Whenever I play music through my headphones on my laptop, I get a little bit of fuzz or cracking that is noticeable at lower volumes.

When I listen through my phone, the sound is much clearer, both when music is playing and nothing is playing.

The noise is more noticeable with my Sennheiser 280 PRO headphones than with earbuds.

Is there anything I can do to improve audio playback on my laptop? I am surprised that the audio quality is better on my phone than my laptop which should have better hardware.


possible issue with background electrical noise or interference in the laptop, due perhaps in part to poor grounding inside the laptop or poor site wiring. one possible way to check would be to use a pair of USB headphones and see if you continue to hear it. to check if it is the site wiring try using an outlet on a different circuit, or alternatively see if the issue continues while on battery.

if it is due to interference in the laptop i tend to doubt it would be easy to resolve (short of always using USB phones). if it is site wiring you should contact a professional electrician to check the wiring in the building.

  • I unplugged the power, and what do you know, the noise went away. What can I do to 'filter' the power? What do you recommend for a surge protector? – Walter Dec 23 '10 at 15:05
  • i personally use APC Uninterruptable Power Supplies, although recommending UPSes is a bit subjective. a regular surge protector likely would not go far enough in scrubing the power to completely remove the sound from the line, but i suppose a high end one might. – Xantec Dec 23 '10 at 18:49
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    You can buy filtered mains sockets that will remove most electrical noise off the mains input – Tog Dec 23 '10 at 19:34
  • Ok, I will investigate UPSes. I must have never used my headphones while on battery power to notice that. – Walter Dec 23 '10 at 19:43
  • @Tog nice suggestion. not something i had seen or heard of previously – Xantec Dec 23 '10 at 20:12

Check your driver versions for your sound card.

Then, if that doesn't work, check your codecs. It's not at all impossible you've got an old or a bad audio codec lingering on your laptop that's causing issues...It's much more common with video, but it still happens.

If you'll post your hardware, I'll see if I can find some specific trouble shooting guides.

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