Unbearable crackling sound every 5 minutes when using Systemwide 4!



I'm using Reference 4 Studio which include Systemwide 4, the plugin works perfectly in my DAW but everytime I want to listen to some music on my computer or watch a video on youtube, there is this crackling sound every 5 minutes coming out which last a few seconds and then the sounds goes back to normal. It's really unbearable!

My audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 1820i (Second Gen). I tried to change the audio buffer size from 128 samples to 2048 but the problem was still there. My computer has pretty good specs (powerful CPU and lots of RAM).

Can you please advise?

Thank you.


Official comment

Hi everyone,


Thank you for your comments and issue reports! Our sincerest apologies for the lag in the post/response time here! It's been a challenging year for the support team and the entire company, and unfortunately, we've been falling short of the moderating here and other important tasks :( I'll try to address the general state of this issue and its context first, for a better understanding:


The place in the signal chain where the Systemwide app is located is a troublesome place to be. The marriage between the operating system audio engine, the Systemwide driver, and the final output device driver has to be close to flawless in order for all of it to work smoothly. There are many third-party components involved here, each with its own flaws, problematic driver updates, bugs -  countless potential conflicts between that component union and other production software clashing with the output device driver control, etc. Even after collecting the debug information from the users, oftentimes we are getting stuck, simply because the issue can not be reproduced in-house, despite having a ton of interface/machine/driver combinations available for testing (which prevents us from implementing fixes successfully and efficiently).


In other words, it is quite a challenge to get this right. We are, however, making some very good progress for these cases. A lot of fixes and additional functionality has been put in place to deal with this, so there a lot of users out there for whom the problem is successfully fixed. But new cases still keep appearing, and a lot of them are unique (cannot be bulk-solved). Decent progress has been made for this issue on Mac (hopefully a potential fix will be tested soon), and alternative functionality options are available on Windows. Your comments will be addressed in individual support tickets for an in-depth investigation and possible solutions to it. 


We're very sorry to hear you are still getting stuck with this issue; we are doing our best to collect as much information as we can in order for our development team to work on solutions. In the long run, we are actually working on brand new architecture for the software, which will address the audio stream quality and overall stability.


Thank you for the patience you've shown with this issue, it is highly appreciated! We will do our best to find solutions for you in your support tickets. Many thanks!


I'm experiencing the same issue on my MacBook Pro 15 2017. As is stated above. Audio is fine through the DAW but there is crackling when using system audio. The issue is present regardless of what output device I choose. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Nice to see Sonarworks replying quickly to a month old question from someone with a problem :(

Permanently deleted user

Hey guys,

Thanks for bringing this up. We are aware of the situation and for now have not yet found out why this is happening. As a temporary quick fix, what I can suggest is once the crackling happens, head to the Systemwide settings and set the buffer size (on Windows) to 512. On Mac OS there are no buffer size settings, so I would suggest seeing if updating Systemwide through the installer can be of any help. Alternatively, shoot a message to our support and we'll see if there are any other ways of going about this. Sorry!

These things should be taken care of once we implement ASIO (I know, a long time coming).


Any updates? Same issue here. Running version 4.0.74



After some testings, here's what I can say about this big problem:

After uninstalling my Focusrite audio interface drivers and installing them again, there's no more crackling when using systemwide 4 (even for days AS LONG AS I don't launch my DAW) BUT (and this is a big BUT) as soon as I start my DAW again (for the first time after re-installing the drivers) well guess what, the Systemwide 4 cracklings are BACK!!!

This is a very big flaw, Sonarworks must do something to fix this, I mean I'm surprised not more people complain about that! Please let us know what the status is about this issue. Thanks.

Best Regards


On windows machines it might have something to do with latency.  I was having a similar problem and used a latency monitor to find the problem.  


Same issue here, Even when I turn SW's off, (keeping the software running) Crackling will happen.
The crackling gets worse the longer my machine is running.


Hi Guys!

To anyone still experiencing audio dropouts (pops, cracks and other artifacts), we have fixed those with our latest build. It's currently available in the installer as beta, it will be replacing the current shortly as the new official version. The download is available here, see the screenshots on how to install the beta. 

