Playback issues on audio devices set to high sample rates

• Jul 21, 2023 - 17:31

I see a number of reports of people experiencing laggy/stuttering/distorted playback that often goes away if you set your audio device to 44.1 kHz instead of 48 (or higher). This only happens on a subset of systems, and so far the developers can't reproduce this issue. But from the number times I've seen users report and the number of times I've suggested the sample rate fix and the number of users who have confirm it worked, I know it's unfortunately not that rare either.

I'm trying to help discover the cause of this, so if you have seen this, please read on.

First, if you are still experiencing problems with playback and haven't tried setting your audio device sample rate (usually in your OS settings, or the software that came with your audio device), please try that.

Once you've tried this - whether it worked or not - I want to know more about your specific situation:

  • did 44.1 kHz work for you?
  • was it previously set to 48 kHz, or something else?
  • if it was previously set higher, does turning it down to 48 also work?
  • if it was previously set to 48, was anything higher available as an option?
  • what OS are you on?
  • are you using the built-in audio for your computer or an external device?
  • what CPU / RAM?
  • what MuseScore buffer size in Edit / Preferences / I/O?
  • if you set the sample rate back to where the problem occurs, does increasing the buffer size also help or not?
  • anything you think might be relevant?


Thanks for this, Marc.
I guess that three of my computers fit in the subset of which you speak.

All three are W10, fully updated. 8GB ram. SSD. Two have 2 core cpu's. One has platinum single core. I suspect that most people trying to use MU4 have similar or less spec computers. I could be wrong, but I would suspect that the developers can't reproduce the problem because they have more powerful computers. As evidenced by the published specs needed.
The above computers have been able to make MU4 OK (but not perfect) by lowering the bit rate, as you suggest. The original setting was different on each computer. I think one had to be lowered 2 or 3 settings before it worked. Most should work better by lowering one notch. But not all. But, as you know, there is more. I had to go through all the settings in the MU4 How To about some sound settings.
In the early days none of the above computers worked very well without using some kind of usb audio device. I think one cost me about $20. Later versions of MU4 worked better.
What is interesting is that my new computer works just fine. It exceeds the specs. I did set the buffer higher out of habit. I also turn off Exclusive mode out of habit.
But I see post of people with powerful computers still having trouble. Hard to say what that's about.

MS3 works perfectly, it happens with MS4, it was on 48 kHz but despite I have changed it to 44.1 it stills sounds terribly . I can't use MS4.
I change that on the loudspeakers settings. Should I change it in other cinother configuration?

Thanks for the information. I set device (Lenovo desktop) to 44.1 kHz. Tried both CD and studio settings at that level. Some improvement noticeable, but not fixed. As an added bit of information, after I installed MU4, I tried to go back and use my still-installed MU3. No go. It kept stalling before playing anything. So I deleted MU3 entirely and now trying to work only with MU4. Comments above are only about MU4.

In reply to by azumbrunn

Unfortunately every system is different, so I can't tell you exactly how it works on yours. On Windows systems, you generally get there via the Control Panel, or by right-clicking the speaker icon on your taskbar to access its properties. On Linux there are both command-line programs and depending on your distribution, GUI interfaces. But also, external audio interfaces often come with their own apps for making audio settings.

So if you need further help, try a web search for "set sample rate" followed by the name of your OS, and audio device if something other than the default.

As for what it is, sampling is the basis of how digital audio works. Sound is a continuous wave, but digital audio is just a list of numbers. Those numbers are generated by taking a "sample" of the actual wave some number of times per second and recording the height of the wave as a number each time. The number of times this happens per second is the sample rate. A web search can give more info on this topic as well.

Thanks Marc.
It's a bit improved at 44.1. There's a slight crackle on the first note after pressing Play and a bit of an echo after pressing Stop
Originally 48KHz
options are 96 and 192 KHz
using Windows 10 version 22H2
Built-in audio (Realtek HD)
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6400T CPU @ 2.20GHz 2.21 GHz 8 GB RAM
Buffer 1024
Tried 48KHz buffer 2048 No help
48 KHz 4096 No help

I've observed that MuseScore4 has problem with playing sounds when sampling frequency in Windows settings is set beyond 96 kHz (176.4 kHz, 192 kHz, 384 kHz). It works fine till 96 kHz.

There was no that problem in MuseScore3.

In reply to by dkx016

And it isn't that 48kHz is a magic number. Some of my systems don't even go that high. The point is that if you have a problem with playback, you go to your settings and lower the kHz by one setting. Regardless of what that setting is. And if there is still a problem, lower the setting again. I had one system that I had to take down three levels.. There are no magic bullets. You just have to keep trying things until it works. And 4096 for sure.

