Crackling during playback of audio tracks


I know this is a somewhat commmon issue, but I need help.

I’m using my CI+2 audio interface in a brand new laptop with Cubase artist 6 (upgraded from Essentials 5) and had been recording for months no issues. Now, every time I try to record bass/guitar/synth/effects, I get crackling while playing and twice as much during playback. I haven’t changed anything about how I record. It just started happening and wont go away.

I have checked the following:

  1. cords - I have swapped out multiple new 1/4" cables.
  2. Checked my speakers - had them inspected. They are fine until I try to record an external instrument.
  3. Buffer is set to the highest. Shouldnt be an issue anyway I have a TON of memory available.
  4. I am using the correct driver and have all he latest drivers installed.

Now I will mention this, I was dumb and didn’t read the part of the manual where it says to NOT have the phantom power button on when plugging in and out with instruments such as guitar and synth etc. So the entire time I have been recording the phantom button has been depressed and when I would pull out instrument cables, I would get violent POPS when doing so. I consulted the manual and says this can cause damage to the CI+2 device - though it didn’t described WHAT KIND of damage.

Do you think the interface its self is damaged? I’m not sure because everyone else who’s had this issue never mentioned this.

VSTs do not have any issues - I do drum programming and when just playing back VST drums - no popping. The instruments are fine too when played through a regular amp.

I have also plugged into an alternate laptop with the same software and licenses, but using the same CI+2 interface, and still had the popping/crackling. Because so many things can cause crackling, I don’t want to assume the interface if busted, but given the amount of times I recorded with the phantom on, I just don’t know.

Software, licensing, buffer, cables/instruments, memory/hardrive, speakers - All are fine.

If the same crackling that can be heard from issues with the above can also be heard from a overdriven interface, then maybe thats the issue?

Thanks so much!

It is possible that you damaged the interface (and more likely your equipment) by disconnecting cables with phantom power on. However, I would check to see if there is a practical workaround to the problem. First of all, be sure the audio signal is not clipping. I know this is basic, but the solution most likely will be as well. Second, you said your system was fine. Did you run the Syncon program to test it? Also make sure there is a firm connection between your headphones, adapter, and interface. A sorry adapter like I have makes it sound like your input is distorted, when it’s not. If all else fails, I would find one of your buddys that has a powered hub and buy him a beer so you can see if this is a power issue.

Let’s say you recorded a guitar track. You get popping through the interface, but what about when you switch drivers and listen with your headphones plugged straight into the computer? Or how does content played in itunes, WMP, or youtube sound? This will help to pinpoint the problem.

I hope I gave you at least something new to try,


Thanks so much for posting some suggestions. I don’t think my synths or guitars are damaged in anyway luckily. I have played them in amps recently at some shows and no crackling. By adapter, if you mean the USB cord that connects the interface to the laptop, that is brand new and the one that came with the interface.

I will look into the Syncon program you recommended. No popping with other drivers - only when connecting an extrenal hardware instrument and I record a track. it crackles in playback mostly.

Do you think it has to do with all the BAK files saved from scratched tracks? or a video card isse? I read elsewhere that those were also possibilities.

Let’s see how the Syncon test goes. You know where to find it, right? I’m glad your equipment is still alright. I really don’t think a BAK file will have anything to do with it. 9 times out of 10 it’s a weakness in your system. Check back once you run the test. :slight_smile:

Not familiar with where to run a Syncon program (or what it is for that matter).

Is it something I download or would it be in Windows somewhere? Its not one of those things that says its free and then makes me pay right before scanning is it? Like one of those lame “system improvement” programs?

Here it is. I never tried it, so I don’t know if it’s really free. They say it is.

Thanks so much for your prompt assistance. I will give it a shot - appears to be free.

On a side note, some other possible fixes (from way older topics) state something about running generic keyboard/mouse/video card etc in Device Manager etc which would help with the crackling. Not sure how true that is or not.

No, I’m speaking of the 1/4 inch to 3.5 mm adapter that connects headphones and certain speakers to the CI. If there’s a weak connection between the interface, adapter, and speakers it give the sound of clipping. You might also want to see if this is an output problem of your interface, or a recording problem. That’s what we need to know.

Sounds good. I will report back once I give it a go. thanks again