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Nat1400
1 Copper

Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Hello all,


Ever since getting my Dell XPS 13 (the 2016 Kaby Lake model), I've experienced a buzzing noise coming from the speakers when playing audio. 

I seem to experience this across almost all levels of volume aside from the very lowest volume levels (<10), and predictably, the buzzing gets worse the louder the volume is. 

I've been in touch with tech support but they were less than helpful. 

Worth noting that the buzzing noise only comes from the speakers when audio is playing. It's not present while using the laptop normally and it gets worse as the volume increases.

Drivers are all up to date, so I don't think that's the cause. Like I said, it's been a problem since day 1. Is there a known cause for this and if so, what's the solution? I expected a lot more from a top of the range laptop.


Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!

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6 Replies
Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Hello. You need to narrow the cause down to either a software or hardware issue. If it's in the hardware, it would be covered if the laptop is still under warranty.

Dell XPS 13 (the 2016 Kaby Lake model)

I don't know which of the XPS 13's that is, but they all have Realtek audio. The first test would be to compare the performance of the speakers using the Realtek driver to their performance with the Windows native audio driver.

1. Open the Device Manager.
2. Expand the "Sound, Video & Game Controllers" section.
3. Right click on "Realtek High Definition Audio" and select to uninstall.
4. Put a check mark in the option to delete the driver software, and then ok.
5. Restart the laptop and go back to the Device Manager and check again for a Realtek driver. Keep uninstalling & restarting until Realtek no longer appears under Sound...Controllers and "High Definition Audio Device" or "Intel High definition" appears in its place. [To later return to the Realtek driver, download a fresh copy from you model's support page.]

If the buzzing goes away with the native driver, then the Realtek driver is the source of the noise. Realtek includes software (Waves) that intensely processes the audio signal and can cause all sorts of aural artifacts. There were reports of "static" with some of the XPS models after the Win10 anniversary update.

If the buzz remains while the native driver is installed, then there is a strong probability that the hardware is causing the noise. In such a case, a further step you can take, to confirm hardware as the cause, is to test with Linux Live.

Linux Live is a type of Linux operating system that can be written onto a cd or dvd disk, or installed onto a usb flash drive. Then, using the laptop's one-time boot menu, the laptop can be booted into Linux temporarily. When the laptop is restarted, it will boot back into Windows as usual.

If the buzz is still there when playing audio while running Linux, then it's being caused by the hardware. Testing with Linux , using its default audio driver that is loaded with it, will rule out Windows and Windows-based audio drivers as the cause, leaving the hardware as the cause.

If you reply back, I would be interested to know the model of the laptop, and what support said about the problem.

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Worth noting that the buzzing noise only comes from the speakers when audio is playing.

It doesn't exist in the audio when listening through headphones plugged into the laptop's audio port, correct?

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

Nat1400
1 Copper

RE: Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Hi Jim,

Massive thank you for both of your quick and helpful replies. The model number is 9360.

You're correct in saying that the audio is absolutely fine when played through headphones and speakers, so I reckon it's a hardware issue.

I did try uninstalling the Realtek driver (several times), however once fully uninstalled, I simply couldn't play audio at all. Troubleshooting just reinstalled the Realtek, but as previously stated, I'm pretty certain it's the actual speakers in the laptop.

It almost seems like the vibration from the speakers at higher volumes is what's causing the buzzing noise. When I squeeze the bottom of the laptop, where the speakers are located, the buzzing noise seems to go away. Half tempted to just tighten the screws up on the underside of the laptop as opposed to sending it away, losing all of my data and being without a laptop for weeks (I rely on it quite heavily for work).

Do you know if doing that would void the warranty?

Regarding tech support, I tried to get in touch with them via several means and was simply unable to. It's almost like Dell made it deliberately difficult to contact tech support. I had previously spoken to a member of the regular support team, who was incredibly helpful, and asked him to help me with the issue. He told me he'd requested tech support to call me, which they never did. Probably got quite a lot on their plate, and the odd individual case can sometimes get overlooked.

This was back in October last year. Chasing it up was one of those jobs that I always meant to do, but was never a priority (as the laptop works pretty perfectly aside from the speakers).

Thanks again for all of your help,

Nat

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Jim Coates
5 Osmium

RE: Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Do you know if doing that would void the warranty?

Nat, as I understand it, you are allowed to go as far as opening up the laptop case without voiding the warranty. Any parts you replace are not covered under the warranty but it is not otherwise voided. Of course any damage you cause by anything you do is not covered.

I don't see any problem in tightening screws a reasonable amount, but consider that it is just my opinion. Someone from Dell might contradict everything I have said here about the warranty.

Regarding tech support

If you ever want to try tech support again, send this guy a private message and relate to him your previous experience. I think he will try to help it go more smoothly.

Jim Coates -- 15 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04 

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Filipe.steiner
1 Copper

RE: Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Hi Nat and Jim...  I have the same problem.  The same model xps 13 - october 2016.

Do you got solve the problem??  How?? That guy helps you?

Thank you all

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Nat1400
1 Copper

RE: Dell XPS 13 (2016 Kaby Lake Model) Buzzing From Speakers

Hi Filipe,

Interestingly, that's the same month I bought my XPS 13 as well. I've yet to attempt to pinch up the screws on the case to see if that helps (been very busy, hence lack of replies), but I'm hoping to get it done before the end of next week.

If that fails, I'll get in touch with Brad to see if he can provide any insight.

Will keep you posted on my results!