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Windows 7 Pro Sound / Popcorn Popping or Arcs

Posted on 2014-12-20
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Medium Priority
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Last Modified: 2014-12-23
I have a Windows 7 Pro system that suddenly developed an annoying sound problem.
It's using a Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 (WDM) PCI card which has been working fine for years.

Now, after listening to longer tracks of music or ... or just any old time ... the speakers start outputting loud snapping noises like popcorn popping.  They sound a bit like arcs.  

It's not the speakers unless two sets of speakers are putting out power line noises of this sort - which seems very unlikely.
Turning off any of the sources in software has no effect.
Uninstalling the sound card from the Device Manager seems to fix it - so it seems unlikely that the sound card itself is autonomously putting out these noises.

I have tried all of the things I could browse for on the web and nothing seems to help.
Theories include:
- bad PC power supply.
- bad sound card (nonetheless)
- Windows software somehow / reinstall Windows seems a bit drastic....

The noises don't happen all the time and seem to be variable in frequency and loudness.  

There appear to be lots of people who have experienced this but no definitive cause is mentioned.  "try this and try that" seems to be the best advice there's been and seems to have little success.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience and solid recommendations about this.
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Question by:Fred Marshall
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14 Comments
 
LVL 49

Assisted Solution

by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 288 total points
ID: 40511232
Suggestions only.

1.  Disable any sound enhancement.
2.  Check latency.

See http://www.komku.org/2013/06/how-to-fix-crackling-popping-sound-problem.html for more information on both these (and fixes).  Also see http://corey.degrandchamp.com/2010/11/25/fixed-windows-7-sound-popping-cracking-skipping/ as well.

I'd be tempted to test the card in another machine and see what it does there as well.
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LVL 88

Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 284 total points
ID: 40511243
Lower the volume, that often helps.
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LVL 29

Assisted Solution

by:Dr. Klahn
Dr. Klahn earned 288 total points
ID: 40511274
Run the DirectX audio diagnostic while the system is idle and just after it has started up when nothing else is running.

Press the Windows key and R at the same time, then type "dxdiag" into the Run box and press enter.  Select the DirectX audio diagnostics from the selection of tabs.

If the system passes the DirectX sound diagnostics, then there are two major possibilities:

1.  There's a high-priority process periodically locking up the system which causing the process outputting to the sound card to miss sound blocks.

2.  The card itself is at fault.  Definitely a possibility on older cards due to the "capacitor plague" problem.
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LVL 93

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 568 total points
ID: 40511381
can you test the card on another pc - that would eliminate a lot of causes
are you sure you don't have bad contacts in plugs, connectors, or cables?  if possible, switch cables, and clean connectors with isopropyl alcohol, or a contact cleaner like CRC

>>  It's not the speakers unless two sets of speakers are putting out power line noises of this sort - which seems very unlikely  <<  i agree, but one may have power problems, and the other contact problems

can you post the PC model ?
0
 
LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:Rob G
Rob G earned 572 total points
ID: 40513446
It could just as easily be the 3.5mm plug input jack on the card itself. over time of the plugging in, and pulling out, the hole can get warn out.. which will cause this popping to occur. It sounds like the speaker jack is not snugly connecting in the hole.. What happens if you hold it on a slight angle, does it stop popping?

If so, just replace the card, they are cheap..
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LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40513603
I'll check out some of the suggestions.
These aren't sound dropouts.  The noise is superimposed on other intentional sounds and they appear to NOT be dropping out.  The volume of the noise seems to not be changed by anything other than the external speaker volume control .. if that.
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LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:Rob G
Rob G earned 572 total points
ID: 40513858
You know i was just thinking.. Does it happen in Safe mode?
I assume in safe mode you will get a boot with no additional drivers, this might be a good way to rule out the drivers. Another possible cause could be a bad Power Supply or a PSU that it on it's last leg, because it's an external card, maybe the PSU is just lagging out the power to the card and causing the popping.. This might help..

http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml
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LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40514109
Yes it happens in Safe Mode.
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LVL 93

Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 568 total points
ID: 40514435
did you swap the psu already?
what pc is this -post model plse
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LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40515162
The model is "Model 3 by Coastal Computers & Networks"  :-)  That is, I built this one.

It appears the problem:
1) was not the sound card nor its connectors.  As usual, the connectors aren't "exercised" often at all.  One connection per year maybe?  The sound card appeared to work OK in another computer.
2) WAS the power supply it appears.  The original was a high quality PS.  Putting in a new PS seems to have solved the problem.

Thanks to everyone who replied!!
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LVL 26

Author Closing Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40515173
It was the PSU
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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40515176
glad to hear it's solved
don't forget to close this now
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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40515179
sorry -i posted it a bit faster than your accept..
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LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40515927
:-)
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