Crackling noises and horrible playback in MuseScore 4

• Aug 13, 2022 - 03:41

I'm very excited for MuseScore 4 and downloaded the alpha 2, but when I play a score, there's horrible amounts of crackle, the pedal playback sometimes fails, and it's just quite janky right now. The soundfont isn't even the MuseScore default, right now it's "MS Basic". I've tried playback on MS3 and it worked splendidly, not a single crackle. I hope someone can help me.

My specs are:

Windows 11 64-bit
Intel Core i3 11th Gen CPU

Thanks a lot!


MS Basic is the new name for the default soundfont; but it's the same thing pretty much as what used to be called MuseScore General.

Unfortunately, the crackling and other sounds seem very system dependent, just as they were in previous versions. I have one system where I hear similar issues with MU4; the others seem to work fine. On another system, MU4 plays fine but Mu3 struggles. So far I haven't been able to pin down exactly why. But enough others have reported this as well that hopefully someone will eventually be able to get to the bottom of it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm having the same issue with Musescore 4.
I've had similar issues with Musescore 3 before, and it turned out that all I had to do was change my audio API from WASAPI to Windows WDM-KS(under I/O tab in preferences) to make the noise disappear.
I am pretty confident that this is the same problem. Is there any way to apply this on Musescore 4?

In reply to by Drumline_anthology

Increasing the audio buffer size did make a tremendous difference in improving playback audio quality. I am still receiving a large number of crashes on certain operations, especially any than involve a large number of measures, especially changing the time signature. Overall it feels like MS4 was released earlier than it should have been.

In reply to by CDMora

I don't see where you posted your question and included your system specs, so of course we haven't been able to assist yet. But I recommend starting a new thread and explaining the problem and giving those details. Every system is different, so no surprise if you didn't find answers to your problems while reading answers given in response to someone else's. But chances are good if someone will be able to show you how to get your system working well too.

In reply to by Farmstyle

Interestingly, I am using MU4, and I am not all too savvy in things like this, but I noticed my problem with crackly audio and terribly jumpy tempo gets fixed by even just having the mixer open. I am not sure how many people this my help, or if it would even work for most people, but it did a great deal for me.

It seems MS4's audio engine is really resource intensive, because I'm having the same problem, albeit with the Muse Sounds packs. I was able to get my buffer size up to 4096, and it gets rid of the crackling and choppiness for the most part, but only when a few instruments are playing quietly, which is all well and good except for that I write for wind ensembles, so I need a massive dynamic, sonic, and timbre range. I'm working with a Windows 10 machine with i7 and 16 GB of RAM.

In reply to by Ethan C. Neal

Right click on the speaker icon in the taskbar. Select "Sounds". In the popup select "Playback". Make sure the audio device you are using in MuseScore is checked in this window. Click next to the icon and select the "Properties" button. In the new popup, select "Advanced". Here you can uncheck "exclusive Mode and also take the bit rate down a notch.

All I want to say is can anyone let me know if Musescore 4 stops the crackling? I downloaded a day after release (I had no other time beforehand because SCHOOL) because I plan on writing Symphonies with that software but the playback makes me queasy XP.

I am using MU3 and was having this horrible crackle issue. I solved the problem in my MIxer when i pulled the lead voice down from 100%. I had pushed it higher to hear it better over the other voices. Solved! I hope i dont have an unsolvable problem when I go to MU4.

I've had the same issue with MS 3 & 4. I love the program and use it for hours each week. I typically arrange music weekly for a jazz septet, 4 rhythm and three horns and a jazz quartet backing a vocalist everyother week, so I live with this program daily.

