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From time to time I get a lot of static noise when playing sound. It stops when no sound is played (e.g. when music playback is stopped).

  • Seems to be independent from output device (same symptons with either my speakers or headphones)
  • When stopping sound, the static noise lingers for just a tiny bit. It doesn’t stop immediately
  • Unplugging my speakers and then plugging them in again amplifies the symptoms.
  • Opening the alsamixer GUI in the terminal and making sure that the levels are not in the red area makes things a bit better, but doesn’t solve this issue

Lastly, for what I can tell, this happens at completely random times. And it goes away just like that. I tried rebooting several times, no luck. At some point in the future it will be just fine.

So I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on and how to fix it.

8 Answers 8

39

For what it’s worth, running the following seems to fix the issue:

pulseaudio -k

As to why, I have no idea.

From pulseaudio man page:

-k | --kill: Kill an already running PulseAudio daemon of the calling user (Equivalent to sending a SIGTERM).

Edit: This works reliably for me. Whenever this issue comes up, I run this command to fix it.

8
  • 1
    Works for me as well. Now we need an explanation why!
    – smirnoffs
    Aug 27, 2020 at 18:48
  • 2
    Has no effect for me at all. Oct 16, 2020 at 16:07
  • No works for me using Ubuntu 20.04
    – Santiago
    Jan 26, 2021 at 1:05
  • 1
    k in this case stands for "kill". The command kills the pulseaudio process, which in turn, will get started again automatically. Basically it restarts pulseaudio.
    – Levente
    Jan 26, 2021 at 19:15
  • It also works for me. Ubuntu 20.04
    – jplandrain
    Feb 18, 2021 at 13:35
5

I am not a specialist in this area and don't know why the following worked, but it appears to have fixed the exact same problem on my computer.

In the file /etc/pulse/default.pa change the line:

load-module module-udev-detect

to read:

load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0

I found this on another thread where several others also claimed it solved the same audio problem for them.

3
  • 1
    Doesn't work for me. Oct 16, 2020 at 16:09
  • 1
    No works for me using Ubuntu 20.04
    – Santiago
    Jan 26, 2021 at 1:05
  • I am going to test! Jan 24 at 14:46
3

Not an expert but in my case it was my headphones playing static noise but only when sound was playing.

Turned out it my headphones were over amplified (if that's the correct term). Turning down the headphone output with alsamixer fixed it.

enter image description here

3
  • do you need to reboot or something for the changes to take effect using this program?
    – Bersan
    Oct 6, 2020 at 23:06
  • @bersan No, I did not need to reboot.
    – Cimm
    Oct 8, 2020 at 6:03
  • Simply doesn't work. Oct 16, 2020 at 16:04
1

I know this question is old but it still seems to be an issue so for those still interested I believe I have a reason for why pulseaudio -k fixes the problem (re @kleinfreund answer and @smirnoffs comment on that answer).

According to the man page for pulseaudio -k is short for --kill and kills the currently running PulseAudio daemon. The system will notice it stopped an start a new instance (hence why the static stops ... until the next time).

I have no idea why the static starts in the first place, maybe a bug or a configuration issue (but that doesn't narrow it down), I'm currently on the hunt for a permanent solution.

2
  • 1
    ...can you recreate the condition? Did you find it explained elseware? Oct 13, 2020 at 13:33
  • I've been seeing the issue frequently, I haven't worked out how to reproduce it consistently yet, just creeps up on me, found this while looking for a permanent solution. Other people across the internet have seen the problem (in fact Arch Linux mentions what I assume is the same issue on their wiki). Though the explanation was just based on the man page my own knowledge.
    – David
    Oct 14, 2020 at 14:16
1

I tried all of the answers in the thread - none of them worked (I was scared it might be a HW problem). The only thing that surprisingly worked for me was turning the PC off, keeping it off for a minute and then turning it back on. Simple restarting the device did not work. After this, the problem disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared.

1

This appears to still be a problem years later.

Like others, I don't know the original cause. For me, I can trigger this distinctive static by switching repeatedly between multiple audio sources such as HDMI outputs on multiple displays, digital line-out, and multiple bluetooth audio outputs.

The solution (for me, and perhaps others) is much simpler and less problematic than killing pulse audio in terminal or rebooting the whole machine.

Simply navigate to the "Sound" tab under the default settings app, and toggle the "over-amplification" button.

This is the screen you need, it's under the default settings app

I suspect this is an issue with the pulse-audio code being written in some places to set volume 0-99, but in other places 0-199 (100% over-amplification), and then mixing up those settings when trying to add/subtract/reapply them between outputs.

Regardless of the why, toggling the over-amplification setting on/off appears to get things back on track.

Works on following system:

DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=20.10
DISTRIB_CODENAME=groovy
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 20.10"
NAME="Ubuntu"
VERSION="20.10 (Groovy Gorilla)"
0

I was having the same issue on a dual boot system. Previously pulseaudio -k can temporarily solve the problem once it occurs.

This time it occurs immediately on boot and restarting pulseaudio does not help. Rebooting multiple times into ubuntu does not solve the issue either.

For me, the problem disappear after booting once into windows then boot back to ubuntu...

2
  • So perhaps a firmware-related problem.Do you use Intel HD audio? Oct 16, 2020 at 16:09
  • @ParsaMousavi No, it is an AMD one. And the trick only works some of the time (I am struggling with it again now).
    – hkchengrex
    Nov 29, 2020 at 10:11
0

If you're using VLC Player, just turn its volume under 100%. it worked for me. I hope it works for you.

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