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Macbook Stuttering, Audio Distortion

37482 Views 59 Replies Latest reply: Jan 3, 2011 8:49 AM by conspirateur RSS
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Seroth Calculating status...
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Mar 2, 2010 5:33 PM
Sometimes when watching a Flash movie online, my Macbook will stutter. Not just the video, the whole computer will cease to work for a few seconds. My mouse will be stuck, and the audio will stutter.

Sometimes after the stuttering stops, the audio becomes distorted. I can fix the audio by running the Audio MIDI Setup utility and changing the Output Audio format to a different Hz setting. I can then revert to the previous setting, and the audio stays normal until the next stutter.

I've run the extended Apple Hardware Test, and it found no problems.

I'm still under Apple Care warranty, so if I can't fix it, do you think I could get it fixed at an Apple Store? I've taken it to an Apple Store recently after the hard drive crashed. I mentioned the problem then, but they didn't say anything about it, and I assumed the problem was with the hard drive. The hard drive has been replaced, and the problem still occurs.
2007 Macbook 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • kostby Level 4 Level 4 (2,290 points)
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    Mar 3, 2010 7:48 PM (in response to Seroth)
    Your processor is momentarily saturated. It's not really a 'defect' that is covered under warranty.

    Flash is a widely-known resource hog. It's one of the reasons that Steve Jobs has 'banished' Flash from iPhones and the new iPad, and uses H.264 format video.

    Have you also noticed that the fan becomes loud when this is happening? Almost any time the fan starts running at high speed, it's because your processor is working hard and needs additional cooling.

    If you look at Activity Monitor when the stuttering occurs, you probably have a combined CPU utilization of the top two or three processes running of more than 100%.

    It's also quite possible that the Free memory 'green slice' of the of the System Memory pie chart is quite tiny.

    1. Run fewer processes/programs. Close and Quit every application that doesn't need to be running while you're watching Flash.

    2. Try another browser. Some are better than others at running Flash. I use Safari primarily, but Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera are also available.

    3. Add RAM memory, especially if you still have just 1Gb RAM memory installed. Upgrading to 2Gb or 4Gb (MacBook 2,1 actually only recognizes and utilizes up to 3Gb) will help somewhat. It doesn't cure the processor saturation, but it does give the programs running more 'breathing room' until it reaches the saturation point.

    4. ClickToFlash gives you options for how Flash is handled. Free download here -->

    5. H.264 format videos may be less processor intensive.

    6. Buy a new Mac with a faster processor and more RAM. Even a 2.26Ghz MacBook Pro does much better than the 2007 2.16, because it uses a low power microprocessor, has 2Gb RAM standard, has a more advanced video chipset, and an unibody aluminum case to help dissipate heat.
    MacBook 2,1 (mid '07) 2.16Ghz/2Gb/320Gb, Mac OS X (10.5.8), Is 'manmade global warming' offensive to feminists?
  • Lyssa Level 6 Level 6 (14,775 points)
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    Mar 4, 2010 10:35 PM (in response to Seroth)
    Do you have enough RAM available when the stuttering starts happening?

    Is your fan going at full speed when you're watching Flash videos? From my experience, it ought to be going at 4xxx rpm or higher if you've got Flash being used.

    You can get the iStat Pro widget or SMCFanControl to monitor your fan speed. I *do not* recommend using SMCFanControl to change the speed--I only use it so I can have my fan speed shown in my menu bar.

    Also, if you watch videos on YouTube, I suggest subscribing to the HTML5 beta and using Google's Chrome browser to watch the videos--the CPU usage is still on the high side (60% ish) but it's not as bad!

    13" White Macbook; 160 GB black iPod Classic ^_^, Mac OS X (10.5.6), iBook G4 1.07 GHz (10.4.11); 3G iPod 15 GB (5.5 years running smooth!)
  • Bart1977 Level 2 Level 2 (285 points)
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    Mar 5, 2010 12:38 AM (in response to Seroth)
    Did you change something in the Energy Saver preference pane?
    MacBook 2.13 GHz, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Jason Pruitt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 20, 2010 2:39 PM (in response to Seroth)
    I have this exact same issue, and mine started in the past month or so. I'm running similar hardware on Macbook. I even did a complete fresh install and upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard with the exact same problem on multiple browsers.

    This issue does not occur when running Bootcamp and my PC install, so if I want no stuttering I have to login to my PC partition ... very lame.
    Macbook 1.83 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.6.3), 2GB 667 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM
  • Daeveed Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 28, 2010 10:16 PM (in response to Jason Pruitt)
    This problem also occurs to me.

    I've experienced when watching Flash videos, but also when working with Logic Pro 8.0.2.
    Like the others, I didn't experience this problem until recently (a few months ago).

