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Z170 Pro Gaming audio popping (Realtek issue)

Kuripakk
Level 9
So I bought the ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming board for a new build that I completed yesterday. I'm running Windows 10 and everything is working fine except for one thing:

Every time audio plays I get a small pop out of my headphones, before the sound starts and after the sound ends. So for example when you change the volume in Windows 10 you get a drrriiing sound but for me it's instead:
*pop* drrriiing *pop*

I googled a bit and apparently this is a known issue and has been going on for years, affecting multiple brands of motherboards and notebooks. The culprit is a bad set of Realtek drivers for the SupremeFX audio chip (in reality Realtek ALC1150) which supposedly has a power-management function built in that basically turns off the voltage on the audio output as soon as there is no audio playing. But this on/off behavior of the output causes a pop every time a switch happens, and it's really annoying.

So much for "Supreme" audio.

Perhaps it makes sense on a notebook in battery mode, but there is zero reason to have such a "feature" on a desktop, and I wouldn't be surprised if they used the same drivers and just forgot that in there.

I have confirmed that it is the drivers by rolling them back to the generic Microsoft HD audio drivers, which immediately fixes the issue, but then I'm afraid I'm losing some functions like the headphone amplifier, and Windows Update keeps trying to change back to the newer, broken drivers.

Really disappointed in ASUS. I did not pay the equivalent of $200+ for a premium product, marketed as having premium audio circuitry, only to receive something with nearly-unusable, broken drivers. They really need to get in contact with Realtek and have this driver issue sorted out once and for all.

I'm going to try to contact ASUS support but I really do not expect much, as this is the kind of case where you usually get a ton of apologies and 5 pages of boilerplate instructions you already know aren't going to help. Can't RMA either since there's technically nothing wrong with the board, and dismantling everything and returning it would be a massive pain anyway.

In the meantime however is there anyone who knows a solution to this? During my searches I came across references to a "power management" option in the Realtek audio utility as well as a registry key you could modify in RegEdit, but I had neither of those on my system.
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15 REPLIES 15

Disco_Cat
Level 7
I have the same issue with the same chipset on an Asus z97-pro Gamer mobo.

A sloppy fix is to roll back to the generic MS drivers and install SRS Audio Sandbox to act as a virtual interface. In my case, this allows full functionality of my 5.1 speaker setup (no bass or surround with just the MS drivers). In addition to not popping constantly, it also fixes the issues I had with poor sound quality using the realtek drivers.

The problem is, switching between headphones and speakers no longer works on the fly and some applications will try to use the generic drivers instead of the virtual interface, which will be at different volumes.

I would really prefer for the realtek drivers to be fixed so that things worked as intended, but it doesn't seem likely to ever happen given how long-running the problem has been with Asus and realtek drivers. Realtek support doesn't respond to emails either, it seems.

Undermoose
Level 7
As a final step, after video, chipset, etc, I reinstalled my Realtek drivers on my Sabertooth x99 running Windows 10. The micro stutter (barely audible) went away.

I suffer the EXACT same problem as the OP suffers from, I also have the same motherboard, the z170 pro gaming, it doesnt always make that sound i.e when playing music it seems ok but anything related to windows sounds like ding, or even testing by using the windows sound icon next to your clock, select sound devices and then select speakers and then double click on it and select the advanced tab and then push test, you will hear sound in your left ear and then right, it crackles just as the sound begins and ends in each ear.

I have even noticed interference when moving my mouse, very rarely though, its just the crackling thats getting to me.

I also cant believe that this board has had 10 bios updates in the space of a few months, which tells me it was rushed out the door to meet the release of skylake cpus,no wonder they were giving away a pair of cerebus headsets with them, oh the irony, give us free headsets to make up for the dodgy built in sound.

Crackling on my board happens from the rear line out which is connected to my soundbar and the front panel header is connected with the HD Audio connector instead of the ac97 one and the crackling happens on both.

Have formatted/reinstalled windows 7 twice, just the bare minimum, chipset,vga and audio then lan, also installed win 10 three times since it only takes 15-20 minutes tops and still the same problem. Funny thing is the crackling isnt there with the generic MSdrivers, my mobo is one month old and I have a soundcard arriving today so hopefully that cures the problem if not then I will be returning the board to where I bought it from.

TBH i had a funny feeling I would have problems as soon as I ordered another asus board, because going back to the amd 939 days, I had 2 faulty a8n deluxes and out of two a8n32 deluxe mobos only one worked properly, I was sworn off everything asus except for their soundcards and have been a gigabyte mobo fan since then til me getting yet another problematic asus mobo

All my gigabyte boards after socket 939 worked perfect from the get go, even the onboard realtek audio worked perfect, I really regret purchasing another asus mobo as their rma process is a nightmare hence why I am rmaing it via my etailer who are excellent and will test and replace within 7 days, instead of the weeks and weeks that you have to wait for an asus rma.

