Audacity v 2.4.2 - Steady Crackling in Audio is back (Windows 10)

Hi, hoping someone can advise please.
I’ve been using Audacity for 14-15 years now and it’s been brilliant to use. In December 2023 though, I suddenly had crackling in the audio I was editing for my weekly show, steady throughout. In the end, I went back to an earlier version of Audacity 2.4.2 and that seemed to do the trick.
However, today that crackling is back.
At first I thought it might be my mixer or headphones. I have though tested the audio using other audio/video players, running it through the mixer, and tested everything from YT, iPlayer, iTunesm VideoLan too, using the headphones and without the headphones and there’s zero clicking. So I think the crackling is Audacity specific.

I’m going to uninstall and reinstall v.2.4.2 though I suspect it won’t resolve the issue.
Can anyone please advise why this might be happening again? I have seen the odd old posts on this issue going back several years, so I know it can and does happen.
Thanks for your time and help.

Update
I reinstalled v 2.4.2 and am still having the same crackling issue, so stuck for ideas on resolving this.

You missed the step where you describe your microphone, mixer, and connection method. That’s important because the point of monitoring could tell you where the cracking is coming from.

But there are a couple of generics you can try. Do a Clean Windows Shutdown. Hold Shift and do a Shutdown. Not regular Shutdown and not Restart. Wait. Start. This may take longer than normal That’s the point. It resets a bunch more things than regular tools.

Disconnect or shut down your network connection. Even if the problem doesn’t vanish, did it change?

Are you using drives other than the c: drive in the machine?

Before you comment that a troubleshooting method doesn’t have anything to do with sound, by definition, you don’t know what’s causing the problem. There’s a troubleshooting newbie error: “That can’t possibly be causing the problem, so we’re not going to check it.”

Post back if you do turn something up—even if you fix it.

Koz

Thank you for your reply, Koz.
My microphone is a Rode Procaster Broadcast-Quality Dynamic Microphone.
The mixer is a ProFX8v2
It’s connected via USB.
Zoom interviews automatically go into the F Drive, but when I’ve recorded guests over the phone or WhatsApp, those have gone into the C Drive. Audio from both drives is affected with the crackling.

I’ve also done a Clean Windows Shutdown as you advised and tested the various audio files in safe mode. The crackling is diminished (based on 15 mins of testing) but it is still there, just not as prominent.

I know very little about these things as you can no doubt tell, but it would seem there is something not quite working between mixer and Audacity. I got the mixer in late 2020 and was making shows regularly until the end of 2022. After a gap of a year, I returned to making shows in December 2023 and that’s when I first experienced the issue. The first time I seemed to have got around it by reinstalling v2.4.2. There was maybe another day that week where the crackling resurfaced but aside from that, I’ve had two months with no problems until today.

Appreciate your time and help and any further advice based on the above.

In the sample rate and bit depth, I have it set to 2 Channel 16 bit 48000 HZ DVD Quality.

As we go.

The Procaster (not Podcaster) works by speaking into the round end. There are popular microphones which work by speaking into the side and it’s not always obvious which is which.

I’m guessing the sound doesn’t crackle when you have your headphones plugged into the Mackie mixer. I know you can’t do production like that, but it’s worth knowing.

I think that’s the phrase that pays. You did the Windows clean shutdown to make sure to get rid of Zoom and all the other network and internet applications, settings, and processes. Audacity doesn’t like those very much.

So you started the machine after cleaning and the first thing you did was start Zoom and all the other network and internet applications, settings, and processes.

I’ll bet a lot of chocolate if you recorded your voice after the clean shutdown but with the internet disconnected—really disconnected, pull the plug—the crackling would be gone.

It’s worth checking even if you can’t actually produce like that.

This is how I got around that last time I had to connect with anybody. I used two computers. The machine on the left is running Audacity to record and the built-in music player to play the theme song.

The machine on the right is connected to Skype (in this case) and it’s job is to connect and shovel sound into and out of the mixer. No audio production software.

Denise sounds like she’s on the sofa behind me, doesn’t she? Actually, she’s three time zones away. This is an engineering test, so it’s a scattered mess.

The super-duper important note here is that Audacity never sees the internet.

I know that Zoom will record both sides of a conversation if you ask it nice, so that may be all you need.

Koz

Thanks for this.
That’s a lot to take in so will reply in greater detail when I can fully grasp this.
What I can say right away is the crackling is there when the headphones are plugged into the Mackie. But only crackles in Audacity.
As said previously, with headphones in mixer, all audio played outside of Audacity is clean.

And all my audio, old and new recordings are clean. Again, if I play them outside of Audacity, they work fine. I can record right now and it’s clean. I’ve confirmed that by testing the audio outside of Audacity. But that same audio will crackle when I edit but export clean.

My grasp of this whatever is going on is nowhere near your level but I can confirm all of the above so I’m still not sure how I fix this. A few editing contacts have suggested it’s a bit rate issue or a slow processor causing a lagging issue. For two years, mixer, zoom, WhatsApp and phone interviews and Audacity all worked well together.

