How to avoid crackles and audio dropouts

  • Live Versions: 8 - 10
  • Operating System: All

If the strain on your computer is too much, or the audio buffer is set too low, then this may result in crackles, dropouts (gaps in playback) or glitches during playback.

In this troubleshooting guide we'll cover the most common reasons for these audio issues and how to resolve them:

  1. Update Everything
  2. Adjust the Audio Buffer, Sample Rate and other audio preferences
  3. Test the Audio Interface
  4. Reduce the CPU Load
  5. Minimize Hard Disk Overload
  6. Make sure your computer is powerful enough
  7. Further tips for Windows

1. Update Everything

Firstly, make sure that everything is completely up to date: 

  1. Update Live
  2. Update Max for Live
  3. Update your Audio interface drivers and firmware
  4. Update all Plug-ins and Max for Live devices
  5. Update the operating system

2. Adjust the Audio Buffer, Sample Rate and other audio preferences

In computer based audio systems a certain amount of latency, known as audio buffering, is necessary to ensure that playback, recording and processing results in an error-free audio stream. If the buffer size is set too low however, then crackles and dropouts may occur. In order to ensure optimal playback:

  1. Open Live's Preferences → Audio
  2. Raise the buffer size. Find the sweet spot just above where the crackles and audio dropouts stop
  3. Always use a value expressed in powers of two; 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024
  4. Reduce the sample rate to 44.100 samples

Note: Larger buffer sizes will also increase the audio latency.

Buffer_size_and_sample_rate.png

Use ASIO as the driver type (Windows)

  1. For best performance we recommend using ASIO rather than MME/Direct X as the driver type
  2. If there is no native ASIO driver available for your interface, you can use ASIO4ALL
  3. Note: Many ASIO audio interfaces only allow the buffer size to be changed via their own control panels.

Reset Driver Error Compensation

Driver error compensation set to extreme amounts may cause audio issues. Check our dedicated article on Driver Error Compensation.

Test the Audio interface

The Audio Interface

  1. Make sure that the audio interface drivers and firmware are completely up to date
  2. Older interfaces may not have drivers available for your current operating system. If the interface has been discontinued then you'll need to consider upgrading it
  3. On some new Macs and PCs USB 3.0 ports are installed. Make sure that your audio interface is compatible with this protocol
  4. If in doubt, test using the computer's built in soundcard instead

Check the cables, adaptors and hubs

  1. If using an audio interface which is connected via USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt, these cables or adaptors can easily cause crackles and dropouts if they have become damaged or are improperly inserted. Check the connections and replace the cables/adaptors if necessary
  2. Connect directly to the computer and not via a hub
  3. Also check the computer's USB port to make sure it's free of dust and lint

Reduce the CPU load

If the value indicated in Live's CPU meter gets close to 100 percent, the audio processing is being maxed out and it’s likely that you will hear gaps, clicks or other audio problems.

To reduce the CPU load take the steps listed in our dedicated article: Reducing the CPU load in Live.

Minimize Hard Disk Overload

If the hard disk cannot read or write audio quickly enough, you may hear dropouts. In this case you will be able to observe the Disk Overload indicator turn orange. This is more likely to occur if triggering multiple large audio files at once.

disk_overload_indicator.png

To avoid disk overload take the steps listed in our dedicated article: Avoiding Disk Overload.

Make sure your computer is powerful enough

Underperforming computers may not be able to handle audio processing efficiently and this will increase the likelihood of audio crackles and dropouts. Our minimum system requirements article lists the absolute minimum specifications required for Live to function. It's likely though that if your computer satisfies just these minimum requirements and no more, then the performance of Live may diminish depending on how complex your usage is. For pro audio usage, the more powerful your computer, the better. Check out our guide on which computer to buy.

Optimize Windows for audio

Please see our guide to optimizing Windows for audio.

Disable CPU Throttling (Windows)

If you find that disabling Multicore Support in Live's preferences improves the audio issues then your computer may be throttling the CPU.

Certain computers enable CPU throttling which is used to slow down the computer whenever possible to use less energy and conserve battery. However this setting may adversely affect the performance of the computer, especially when performing intensive tasks like audio processing causing crackles and audio dropouts. In order to adjust this, see our dedicated article on how to disable CPU throttling on Windows.