Odd popping noise with 24″ iMac with external speakers

I noticed recently this odd popping noise coming from my speakers over the weekend, right before any audio was played. I’m not sure how long this had been going on, because when I use the iMac, I almost always have music playing. But on Sunday when I only had iChat running for a bit – every few minutes when someone would sign on or off, the speakers would pop and then play the audio.

After doing a little bit of research, I found that a few other people had this problem, but no one could ever find the final cause. Here are some of the fixes that I found:

  • Doing a OS update (either with the Combo updater or some other updaters). This is mainly because often you are replacing the audio drivers
  • Zap PRAM
  • Remove some of your sound preferences.

Since we are so close to 10.6.3 coming out, I decided to not do another update right now. My plan of attack ended up just zapping the PRAM (hold down Command, Option, P, and R when booting, you will hear the chimes, it will reboot again, once you see the Apple logo, let go – the same way its been since even Classic Mac OS) and removing the following

  • ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.soundpref.plist
  • /Library/Preferences/com.apple.soundpref.plist
  • /Library/Preferences/com.apple.audio.DeviceSettings.plist

Not all four existed on my system, but this is the list I put together from other sites so far.

After a reboot, things seem to be better, but not 100% fixed just  yet. I have noticed my tests no longer replicate the issue, but when I come home from work and play audio for the first time (which would leave the machine sitting idle for ~10 hours), it still pops. Also, the audio system does ‘sleep’ when not in use, and possibly the above methods just reset whatever that timer was.

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