What Causes My Computer Sound to Stutter?

By Scott Shpak

Sound stuttering is characterized by short skips, loops or silent sections.
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Stutters, pauses, interruptions, clicks and pops all interfere with the enjoyment of sound from your computer. Though there may be a variety of contributing factors, sound stutters usually come down to strain on the central processing unit of your computer, though your Internet connection may play a role.

A Question of Resources

As your computer works behind the scenes to deliver sound content from media players, applications and websites, it manipulates resources, particularly random-access memory, central processing unit time and hard disk access. Over time, memory leaks, coding inefficiencies and even random events such as minor power surges or static discharges can affect how your computer works. Rebooting your computer by shutting down and restarting brings resources back to a fresh state. If you notice audio stuttering after your computer has been on for some time, rebooting may eliminate the issue.

A Matter of Drivers

Sound handled by your computer uses dedicated computer chips on a sound card or motherboard. These chips work with a variety of computer configurations. For example, a sound card that worked with Windows Vista can still work with Windows 8, but it needs a different set of instructions, called drivers, to work with the new operating system. Stuttering may well be a symptom of a driver issue, even if you haven't made a system change. Check with your sound card manufacturer for the most recent driver update, which can be installed manually or using Windows Update.

The Case for Applications

Computer programs, browsers and applications may require periodic updates to continue trouble-free operation. In many cases, sound problems arise from a program causing an unusual resource drain. Browsers, in particular, present a challenge, as the number and quality of plug-ins, extensions and toolbars varies from computer to computer. Each of these items, using your browser as a platform, increases demands to the CPU, so try disabling them to improve performance. Clearing your browser cache and cookies may also improve playback of Web-based audio.

The Internet Connection

Internet radio stations and other streaming media depend on Internet bandwidth to supply sufficiently fast data. Interruptions in the audio stream may cause sound to pause or loop. Rebooting your modem and router may help, and connecting a computer with an Ethernet cable provides a faster connection than Wi-Fi. Some sound cards come with dedicated control applications, and it may be possible through these control panels to increase audio buffer. This permits your computer to store more audio prior to playback, to smooth any data-delivery variations.