I get the crackling and distortion when I play the full score, not on individual parts. I can also listen to parts of the score, such as the three horns to check harmony and counterpoint lines, and that will play ok... or mute the horns and listen to the rhythm section, and relieve the distortion. I don't know if that helps in analysis of the problem on an individual's computer, but that's my situation.
Jeff, Springfield MO

In reply to by drumonk

Musescore 3 was perfect for me. I wanted Musescore 4 because the sounds were more balanced and Musescore 3 doesn't. The crackling will only happen if the computer lags. The playback in visual will lag if I have a part of a large piece that has every part contributing. On Musescore 4 the sound will crackle even when I insert a single note in 🤣. I am doing a deconstruction of a movement of a symphony I want to write using piano, and it is a amazing writing for it. But everything else is a B*TCH to handle on Musescore 4 lol.

I have also been trying to combat the crackle.

One thing I noticed in the I/O settings; if you have an audio interface you should select it manually. Mine was set to "system default" from installation and seemed to be using Windows' audio drivers (even though my system's default setting is to use my interface). Once I did that the unbearable crackle and stuttering stopped significantly.

I have been using the Muse Choir sounds, and it works perfectly when I playback 4 or 5 voices. But playback for 8 voices stutters and crackles quite a lot. I am running a Ryzen 5 processor with 16gb RAM, and MuseScore isn't really using much of my system's resources (so far clocked a little over 800mb RAM when trying to see what it can do). But I get that this is a new system, so it will take time to iron out the kinks. Otherwise, I am really enjoying the functionality of the new version.

In reply to by gavmeister

Good evening.
Another user wrote in March 2022 "Interference with other programs may exist, in this case go to the configuration of your sound card, from the Control Panel, and make sure that the box "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device", in the "Advanced" tab of Playback and Recording, is unchecked"
This solves my crackling problem with MuseScore 4 which I installed at the beginning of January 2023. The box was checked before and yet did not cause me any crackling problem with MuseScore 3.

I'm having the same problem: crackling and uneven playback. Adjusting the I/O buffer doesn't help. I have the problem on an HP laptop with 16gig of Ram and Windows 11, and on an Asis laptop with 4gig and Windows 10.

The problem is less pronounced when I playback with the mixer displayed, but it's still there.

Given the number of people who've reported the problem, it's not system specific, but rather a flaw in the program that did not exist with version 3. The new UI is beautiful, but with this playback defect, the program is practically useless.

In reply to by Michael E. Henderson

It is system-specific - but it's specific to more than one system. Works perfectly for thousands of people, including everyone who chose to take part in the beta testing, FWIW. It's a shame none of the people who are experiencing this were among that group of volunteers!, or the problem could have been detected and addressed sooner. But now that it is known to exist, hopefully it can be addressed indeed.

Anyhow, you don't say if you've tried reducing the sample rate on your audio divide. That's the other solution given on these various threads. A max of 44.1 or 48 kHz seems best.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I don't seem to be able to change the sample rate. In any event, I'm reluctant to start fooling with system settings when playback from all other programs, including MS 3, work perfectly. I've always found that the more complicated the suggested solution is, the less likely it is to work. It's clear it's a problem with the MS4 software, not with system settings.

In reply to by Michael E. Henderson

How have you tried to change the sample rate, and what specific went wrong when you tried?

I'm not saying it's a "problem" with the system settings - just an incompatibilty. It takes two things to have an incompatibility, and it doesn't mean one is right and the other is wrong, just that they are not compatible. Your other software is presumably not using the same interfaces that MuseScore is, probably something "dumber" that's enough for playing videos or whatever but not enough for low-latency audio (which MuseScore 3 did not support as far as I know). It won't hurt anything to try, and you can set it back afterwards.

And yes, obviously, if there is an incompatibility between MuseScore and a certain brand of audio device or certain settings on that device, the team would love to know so they can investigate workarounds. All the more reason why it is crucially important to understand the source of the incompatibility. They can't fix a problem that has yet to be identified. Only you are sitting in front of your system and able to provide the information that they would need in order to investigate further.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I simply don't know what to adjust or even to look at. I'm getting the message that MS4 won't work on my existing system unless I get a different audio card, or something. I'm not a computer jockey, so if there is a clear description of what to change either in the software or Windows, I'm lost. I don't understand why anyone would make software, even free software, that doesn't run on commercially available off-the -shelf machines. And this is not an old machine. It came with Windows 11, and has the standard audio card that all Windows have had for as long as I've been using it (i.e., since it was invented). Not being compatible with such a machine is a flaw in the software, or in the thinking behind it.

