Static or skipping from your Bluetooth speaker? It could be your mouse! (whaaaaaa?)

Don’t laugh, this happened to me. I don’t usually listen to music at my desk but when I do I use a Bluetooth speaker. Why? Because the built-in speaker on my computer is … a little lacking. I prefer to hear music that sounds like it was created in this century, not designed for some 78rpm wind-up Victrola. I think it’s a genuine shame that PC makers can’t put a little more thought into the sound systems in their devices, but I guess every penny counts when you’re competing. Or something like that.

So, I was plugging along listening to my favorite stuff and I started to notice that the music was skipping and their was a lot of static. I thought maybe I had a bad file, so I tried another one. Same problem. I thought, well I use iTunes and it just updated, so maybe it’s a bug. I don’t usually use the Music app on Windows 8, but let’s try it, right? Same problem. Worse, in fact. So, I stopped to think what could be going on.

And, when I stopped working and started listening to the music, the problem went away. That really worried me. Could it be something wrong with the hard drive? Could there be some process eating up so many resources that playing music became impossible? I looked deep into the system and everything looked fine.

So I had a few things to do, and I observed the problem was actually worse when I moved the mouse and not when I was typing. AHA! There’s the problem. I have a Bluetooth mouse! I switched to my backup wired mouse and the problem went away!

I did some checking around. It turns out that Bluetooth devices can interfere with each other if they pass a lot of data between them. This can happen with networking and high-bitrate music. If there’s not enough bandwidth and errors occur, then there is error correction and that can actually make music seem to skip.

The solution? If you have this problem, use Bluetooth for one thing and not the other. Many speakers have wired inputs, and there are plenty of non-Bluetooth mice. One way or another you can solve this problem. I did.