    Does anybody have a clue what could have caused this sudden change?
    Macbook, Mac OS X (10.6.3), 4Gb RAM, 2Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • kostby Level 4 Level 4 (2,290 points)
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    Apr 29, 2010 10:07 PM (in response to Daeveed)
    Since all of you experiencing the stuttering are on Snow Leopard 10.6.2 or higher, I'd suggest that it may be something in the 10.6.2 or 10.6.3 update.

    Search recent discussions of the "ptmd" issue that causes the fan to run at high speed constantly for some users after the 10.6.3 update.
    MacBook 2,1 (mid '07) 2.16Ghz/2Gb/320Gb, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Ernst123 Calculating status...
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    May 11, 2010 3:35 PM (in response to Seroth)
    Same here! (but I'm on 10.5.8)
    Just since a while, when I work in Ableton Live (also at low CPU usage), my white Macbook gets the hickups constantly, and disables my audio out, or starts crackling until I reset the audio driver.
    Then also the cursor sticks for a second.
    It always happens when I use some GUI -- or operate anything "visual" on the screen.
    And yes, also when I watch YouTube, especially fullscreen, the whole system seems to be stuttering sometimes.
    My feeling is, something with the graphics is messed up bigtime! Especially when the computer is very hot. But the problem only occured recently (since a few months). And it used to get hot before too.
    I tried lots of stuff, but nothing helped in the end! Also opened it to see if there's any dust in the fans.
    Macbook white 2GHz C2D, Mac OS X (10.5.8), 2GB RAM
  • paulimausi Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
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    May 18, 2010 8:26 AM (in response to Seroth)
    I, too, have a problem with choppy video/audio playback since upgrading to Snow Leopard.

    The problem occurs only when an external display is attached.

    It seems to occur when other programs access the network during playback. (E.g. MobileMe Sync, Safari updating webpage previews.)

    It is worst when the video is a flash video streamed over Internet (in Safari or Zattoo) but also occurs in QT Player (X).

    And it occasionally leads to crashes. (Grey screen of death or just a completely unresponsive computer.) Sometimes the crashed computer will continue to emit strange choppy sounds, it seems to repeat parts of the audio track.

    I dropped my MacBook once, so I thought it might be a hardware problem. But the problem does not occur under Windows 7 running on the same machine.

    Reading this post now I think Apple has problem with their video drivers for the GMA 950.

    Though the problem is worst using Flash, it can’t be Flash’s fault alone since the whole system stutters and even crashed a couple of times. And stuttering also occured when I was just watching a movie with Quicktime Player, not using Flash.
    MacBook (white, GMA 950), Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • luckystrike126 Calculating status...
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    May 18, 2010 9:20 AM (in response to Seroth)
    I use Logic Pro (8 at the moment but I ordered 9 a few minutes ago) on my macbook, and I have 4 GBs RAM and a 2GHZ CPU.
    Since I installed SnowLeopard, I have the same problems you are describing. Audio distortion and lagging all the time. Also the system CPU usage is always around 50 percent, that can't be normal, right? When I unplug my external drive it gets better, but I can't work without it...
    MacBook, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • kostby Level 4 Level 4 (2,290 points)
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    May 18, 2010 11:02 PM (in response to luckystrike126)
    Several people reported the slowed performance, higher CPU usage, and the fan running much more after updating to 10.6.3.

    I used the Search Discussions feature to look for '10.6.3 fan run' and discovered this lengthy thread -->
    MacBook 2,1 (mid '07) 2.16Ghz/2Gb/320Gb, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Uri W Calculating status...
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    May 20, 2010 10:48 PM (in response to Seroth)
    After upgrading my Macbook from Tiger to Snow Leopard, I noticed the fan running a lot more than before. Took it to the Apple Store and ended up with a new battery (the old one was swollen). Watching a Flash TV show on full screen, the video started freezing and stuttering. I went back to the Apple Store and they're now replacing my logic board. Thankfully, I still have 5 days left on my Apple Care! But, reading this thread, I wonder if it's a system issue rather than hardware...
    Macbook, iMac G5, iBook G3, iPhone, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • tonikos Calculating status...
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    May 23, 2010 4:57 AM (in response to Seroth)
    I have this same problem with 10.5.8 on my macbook. It's not just flash that makes my macbook freeze, also divx-videos (VLC, QT..), games, music (iTunes, spotify) and even browsers (safari, chrome, firefox). I've had this macbook for 33 months now and the problem started couple months ago.

    I tried 100% processor usage with yes > /dev/null command on two terminal windows, and everything was fine. No freezing or anything. That time I wasnt running any other programs than terminal and dashboard with 10 widgets, I also had no internet connection. So I don't think that processor is the reason for these problems.
    Macbook 2,16Ghz (may2007), Mac OS X (10.5.8)
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