The only solution I've found that works is disconnecting the wireless connection. Thankfully, I have a wired connection available at work which is where I listen to more music than anywhere else.
It's extremely frustrating that loading the new driver did nothing (except make it crackle more) and neither did any of the other solutions until I disabled my wireless connection. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!!
This is not an inexpensive laptop and should have been tested better prior to releasing it for purchase.
This is TRUE. I've noticed that their are far less latency spikes with the ethernet connection. Far less red bars mainly yellow over network traffic. But again, not being able to use a laptops main (if not the main) fundementals, wireless, is a joke.
Dell will still not accept the fact that this is a wireless issue. I have been running with the Atheros disabled for two weeks and today- while using wireless during a time of high wireless traffic- another computer on the wireless network, the crackling was the worst it's been. This is without a doubt an intel 6230 issue. Fix the freaking problem Dell or I will pay $200 to send this piece of crap back and never buy anything that says dell again. And by the way this is my second xps 15z. And guess what? When I got this one from dell they had sent it to me with atheros disabled. So they think it's atheros, but they're wrong.
Unfortunately I suspect this thread is in the "resolved" category for Dell Support, so I doubt they'll add much to this for you wireless card sufferers. If anything, perhaps you should organize to open a new thread and make sure to keep it strong with updates. Post a link to the new thread in this one so similar folks can find you. All it takes is one person with initiative.
I know you guys likely have done this already, but have you truly updated everything to the latest drivers? My laptop is finally in a decent working state, and believe me I've been a long time sufferer since June 2011 when this model came out. I feel your pain! Ultimately my issue was with the ethernet driver, but I hope to throw some of the recent good karma your way.
Latest wireless driver (Jan 2012): http://dell.to/xEFk91
I updated the Atheros ethernet driver from a Lenovo support site that had a newer build version than Dells; not sure if that was the final fix or if it can apply to you, but it looks like I now can safely use my ethernet and wireless connection without any audio issues. Not sure if it'll help you, but may be worth a try. Link below if interested.
AJ99: I say boot with an Ubuntu disc just like Abe_ did to ultimately determine if it's a hardware or software issue with your wireless card. You'd might have more ammunition to get Dell Support to act.
The latest wireless driver dated 10th January 2012 makes no difference on my machine to the audio crackling problem.
The Ethernet should not make a difference since in my case the problem occurs even with the device disabled and unplugged.
I opened a new thread make sure to keep it strong with updates. This one is getting way to long and Dell may not even be reading this one anymore.. The thread title is - Is Dell ever going to fix the XPS 15Z Audio issue... Here is the link en.community.dell.com/.../20038533.aspx
Nice one Chris, I'll add some useful info and evidence of the problem in hope Dell see's it.
Edit: Added a detailed response to the new thread. Should provide Dell with enough information.
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?
Anyway thanks for the "fix" and I hope this problem gets truly worked out soon.
oh just realize that this thread didn't mention the Atheros thing. Oh well it's the wrong thread but it's still about the same audio issue so I guess it applies
I have started a new thread to cover the audio stuttering that has been confirmed as being Atheros WIRED ETHERNET related.
The thread is here:
There seems to be a number of different issues with the XPS15z that all cause similar symptoms, so in an effort to avoid further confusion I have started this new to allow the seperate issues to be discussed in isolation.
The first post in the new thread gives an example of a way to test if your problem is realted to the WIRED ethernet or not.
I am posting this link here as this thread discusses the WIRED adapter problem along with the wireless adapter problem and others - hopefully people finding this thread will be able to identify which flavour of the problem they have and start to post in the split out threads.