11 Ways to Fix Audio Crackling on Windows 10

Advanced in Tech & Business

11 Ways to Fix Audio Crackling on Windows 10

Does the audio output from your speakers or headset crackle too much? Do you think your audio device is malfunctioning and preventing you from listening to your favorite music? The problem may be hardware-related; however, software glitches can also lead to this issue. The question is, how can we find the primary cause and fix the problem?

This article will cover different troubleshooting steps to fix the audio crackling issue so you can resume watching your favorite shows.

Why Does Audio Crackle on Windows 10?

Listed below are a few main reasons why the audio coming out of your speaker or headset sounds crackly:

  • Your hardware, such as your speaker or headset, has malfunctioned.
  • It’s been a while since you updated the sound drivers.
  • Your audio hardware and the sound format set on your device are incompatible.
  • You’re using audio enhancements to improve the audio quality, but they’re causing it to degrade.
  • Devices and appliances near your computer are tampering with Bluetooth signals.

Now that you know what causes crackling audio on a Windows device, let’s look at how to fix it.

1. Preliminary Fixes

Before you start tinkering with your system, it’s a good idea to run some preliminary checks to rule out some fundamental hardware issues.

  • Unplug and Replug the Crackling Device: Unplugging and replugging your device can eliminate the possibility of temporary failure caused by one-time interference. If your device starts working again after replugging, you should check your audio jack for corrosion, blockage, and wear. If the crackling doesn’t go away and there doesn’t seem to be any damage on the hardware, move on to the next steps.
  • Inspect Your Hardware: Check your output device, and the connection leads for possible partial breakage that may reveal the fault causing the audio crackling. If you’re connecting a wireless device, make sure it’s connected properly. If possible, reconnect it to eliminate the chance of interference causing audio crackling.
  • Test Your Hardware With Other Devices: Besides checking for physical damage, input ports are another possible culprit. Consider plugging your device into another port on the same computer or into a different machine (if possible). If the device works without crackling on another computer, your computer’s port is the problem. Plugging another headphone into the same port of the same machine that is causing your audio to crackle will confirm this.
  • Test A Different Audio Device on the Same Computer: If you have a spare pair of headphones, connect them and see if the crackling persists. If the problem disappears after switching headphones, the original headphones are at fault. In this case, you should have it inspected by a technician. If the crackling occurs with your speakers, try swapping them out with a spare pair. This may be easier said than done, especially if your speakers are built into your monitor. However, if you do have some spares around, give them a try.
  • Disable Audio Enhancement Apps: Audio enhancement apps make it super easy to magnify or improve the audio coming out of your headphones or speakers. However, misconfiguring the app settings can adversely affect the audio quality, making it crackle. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that this audio enhancement app isn’t the cause of the problem. To rule out this possibility, turn off your audio enhancement app.

If none of the preliminary fixes work, it’s time to implement some software changes.

2. Check for Signal Interference

Do you use a wireless audio device? If you use a Bluetooth headset or speaker, other signal emitters placed near your device may interrupt the signal reaching your device. Smart meters, routers, antennas, and even smart lamps can disrupt Bluetooth communication. So, if any of these devices are placed near your computer, move them away.

This way, your audio hardware and computer can communicate better, which may fix the audio crackling issue. If there are no such devices or appliances close to your device, or if moving them away does not make a difference, proceed to the next step.

3. Change the Minimum Processor State

The processor state refers to how much power the CPU will consume when performing a high-intensity task. If you have a low minimum processor state set, it can limit the power supply to your device’s audio output. In turn, this causes pops and crackles as your audio device struggles to stay powered on.

Follow the steps given below to change the minimum processor power state:

  1. Press Win + S, type Control Panel, and open it.
  2. Click on Hardware and Sound and navigate to Power Options.
  3. Click on Change plan settings located adjacent to your already selected plan.
  4. Click on Change advanced power settings, and a new window will open up.
  5. Scroll down and locate Processor power management and expand the category.
  6. Then, expand the Minimum processor state category.
  7. Increase the setting to a higher value and test your device.
    Changing Minimum Power State in Power Options

On a few laptops, you may see two settings under the minimum processor state, namely “On battery: X%” and “Plugged in: X%.” Change both of these settings depending on your laptop’s current power state.

4. Update Your Sound Drivers

A dated sound driver can also adversely affect your audio input. Usually, updating the sound driver will restore the default sound settings, which can solve the problem of audio crackling/popping. Thus, consider updating the sound card driver before implementing other fixes as it may resolve the issue straight away.

To update the sound driver, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Windows desktop, right-click on This PC, and navigate to Manage.
  2. Select Device Manager from the left sidebar.
  3. Locate and expand the Sound, video, and game controllers category.
    Updating Sound Driver in Computer Management Settings

  4. Select your sound card and right-click on it, and navigate to Properties.
  5. Navigate to the Driver tab and click on Update Driver.
  6. Click on Search automatically for drivers, and the system will automatically find any new update if it is available.

