I just got a new TekNMotion Pulsewave V2 headset from Newegg today. I ran the installation CD and followed the instructions. After a reboot, I fired up a computer game to test out the virtual 7.1 surround sound. It sounded great. When I finally closed out of the game though, I noticed that regular Windows sounds had a crackle to them. I tried playing a video, and it had the same crackle problem. I started the game again, and its sound still did not crackle.
One unique thing about this headset is that has both USB and 3.5mm connections (though you can't use the virtual surround sound with the 3.5mm, they are stereo only). So I switched to the 3.5mm stereo, and the sound worked fine in-game and on my desktop. No crackle at all.
Over the next hour or so, I updated my sound drivers, blew out my USB ports, swapped USB ports, disabled all other sound devices, reinstalled the program and drivers for the headset, played around with the sound/headset settings, and tried numerous fixed that I have read about online. The sound still crackles when using the USB mode on the desktop.
So I decided to try another computer. I grabbed a Toshiba laptop, ran the installation CD, and followed the instructions. After it restarted, the 7.1 surround sound worked crackle-free on it.
Any ideas about what could cause this? The problem is obviously not with the headset, so it must be some software or hardware issue with my computer.
The computer in question is an HP m9500y with a Radeon 5770. My OS is Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.
EDIT - After a few more hours of tests, I have some more data that just doesn't add up. Plugging the headset into a powered USB 2.0 HUB lets it complete the sound test from the playback devices menu with very little crackle. Movies also don't crackle while in the HUB, but Windows sounds still do. And there is absolutely no crackle in any of my games in either the USB or 3.5mm mode, with or without the HUB.
Why do games not crackle but basic Windows sounds do? Why does the 3.5mm work but not the USB? If the USB ports are underpowered (which would explain the positive effects of the powered HUB), why is there no crackle while gaming? Why does everything work fine in my Toshiba laptop with Win7 64bit, but not my desktop with Win7 64bit?
This is driving me crazy.
EDIT 2 - The longer they stay in USB mode, the more pronounced the crackle seems to be. I can even hear it when there is no sound playing after leaving them in USB mode for the past few hours.
I changed the USB in which it was plugged in and it fixed the problem. The weird part is that I haven't suspected a USB port problem since I had the same crackling on the speakers when the headset is plugged in that dirty port.
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Just thought I would update this in case anyone else ever has this problem. I tried a fresh install of Windows and my headset still crackled on it. I was about to lose hope when I saw a PCIe x1 USB 3.0 card on sale at TigerDirect. I bought it, and when it arrived, I tried plugging my headset into that. Everything now works fine.