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Firefox on Ubuntu has crackling sound

20 Jun 2021 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'

I'm running Xubuntu 21.04 and when I'm listening to mixcloud and visit certain sites using Firefox the sound starts to crackle and gets distorted. It can only be resolved by restarting Firefox, but restarting the browser is quite annoying. I added a bookmark to the URL "about:RestartRequired" to make the process a little less painful. I had to restart my browser fairly often until I found the following fixes to resolve the problem and find the cause.

Fix 1:

Go to about:config in Firefox and search for "media.webspeech.synth.enabled" and set it to "false" (double clicking on the entry should do it) then close Firefox. Don't forget to restart Firefox.

Fix 2:

It seems related to speech-dispatcher (some text-to-speech utility), so you can try:

killall speech-dispatcher

If the sound comes back to normal you can remove it completely (if you don't need it) with:

sudo apt remove speech-dispatcher

Don't forget to restart Firefox.

Speech Synthesis

The bug has something to do with Ubuntu and Speech Synthesis and may be related to Firefox. When websites use the experimental "SpeechSynthesis" API the bug appears. It can be triggered by pressing F12 and entering the following in the console:

let utterance = new SpeechSynthesisUtterance("Hello world!");

After pressing "Enter" you will hear "Hello World" and all other audio will be crackling and distorted until you restart Firefox.


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