It seems to me that the developers are in a better position than I am to say what's not compatible with what, and to make it compatible, or create a setting that will make it compatible. Otherwise, I'll need to say goodbye to MS4.

In reply to by Michael E. Henderson

No one is saying you need a new audio card. Just that, for reasons that are not yet fully understood, the settings on some audio cards seem to cause problems. So changing those settings may allow you to start using MuseScore 4 today. Thus, taking a few moments to try will help yourself.

But also, obviously the developers would love to be able to fix this incompatibility. Unfortunately, it only affects a tiny minority of systems, and none of the systems actually used on any of the developers' or testers' systems are affected. So we all need the help of users experiencing the problem, because they are the only ones with access to the systems wherethus is a problem and thus the only ones able to help with the investigation. Thus, taking a few moments to try also helps the developers and other users experiencing this rare problem.

That's an important part of how open source development works - users helping each other out, like I am trying to help here. We'd all love to see this fixed, and that requires first understanding exactly what is going on. You can help yourself and others by being part of that effort!

Now, I don't know what audio device you have, so I can't tell you exactly how to access its settings. But knowing you have Windows 11 hekps. A web search for "Windows 11 change audio sample rate" turned up this:…

Again, we'd all love to see this fixed. You can help, by performing this simple test and reporting on the result. No doubt a fix will come eventually either way, but it will come sooner if the people experiencing the problem can help!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for the link. I'd already tried everything on there with no result. I've actually spent several hours researching the sound issue and trying different things to fix it, so I have been trying to help myself and others.

As to the sample rate, my system has only one (48k). I don't know what it is for MS4, but I can't change it on my end. If that is indeed the problem, perhaps there could be a way to select the rate that matches the system or, better yet, have it adjust automatically.

The only thing that improves playback substantially (but does not fix it) is having the mixer showing and docked. That is obviously not a good thing because it obscures part of the score as it plays back. The fact that displaying the mixer improves playback shows that the problem is in the software (and I'm sure it's more widespread than you think), and should give the developers an idea as to where to find the bug.

In reply to by Michael E. Henderson

You aren't trying to match your system to a DAW. You aren't trying to match it to MuseScore. On the page where you unchecked "Exclusive Mode"is a drop down menu that displays your system's possible bitrates. Even my Surface Go has more than one setting. And 48k isn't one of them. Much lower. The point, as I understand it, is that the higher the bitrate, the harder your system has to work to maintain it. The bitrate setting to get MS4 to work is different for each of my computers. There is no magic number. And the final piece for me is an audio interface. And I still have to lower the bit rate. I have a cheap Diamond Sound Tube. Modern day equivalents can be bought for about $20.

I have four computers that I have MS4 on. All older. Who can afford anew computer? Only one meets the minimum specs. It runs MS4 fine. The other three have 8 GB of ram and SSD's. But only dual core CPU's. The settings in this plus an interface if needed, work.

In reply to by bobjp

I know I'm not trying to match DAW, but thought perhaps some of the ideas there would help. They didn't.

I've tried all the other things mentioned here and elsewhere, and nothing works.

This is software for musicians, not computer experts. I don't know what a "sound tube" is, or what the modern-day version of it might be. As to the bit rate, again, I'm familiar with the settings you mentioned, and my machine has only one. I have an HP I bought in 2022 with Windows 11 and 16gig.

The user should be able to install MS4 on his computer and have the playback work. It doesn't. It's a fault in the code, not with my system. It's unacceptable to expect users of any software to have to fiddle with settings in Windows, or only use a machine with certain specs, outside of a minimum RAM, or a newer Windows version.

