Crackling/noise during playback of 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.

I’m so frustrated because everything I try to record has way to much crackling during playback when I previously had none for months. I really appreciate anyone who can provide guidance. Should I replace the CI+2 interface first since I likely damaged it or do you think its for some other reason that I am getting so much crackling.

Thanks so much!

To begin: there is a Steinberg hardware forum. This probably belongs there.

The reason that you don’t put phantom through ANY 1/4" plug:

When you insert a 1/4" plug into a jack, it shorts the contacts momentarily. It follows for insertion (TS plug)

  1. Tip hits sleeve contact:no problem
  2. Tip hits ring contact:-48V to your instrument
  3. Tip settles properly (at tip contact): +48V to your instrument and -48V to the ground of the cable (and instrument).

XLR is used because its three contacts connect at the same time. But you still shouldn’t have phantom power on inserting anything. Turn it on after.

It could be the interface that’s damaged, it could also be the instrument (assuming you’ve used it before).

Each time you pluged/unplugged not only did your speakers receive that POP, but also the A/D converter in the interface.

There should be no 48v at the 1/4" plug by design.

Does the “crackling” sound also happen with VSTi’s ?

Oh and if phantom consisted of +48 and -48 that would be 96V !!!

FYI phantom power is X 0V L +48V R +48V for an XLR.

My bad. :blush:

I was thinking patchbay, not combo jack. :blush:


No, 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 don’t do vocal recording, just extrernal hardware instruments. But still shame on me for hurting my equipment with the phantom button. I have it off at all times now.

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?


is correct.

A proper combo jack has separate contacts for 1/4" and XLR, so there should have been no phantom power there.
You can ignore my earlier post.

Are the instruments active pickup or passive? How high is the gain?

How loud do you have the output set?

You could be overloading the A/D and D/A converters.

The manual specifically states that leaving the phantom on can damage the CI+2, so are you sure thats not a possibility

I guess I’m not savvy enough to answer active/passive. I record all manners of guitars, basses, synths, pedal,omnichords,etc and have never had an issue for months and months.

While recording I am not overdriving anything. levels are properly set and not in the red at any times

Damaged caused by electrical short? Probably not.


The pops that you heard were probably passed on to the A/D converter. It could be damaged.

Ok. I am going to replace just the interface only and hopefully that will do it.

My video cards are up todate and I have unused stuff turned off in the device manager etc.

Are you sure you have explored all the possibilities for the cause of the distortion?

Just about all devices that provide Phantom Power have a warning that plugging in things with the power on can damage them, yet I’ve never seen any actual damage (apart from the odd failed phantom power supply, bad design) from plugging things in and out with the Phantom left on!

Not saying it isn’t the interface at fault, but before forking out shekels on a new one, I’d be very sure of your diagnosis first! After all, if you get a new one and the noise is still there you’d be back to square one!

As a side note, it’s bad practice to wire phantom to a jack type patch!

Well, I’m not sure what else to do. The instruments are fine - I just played a show with my synths and bass and no crackle. The speakers are fine. the connections are fine. The cables are fine, the USB cable connecting the interface to the laptop is fine. Not sure what else it could be short of swapping out the interface. :frowning:

Its not a circumstance in which its always been doing this. It just recently started. What a bummer

The process of elimination is a very sound troubleshooting technique! I agree that you should explore all possibilities including hardware replacement when tracking down gremlins!

If you like the interface you have…purchase the same model so that you’re using the same computer driver. This way you can also properly eliminate those two from the equation. If the new interface works with the existing installation of your old driver, then you need to repair or replace the old interface anyway. If the problem still exists, then reinstall the audio card driver, and then make sure that driver is being utilized by Cubase, and then test both interfaces. Return the new interface if it isn’t the problem.

Since you said you heard loud pops when plugging in your cables…I would also test the monitors to also eliminate those from the equation…and so on!

I know you already know this, but sometimes you have to hear it from someone else, and it isn’t much of a hassle compared to the peace of mind of truly fixing the problem, and learning from the mistake!

USB wi-fi gives me the crackles every time :frowning: I always have to turn it off (and the AV) to give me the flawless Cubase experience I have come to expect :wink:

I appreciate your help. I am going to purchase the new interface and NOT ever push the phantom button. I also updated all video card driversand bought a powered USB hub so hopefully this will do it.

I have had years of flawless USB/latop recording with the old Lexicon so I know it can be fixed. Just a somewhat costly pain in the but. Might be good to eventually go Firewire all the way.

I also Have the CI2+ and Cubase 6 fullversion go to your video tutorial quick start disk and watch the second video VST connections it will explain why your getting cracks and pops from your latency settings… It.s @ 4 minutes and 59 seconds of the video this will step by step explain how to solve your problem hope this helps no wait it will help Peace and good luck