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Thanks for the replies. I've got a very busy day today so will probably continue with testing tomorrow.

In the meantime, may I ask: are there people who are known to be able to genuinely hear the difference? Or would I be the first - therefore it's much more likely I have tested wrong? (If I have then my apologies, but I don't see how.)

I don't consider my eyesight or hearing to be unusual, but I will say am quite an unusual person, and seem to have more sensitive senses in many ways, including smell, touch, and others. There are some things I can sense that people say is impossible to sense (but I won't go into that here as it would be way off-topic).
cresco : actually, when I'm plugged into the mains, the Bios installer demands a 10 pct battery charge. Otherwise, no way.

LithosZA : yes, Windows 7 Family Premium, with 4 Go Ram.
I understant the Registry tweak suggestion, however there are only two NVidia services running on my computer: NVidia Display Driver and NVidia Update services. I see no Powermizer...
Based on the Dell support page, I have downloaded (from them) and installed the most recent Nvidia drivers for my PC...or is there something I have missed ?

Unfortunatly this makes things more complicated for the OP.
I guess also with the straightforward procedure he will have a hard time finding something he can ABX.
In case he should really find someting we can have a look at the provided sample and, if the track peak value should give rise to the suspect that the overall playback chain will change volume, we can ask him to manually edit track replaygain values of the original (converted to FLAC) and the mp3 file and ask him to redo the ABXing using replaygain. We can help him to any amount with that in case it should be necessary.
Also, when doing listening tests related to lossy encodings, be careful with this issue.,114101.msg939763.html#msg939763
To update the Bios the system demands a 10 pct battery charge. But my battery is out of service, I'm running on main power supply. A replacement battery is costly (180$).

I am no expert but I would think that 10% battery requirement was if you were updating the BIOS using the laptop on battery power only, so you should be OK using mains power.  However I would seek confirmation first. As I said I am no expert.
I would open up Device Manager and start disabling devices one by one until you get the culprit.

Other than the graphics, the only things that look a bit suspicious to me:
- Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver
- Ricoh Memorystick Controller...maybe
- USBPORT.sys - try unplugging all USB devices or disable the USB host controllers

Are you running Windows 7?
What version of the NVIDA drivers did you install? I see in the list it shows something about '189.21' which is from 7 years ago.
Also check if there is a service called 'NVIDIA Powermizer' running:
General - (fb2k) / Gamepad controls
Last post by RiseFall123 -
Hi everyone,

What I looking for is to control foobar2000 with my gamepad (Xbox 360).

This is a very old and offline plug-in:,34078.msg449576.html#msg449576

Today there's nothing that allow it?

Otherwise I will try some external software.
Thank you to all who are suggesting solutions.

I just updated a number of drivers, Nvidia, Intel, etc. & restarted. No change. To update the Bios the system demands a 10 pct battery charge. But my battery is out of service, I'm running on main power supply. A replacement battery is costly (180$).

I'd like to see if there is another fix that would work.

Case, LithosZA: here is the driver quoted by LatencyMon :
"dxgkrnl.sys, Direct X graphic Kernel" - both for "Highest report ISR routine execution time"  and for "Highest report DPC routine execution time".

Juha: I had disabled Wifi, bluetooth, and I will disable Wake on Lan and USB wake, just in case (thank you).

Porcus : my battery is already dead, so no risk... : where can I disable the "battery controller" ?

Here is the Drivers tab on LatencyMon :

General Audio / Re: Sound "drop-outs" every ten seconds or so
Last post by Case -
The Drivers tab should show you which drivers have the highest latency. If updates don't help you could test disabling the Intel SpeedStep option in BIOS. I know a few cases where disabling it fixed the latency issue.
General - (fb2k) / Re: ID3 tagging for using Mobile fb2k
Last post by Case -
Some of those work. Style was fixed recently and Chorus appears to work with MP3 tagged simply with CHORUS field. I'm sure the others will get fixed/implemented too.