Question Audio randomly popping and crackling on desktop, but seemingly not in games?

May 22, 2022
Okay, so this is frustrating me to no end. I got a new PC, a Lenovo Legion Tower 5i (there are multiple models with that exact name, so I'll post my exact specs at the end of this post) on April 26th, 2022, and on around May 10th or May 11th, the audio on my computer started popping randomly whenever I was doing things like watching YouTube. On a lot of other places I've asked, a lot of people have suggested power saving features, as it can cause audio to pop at the beginning of audio playing, but I can assure that is NOT the issue, as the audio pop and crackle happens randomly during audio, and not just at the start or end. It even happens during audio playing even if I'm not touching the mouse and keyboard. I have tried absolutely everything that I can think of, as well as everything that was suggested to me. I am decently savvy with fiddling around with settings and troubleshooting software, but I am an absolute lost cause when it comes to hardware. I should also mention that I have tried two pairs of headphones and a pair of speakers, all of which have no issues on other devices. I also tried routing them through the front headphone jack, USB ports, and the rear audio jack, ALL of which have the crackling and popping issues on desktop.

But here's the really screwy thing: The audio issues don't seem to happen in games, at least not NEARLY as much. And sometimes, whenever I exit a game, the audio on my computer gets MUCH worse. Like, instead of being an occasional pop and crackle, it turns into such a crackly mess that you really can't even hear anything besides the crackle. BUT if after the desktop audio gets that bad, and you go into a game again, the audio is basically normal in the game. But once it gets to be a super crackly mess on the desktop, the only way to reset back to its normal amount of crackling and popping is to reboot the entire computer.

Now, I should point out that I am an avid Linux user (specifically Debian-based operating systems, like Ubuntu, and Linux Mint) so, I thought that maybe my PC just somehow wasn't very compatiable with Linux? But I installed Windows 11 again (which is what the PC came with) and it was even happening on there. But something else I noticed is that on Linux, you can choose what GPU drivers to use, either proprietary Nvidia, or the open-source Nouveau drivers (which are fine for internet browsing, but the open source drivers run even the simplest games at about 2 FPS), and it seems that when I used the open-source drivers, the desktop audio was fine and seemingly had no crackling or popping whatsoever. So with that in mind, I guess it has something to do with the graphics card? Does the graphics card even handle sound? Anyways, that's where I start to get lost, and that's why I'm making this post. I really hope somebody can help me with this as I'm just at a loss at this point. Anyways, I'll go ahead and post the specs that I know of for now. If you need more, don't hesitate to ask.

CPU: 11th gen Intel Core i7-11700 at 2.50GHz x 8

GPU: GTX 1660 Super (It's not any specific popular brand like EVGA or MSI, since it appears to be an exclusive model made by Lenovo for the Legion series of PCs they produce)


Hopefully that's enough information to at least get people started. Thank you all so much who take the time to read this.


Apr 7, 2012
Hey there,

It seems I'm encountering a similar situation to yours, although mine seems less severe. I've recently started encountering audio popping/crackling for some reason. And like you said, normal games usually work fine - I've noticed it more when trying to play a specific emulated game or before or after music playback (like after clicking a song to play or closing YT music for example).

Needless to say it is very frustrating because I haven't managed to pinpoint the source of the issue yet although it seems to have started "out of the blue" and haven't made changes to my configuration before it did. I've tried multiple AMD drivers, audio drivers, disabling LAN and all sorts of the things (onboard audio, controller, AMD audio, anything that would seem suspicious). Even rolled back any windows updates from May, tried disabling TPM, etc.

Someone said it might be caused by the GPU or a GPU/PSU combination. Someone said it was fixed by disabling wireless. Sadly I don't have an integrated GPU to test and my LAN does not have wireless so at least I don't have to test that.

What I've noticed in my case is that it happens both with the integrated Realtek audio using a wired headset and also my wireless headset. So it's clear that it's something that's interfering with the whole system.

Funny part? If I unplug and re-plug the wired/wireless headset the issue goes away for a few minutes. Then comes back. So if the Motherboard was broken I think the issue would have remain constant.

Can you try this on your side as well ?

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