Fixing distorted sound while playing some videos on YouTube

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 16, 2013
Google Chrome

For the past few days or so, I have been experiencing a issue on the video hosting site YouTube. Some videos would play just fine, but with distorted sound. I cannot really explain it any better, only that the sound would not really work at all for those videos.

Problem was, that this was only the case for some videos and not all. This Bruce Lee video for example was affected by the issue, while the majority of videos on YouTube were not.

The first thing that I tried was to play videos in a different web browser, and lo and behold, they played fine in Firefox on the same system. This is however only a temporary solution considering that it is not really practicable to open another browser just to watch videos.

Since I'm usually running Firefox without any plugins, I wanted to come up with a solution for Google Chrome instead as I'm using the browser almost exclusively for that.

I'm subscribed to the HTML5 beta in Chrome and decided to unsubscribe from it to see if it would resolve the issue. I opened the YouTube HTML5 Video Player page and clicked on leave the HTML5 trial button there to see if it resolves the issue.

youtube html5 video player trial
HTML5 video

I reloaded the video page afterwards and played it again and realized that it resolved the issue on my system. Now, this could have been a coincidence of sorts, which is why I decided to join the HTML5 trial again to see if the issue would reappear. After refreshing the page again, it did.

I did not experience the issue in Firefox regardless of whether I was in the HTML5 trial or not.

I tried to find a common denominator but could not find one. First I thought that it was only affecting videos of low quality, e.g. 360p and lower but that is not really the case since I discovered 480p videos as well that caused the sound to distort on YouTube.

Funny thing is that this is only affecting the Canary version of Chrome, while the stable version of the browser is not affected by the issue.

Update: Just as I was ready to publish the article, an update came along that seems to have fixed the issue for me. This tip may still be helpful to some users who are experiencing similar issues.


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  1. Ross Presser said on July 17, 2013 at 6:18 am

    I would lay heavy odds that it is 100% attributable to Chrome using its own “internal” Flash, also known as PepperFlash. PepperFlash has given me nothing but problems since the beginning and I always turn it off in favor of the system wide Flash.

  2. lainiwaku said on July 17, 2013 at 4:10 am

    use firefox instead of chrome ! :p

  3. fokka said on July 16, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    funny, gotta try updating (ff in my case) when coming home and reactivate the html5 player.

  4. ilev said on July 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

    2 weeks ago I had a problem with Chrome beta were ALL Flash videos, including on YouTube, had only sound with no picture, starting with version 28.0.1500.68/70 beta.

    It turned that is was a Chrome/Flash plugin bug as Google updated Flash to version 11.8.
    After downgrading Flash to version 11.7.700.225 in Chrome 28.0.1500.71 beta the problem has been solved.
    This week Flash has been updated to 11.8.800.97 and all is well.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Cannot really say what it was this time, glad that it has been resolved.

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