Try changing the sound format if updating the driver doesn’t work.

5. Run the Audio Troubleshooter

There is a built-in audio troubleshooter in Windows that is often helpful in identifying and fixing most audio problems. You should run this troubleshooter if none of the fixes have been successful. Follow these steps to do that:

  1. Go to the Windows Settings app.
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Click Troubleshoot in the left sidebar.
  4. Next, click on Additional troubleshooters.
  5. Locate the Playing Audio troubleshooter.
  6. Click on Run the troubleshooter.
    Running Playing Audio Troubleshooter in Windows Settings App

Then follow the on-screen instructions. Hopefully, the troubleshooter will successfully identify and fix the audio crackling problem.

6. Change the System’s Sound Format

Your computer’s sound format must be able to adjust to differing frequencies. If your audio device produces crackling sounds, it may not be compatible with the current sound format. Therefore, changing the sound format may help solve this annoying issue.

To change the sound format in Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of the taskbar.
  2. Right-click on the speaker icon and go to Sound settings.
  3. Navigate to the Playback tab and right-click on your selected audio device.
  4. Go to your device’s Properties.
  5. Navigate to the Advanced tab of the Speaker Properties window.
  6. Set the Default Format to 16 bit, 44100 Hz (CD Quality).
    Changing Sound Format in Speaker Properties in Windows

  7. Test your device to see if it works properly.

Changing the default format to a different value will allow you to test multiple frequencies. Any format from the list may fix the audio crackling issue. So, try them all out.

7. Disable Any Active Audio Enhancements

Windows’ audio enhancement options are, usually, a helpful setting that improves the audio quality of your output devices.

In some cases, the selected sound quality may interfere with the built-in settings of the audio device, resulting in crackling sounds. Thus, disabling audio enhancements may help resolve the issue.

To disable the audio enhancement feature, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the sound icon in the lower corner of the taskbar and go to Sound settings.
  2. Navigate to the Playback tab and right-click on your selected audio device.
  3. Go to your device’s Properties.
  4. Locate the Enhancements tab and check the Disable all enhancements box to turn off audio enhancements.
    disable audio enhancements on windows

8. Disable Exclusive Mode

Windows’ exclusive mode allows applications to take exceptional control over the audio device while running. There is a possibility that your connected device is not compatible with the current setting, causing your audio to crackle.

You can disable exclusive mode by following the given steps:

  1. Locate the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of the taskbar.
  2. Right-click on the speaker icon and go to Sound settings.
  3. Navigate to the Playback tab and right-click on your selected audio device.
  4. Go to your device’s Properties.
  5. Navigate to the Advanced tab in Speakers Properties and uncheck the “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” checkbox.
    Disabling Exclusive Control of Device in Windows Speakers Settings

If you test your device again and it’s still crackly, your only option left is to get an adapter. Using an external sound card or a sound adapter will effectively eliminate all the problems caused by the Windows own sound card.

Additionally, a different sound adapter will allow the device to run on new settings and help identify whether the problem is with the system or the device itself. However, it should be the last resort.

9. Switch to High-Performance Power Plan

A power plan is a set of system settings that regulate how your computer uses power. Windows offers three main power plans: balanced, power-saving, and high-performance.

The balanced power plan optimizes your system settings to consume optimal power without drawing more or less than needed. The high-performance power plan consumes high energy but makes the system hardware perform at its best. However, the power-saving mode can leave your audio hardware without enough power, causing the audio to crackle.

Therefore, if your device has been set to power-saving mode or balanced mode, switching to a high-performance plan may resolve the issue. If you aren’t familiar with the process, check out our guide on how to enable the ultimate performance power plan on Windows.

10. Reset the Audio Settings

If none of the above fixes resolve the issue, you can try the least desirable solution, which is to reset your audio settings. By resetting the audio settings, you can restore them to their default configuration, reversing any incorrect changes you might have made. If you aren’t familiar with the process, check out our guide on how to reset your audio settings in Windows.

11. Update the OS or Uninstall the Recent Update

Running an outdated operating system can also result in unforeseen problems. If you keep Windows automatic updates disabled, ensure your audio does not crackle for the same reason.

To confirm that, install the most recent operating system updates. Our guide on managing Windows updates will show you how to find and install the latest updates.

Occasionally, installing an OS update that contains bugs can also cause bothersome issues. Therefore, if your audio has started crackling after installing a Windows update, you should uninstall it.

Have you never done that before? Our article on how to uninstall Windows updates covers the process step-by-step.

Make Your Audio Output Crystal Clear Again

The crackly audio in any media can make it difficult to enjoy it. Hopefully, these fixes will help you start listening to crystal-clear audio again. If the issue is hardware-related, you should repair or replace your audio device.

Have you ever been stuck in an audio feedback loop with a microphone? To prevent this, you can stop live playback, use headphones, or place your microphone far away from your speakers.