What else causes audio to sound cracky?

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I have a Dell E6500 Laptop running Windows Vista Business 32bit SP1.  Since it arrived, and since being issued to the user responsible for it, it has since come back to me with complaints that the audio is crackly.....I've done the following:

Reinstalled the driver 3 times
Removed the driver all together and let Windows install a generic driver
Ran the diag to check the hardware only for the diag to say its fine
Had Dell replace the system board
Checked the audio headset port to see if the issue persisted there as well and it does

Audio is crackly through the built in speakers, and in a headset through the audio headset port.  I've done everything except blow away and reinstall Windows.  Can you think of anything I've maybe missed?

Thanks!
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Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
>>blow away and reinstall Windows.
Have you tried booting to a Linux based CD OS and testing the audio there?  If you're still getting a problem you can rule out Windows as the culprit
Tech Lead, Desktop Support
Commented:
Do you have the same model laptop where you could just swap out the hard drive to see if the problem is software or hardware related?
Rob HutchinsonTech Lead, Desktop Support
Commented:
If you have a spare laptop hard drive too, you could install that and use the recovery CD's to restore the factory image on the spare hard drive to see if the problem still exists.
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Rob HutchinsonTech Lead, Desktop Support
Commented:
If it's not software, are there any added cards, or anything else plugged into the laptop?
Hello!
You should try to play audio files stored in the Hard drive and also Audio CDs to check if the issue is the same in both scenarios. If the issue is only present with Audio CDs, the issue could be related to the optical drive.

Try using different applications to play the audio files, and also verify if there is distortion in the Windows welcome sound when you login.

Dell computers come with a built-in diagnostics, there is the first phase called "Pre-Boot assesment" which can be accessed from the Boot menu (by pressing F12). When this test is completed, it will boot to the 32 bit diagnostics (only if you have the Utility partition, but since you mentioned the OS was reinstalled, maybe the partition was eliminated. You can also get to this diagnostics by booting from the "Resource CD or DVD" that came with the Latitude system.

In the 32 bit diagnostics, you should select the option for System, then Custom test and then you can test the Audio. You should hear music playing, if the issue is present during this test, the issue is definitvely related to Hardware because this test is done outside of the operating system

If the issue is present during the 32 bit diagnostic, we know that the problem is related to hardware, but before getting any part replacement, you should try removing some hardware components that could be causing the issue, for example Hard drive, optical drive, Wireless card, Bluetooth card. With the system like this, you can run the test again and find the culprit.

If the issue is not present, the issue is definitively related to software or operating system.

Author

Commented:
I've ran the diag on the system 3 or four times now, and although the tests pass, the audio sounds a bit on the choppy side, but not nearly as bad as when Windows is running.  I've tried iTunes, WMP, and playing 2 different CD's with an external pair of speakers and still get the same behavior, its not worse or better in any of the combination's I've tried, should I just wax Windows and rebuild it?

Author

Commented:
Like when the diag runs the audio test, I might hear it skip for a split second once, maybe twice, otherwise, its clear.....its with Windows running that it sounds like a not-so-great streaming connection....
Rob HutchinsonTech Lead, Desktop Support
Commented:
Can you try the video/audio in safe mode with networking?

Author

Commented:
Hi, thank you all for the suggestions, we determined that it was a faulty system speaker embedded in the palm rest of the laptop chassis.....

But thank you all for the suggestions, its greatly appreciated!


Brad

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