Question Audio distortion/slowed down/crackling/popping issue, been trying to fix for several months ?

HerrPerry

Distinguished
Feb 25, 2014
7
1
18,515
0
One example of OBS recording with issue present

When the issue does occur, the best description I can give is distortion with frequent popping (full dB clicks/pops) and sometimes sounding bitcrushed. At all times when issue is occuring, audio will be slightly slowed down (like stretched). Only SOME of the time will the audio stream also be delayed and duplicated, i.e. two streams of the same audio happening simultaneously, and offset by ~5 seconds (i.e. I'll shoot a gun in a game and no shot is heard, 5 seconds later the gunshot will play, then 5 seconds later a second shot will play). Also possibly something to help diagnose... while watching a YouTube video for example, with the issue present, the video will be slowed down/stretched equally to the audio.

My current temporary solution to fix this audio issue is to "End process tree" on audiodg.exe in Task Manager. The issue can reappear infinite times and can be temporarily fixed infinite times. Sometimes the process will have to be ended multiple times to fix the issue.

My current theory about the root cause of the issue... Possibly my graphics card? I bought it in June 2020 and run it pretty hard with a constant overclock and playing/recording 1440p games. Honestly it's my only theory other than some scuffed low level audio driver installation or something. I'm semi-aware of Focusrite hardware causing issues like this but I don't even know. Very mysterious issue.

Either way, here's everything I currently know:

Windows 10 Pro 64bit (always kept updated)

Hardware (self built PC. things like case and fans excluded):

  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
  • MSI GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER Ventus GP OC (also OC'd with Afterburner, edit: +80 core +500 mem)
  • 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3200
  • ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS Gaming (edit: up to date BIOS v.3802)
  • SPCC 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
  • Team T-FORCE 1TB SATA SSD
  • edit: Rosewill HIVE-650S 650W 80PLUS Bronze (used since June 2020)
  • TPLink 802.11ac PCIe WLAN Adapter
Relevant peripherals:
  • Focusrite Solo 3rd Gen audio interface
Relevant software:
  • FL Studio (I use FL Studio ASIO to route audio)
  • Virtual Audio Cable
  • CoreAudioAAC Codec for OBS Studio
  • Process Lasso
Relevant settings:
  • audiodg.exe CPU affinity set to only physical cores (I have also tried only giving it one physical core, I've tried MANY variations to try and fix this)
  • ALL audio devices set to same sample rate/resolution 24bit 44100kHz (and in every program I have that has such options)
  • Exclusive mode disabled
  • All enhancements disabled (I have no options for enhancements, but still worth mentioning)
  • 3D/Surround options disabled
  • Fast startup disabled
  • edit: USB selective suspend disabled in Windows power plan
  • ASIO Buffer size set to max where applicable
  • I have the latest drivers for EVERYTHING and clean installed.
Cases where issue appears:
  • When using Google Chrome, issue occurs at random (i.e. on first startup of system, open Chrome, play audio, the audio could be already messed up or working normally). Interesting note, watching a YouTube video could be working fine, then opening another video in a new tab or in the existing tab usually makes the issue occur. So Chrome was not closed, only a new video was started and audio messes up.
  • In Discord, the interface sounds (connect to channel, mute, etc) will be distorted, but peoples voices will not be distorted, and they hear me just fine.
  • In FL Studio, but only the audio that I hear will be distorted, and not the output audio.
  • While recording with OBS Studio, the recording itself (i.e. audio from the .mkv) will have the issue. The audio distortion can fluctuate from being present and audio being normal throughout a recording (i.e. 1st 2 minutes are clean, then 1 minute of issue, then back to normal, etc).
  • While playing a game, however this is RARE and when it does happen, it will be when I'm recording with OBS. The game audio itself, that I hear, will be distorted and delayed in this case.
Cases where issue does NOT appear:
  • Groove Music Player has never output distorted audio. (another program such as Chrome can be having the audio issue while at the same time playing audio through Groove with no issues)
  • As well as I can recall, Windows sound events have never been distorted.
Attempted solutions:
  • Above relevant settings
  • Reinstalling everything related to audio
  • Reseating graphics card
  • Blowing dust out of case with air compressor
  • Scouring the internet for possible fixes. I feel like I've tried everything at this point.
I have NOT tried to do a full clean reinstall of Windows 10 yet. I'm getting a new graphics card soon, mostly to try and fix this issue but also because I hit a recording bottleneck with OBS and my quality settings. I plan to clean install Windows when I install the new card.