Either asus or realtek should let us know whats going on as the alc1150 chip isnt exactly new, its a few years old even though asus do call it supremefx 2015.

Its very annoying to have to rma a mobo just because of a dodgy onboard chip And buy a soundcard that is over 100 quid when Ishouldnt have to and its going to severly get in the way of my other addin cards.

whether its as explained by the OP, a power saving feature or a driver problem, something needs done about it ASAP.

EDIT,

Thats bios number 11 just hit the net, damn asus knows this board has MAJOR issues.

I had the same problem with z 97 pro gamer, and most likely with z 170 pro gaming as well. I really hope they are going to fix it in future because this is NOT OK.
Hopefully the root of this problem does not lay in bad hardware design.

Edit: Latest bios does not resolve the audio problem...:(

Ive rma'd my board and am getting a new replacement so I was told this morning and as you mentioned bios 1102 which is the 11th release bios for the z170 pro gaming board never solved my problem either, neither did buying a xonar phoebus solo soundcard, so if it still happens with a dedicated soundcard and with onboard sound disabled in the bios, this points to much deeper problems, its not drivers, its a hardware fault on the motherboard itself or they cant code a decent bios that might be the cure to our problem.

Personally I think its a hardware fault on a board that has an inherent flawed design due to the rush to get them to market for skylakes release. I would not be surprised if in a few months time we see a rev2 of this board which will totally fix the problem.

Thing is, I had the problem thing with Z97 pro gamer...
Ether there is something wrong with alc 1150 or the whole ,,Pro'' gaming series.
I have not tried dedicated sound card so far, so I dont know if that changes anything.

i have got similar issues and. my usb ports behave strange, also after PSU and Mobo exchange.
i hear some random plops from my external pro audio device (RME UFX) which is connected via USB.
this device is known for its rocksolid audio preformance and it is a well known piece of gear in the pro audio sector.
i hope it is not a hardware layout problem because i also deactivated the soundcard in BIOS and still get the pops.
not loud but they are here.
am still hoping for a firmware that fixes this but i fear that it´s never gonna happen...

Well, I got a brand new board back from scan.co.uk and without the asus/realtek drivers installed the sound works ok, with the asus/realtek drivers installed I get crackling and basically like a static sound every now and then.

When I move my mouse I can at times hear that, I have replaced every single thing in that pc to brand new components, even the soundbar, still no joy, it also still does the same thing when i unconnect my old and new soundbar and use my pissy old desktop pc speakers or my four sets of headphones/sets.

Surely all of my headsets, soundbars and old desktop speakers are not broken and why does the sound work ok with microsofts drivers in windows ten but as soon as I install the audio drivers from either the cd or from the website, the exact same problem occurs.

The problem is not just confined to windows 10, it also does it in windows seven aswell, it has to either be a driver problem since MS drivers work perfectly but as soon as you install the realtek/asus ones the problems start or a faulty implementation of the alc1150 soundchip on this board.

evil-scotsman wrote:
Well, I got a brand new board back from scan.co.uk and without the asus/realtek drivers installed the sound works ok, with the asus/realtek drivers installed I get crackling and basically like a static sound every now and then.

When I move my mouse I can at times hear that, I have replaced every single thing in that pc to brand new components, even the soundbar, still no joy, it also still does the same thing when i unconnect my old and new soundbar and use my pissy old desktop pc speakers or my four sets of headphones/sets.

Surely all of my headsets, soundbars and old desktop speakers are not broken and why does the sound work ok with microsofts drivers in windows ten but as soon as I install the audio drivers from either the cd or from the website, the exact same problem occurs.

The problem is not just confined to windows 10, it also does it in windows seven aswell, it has to either be a driver problem since MS drivers work perfectly but as soon as you install the realtek/asus ones the problems start or a faulty implementation of the alc1150 soundchip on this board.


Did you happen to ever find a fix?

I still have this issue after multiple replacement on all components, which obviously work fine. Windows audio drivers also work perfectly fine.

I'm on the latest 1402 bios as well, no OC. All stock. I don't even have my GPU in.

Any solution yet?
Z790 Asus Hero Maximus on 0816 BIOS (0914 and 1202 crashes for me on XMP I), Intel 13900k stock clock, Asus 4090 Strix OC edition, FF3D532G720 Teamgroup Ram running XMP I, 16gb x 2, Samsung 980 Pro 2TB x 2, Seasonic VERTEX GX 1200W, Win 11 Pro 64, Deepcool LS720 AIO, NZXT H7 Flow. Comfortably using Armoury Crate for updates/fan xpert.