Looking forward to your feedback - there might still be some edge cases experiencing minor dropouts, but most should be solved with this release. Let us know, many thanks!







Still the same problem here with Focusrite 18i8 3rd gen. I get strong glitches / electronic artifacts when using systemwide at a buffer size of 1024. Approximately 20-30 glitches per song.

The problem seems to get better when I set my buffer size down to 512. But still 1 or 2 glitches. The problem especially happens just after you open a song in Windows Media Player.


Hello, is anyone still having this issue? i just bought a Gen 3 Scarlett Solo and when i use system wide it just crackles and crackles, I tried adjusting all teh way up to 1024 buffer size on the sound card settings and on the safety featured in the reference software, but it doesn't matter what i do i hit play on any YouTube video and it just does it all the time, i do not get this issue when working it as a plugin from inside a DAW so i am guessing it might have to do with system wide only but i am clueless.


Hey guys,

We have had some reports of the current Focusrite drivers causing glitches when Systemwide is enabled.
We will investigate the cause of the issue and hopefully find a solution as soon as possible.
A temporary fix for some has been lowering both buffer sizes within the Systemwide audio settings.



First of all I am on macOS 10.15.6 and I'm running with an UAD Apollo Arrow TDB3.

I noticed some Pop / Glitch noise every 5 minutes when I'm using Systemwide, the problem happens even if I am running Ableton or play back some Youtube's video or Spotify.

The sound is like touch the jack cable when this one is unplugged, very annoying.

Thank you for your help, I already saw that Focusrite users had same problem and I wanted to show up mine with UAD sound card.

Greats, Thomas


I'm experiencing this on my 2018 MBP, macOS Catalina 10.15.6. I get intermittent or constant crackling. I'm on Reference

Really feels like a buffer size issue.

It's made the software unusable for me unfortunately.


Permanently deleted user

This issue is also occurring on Apogee Symphony IO Mk2 on Mac OS X.
Changing the buffer size did not help.
I'm using Version because it doesn't cause any problems.
I want improvement.


Having similar problems (Karlis, I sent you an email before I saw this thread, so feel free to respond here). I'm running Windows 10 on a Sweetwater CS, Pro Tools 11.3, interface is a Presonus 16.4.2 AI. My Reference 4 software is up to date (

My audio from Pro Tools is absolutely fine, w no problems with the Sonarworks plugin, but audio from any other source, like youtube, iTunes, Vegas Movie Maker Platinum, is full of warbles and stutters. Reminds me of what it sounds like when bit rate is mismatched.

The strange thing is that this is completely new behavior. I had been running this same setup for the last 6 months with no problems. All of a sudden it started up a few days ago. The only change in my rig is that there was a recent Windows update.

Updating my drivers didn't help. I haven't done a ton of other experimenting yet. Was hoping maybe someone here had a solution before I do all sorts of reinstalling, etc.


huh! I just spent £150 on a new graphics card to try and fix this and it still crackling/popping! :( After testing more it seems it is this software that is causing the problem. The audio in my DAW with the plugin is fine, the audio from windows is NOT. I hope there is a solution for this.

It is NOT latency as I check that (that's why I moved from NVIDIA drivers). My sound card is Audient Evo 4 so you can add that to your list. Larger buffer sizes seem to make it worse.

UPDATE: I have removed the plugin and only using systemwide. Lowering the buffers right down as low as possible stopped the crackling audio. Now I will see how it goes when I am working on a DAW full of plugins and audio!


Same issue here with the SSL 2 interface and Catalina. Increasing buffer size and safety buffer size did not fix the annoying pops and crackles. 19 days of trial left, hope this is fixed soon because right now I'm not willing to buy the software with this unsolved issues.


I've been having this same issue. Pops and clicks that get progressively worse. I tried everything from sweetwater tech support, to universal audio tech support, and avid support with no luck. It seems to be a Sonarworks issue that needs to addressed. Basically renders any use of SW outside of my daw useless. So no youtube and no checking mixes which is a huge issue for me. this happens on both my PC and Mac. Please help!

Current Setup: Universal Audio Apollo x8p > 2019 iMac (Intel i9, 32GB RAM, running windows 10 bootcamp)


Same thing for me on Windows with a Prismsound Titan ! I work in 48Khz. Impossible to listen a song on spotify without around 20-30 pop/glitches.