This is just the first pass of information I could thing to include. Anything else that would help, please request.

Anybody... please. I'm losing hope honestly.
 
Last edited:

HerrPerry

Distinguished
Feb 25, 2014
7
1
18,515
0
What version of Windows 10 are you working with? As for your audio issue, what BIOS version are you working with at this moment of time? Can you please include the age of the PSU, apart from it's make and model?
Hey thanks for your response. I updated my post with the things you mentioned. Windows version was already there but it's Pro 64bit. BIOS is always kept up to date.
 

dwd999

Honorable
Hey thanks for your response. I updated my post with the things you mentioned. Windows version was already there but it's Pro 64bit. BIOS is always kept up to date.
First random thoughts: did you try it with the gpu overclocking turned off; and did you try it using the internal audio without the Focusrite audio interface connected? Since you're making multiple changes it would help to diagnose the problem by making only 1 change at a time.
 
Reactions: HerrPerry

HerrPerry

Distinguished
Feb 25, 2014
7
1
18,515
0
First random thoughts: did you try it with the gpu overclocking turned off; and did you try it using the internal audio without the Focusrite audio interface connected? Since you're making multiple changes it would help to diagnose the problem by making only 1 change at a time.
Good idea. I'll try with the overclock off first. I'm dreading the result of testing without the interface, which is why I didn't think to try that. Hopefully it's just Focusrite and another brand would have less problems.
 
Reactions: dwd999
Jul 23, 2022
19
4
15
0
The truth is that windows has the worst audio stack of all operating systems. FreeBSD has the best audio stack of all operating systems (an independent implementation of OSS)
So the gist of your problem, and the most pertinent answer, is that you're using an operating system with a very bad audio stack.
The problem started with the removal of DirectSound: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/jan/31/microsoft.technology

If you really want good audio quality then there is nothing better than FreeBSD at the moment. You can use Ardour and Audacity, among others, and Ableton Live 9 also works well via wine.

You can also play games on FreeBSD and (with skills) you can play a surprising amount of good games. But if you have really high gaming requirements then I would rather recommend Linux. Void Linux is currently the best Linux, and you can also easily install PipeWire on Void.

PipeWire is meant for solving the kind of problems you're having right now. But with PulseAudio you probably won't have your current problem in Linux either.
 
Reactions: HerrPerry

HerrPerry

Distinguished
Feb 25, 2014
7
1
18,515
0
The truth is that windows has the worst audio stack of all operating systems. FreeBSD has the best audio stack of all operating systems (an independent implementation of OSS)
So the gist of your problem, and the most pertinent answer, is that you're using an operating system with a very bad audio stack.
The problem started with the removal of DirectSound: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/jan/31/microsoft.technology

If you really want good audio quality then there is nothing better than FreeBSD at the moment. You can use Ardour and Audacity, among others, and Ableton Live 9 also works well via wine.

You can also play games on FreeBSD and (with skills) you can play a surprising amount of good games. But if you have really high gaming requirements then I would rather recommend Linux. Void Linux is currently the best Linux, and you can also easily install PipeWire on Void.

PipeWire is meant for solving the kind of problems you're having right now. But with PulseAudio you probably won't have your current problem in Linux either.
This is all great information, but the last thing I want to do is move to another operating system honestly. The thing is, this year is the only time I've had problems with audio to this extent while using any Windows OS. I've been producing music with FL Studio on Windows since 2011 and it's worked flawlessly until now, so I know there must be a way to return things to normal.

