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I reinstalled Ubuntu 11.10 from scratch. Tested videos in Banshee, VLC, everything was fine. Ubuntu then picked up about 356 updates. After doing so, videos are now choppy - Youtube, playing mp4 files from my hard drive, doesn't matter - quality is horrible. Using a Radeon 5450 video card EliteGroup A885GM-A2 mobo.

Obviously something in the upgrade hosed things up. Everything was working fine when doing a fresh install.

Thanks, Sam

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After more consideration, I replaced pulseaduio with ALSA. So far, this has fixed my issue. Audio playback is once again smooth. I followed the instructions here: hecticgeek.com/2012/01/… Hope this helps someone else.Sam –  Sam Feb 19 '12 at 19:08
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It happened to my system as well with one of the updates a couple of days ago. Although I’m using 11.10 for a few months now and never had problems with sound. I have realtek alc892 integrated sound card and one day it started delaying all sounds the system tries to play, it’s like the performance of sound driver isn’t enough. And then it ends up producing some high frequency noise together with 2-3 secs delayed sound stream. The strange thing is that if I redirect my sound to the HDMI output device – all this evil is gone. So it happens only if I use analog output of my sound card.

And of course, if I remove pulseaudio and replace it with alsa-mixer – it works much better even with analog output.

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