Popping in Audacity Audio Playback

Hi, I am running Audacity 3.0.2 on Windows 10 on an HP Envy x360.

I am trying to record the audio playing through my computer speakers using Audacity. I am using Windows WASAPI as my audio host, Speaker/Headphone (Realtek(R) Audio) (loopback) as my recording device with Stereo recording channels. Project rate is 44100 Hz.

I am recording the loopback audio that I am playing through my computer using these Audacity settings, but when I play it back in Audacity, the audio has a lot of popping. But when I export the audio file to an mp3, there is no popping. This did not used to happen. I do not use Audacity very often, so I do not know exactly what change may have caused this to start happening.

While I am thankful that the popping does not show up in my exported audio, it is aggravating since I cannot tell what popping is from Audacity playback or what popping is actually in my recording.

I made sure that all updates are installed through Windows update and HP Support Assistant. I also installed the latest Realtek audio driver for my laptop from HP with the problem still happening after install. I also deleted Audacity, manually deleted the Audacity folder in the C:\Program Files (x86) after uninstalling Audacity, and then reinstalled Audacity into the default folder as before. Yet this problem still persists.

Please let me know if more info is needed or if another article answers this question.
Thank you for your time!

Can you tell by careful and repeated inspection of a small section, that the popping is happening in the same place every time?

Do you use Skype, Zoom or other chat app?

Does it still do that if you temporarily change the recording setting to something other than “loopback.” Pick built-in microphone and turn it all the way down. Something like that.

What I’m going for is (as you discovered) the sound is actually OK, the playback settings are unstable. I bet if you Exported a perfect quality WAV file and played it in Windows Media, that would be perfect, too.