 picked up the new device and installed the needed driver.
It's probably more complicated than that but I like to keep things as simple as possible. (SAP)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Oct 2015   #4

Windows 7 Professional x64

True, but when I uninstalled the audio device itself (repeatedly), that should have been enough.

Further research shows Windows seems to have a LOT of issues where people find that certain USB ports won't work with certain devices (my friend has a sticker on the front of his computer to remind him that he MUST plug his color printer into a certain port for it to work lol).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2015   #5
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

I have a older system with the same printer port problem. My non expert guess is Windows 7 has applied the printer and needed drivers to that port for the printer. It's no big deal. I just use that port and things work. Some things I really don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out. I just do what works.

I have some usb hardware that say they work on usb 3.0 and of 2.0 and they work but they work better on usb 2.0. I don't know why. I just plug them into usb 2.0 and get on with my life.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2015   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64

!!!! The solution I posted before didn't solve the problem (but the problem was masked, read below) !!!!

But I did learn a great deal more about the problem. It turns out, there was a USB device conflict (which shouldn't happen with USB, but it does). The hub which I want to run the sound card on happens to also have a joystick on it.

When the joystick is plugged in to the hub, the sound card works only as stereo. If you try to do a test tone in 7.1, it says "Failed to Play Test Tone".

When the joystick is not plugged in to the hub, the sound card works as it should (even in 7.1).

Things I tried:
o It makes no difference whether I power the hub via a wall wart or via the USB from the laptop.
o It makes no difference which ports of the hub the joystick and sound card are plugged in to. The presence of those two devices on the hub creates the issue.
o Swapping in a different USB hub (even a different brand) doesn't make any difference, those two devices don't get along well.

I have found that if I start with the joystick unplugged, and begin to play the 7.1 test tone (which plays well since the joystick was unplugged when the sound began), and immediately plug in the joystick to the hub while the test tone is playing, then the sound card will work just fine on the same hub as the joystick for a short time. In fact, the same is true for anything playing.

A short time after you stop the sound, however, the sound card quits working again (assuming the joystick's still plugged in). It's as if the sound card stops playing and says "Oh, look at that... The joystick I hate so much is back so I'm going to quit working in 7.1 mode, just to get back at the evil joystick." It's as if they are having a schoolyard spat with each other.

The obvious solution would be to arrange the USB device connections such that those two devices didn't share a hub, but somehow that doesn't seem like a solution so much as a workaround. Windows 7 should be getting mature enough (by now) that we shouldn't have to act as Microsoft's babysitters with issues like this.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2015   #7

Windows 7 Professional x64

I find if I plug in the sound device into a hub installed downstream of the hub which feeds the joystick (or vice-versa), both work fine. Obviously, there is an issue with identifying these devices properly (they both share the same "address" when on the same hub). The thing is, Windows has sufficient information to predict the conflict, but produces no meaningful error message or workaround (which they should, as the USB spec. doesn't require serial numbers on USB peripherals). The obvious workaround would be for Windows to track THOSE devices by connection rather than by serial number.

The most perplexing part to me, however, is to have the sound card work, perfectly, in the case where it's sharing a hub with the joystick, but only in stereo mode.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2015   #8
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Once you start using a usb hub Windows 7 has no idea what you are plugging into the hub.
To me this is not a Windows 7 problem, it's a hub problem.
Using a usb hub always comes with it's little problems.
Remember that when you plug one thing into one usb port the bios and Windows 7 see just that.
When you plug more than on thing into the hub it sends confusing signals to the motherboard and Windows 7.

Can you plug all your little goodies into your system without using a hub?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 "Failed to Play Test Tone" aka Poisoned USB Ports

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