We had the same type of issue with the change from MS2 to 3. I don't remember specifically the issues, but MS3 was unusable for months because of defects in the code. There was a lot of resistance from MS to fixing it, the gist of which was I didn't know what I was talking about. In the end, they did fix it, and 3 became useable. Same here. All I'm hearing is that the program is perfect and that it's me or my machine. What I would really like to hear is for MS to acknowledge that it's a defect in the program and they're working to fix it.

In reply to by Michael E. Henderson

As has been explained countless times already, yes, an incompatibility between your specific audio divide and MsueScore is unfortunate, and yes, if users who have this problem can help the developers identify the source of the incompatibility on their particular systems, the developers will indeed do their best to work around it through changes in the code.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I download a 3.6 score from (attached below)
It plays in muse score 4 with almost no crackling noise.
I only change the layout (add ''systeemomslag'' in measures) so I become 4 instead of 6 measures per line.
Then the crackling noise occur. Also, the playback line was not moving smoothly anymore. On the windows ''taakbeheer'' the processor energy was extremely high. I have already implemented the software changes you have introduced in this topic.
--> It looks that the graphic screen update rate is also an important issue!
Is it possible to give me instructions to speedup my laptop?
Elitebook 8460p with
Windows 10 Pro 64 bits
Ram 16 GB
Processor Intel core i5 2520 @2.50 GHz
Hard disk 230 Gbyte 80 Gbyte free space
Defragmentation of the Hard disk doesn't help

Thank you for your help.

In reply to by Hans Jazz

I loaded your score and it plays fine for me with or without the extra system breaks. It is known that the redrawing of the screen is a factor, but I'm not seeing how changing layout would affect this significantly.

But it could be that it's something already addressed in 4.0.2, which I am currently testing. You can try for yourself by going to Download / Software above then scrolling down to the nightly development builds.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Best Marc,

Found the reason why my laptop have problems. with MuseScore 4:
The system requirements are too low. The 2 core "intel Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2520M CPU @ 2.50GHz 2.50 GHz'' get in timing problems. (also visible on the task manager energy extremely high)
Found on MuseScore 4 the system requirements ( ) that 4 core is the minimal specification (better 8 core). So I need a new laptop.
With regards
Hans Jazz

In reply to by Michael E. Henderson

I'm not sure I've seen anyone say that MS4 is perfect and that the problem is with users.

I wouldn't normally care about any of this. I installed MS4 on my desktop and it works fine. From that aspect there isn't a problem at all. I can move on not spend every day for the last two weeks on this forum. I wouldn't know or possibly care that people were having problems. Then I put MS4 on one of my old laptops. Big problems right away. Is my laptop no good? Am I computer expert? Not at all. But I have used computers long enough in enough different situations to know that sometimes you just have to fiddle with things. Should MS4 work on most any computer straight out of the box? I would hope so. Based on my experience with my desktop, I would wonder what the big deal is. So with my laptop I could just go back to MS3, or figure out a way to make MS4 work. Doesn't make much difference to me what is supposed to happen. I have to deal with what is happening now. Musicians that want better recording and playback capability than their built in hardware can provide know exactly what an audio interface is. The settings in the How To have helped many users. But even so, the final piece of the puzzle for my laptop is to use one of my interfaces. Maybe MS4 will change in the future, and I won't need the interface. Great. But in the here and now, I need it. MS4 with all the playback problems, has far better sounds than MS3. Those sounds are what I need. I compose. Not for real players (though everything I write is playable), or to post on the .com site. Just for for amature stage shows, videos and my own use.

In reply to by bobjp

Try restarting your computer. Strangely, this fixed my horrible audio crackling issue. Here's how it played out. I still use MS3 on my macBook Pro to arrange 5-7 part songs. When i playback I use all saxophones sounds. I had no problem doing this 4 months ago on a previous arrangement, no audio crackle. But 2 weeks ago, when i started a new arrangement, playback become impossible, crackle was so bad. First i lowered playback volume and that stopped it temporarily, then it came back. I tried reducing sample rate and increasing buffer but to no avail. Then several days ago I noticed the same issue when I was playing back Garageband! Obviously nothing to do with MS3, right? Then i went onto a Zoom call and same thing! Couldn't understand the other person, so much audio crackle. Then i called Apple and he told me to re-boot my computer and update my iOS software. I rebooted, (did not yet update system software, still using Catalina...several systems behind) and bingo, problem gone! this related to what others are experiencing? I don't know. Stupidly simple fix. I don't restart very often. He said i should do it at least 1x/week. Sometimes I forget for months... Next i will update to a newer system software...but not sure if i should go all the way to the newest, Ventura, or not. Recommendations? I could upgrade to Big Sur, or Monterrey before getting to the latest, Ventura. Thanks!