Thanks again for your time and advice.

Forgot to add, not all my shows are interview-based. I’m often recording myself straight into Audacity for solo work. Audio goes in clean, exports clean but right now isn’t playing back clean within Audacity. It’s a Playback issue I’ve only experienced in the last two months, but have had the same set up and way of working for over 3 years.

Because you’re playing the Zoom conversations into the mixer?

With the internet disconnected? I bet you’re wondering why I’m going on about this.

It’s invisible to you, but networks , which look like straight, simple connections, have unstable delays, routing management, collision detection/resends, and outright missing data errors. To naïve software, that can look like a broken hard drive.

And it can all change with time. “This was working last week and now my recording is straight in the bin.”

And just to cover basics, I would have unplugged and replugged the USb cable. Are you going through a USB router or other connection manager?

And as above, do post back if you find a way to change the symptoms.

Koz

Where is the F: drive?

Koz

No, the internet is never disconnected. I always record whilst online. And again, all my recordings are clean. They play back perfectly fine on other audio players through the Mackie and headphones and with the Mackie switched off and through my PC speakers too,
I’ll unplug and plug the USB cable back in now (presumably the Mackie one?).

It’s not just the Zoom recordings I edit through the mixer. It’s my own solo stuff which is recorded straight into Audacity, it’s the telephone and WhatsApp interviews. Always played back through the mixer and headphones to edit and all of them have the same issue at the moment, but playback clean, through the mixer and headphones, using other audio players.
Sorry if I’m repeating msyelf. I appreciate things can suddenly change. I’m trying to understand why it all worked for two years, the same exact set up and now twice in two months I’ve got this crackling issue with no changes at all to my set up or equipment.

I work from my desktop PC. The F drive is the hard drive, separate to my C drive. The internal hard drive to be specific. It’s not some external drive with a dodgy cable.

Just trying to break everything down for myself, hence multiple replies, but I’ll try and contain any future replies into the one post. Thanks again for your time.

From here it sounds an awful lot like an external drive in the next town connected by your internet service.

Windows machines generally automatically increment the drive letters. I have several older machines with c: and d: hard drives. E: can be the CD and/or the DVD drive. F: can be anything above that. It’s extraordinarily unusual for a machine to have a c: and f: with nothing in the middle.

It’s unusual unless you have an internet connected drive. The setup for those go to a lot of effort to make the drive appear ordinary and comfortable just like all the other drives on your machine. F: is chosen to be unlikely to bump into any actual physical drives you may have.

How does your machine connect to the internet? WiFi? Actual physical cable?

Screen Shot 2024-02-05 at 8.28.40 PM

If you have a cable, then it’s a simple matter to unplug it and restart the machine. If it comes up with no F: drive then you have your answer.

In any event, the real answer is stop using Audacity. You and Audacity don’t get along and may never get along. Worse than being broken, it’s unstable. You can’t do production like that.

Koz

There is another one. Have you ever done a drive optimization? Also called defragmenting.

When the computer stores things on the drive, it generally doesn’t put files down in one chunk. Most times, it splits up the work into “fragments” and then stuffs the fragments onto the drive wherever there’s room. Then it carefully writes down what it did.

The computer slows down as this fragmenting problem gets worse and worse.

In early days, you could start defragmenting when you went to bed and see how it went when you got up. It was always searching for a no-fragments condition.

The last time I did it, you could choose how “neat” you wanted to be. If you were really obsessive, you could just let it go down to rearranging tiny pieces, but you didn’t have to go that far.

Koz

Thanks. All very useful things to consider and yes, doesn’t look likely I can resolve this. I know that crackling in Audacity is an issue that affects many users from time to time How To Stop Audacity Crackling (Simple 5-Step Fix!) but in my case, it doesn’t look like I can fix this. unfortunately.

1 Like

One Full-Stop about troubleshooting this is the observation that Audacity is the only application that apparently does it. That’s hard to work around.

Did you disconnect the network? That’s a known cause of problems.

Koz

The first time I had the issue back in early Dec 2023, I found this on this forum Crackling/Clicking/Tapping noise on Audio [SOLVED] which echoed some of my own experience with the crackling. I’ve tried the recorded audio on Reaper and a trial of Adobe and it’s crackle-free. My preference is to continue with Audacity because of what I know and have been comfortable with. Editing a show is hard enough every week without having to factor in learning brand new software on top of that. But obviously it may be I need to go down that route.

Interestingly, today, mirroring exactly what happened back in Dec, I’ve tried the audio again and right now, there’s no crackling on Audacity. All I can think that I did was unplug the mixer as suggested yesterday among other suggestions. I have no idea why that might help or whether it’s just a coincidence. At some point, based on what’s been happening, the crackling will be back so I know this isn’t resolved. Have just tried to get as much editing as I can get done today. It’s just a really strange issue. I’ve spoken to other audio editors and guys that work in IT and they’re all baffled.