A lot also depends on your source for the original audio, and which project settings you selected when you started your Premiere Elements project.
Other possible issues are outdated Windows 7 drivers. Go to Windows Update and ensure that all -- EVEN THE NON-CRITICAL -- updates have been downloaded and installed. (Most drivers don't download automatically.)
Thanks, Steve and everythingcomputers for your interest.
In answer to the questions:
The original audio is a 48 KHz/16 bit file created in Audition CS6 and imported into Premiere Elements (PrE).
While it seems unlikely to be relevant, the video for this project is a series of stills running approximately 5 sec each with the only motion being whatever is introduced via transitions. It is, in short, a nice looking slide show.
The project is set up for 1920x1080 30 frame/sec video, with 48 KHz audio. Since that is also the desired output configuration, it seems that the all renderings should be fairly straight forward.
With regard to the Windows update, the only update not installed is the Bing Desktop.
I'll take a look at the vlc media player, but I'm starting to think that uninstalling/re-installing PrE is probably the best first step.
Well, an Audition generated, PCM/WAV @ 48KHz 16-bit, is as good as it gets. You did Export from Au as a PCM/WAV, correct?
I have not read of anyone encountering such distortion.
Now, I usually Export to DD AC3, though in my case, I am using PrPro and the Minnetonka Audio SurCode DD 5.1 SS Encoder, to produce DD 5.1 SS AC3, that go into my DVD-Authoring program (Adobe Encore), for inclusion onto DVD-Video discs.
Much of my Audio work is done in Au and other audio-editing programs. I have never experienced such problems, and cannot think of any reason, why you should.
Good luck, and wish that I had more.
I remember reading something about possible problems in certain applications when exporting files in Audition with embedded metadata and markers. There's an option to include or exclude that data when saving or exporting a file. You might want to try saving files in Auditon with that option turned off and see if that makes a difference in Premiere Elements. There was also something else, but I can't remember what it was.
Thanks to all who have looked at this problem. I haven't found a solution, but haven't given up, either.
I did uninstall/reinstall Premiere Elements, but that had no effect on the problem.
Then, it dawned on me that although the audio portion of the project doesn't begin untill 20 seconds into the piece, the clicking begins immediately upon playback. So, I rendered the project without audio and - surprise - there was no audio on the file. OK, so something works the way it ought to.
Back to work.
Found it! No, it wasn't a rendering problem. It wasn't a problem with Premiere Elements, either.
I assumed that if a particular player (MS Windows Media Player, for example) would play a PCM or MP3 encoded file through a particular output, that it should also play the a Dolby Digital encoded version of that file through the same ouput. ZZZZT. Wrong!
It appears that the audio from DD files is automatically routed differently than audio from other encoding systems. I haven't figured out why, but would guess it might have something to do with attempts by my integrated sound card to derive 5.1/7.1 channels from the DD signal stream. At any rate, when I route the player's output through an external sound card (TASCAM US-2000), everything is wonderful.
After that discovery, I checked the files rendered over the last 10 days, and they all play back perfectly. So, again, PrE is not at fault.
Thanks for your efforts...and thanks to my professor who (35 years ago) tried to drill into my head the "half-split method" and who was, again, proven right.