Question Audio popping when (un)pausing certain sounds

Jun 9, 2023
I've seen some threads on similar problems which had many possible solutions and none worked for me so far, there's also some more that went under the radar, so I decided to make my own thread and perhaps someone finds it and would kindly help me end this suffering.

For a few weeks I've been experiencing audio crackling/popping that depending on the audio source (game or video) can be heard only in left speaker/headphones or within the stereo spectrum, either when I pause or unpause the audio source or while it's playing. Popping sounds similarly to what you can hear when you touch the jack plug's tip when speakers are plugged into power source, crackling varies from this sound to something like audio clipping over 0dB.

Here's a video of the pop happening due to ambient sounds in Arma 3 whenever I press Escape:
Here's a video of the crackling happening in Arma 3 when I drive a vehicle:
Here's a video of crackling on Youtube:
(no recording of popping while the music is playing because I couldn't find the ones it was happening in, but it was always the same second/frame/moment like it would be badly recorded or something happened to the youtube conversion)

At first I thought it's just the game's issue, but then I started noticing the same crackling and popping when I pause or play music on Youtube, drag its timeline or quickly drag the volume slider of any video or Windows. I tried all audio ports on my mobo with Audiotechnika M40X and some Harman/Kardon sticks with a subwoofer, tried all USB 2.0/3.0 ports with Audiotechnicas M40X connected through Behringer UM-2 audio interface and with Logitech G PRO X that have their own external USB audio card.
Popping is consistent, although doesn't happen in every game (I tried Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts with no such problem) neither does show up in different audio tracks (I listened through some whole Rome album with not a single pop while pausing or playing).

What have I tried so far:
  • Windows factory reset and complete reinstall
  • Reinstallation and uninstallation of Behringer ASIO drivers, NVIDIAs drivers, Realtek (mobo) drivers and default Windows drivers (all at once and separately, everytime with Win10 factory reset) with versions released between 2020-2023
  • Enabling MSI for the GPU in case of some IRQ interference
  • Changing system power plans
  • Changing XAMP and other settings in BIOS
  • Tried all audio and USB ports with all possible audio equipment listed above
  • Changing the power source of my PC by plugging it into a different power strip or outlet
  • Plugging the PC to power outlet through a PSU
  • Isolating all cables from any possible EMI stuff
  • Unplugging any unnecessary USB peripherals and monitors
  • PCI Bifurcation (it's 2x8 by default, could only select 4x4x4x4 but wasn't brave enough to try it)
I haven't only tried replacing hardware as I don't have any alternative ones that would work with my setup, I also couldn't update BIOS because my mobo doesn't see any of my pendrives.

I am not sure when it started happening, possibly in 2nd half of 2022 although back then it could be not as loud as it's now. I am also unsure whether this is a single problem or a set of issues that sound like a single problem, but actually the game has its issues and my PC has different ones with audio sources. I suspect that this might be either something wrong with Windows (but I have no idea how can I revert it to pre-2022 version without possibly bricking my PC) or something from hardware, but I can't get rid of my PC for two weeks so someone can try finding the issue as it's my only workstation and I don't have funds for building a second one. I am begging for any help possible. I haven't changed any single element of my PC since like late 2021.

My PC specs are as follows:
MSI B450 Tomahawk Max
Ryzen 5 2600x 3.6GHz
Gigabyte GTX 1660 Super Gaming OC 6GB
2x8 G.SKILL 3000MHz CL16 Aegis
SilentiumPC Supremo FM2 750W 80 Plus Gold
ADATA SU800 250GB SSD (System drive)
Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD
Windows 10 Home, ver. 22H2, comp. 19045.3031 with Windows Feature Experience Pack 1000.19041.1000.0

I will be grateful for any possible solutions to this problem.
Jun 9, 2023
Just to add up, LatencyMon did not see any issues with my PC while playing or listening to music.
I made a .bat file for resetting Windows Audio Service but it does not help.
I tried prioritizing some audio related Windows processes in Process Lasso but this didn't help.
I tried moving my whole PC to a different room to exclude some awful neighbor messing with (insert whatever you want here), didn't help.
Jun 9, 2023
I noticed that when running a LatencyMon test for a bit longer audio starts to pop way more aggressively and sometimes sound will behave like you would slow down a YouTube video to x0.25 speed, like short audio wave stretched 100 times. Ofc the software itself does not show any troubles with any component of my PC, every latency is a good below 1000us except spikes when I start a game or any CPU-heavy software (but it gets good again when they are running)

Update on tried solutions - I uninstalled every driver Realtek, Dolby and DTS related through Driver Store Explorer and slepped some older Realtek HDA driver on my system (disabled internet connection just in case) and restarted, audio is still popping.
Jun 9, 2023
Update on tried solutions:
  • I brought the PC to my friend's appartment in a different building to 100% rule out a possible grounding issue with my outlets (they do have the grounding pins but people are capable of messing such installations) and connected it there
  • Tried different screen through DisplayPort
  • Played with hardware acceleration for Windows and individual apps
  • Tried running apps in compatibility mode for Win8 and Win7
  • Tried running sound through KoordAPI to minimize the latency
None of these helped