I had the same problem as long as I was using the Intel chip "sound card" on board my computer. I dug up an old Zoom R16 mixer (usable as an eight-channel interface) from my junk box and lo and behold, choirs with angelic tongues and no coughing and croaking. Although I am using Linux, the computer has an Intel chip from home that is sufficient for watching/listening to Youtube without any problems.

In reply to by Robert Dusemund

Indeed, using almost any audio interface is a big help. It doesn't have to be expensive. I have one that cost me 20 bucks ten years ago. Along with the other adjustments, it works great. Read the minimum specs to run MuseScore. It is not necessarily a software problem.

I had this problem also. MS4 was playing scores terribly, everything was slowed down, and had some strange delay and distortion. I tried your solutiouns, but none of them seemed to work.

It turned out, that if mixer in the program is open, everything is good xD

So if you are struggling with this problem try just open your mixer in the first place, and then play your score. (I know this is not a perfect solution, but it works for me when anything else doesn't)

Pieces that playback perfectly in MS3 have following issues in MS4:
MISSING NOTES (e.g. semi-quaver into next note)
POOR QUALITY DYNAMICS (can't hear FF then no cresc...straight into FF)
MISSING BASS NOTES e.g. in all french horn parts

I had selected "brass" in the MuseSounds from the hub. Uninstalled and re-installed MS4 in case it was this. It isn't. Now have 80 arrangements that effectively cannot generate either a workable MP3 or acceptable quality sound for playback or distribution.

Any guidance gratefully received. Do I report this as a bug?

Attachment Size
Prelude__49th_Parallel_BCB.mscz 419 KB

In reply to by Quatre-Cinque

I believe these have all been reported. But what you should do in the meantime is the question. If you are on Windows there are system settings you can change to help playback. to start with. Especially turning down the system bitrate. Sometimes as far as it will go, if needed. And an audio interface. Why? you never had to do any of these things before? MS4 is a different animal. I have one computer that meets the minimum specs. It seems to work fine. All my other computers are not as powerful and I had to do some or all the the above settings to get them to work. Properly added dynamics and hairpins should work in MS4.

You can have both MS3 and MS4installed at the same time, as they are completely different programs. So no, you can't open a file from MS3 and expect it to work in MS4 without some adjustments.

MS3 did not have a euphonium sound either. But you can set up a MS4 score with a euphonium part.

Yes there is so much reverb on all instruments that playback of certain rhythms doesn't come out right.

In reply to by bobjp

FIrst, a huge thank you for your time and your comprehensive reply. I am on Windows (10) and following all of the steps on the link has made a massive difference...the playback quality is back.

Regarding reverb. It now makes sense as to why 'leading' semiquavers were getting lost - and I can understand why I get an 'echo' when pausing mid-stream...I'll just think of it like playing in an old church!

I've tended to set euphonium to playback as 'tuba' to date - will explore on MS4.

John Shuttleworth, ROBERTSBRIDGE, England

In my case, most of the problems related to MuseScore 4 were due to sound settings. First of all, when MuseScore 4 was installed, there was a problem that the window did not appear and the program was terminated. In this case, the program ran normally when the sound device set to 5.1ch sound was changed to stereo. After that, even if the setting was changed back to 5.1ch sound, it was executed without any problems.
The program ran normally, but it did not play with normal sound. This problem was also due to 5.1ch sound settings. When I changed it to stereo instead of 5.1ch, it played without any problem. I hope my experience is helpful to others.

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