Hello I have several sound cards in my computer, I do work with many daws and vsts, so Im pretty familiar with audio settings. My main soundcard is an Audient Evo 8, with up to 192khz sampling rate and 24 bits. I tried every combination possible of sample rate (44.1/16, 48/16, 44.1/24) and bit depth and musescore buffer without success. I also have virtual voice meeter connected to it, and that doesnt solve the problem either, nor gets better or worse. I dont use any vst or special sf2 in my config and the behavior is the same with Muse Basic profile or the new Muse sounds.

My videocard has the nvidia audio driver for HDMI which only supports 44.1/16 and thats the only soudncard that works for me. It stills has some minor cracks but nothing like the other soundcard, where the distortion is so huge that even sounds out of tune sometimes. In my case doesnt have to do with the file being played, is constant, no matter a single piano piece or an orchestral arrangement. 16GB Ram a Ryzen 4750 CPU, Win11.

Needless to say also that even if the option involved changing the sampling rate (to 44.1/16) of my main soundcard I couldnt do it because I need a better setting for the rest of the work that I do (48/24).

Whats odd is that I havent experienced this behavior in any other audio software, including linux ports of apps (which I use a lot) or any other audio app.

In reply to by gbombadil

Notation software of any kind isn't like any other audio software. I have Sibelius and I still have to turn off "Exclusive mode" to get it to work. I assume you have several sound cards for different things you do. MU4 just might be one of those situations. The main purpose of notation software is to create notation. Audio files are down the list. The playback system for MU4 is indeed a problem that each of us have to try and solve.
The settings for my system are 2 channel, 16 bit, 480000Hz. Down from 24 bit. When I use my Focusrite, the settings are different. But then, I'm not using anything like a DAW.

When my external sound card is on, musescore plays the tunes very fast with high pitch. I didn't find how to change the sample rate on my computer, but I found that when I use my computer's speakers, the sound is ok.

Changing the sample rate from 48 to 41.1 on my audio interface results in any media playback, including MS, a tone lower than the original. 48 is fine everywhere except MS which makes it an octave higher and x2 faster.

Hi Marc, thank you for trying to help us all fix this problem.

I'm on Windows 10, 4GB RAM, 64bit operating system, Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU N3350 @ 1.10GHz 1.10 GHz processor.

  • Setting to 44.1kHz did improve the crackling but didn't completely fix it. It also is still unusable when the mixer is not on screen, lagging and crackling. When the mixer is up the sound is mostly fixed with still an occasional crackle.
  • Yes, it was previously set to 48 kHz, oddly, setting it lower than 44.1kHz actually makes the crackling problem worse.
    • There were higher options to 48, up to 196.
  • I am using the built-in audio.
  • My buffer size was set to lowest because I saw that it helped some people. While on 44.1kHz, setting it to the highest actually improved it but still didn't eliminate it.
    Other relevant info:
  • The strings tend to break up more than woodwinds and other instruments for some reason.
  • I had a suspicion that the animation of the playback might be contributing to it. That lags too. It never did on MS3.
  • Occasionally I struggle to get it to start playing and that functionality lags or just doesn't play.
  • Sometimes just clicking on individual notes doesn't play back without breaking.
  • The overall stability of MS4 is a bit wonky on my system.

Did 44.1 kHz work for you? No
Was it previously set to 48 kHz, or something else? 48kHz
If it was previously set higher, does turning it down to 48 also work? N/A
if it was previously set to 48, was anything higher available as an option? No
what OS are you on? Win 11
are you using the built-in audio for your computer or an external device? Both built-in speakers and headphone
what CPU / RAM? 12th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-1255U 1.70 GHz, 16.0 GB
what MuseScore buffer size in Edit / Preferences / I/O? Set to Buffer size to 4096 - This is what fixed it.

Hello! This recently started happening with my computer as well. I have a MacBook Pro (version 12.7.1) and I'm not sure what the sample rate was set to originally, but it was 44.1 kHz while the problem was going on. I tried setting it to 48 and 96 but neither fixed the problem. My computer has 8gb RAM and plenty of storage and I use built-in audio, headphones, and airpods and the issue remains no matter what output I use. For me, changing the sample rate worked for mp3 exporting but not for playback in musescore. The terrible playback persists no matter what I set it to. I've changed sample rate, buffer size, reset all preferences, deleted and re-notated problem areas, and done whatever else I could think of but nothing works. I'm not sure what else to try.

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