I do have very high requirements for gaming. Many many games I play would be inaccessible on Linux. And so many other things on top of that. It's just not feasible for me to switch.
 

HerrPerry

Distinguished
Feb 25, 2014
7
1
18,515
0
Update on testing:
  • Disabling the GPU overclock potentially resolved the issue with Chrome/YouTube, as after doing so I have not yet encountered the issue in that case. However again, the appearance of the issue is random. Not 100% sure about this.
  • Disconnecting my audio interface and using motherboard audio has resolved the recording with OBS audio issues. I can't use my microphone however, so this is not a permanent solution.
  • I thought I had already done it, but my Windows power plan had USB selective suspend enabled, so I disabled that and will test with the interface again.
  • I'm probably going to buy a new interface anyways because even though it's the latest version of the Focusrite Solo, it's USB 2.0.
 
Jul 23, 2022
19
4
15
0
This is all great information, but the last thing I want to do is move to another operating system honestly. The thing is, this year is the only time I've had problems with audio to this extent while using any Windows OS. I've been producing music with FL Studio on Windows since 2011 and it's worked flawlessly until now, so I know there must be a way to return things to normal. I do have very high requirements for gaming. Many many games I play would be inaccessible on Linux. And so many other things on top of that. It's just not feasible for me to switch.
An obvious action would be to do a full reinstall before buying new hardware. This may solve your problem and thus may save you money.

Furthermore, I would also recommend using Linux in dual-boot configuration with windows. This means you have both systems available on the same desktop/laptop. If you then have a problem with one of the two systems, you will encounter much less problems because you can choose to start the other system during boot.

If you are low on skills then I would install a system like Mint, Fedora, KDE neon or MX Linux.

In fact, installing Void Linux has now become almost as easy as the above systems, so I'd recommend Void Linux the most of all systems if you're not someone who is 'bad with computers'.

How I would describe the full installation of Void Linux:
  1. download the iso (https://repo-default.voidlinux.org/live/current/void-live-x86_64-20210930-xfce.iso)
  2. put the iso on a USB, you can use this popular tool: https://www.balena.io/etcher/
  3. boot Void Linux from the USB and run the installer in a terminal
    Code:
    void-installer
  4. go through all the steps of this installer (takes about 4 minutes if you have some Linux knowledge)
  5. reboot (you will see that you automatically already have a working GUI environment)
  6. update Void
Code:
xbps-install -Su
7. install all the packages you need
Code:
xbps-install chromium thunderbird geany transmission viewnior gimp mpv audacious evince libreoffice-writer libreoffice-calc libreoffice-impress
8. install the packages you need for audio
Code:
xbps-install alsa-utils apulse alsa-plugins-pulseaudio pavucontrol
That's it, you now have a fully featured desktop that is faster and more reliable+secure for your hardware than any other Linux/windows/macOS system.
You can change the timeout of grub in /etc/default/grub to one second and then update grub:
Code:
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Otherwise it always waits 5 sec for grub to start.

What you can do with Void, well the sky is the limit, because you have XBPS, Flatpak and Nix (+- 100 000 packages/apps)
 
Last edited:
Reactions: HerrPerry

HerrPerry

Distinguished
Feb 25, 2014
7
1
18,515
0
An obvious action would be to do a full reinstall before buying new hardware. This may solve your problem and thus may save you money.

Furthermore, I would also recommend using Linux in dual-boot configuration with windows. This means you have both systems available on the same desktop/laptop. If you then have a problem with one of the two systems, you will encounter much less problems because you can choose to start the other system during boot.

If you are low on skills then I would install a system like Mint, Fedora, KDE neon or MX Linux.

In fact, installing Void Linux has now become almost as easy as the above systems, so I'd recommend Void Linux the most of all systems if you're not someone who is 'bad with computers'.

....
I'm getting a new GPU either way for different reasons.

I've already done a dual boot with Ubuntu ages ago but I'm really not interested. I need to get back into a flow state with video production and can't deal with a whole different system like that. Again it's just not feasible for me, but thanks for your insight!
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY