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Audio crackle/popping with computer lag (ONLY when headphones plugged in?) Help Plz!:(

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June 29, 2014 12:29:00 PM

I know it's got to be something with the headphones (maybe a wire or the drivers?) but I cannot locate the problem. When I have headphones plugged in, it's a 50/50 chance they'll work fine, or they'll start to generate crackling/popping noise on my computer, and when the crackling gets worse I notice a huge spike in CPU usage (60-90% it varies) and the computer slows waaayyy down.

BUT if I don't have my headphones plugged in then everything works smoothly (and I then plug them up to my Logitech z-2300 system instead) but problem is I kinda need my headphones to drown out all my noisy neighbors >.> I don't think blasting my Logitech speakers would be the wise solution lol. I have had other headphones too a Logitech G35 and they had the same problems too (but they stopped working when got driver updates, dunno why).

I've tried:
>Uninstalling all audio drivers that I have currently (RealTek, as I need it for my computer audio to work without headphones) but crackling persisted, so I re-installed them

>Unplug and replug the headphones (no effect)

>Restarting computer (only works 50/50 chance)

>The room is cool, laptop has a cooling pad, checked temps physically I don't have a program, but the laptop is relatively cool (apartment is kept at 60 degrees) so I don't think it's a heating issue

>re-installed Windows 7 entirely (problem still persists)

-------Computer----------
Alienware M17-R1(2008) w/ Intel Core2 Q9300 Quad Core processor @ 2.53Ghz
8GB of RAM (1066Mhz)
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870 X2 (Crossfire) 512mb
320 GB HDD @7200rpm (Raid 0)

Headphones type: Corsair 1500


If any additional information is required that I can answer, I will try.
June 29, 2014 12:32:38 PM

Your headphones might need a DAC (a mini amp for headphones). Which version of the 1500s are you using, USB or Jack?
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June 30, 2014 12:14:08 PM

USB

EDIT: Oh... also I'm thinking it might actually be a soundcard issue (maybe?) I noticed some crackling last night (without headphones plugged in) and a little lag spike today, will keep monitoring in the meantime, but it could be a possibility right? It is a 2008 (pre-dell) laptop lol
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July 1, 2014 1:11:44 PM

lordvalinar said:
USB

EDIT: Oh... also I'm thinking it might actually be a soundcard issue (maybe?) I noticed some crackling last night (without headphones plugged in) and a little lag spike today, will keep monitoring in the meantime, but it could be a possibility right? It is a 2008 (pre-dell) laptop lol


Not necessarily. Laptops don't usually have Soundcards. Come to think of it, it's more likely that your PC isn't quite up to scratch with processing. IE. The CPU isn't very good at multitasking and it struggles with audio.
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July 1, 2014 6:54:09 PM

ust4ever said:
lordvalinar said:
USB

EDIT: Oh... also I'm thinking it might actually be a soundcard issue (maybe?) I noticed some crackling last night (without headphones plugged in) and a little lag spike today, will keep monitoring in the meantime, but it could be a possibility right? It is a 2008 (pre-dell) laptop lol


Not necessarily. Laptops don't usually have Soundcards. Come to think of it, it's more likely that your PC isn't quite up to scratch with processing. IE. The CPU isn't very good at multitasking and it struggles with audio.


A laptop would still have onboard audio, which is still a sound card, just not a discrete sound card. It would still have all of the components that a discrete card would have, just not the same kind of quality that you would get with a discrete card.

To confirm what the OP was saying, yes, I do believe it could be the onboard audio dying. Headphones are relying on power from the headphone jack while most speaker systems rely on USB power or power from the wall. When the onboard audio is the one supplying all of the power, it would make sense that the buzzing and distortion would become more noticeable. I found this to be the case when my onboard audio was dying.

Since it is a laptop, you don't have as many options to replace the sound, but you do have a few. You can find USB sound cards for fairly cheap that would probably work just fine. If your laptop has an ExpressCard slot, then you may be able to find a sound card for that, but that would probably be more expensive.

On a side note, the 1500's don't require tons of power. If memory serves me well, they are 32 ohms, which can fairly easily be driven by mobile devices like smartphones and laptops. Even though the laptop is older, I don't think it is so ancient that the processor can't keep up with some basic audio processing.
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