Fixing pops and crackles in Cubase

The problem

This article relates to Cubase Pro 11 (Version 11.0.30 Build 419).

I noticed I was getting lots of pops and crackles during playback, especially on bass tracks for some reason.

The solution

In my case the problem appeared to be related to ASIO-Guard. In the first instance, all the clicks and pops could be stopped by disabling ASIO-Guard in the Studio > Studio Setup… dialog. To do that, I just unchecked the “Activate ASIO-Guard” checkbox.

Now it’s debatable whether this is the right thing to do. ASIO-Guard exists for a reason after all. One thing I can say is that the clicks and pops were not related to overall CPU usage, which was fairly minimal on my system.

I experimented with reactivating ASIO-Guard but changing the level to low. This improved but not eradicated the clicks. When set to high the problem was much worse.

Setting Audio Priority to Boost had no disenable effect.

I also noticed that some VST plugins were more affected by the issue than others. For example, the Sonible smart:limit limiter was made pretty much unusable when ASIO-Guard was enabled. Even disabling ASIO-Guard for that plugin specifically in the VST Plug-in Manager had no discernible effect; it had so many pops and clicks there was pretty much a constant buzz.

A final note here. The issue of pops and crackles and ASIO-Guard seems to be very much connected to the latency you have set using the ASIO control panel. If you have a very low latency you may find you need ASIO-Guard or playback will pop and crackle without it. In my case, with a high latency, for some reason ASIO-Guard seems to have become the cause of pops and crackles during playback-heavy operations such as mixing.

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