Otherwise, i find this tip who could help for some lags after each updates. 


It seems to reduce glitches, and graphics issues. (Before doing this tip, i had to restart Systemwide as soon as I moved the Output Gain. It created a biiiig lag who pitched everything before restarted it. It seems to change the sample rate as soon as I move a cursor on systemwide. Straaaaange thing !). From what I can see, its lag seems to be linked with the preset you use after update. I deleted it and import the same as new and it works better too. 

Hope it will help !

@sonarworks, we need an update to correct that quickly ! I have got theses issues for around 1 year !

Thanks a lot,




Deleting Systemwidecfg.db and restarting the program fixes the crackling issues for me, but only until I shut down my computer. After I boot up my computer again, the crackling returns. So the temporary fix for the crackling issue is to manually delete Systemwidecfg.db each time I boot up my computer. Eagerly waiting for an actual fix. Hopefully this info helps the dev team solve the problem.




Hi Andrew, 


Thanks for the comment! I have created a support ticket for you too, so that we can collect some logs and other data for a proper report. Many thanks!


I've had crackling for a few months when using Systemwide as well, it usually starts after having used the plugin on Logic at which point playing computer audio is impossible due to severe distortion. Closing Systemwide fixes things, but if I try to reopen it the problem reoccurs. Mac OS 10.15.7 and Systemwide 4 version 4.4.6 (build 20). 


Hi Steve, 


Thanks for the comment! If the crackling starts after using Logic, I would assume it has something to do with your interface being used as output from both Logic and Systemwide (having some sort of conflict). Although, we haven't had any cases that match this description on Mac/Logic in particular (this can sometimes be problematic on Windows, depending on the exclusive mode settings). 


I have created a support ticket to have a closer look. Thank you!


Hi Sonarworks, hope you're all well in these weird times.
Thanks for addressing the issue, it's a tough year and I'll be patient.
I read that you managed to fix that problem for some, hopefully I'll have a solution some time in the next months :)
I still have that problem, I have a macbook pro retina mid 2015 on Catalina. I use the latest ableton 10 (legit paid n all)
My audio interface is a Steinberg Ur28M, drivers up do date.

Yesterday I downloaded your latest version 4.4.7. Unfortunately, the problem persists.
This crackling/noisy thing happens after each 5-10mn, when I select SW as my ableton's output.
My buffer and safety either the minimum or to the max  512 or 5120, the problem persists.
When the noises appears, if I go to the SW settings and change the buffer or safety, either parameter just changing it fixes temporarily the problem!
It is still annoying to go back to the settings each 5-10 mn or so..
When the project gets heavier, the problem is crazier, happens more often.. so that might has something to do with cpu/load /buffer/ some other mystery there..
Altough, it also happens when I casually use youtube/netflix/Vlc player, without Ableton or any heavy Cpu load (but happens less often).
Thanks for taking the time.


I've been using Sonarworks for a couple years without any issues. I never updated the plugin because it had my headphones and I was satisfied by my room calibration. I recently rebuilt my computer and the new version of Systemwide is crackling regularly in all content. In dialog it can be ignored but music is unlistenable. I keep my system running at 96k all the time and this has never been a problem. Is there I way to get this resolved? Can I roll back to the version I installed in late 2019?


A side note to all of this. I have been mixing for a while this afternoon and evening and now that I'm done but Pro tools is still open, the glitches have stopped. 


Continuing to listen to a youtube video after Pro Tools has closed the glitches have returned, although more sparingly. Pretty unsatisfying support experience for a $250 piece of software.  


Hey Billy, 

Referring to your other posts and the support ticket it seems that the possible cause of your issue might be related to the use of an external clocking source.
As a test, could you check whether the issue persists if you are using a clocking source other than the Apogee Big Ben for example internal unit?


Hi Chris, my motherboard does have a built in sound device but I have it disabled in the bios. Even if it was enabled, I don't have anything connected to monitor through it. My computer is in a server room so it's a bit impractical.

I have confirmed that the crackling in Systemwide goes away if I have a pro tools open. Youtube or any other media player seems to work fine. WIthout  pro tools running it will start cracklling again. 

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