The KDE Plasma Audio Problem Saga (of My Arch Linux Setup)

After a year of a half on Windows, I've decided to go back to Linux. I switched to Windows because I had a Ryzen machine and Arch Linux enjoy freezing-up a little bit too much of my liking; now that I have an Intel one I thought it would be okay to come back to it.


that's it. I'm going back to linux.

I know i paid full retail price for Windows like an idiot that i am but I'm going back. Can't stand not having full control of my machine...


back on linux again. ah it feels nice to not have your RAM and disk space be eaten for the slightest of use

Soon the problem manifested itself. While I was working on some random stuff, an extremely loud pop blasted into my earphone. I was shocked (who wouldn't be? it was so loud it was borderline painful) and started to look into it right away.


ok i switched to linux-lts. hope this will fix the audio glitching problem...

right as i put on some jazz and it's the same problem once again. jesus christ.

ok i use pipewire now. let's hope this will fix the problem once and for all.

It did not fix the problem. At first I thought it had something to do with how my audio was setup; I've followed all the suggestions listed in Arch Linux wiki, I've switched to from PulseAudio to Pipewire, I've switched between pipewire-media-session and wireplumber, none of that worked. I basically lost all my hope at this point and decided to just live with it. I can avoid most things that uses GTK (I mostly only uses KDE apps anyway) but I don't want to ditch Firefox, so about two months later I decided to look into it again:


i spent the last hour trying to fix the audio pop again with no luck.

(what's the audio pop?)

it goes like this:

  1. under archlinux + plasma
  2. using Tiger Lake-LP Smart Sound Technology Audio
  3. in a gtk input widget (apparently other apps are not affected
  4. when the sound card is active
  5. try to move the caret to the left at the leftmost position of the input widget by pressing the left key
  6. a very loud *pop* sound is played through the headphone (if plugged in) or the speaker.
i've tried almost every single solution i could find, nothing works so far.

Let's break it down bit by bit:

under archlinux + plasma


using Tiger Lake-LP Smart Sound Technology Audio

I don't think the sound card was at fault here; it was mentioned just in case. If it was a driver problem the whole issue could've been a lot easier to solve.

in a gtk input widget (apparently other apps are not affected)

Now - I said this because all my KDE apps does not suffer this problem and I could reliably reproduce the bug with gedit. It later turned out that other apps could have the same problem as well - I installed Xaw3d-based emacs and it produced the same pop as the GTK-based one. (that, or it was also secretly GTK underneath.)

when the sound card is active

The sound card needs to be active; the pop only appears when the sound card is in use. There were times when I thought the problem was gone because it made no sound and it turned out that the sound card was simply turned off by some kind of power-saving mechanism.

try to move the caret to the left at the leftmost position of the input widget by pressing the left key

This, and a lot of other things, like searching for a word that doesn't exist on a webpage in Firefox. Later I realized the actions that could trigger the problem are actions that one would normally put an alert sound at. I tried to turn of the alert sound by editing the config files for GTK: I tried to set gtk-enable-event-sounds and gtk-enable-input-feedback-sounds to 0, it did not work.

a very loud *pop* sound is played through the headphone (if plugged in) or the speaker.

Interestingly, I couldn't hear the pop when using wireless bluetooth earphones. When I hold the button (that would produce the pop) down, I could hear some kind of electronic buzzing sound (imagine the buzzing sound it makes when plugging the earphone (or speaker) into the 3.5mm jack); that's why I was worried if it was some kind of hardware defect, even though all the other kinds of notification sounds had been completely fine.





I SWITCHED TO BUDGIE (another desktop environment) AND THE PROBLEM IS GONE (with that stupid water drop alert sound playing like an idiot)

oh i'm gonna cry...

I've tried different desktop environments and windows manager before settled with Budgie (except GNOME; I refuse to use GNOME). Some of them got the same problem (e.g. LXDE; interestingly on LXDE the pop plays at a much lower volume, but the problem wasn't it being too loud but rather it being the way it was at all; I could use some notify sound if it's played normally, not this horrible loud static noise.), some of the didn't, none of them came as close as KDE in terms of being easy to use. I did not have fun with Budgie either. Not long after I installed Budgie I noticed there were (diagonal) tearing with Firefox when browsing web pages; and if you locked the screen and came back, sometimes the keyboard doesn't work, sometimes the mouse doesn't work, sometimes after switching to another tty and reboot there, the background image loads but the whole UI doesn't - there was this one instance when it broke down right as I was about to take my class; thank God I can still reboot and it ran without problems for the class but ever since then the problem had become much more frequent, too frequent that I was forced to consider it unusable.

So naturally I decided to ditch Budgie and regress into using a wm like awesome; yet GTK apps under awesome still have the audio pop problem on my machine. That got me thinking: I know it's a GTK problem, but can I really not just turn the damn sound off? I looked around on the Internet and finally found this that asked about almost the exact same issue as me and suggested gtk-error-bell=0; at this point I was like well might as well give it a try because what's the worse thing that could happen? Me having the same problem as I did in the past two months? So I set gtk-error-bell to zero, and the problem was gone. Emacs and Firefox needs more configuration though: I had to turn on visible bell for emacs and set accessibility.typeaheadfind.enablesound to false in about:config for Firefox.

I immediately returned to using KDE afterwards.