Fix: Audiodg.exe High CPU Usage

I recently had a problem when playing movies through iTunes on a laptop. At various parts of the movie, the entire laptop would become extremely slow, causing the movie to sputter. This happened at infrequent intervals. The laptop has a dual core 1.6Ghz and 2GB of RAM, so I new it was more than capable of playing a movie.

To look into the problem, I had the performance monitor running while I played a movie. Once the movie began to slow and sputter, I viewed the performance monitor to see which process was causing the problem. When I viewed the performance monitor I noticed that a process called audiodg.exe was consuming 35-40% of the CPU. I then investigated the problem and found a probable fix to the issue.

What is Audiodg.exe?

The audiodg.exe file made its appearance in Microsoft Vista, which explains why I haven’t seen this file before. When I viewed the properties of the file, the description stated Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation, which doesn’t help explain what it does.

After doing a little research I found out that the audiodg.exe file hosts the audio engine for Vista, and from what I hear Windows 7 as well. All the DSP and audio processing is performed within this file. Vendors are able to install their own DSP and audio effects into the audio pipeline, which will then be processed by audiodg.exe.

Unfortunately, this can also lead to some problems, as I experienced. Some audio effects can consume CPU and memory if not properly coded. How do we fix the problem? Lets take a look.

Disabling Audio Effects

In order to fix the high CPU usage, I disabled the audio enhancements processed by the audiodg.exe file. To disable the audio enhancements, use the following steps:

  1. Right-click the speaker icon in the lower right corner.
  2. Select Playback Devices from the menu. A list of devices should appear on the screen.
  3. Double-click the device that has a green checkmark. The properties windows for that device should open.
  4. Click the Enhancements tab at the top.
  5. From the list of enhancements, uncheck all of them, or click the Disable all enhancements checkbox.
  6. Click the OK button to save your changes and close the window.
  7. Click OK to close the Playback Devices window.

Once I disabled the enhancements, the movie played without any issues. I also didn’t notice any difference in sound with the enhancements disabled. If I do want to use sound enhancements, I’ll stick to the the options provided in the application.

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