I also only have this issue when I'm wireless. I updated all of the drivers, including the sound one they recommended from July 2011 and it actually made it worse! The ONLY way to stop the crackling is to move to a hard-wired connection which pretty much VIOLATES the purpose of a laptop.
When I plug in the Ethernet cable the sound stops crackling but as soon as I unplug it the crackling comes right back... Also I would like to add I tested the sound by using the bluetooth on the 15z laptop to connect to my bluetooth speakers and there is NO crackling sound, and NO Ethernet cable was connected. I used the WiFi, but as soon as I take it off bluetooth and use the speakers on the 15z laptop or use a head set the crackling comes right back using WiFi. The Ethernet cable needs to be plugged back in for the crackling sound to stop if I want to use the speakers in the laptop or use my head set.
PS. Also I have a head set that uses the USB port and I tested it and there is NO crackling sound under the use of WiFi, but once again as soon as I unplug it the crackling sound comes right back unless I use the Ethernet cable.
I found this on the other page and it fixed the sound problem.....
Oh my goodness I'm so glad I found this thread and disabled Atheros. Just tried it out and so far it has completely "fixed" the sound crackling issue. On top of that it fixed another issue I was having that I was tearing my hair out to try to fix. I have been having graphical stuttering along with the audio crackling in a few games (including Skyrim and League of Legends). My frame rate was fine but it would periodically just hang up for a fraction of a second making things really unplayable. After disabling Atheros it works fine now and is silky smooth. Additionally I noticed that my cpu usage seems to have gone down about 20% or so which just seems absurd from just this driver. I even togged it on and off a couple times to check and sure enough this driver seems to be just hogging my cpu resources.
So disabling this driver makes it so ethernet doesn't work right? I only ask because I'm not near a ethernet jack right now and don't know what this driver is for. If that's so it's pretty inconvenient to have to go switch it on whenever you need ethernet. Is there some way to automate it with scripting or something so that when I toggle wifi off it will automatically enable this driver?
The Atheros driver is for the Ethernet port. Disabling it will obviously mean no wired Ethernet. Though I don't believe this is a solution. My ethernet connection has never been the problem, wireless is.
It seems there are different variants of this problem. The previous thread had lots of mixed posts about sound issues.
Lots of people have said disable the Atheros Wired Interface but it does nothing in my situation.
I called up Dell support and I was talking to him about this problem. I also emailed him a link to this page so they can see what we have done so far. I explained to him that dell came out and replace my motherboard and speakers and also replaced my wireless card. I also updated all drivers and ran BIOS and nothing worked. The only thing that worked for me is going to device manager and disabling the Ethernet driver called Atheros. Dell wants to send a Tech back out to see whats the problem and fix my Ethernet driver but Im in Thailand right now and will not be back in the USA until March so I have to wait till then...
Very interesting. Glad you gave them a link to this thread. When I get home I'll try completly removing the drivers for the Atheros interface rather than just disabling it and see if it does anything for me.
Nope. I completely removed the Atheros adapter and its driver and rebooted and my audio issues were still happening. Not that I expected it to do anything though. My problem is 100% wireless related, as shown from the latency test in my first post, when I'm on wireless I get huge latency spikes that glitch the audio.
You may not have the same problem I do, but the wireless connection is problematic for some of us.