How to fix audio interface buzzing, clicking and popping sounds

Some audio interfaces that use the USB or PCI port will add strange noises to the recordings or to your playbacks. This is a common issue for most USB audio interfaces, and there are some things that you can do in order to fix this the problem.

The problem
When you use your audio interface, there are a variety of reasons that can create pops, clicks, dropouts, crackles or distortion when you record or when you playback. Usually, this happens because the digital recording uses too much resources from your computer. Other times, it happens because there are other components on your computer that interfere with the audio interface, creating unpleasant sounds.

The fix
As I said, there are many reasons for hearing buzzing, clicking and popping sounds on your audio interface. I’m going to start with the simplest fixes, and finish with the most complex ones. You need to “try and test” every one of them until you spot the actual problem.

Disable WiFi Card
This may seem stupid, but it’s exactly what worked for me. I was using the Audio Kontrol 1 interface, and suddenly I started to hear strange noises from my recordings. I was using that laptop for other purposes, so it was packed with programs. Anyway, after trying every trick in the book, I decided to disable the WiFi Card and guess what … ?! It worked. So, this trick may help you remove those annoying sounds.

Test different slots
This fix is also easy to perform. Your USB or PCI port may have a problem, making the audio interface act strangely. Check the connection using other ports, you may find one that works perfectly.

Check for System Requirements
Most audio interface have the minimum system requirements that your computer/laptop needs to meet in order to function properly. If your system is under the minimum requirements, you need to change it with a better one (or you need to disable some features on your audio interface).

Install the latest drivers
Most audio interface manufacturers will provide updates for the interface’s drivers. All you need to do is go to the official website (example: m-audio.com) and search for “support -> drivers”. The new drivers may fix lag or clicking issues.

Connect everything to the same power outlet
If you hear a strange buzz, you may experience ground loop. Connect the laptop, the audio interface, the monitor, the speakers and everything that’s involved in your recording system to the same power outlet. This may fix the humming or the low frequency buzz.

Change the buffer size
Most recording programs allows you to tweak your audio interface’s settings. Try to change the buffer size to a larger number, add more seconds to the “preload” field, prioritize the audio interface.

Change the project’s settings
If you are using recording apps like “Cubase” and you experience strange sounds when you mix or when you record, you may consider lowering the project’s settings. For example, if you are recording in sample rate of 48000 Hz @ 24 bits, you may want to change it to 44100 Hz @16 bits. This may remove the unpleasant sounds.

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