While Windows 10 brings many considerable improvements to audio and video features and performance, it also appears to have its share of bugs and idiosyncrasies. A common problem that faces some users of Windows 10 is delays in the audio output. This guide features a number of common issues faced when playing audio in Windows 10 and a possible solution. This problem can occur with different hardware, but many reports of these issues have been reported with Realtek audio chips.

Windows 10 Audio Problems

There are a number of symptoms, but the most common and annoying audio problems that can be resolved with this guide are:

  • After a period of silence, it takes up to one or two seconds for audio to begin playing. A great example of this is the Windows 10 UAC prompt, where the message box can appear but the accompanying ding does not play until a full second or so later. This can be easily verified by clicking on the audio icon in the taskbar and changing the volume level: if it takes longer than 100ms for the audio notification previewing the volume level to sound, you are probably affected by this problem.
  • Garbling of the first ~half second of audio output after a period of silence.
  • Audio and video not syncing up in any application or video clip.

Diagnosing Windows 10 audio glitching and delays

The aforementioned audio glitches and delays in audio playback that affect Windows 10 systems are completely a result of the drivers. Unfortunately, poor drivers have long plagued audio devices on Windows and while we are finally at a point where most PCs and laptops will play audio out-of-the-box without needing to install 3rd party drivers, oftentimes these WHQL-certified audio drivers are still not up to par and have considerable issues.

In this particular case, these audio issues can be traced back to a newish feature in Windows 10, known as hardware-accelerated audio. While in principal hardware acceleration of audio and video can result in far-better performance than software-accelerated audio/video playback, if not perfectly implemented it can cause some severe problems and side effects. In this case, enabling Windows 10 hardware acceleration for audio playback induces latency and delays in setting up the hardware acceleration and beginning playback of hardware-accelerated audio.

Fixing Windows 10 audio glitching and delays

Repairing glitches and delays in Windows 10 audio playback is actually quite simple once the problem has been diagnosed. To begin, right-click on the audio icon in the taskbar and select “Playback Devices”:

Double-click on your primary audio device to bring up the speaker/headphones properties dialog, and navigate to the “Advanced” tab:

At the bottom of this dialog, locate the option labelled “Allow hardware acceleration of audio with this device” and uncheck this option. By default, this will be selected, causing the problems described above. Unselect this option and press “OK” to save changes.

The effects should be noticeable immediately. You can repeat the tests described in the “Symptoms” section above to verify that audio latency has been reduced.

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