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Old Aug 24, 2013, 05:26 AM   #1
macrumors 65816
Join Date: May 2005
Crackling Sound

Okay, this is actually a problem I've had for years but decided I'd finally like to do something about.

Basically I have an external sound card (a Griffin Firewave Firewire surround 5.1 device, now out of production but still working just fine), however during certain types of increased load the sound often begins to crackle, which I'm taking to mean that the bulk of the sound is being handled by the driver which is still bundled with OS X Mountain Lion.

The types of load that cause the crackling are a bit strange; the biggest offender is Safari, if I have several image-heavy tabs open then it can cause the crackling of any sound such as music that's playing in the background. Even with a huge number of such tabs Safari doesn't eat up much CPU though so it's not like iTunes is competing for cycles or anything, and if I switch to the built-in speaker I don't encounter this issue, so it's a bit of a strange one. Large amount of load on the video card seem to be a culprit as well, but again it's not consistent as I can play games like Star Trek Online (under WINE) which will experience no apparent issues with its sound.

Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone knows what the problem might be? I was hoping to try things like increasing the priority of whichever process runs the driver or handles the audio, but I don't enough about the processes involved to decide which one; would increasing coureaudiod's priority/niceness help? I'm not worried about giving sound too much priority as my machine has 8-cores after all and I doubt bumping the audio/driver priority would eat up so much as to really impact what I do.

It's something I've really had to debug before as I mostly just put up with it or pause music when I need to, but OS X and many of Apple's apps only become more graphically demanding, so the crackling happens more and more with every OS update
Hack Mini (2.7ghz, 3.9ghz turbo, HD4600, 16gb RAM, 500gb Samsung 840 EVO) in Akasa Euler case.
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