How to Fix Computer Audio From Skipping
By Dan Stone
Rare issues with audio skipping on your computer are nothing to be concerned about; any computer may encounter occasional audio skipping when the computer gets pushed to its maximum resource usage by demanding programs. However, frequent and constant computer audio skips can indicate a problem with the computer. You can resolve most audio skipping problems for free or at low cost.
Dirty Lens or Disc
While computer modern computers generally play audio from hard drive storage and online streaming, if you're listening to music or watching a movie on an optical disc like a CD, DVD or Blu-ray you can get audio skipping because of a dirty disc or lens. Before cleaning the drive, try cleaning the disc by wiping the disc from the center hole outward with a soft, line-free cloth. Try cleaning the optical lens with an optical drive cleaning disc. You can also try to clean both the disc and the lens by blasting it with compressed air.
Frayed or Damaged Cable
Frayed or damaged audio cables can cause skipping audio. Skipping due to cable damage is generally marked by the sound dropping in and out as opposed to pause and play skips. If the cable is worn down to the point where it can't constantly carry the signal, the slightest movement can be the difference between having and not having sound. Frayed or damaged cables should be replaced to fix the problem.
We Need More Power
You may be pushing your computer too hard if it frequently hangs and skips. If you're running a resource-demanding program like a video editor, or running many programs simultaneously, the processor can become overworked, disrupting audio playback and producing choppy video. Try reducing program performance settings or closing unnecessary programs to free resources. Laptop users can try setting the system's "Power Plan" to "High Performance" to troubleshoot. Additionally, you may be able to get more out of your existing hardware by updating audio and video drivers to the most recent versions. Driver updates often improve hardware efficiency. You can get the drivers through Windows Update or the manufacturer site. You can also prevent some skipping by selecting "Disable All Enhancements" on the speaker properties "Enhancements" tab.
Clock and Buffering Problems
A computer's audio will skip if the sound hardware is processing audio data unevenly. The audio hardware features a word clock, which evenly times the audio samples taken from a wave form the system uses to recreate recorded sound. If this device malfunctions and takes audio samples at uneven intervals, it causes a type of skipping called jitter.
The audio may also skip if the playback program is using an insufficiently sized buffer. The buffer is preloaded data in advance of what the computer is currently playing back. The computer uses the buffer to compensate for multitasking; if the buffer is too small the audio will skip when the computer is working on something else.
You may also get buffer problems from online streams when the stream encounters service problems. The faster your Internet connection, the less likely this is to occur, but if the service problem is on the sender's side, there's not much you'll be able to do about it.
- Macworld: Cures for an Uncooperative CD/DVD Drive
- Good Housekeeping: Cleaning CDs and DVDs
- Steam Support: Sound Skips or Stutters
- Microsoft Windows: Power Plans: Frequently Asked Questions
- Apogee Knowledge Base: Word Clock - What's the Difference Between Jitter andFrequency Drift?
- Apogee Knowledge Base: What Is Jitter?
- PC Magazine Encyclopedia: Definition of: Buffering
- Windows: How Do I Stop My Music From Skipping or Breaking Up When I Play It?
Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.