Horrendous distortion on playback

I am getting horrendous distortion on playbeack with my current project. It starts OK initially then the distortion kicks in qfter a minute or so - my only way round this is to save the file, come out of Cubase, re-start Cubase and load the file again - this only leads to the same thing happening again and again.
It is quite a large project so it takes far too much time to do this, and anyway, I only get a couple of minutes to work on it before . . . DISTORTION!
Sample rate is 44100 and buffer size is 1024.
Help please. Ike

Are you saying that the output meter turns red? This is what you mean by “distortion”?

Nope - when the distortion (very choppy distortion) kicks in the output meter remains as before, below zero dbs.

Two questions:

  1. Do you happen to be running Cubase on a MAC?
  2. What audio interface do you use?

At 1024 samples you shoudn’t have “distortion” (crackling noise).
On my MAC for example, some USB audio interfaces generate pops and crackles even at 2048 samples. This is why I’m asking if you run Cubase on a MAC.

Would be useful to know if the problem goes away when switching to built-in audio.

What if you go into preferences and change buffer settings, does that clear it too? i.e. is it the audio engine that needs to be reset, or actually a restart of Cubase?

I’m running Cubase on an PC - intel i7-9700K CPU @ 3.60GHz with 16 GB RAM.
My audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4.

I would check the audio performance meter, the focusrite audio buffer settings, and temporarily switch off any plugins that are cpu heavy or have high latency. You can also try the latency compensation button on the bottom left of the project window. it’s designed to temporarily stop any cpu heavy plugins.

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It’s very strange that you experience crackles on this configuration.

Two more questions.

  1. Where are your VSTi libraries located? (external ssd/hdd drive? internal ssd/hdd drive?).
  2. How organized is your PC? Do you have enough free space? It’s important that you disable running in the background software that you don’t need. On my windows 10 machine for example I use a software called Piriform CCleaner that lets me disable what I don’t need. Windows is a tricky OS. Trickier than macOS. Because of this, I would try reinstalling it (if this is an option), and after all basic software has been installed, I’d use Macrium Reflect to create an image of the partition where everything has been installed (usually th C partition). This way, if something goes wrong again, I wouldn’t lose time installing every bit of software that I need.

Thanks all fror your helpful responses - I find that turning Constrain Delay Compensation on for a second or two and then off again at least helps me keep working without having to exist and reload everything, although it cuts the level considerably when it’s on.
I’ll keep trying to sort this though - things are ponting to the 16GB RAM perhaps not being enough when I have a lot of plugins engaged.
Thanks again