The odd bit

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

The odd bit - Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

Windows Vista: Long delay when switching songs in media player

There you are: Windows Media Player (WMP) running, all songs loaded in its library and you hit the ‘play’-button. It picks the wrong song and you click the ‘next’-button. Instead of starting the next song immediately, a pretty long pause follows the release of the button. As if there’s some artificial intelligence pondering if it should play the file. Rest assured, the song will start eventually. You can live with that for a couple of songs and then the mind starts asking questions. I don’t have to wait in Windows XP so why should I have to wait in its youngest sibling? And so the quest for a solution starts…

The pause is the most noticeable event, but it’s the result of something else: one of the svchost.exe processes loves the CPU and starts eating cycles. So it’s some Windows service causing all of this, but which one (for the unknowing: svchost.exe does a lot in Windows and there are multiple processes with that name)? Process Explorer to the rescue! And that nifty program told me the spike in CPU usage was caused by “svchost.exe -DcomLaunch”.

The fun isn’t over yet. That process is associated with two services: DCOM Server Process Launcher and Plug and Play. For the Vulcans among us, all logic stops there for a second. What do those two services have to do with WMP? The answer is provided by Vista’s new audio engine. The new engine supports several audio “enhancements”. But for the enhancements to work, the engine needs to determine if your hardware is up to the task. And when does it check that? Each time a sound output device is accessed. That’s pretty nice if you can do a hot swap of sound hardware, but I don’t see me doing that anytime soon. Anyways, it does provide us with the link to the correct service because checking hardware is done by the “Plug and Play” service.

One might think that deactivating each enhancement would solve the problem, but that’s wishful thinking. The configuration of the enhancements is located in the properties of the sound hardware. When opening the tab, I found out that no enhancements were active. Hmmm… so why does it check the hardware? Well, it does that in case you actually enable an enhancement. To completely stop the hardware checking, you have to tick the box labelled Disable all enhancements. As soon as you do that, Vista finally understands you don’t want to use them :-)

It took me quite some time to figure this out. I hope this post can save some time for those who experience the same problem.

Category: Microsoft, Vista
  • hamilton says:

    I’m facing the same problem in windows 7.

    svchost containing:
    DCOM Server Process Launcher
    Plug and Play
    these services is consuming > 50% of CPU. I couldn’t find the “Disable all enhancements.” in windows 7. Please help.

    7 December 2009 at 14:16
  • jeanneinks says:

    Thank you so much for this. I was about to throw the machine out the window.

    10 December 2009 at 08:43
  • Oyun Box says:

    I have the same problem with Win XP..
    and It has no “Disable all enhancements” choise..

    19 December 2009 at 04:03
  • Jim says:

    Thank you. Just what I was looking for.

    31 December 2009 at 17:04
  • shampoo says:

    Just brilliant.. very common problem but you’re the only one who has it figured out!

    7 January 2010 at 05:32
  • inci says:

    Thank you. Just what I was looking for

    7 January 2010 at 08:44
  • Achim says:

    :-) THANK YOU!!

    10 January 2010 at 16:10
  • Amps says:

    At last – a simple answer to a stupid problem. Well done, and many thanks!

    12 January 2010 at 03:25
  • An0m0t0p3A says:

    I was beginning to think it was just the conversion of my 32bit programs into a 64bit processor that was lagging my idle and was ready to reformat back to 32. But it turns out this was the case… THANK YOU :)

    31 January 2010 at 01:23
  • BigMan says:

    Thank you, it works!

    1 February 2010 at 00:31
  • Phil says:

    Thank you!

    13 February 2010 at 13:48
  • Jeroen says:

    I’ve ticked the box, but I still don’t see even the slightest decline of CPU usage…
    I’m afraid this is not the whole problem on my laptop.

    15 February 2010 at 13:45
  • Jeroen says:

    Hi all,
    In my case, it turned out to be an additional piece of software that came with my phone (SE Xperia X1):


    It ran under Dcomlaunch, and after I fully installed it on my laptop and downloaded and installed the februari 2009 update of this programme, my CPU usage dropped to a healthy 10-20%.

    17 February 2010 at 09:49
  • Goldmember says:

    But were do u find this tab u are talking about. Please give me full instuctions step by step

    10 March 2010 at 13:09
  • cfkelvin says:

    I can’t also find the Tab let alone the disable all Enhancement stuff.

    17 April 2010 at 09:01
  • piotr says:

    For those who can’t find the tab: go to there you will find the screens.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    30 April 2010 at 07:14
  • Max says:

    Thank you so very much. My CPU has finally dropped to reasonable levels after days of searching for a solution.

    5 May 2010 at 22:35
  • Jacob says:

    excellent solution…thank you

    11 June 2010 at 19:15
  • Eric says:

    “located in the properties of sound hardware”…umm what?

    “when opening the tab”….what tab?

    I’m not computer savvy, but can follow instructions that don’t make too many assumptions about what the reader knows.

    How do I fix the problem?

    11 December 2010 at 05:06
  • Matt says:

    Many thanks.

    Fixed the problem.


    29 December 2010 at 16:36
  • Tor says:

    Excellent blog, thanks!

    For any having trouble finding the Enhancements tab, here’s the path I took to find it.

    Start -> Control Panel -> Sound -> Playback tab -> select “Speakers” -> “Properties” button -> Enhancements tab

    It might be a good idea to do the same for the Headphones.
    -> return to Playback tab -> select “Headphones” -> Properties button -> Enhancements tab

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    11 January 2011 at 18:17
  • m4int says:

    you saved me! i was nearing the end of my rope, looked through dozens of other ideas and comments over the past couple months. but finally this worked! I can’t thank you enough.

    30 March 2011 at 20:54
  • m4int says:

    though i thought my issue started when i tried to connect my blackberry through the bluetooth….not logically connected to the audio issue you describe, but could be.

    30 March 2011 at 20:56
  • Squiggle says:

    Thanks. You helpd me too. Great clear explanation.

    10 May 2011 at 08:10
  • Squiggle says:

    Actually it did not work for me. The problem is caused whenever I turn on my BroadCom Wireless (am using Vista Home Basic). One solution would be to disable “DCOM Server Process Launcher” but that apparently breaks a few things according to…

    10 May 2011 at 10:54
  • Hjalmar says:

    In windows 7 this options seems to be “disable all sound effects”. I think it worked for me (cant say for sure just yet but the plug & play + dcomlaunch-processes disappared).


    15 July 2011 at 20:36
  • Thank You! says:

    Thank you so much! having this problem for the past few days.

    2 September 2011 at 07:09
  • Thanks a lot! says:

    Had exactly the same problem. Thanks a lot for sharing this!

    19 November 2011 at 01:04
  • Edgar says:

    For those with the same problem in XP, I found that selecting “work offline” in the Media Player menu does work wonders.

    6 February 2012 at 20:44
  • 6r15u says:

    Hi there,
    same problem here, but disabling didn’t solve it. Any ideas?
    I have a HD Audio device in the modem section of the device manager. could that cause the load? but how can I check for enhancements on that modem. it doesn’t appear in the sounds sectino of control panel?

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    5 July 2012 at 18:54

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